The Pan-African magazine, AfricaWorld News, after considering nominations from across the world, named Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn as its Man of the Year for 2015.
Africa World News started as a Pan-African Magazine in May 2011, on the basis of the old African adage that “Unless the hunted gives their account, the story of the hunt will always favor the hunter.” Before identifying the specific qualities that led the magazine to bestow this title on Prime Minister Hailemariam, the magazine noted that it is “remarkable how
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has sustained economic progress in Ethiopia after the sudden death of his predecessor in 2012,” adding that “it is worthy to note that, in a country dominated by major ethnic groups, Hailemariam Desalegn hails from the minority Wolaita people in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region.”
In arriving at its decision for Africa’s Man of the Year, the magazine listed some of the Prime Minister’s qualities under different headings: political activities, as an international security ally and a global champion, as well as an African Statesman, a dependable partner, visionary, pacesetter and a family man.
The magazine, after a brief outline of the Prime Minister’s biography, noted his appointment as vice-president after a few years as a member of the ruling party and then as president of the Southern Regional State. It underlined his achievements in improving the region’s economy and, more importantly, his key role in ensuring ethnic stability in the region.
It also noted that he moved into the national political scene in 2006 as adviser to Meles Zenawi, and was appointed as the Government’s Chief Whip in the House of Representatives. He was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister in 2010.“The progress recorded by the Government of Hailemariam has been tremendous,” said the magazine, which described Ethiopia “as a key diplomatic player in the region” and “a country long considered as a bulwark against volatility in the Horn of Africa.”
It pointed out that its reputation in this respect was strengthened by its chairmanship of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and its role in “mediating in the peace talks between Sudan and South Sudan on one hand and the warring parties in new South Sudan on the other hand.” AfricaWorld News magazine emphasized Ethiopia’s strategic importance in ensuring the stability of the Horn of Africa, with its soldiers remaining integral to the ongoing fight against Al-Shabaab in Somalia. Ethiopia joined AMISOM in January 2014 and AMISOM’s presence in Somalia is playing a major role in the fight against Al-Shabaab and in helping the country to create an effective federal state as part of Somalia’s Vision 2016.
The magazine stressed Prime Minister Hailemariam’s role in bolstering “the peace process in old and new Sudan since he came to power in 2012”. He visited both Sudan and South Sudan in 2013, as part of “the efforts to co-ordinate and facilitate face-to-face entente between the presidents of the two countries” and to encourage the two countries “to complete consultations on outstanding issues like the status of Abyei and the implementation of the Addis Ababa Agreement, particularly on the details of the 14-mile Temporary Security Zone Arrangement.”
The Prime Minister’s role as chairperson of IGAD, working together with President Kenyatta of Kenya, facilitated talks between former Vice President Riek Machar and the Government of President Salva Kiir, leading to the signing of the peace agreement over the South Sudan conflict.
This was one of the factors which earned the Prime Minister appoint in the magazine’s category of “international security ally”. The magazine described the Prime Minister as a Global Champion, noting that during the 70th UN General Assembly earlier in the year, Ethiopia received the South-South Award 2015 for achieving the Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty. It recalled that Prime Minister Hailemariam, receiving the award at the South-South Award Gala Event, said, “Ethiopia was inspired by the successful development experience of countries of the Global South and in the same spirit it was ready to share its experiences with others.
The magazine called Ethiopia a dependable partner for others, describing Prime Minister Hailemariam’s administration as moving Ethiopia ahead in other sectors, apart from regional security and international diplomacy. It noted the bilateral and internal projects that are helping position Ethiopia as a major target for direct foreign investment in Africa. It noted the Prime Minister was leading Ethiopia to partner Kenya in the ambitious 24.5 billion dollar Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor project, a project that includes a railway, highways, and an oil pipeline. This will provide the landlocked countries of Ethiopia and South Sudan with a new export pathway and reduce Kenya’s dependence on the heavily congested port of Mombasa. Ethiopia was also partnering with Djibouti to sign an agreement for a $1.55 billion fuel pipeline. It also noted the framework agreements signed in September 2015 for construction of the 550-kilometer (340-mile) line to transport diesel, gasoline and jet fuel from port access in Djibouti to central Ethiopia, a joint project construction scheduled for completion in two years.
The magazine points out that Ethiopia enjoys one of Africa’s highest economic growth rates, experiencing “near-double-digit economic growth and huge infrastructure investment under Prime Minister Hailemariam’s leadership, positioning it among the elite in Africa.” Although “the economy is state driven”, it emphasizes that Government-owned companies are ambitious. Examples include the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation’s construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, set to be Africa’s largest hydropower project; Ethio Telecom working to unveil a 4G mobile phone network in Addis Ababa; and the Sugar Corporation building 10 new factories, with an eye to becoming a high-flyer in the global sugar trade.
The magazine called the Prime Minister a pacesetter for the remarkable achievement of rail developments including the Addis Ababa Light Rail; the first in Sub-Sahara Africa, it is a 17- kilometre line running from the city centre to industrial areas in the south of the city and was opened on 20 September. The second section, a west-east line across the capital, began operations a few weeks later on 9 November. It also underlined that Ethiopia’s first sovereign credit ratings from global agencies in 2014, a B1 from Moody’s and B ratings from both Fitch and Standard & Poor’s, opened the door to international capital markets and foreign direct investment.
The magazine concluded: “The year 2015 was remarkable for Ethiopia and Prime Minister Hailemariam as a global and African leader of immeasurable value. Hence, AfricaWorld decided to etch his name on our Hall of Fame as 2015 MAN OF THE YEAR.