Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn met with media early this week and answered questions from reporters about Nile, Egypt, economic growth and other issues.
In a presser Capital attended the PM stated the economy, which has seen single digit growth over the past three years to expand to double digits this year.
To accomplish this Ethiopia is counting on increasing agricultural production.
“The decrement of agricultural growth expected in the past few year has been the major reason for the past year’s lower economic performance, but the current year’s forecast indicates that the country will register double digit economic growth,” Hailemariam said.
“The forecast of Ethiopian government and international financial institutions have not matched in the past years, so will not be new if they predict lower growth than the estimate that we set,” the PM added.
The World Bank and International Monetary Fund predicted single digit economic growth which contradicts the government’s estimates.
As usual journalists raised problems in the social sector, while mobile network has become a major problem in the country. The PM promised that the problem will be solved within six months in the country after the Chinese telecom giant Huawei finishes the new project in Addis Ababa.
Even though the PM and the state monopoly, ethio telecom, stated that the two [Huawei and ZTE] contractors who signed the USD 1.6 billion deal have already begun working on the project although recently they announced they were experiencing delays. According to the state telecom enterprise, Huawei has currently transported different cargo via seven chartered planes for the project in the capital.
However the government targeted to finalize the expansion project within the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), however the latest ethio telecom report indicated that the expansion project will conclude within two years. The GTP will end within 17 months.
The PM has also emphasized that the government will continue with the telecom monopoly. He said that the sector is contributing greatly to other development projects, for instance ethio telecom is financing six billion birr every year for the railway project.
On different occasions the government has stated it would continue with the sector monopoly, calling ethio-telecom a ‘cash cow’. In the past fiscal year the telecom firm generated over 20 billion birr in gross profit.
“If we privatize the sector, it could not develop in rural areas because companies only want to amass profit but we are responsible to expand coverage to every side of the country from the money generated in urban areas,” the PM said.
Hailemariam has also denied complains that there is a shortage of money circulation in the market.
He said that earlier problems with money have been solved by depositing funds in the National Bank of Ethiopia in order to pay for federal projects.
The PM, who responded to very few questions that came from only five journalists, stated that his government does not have any concern about the new Egyptian constitution that includes the Abay (Nile) issue.
He said that it’s their right to amend their constitution but the current global situation favors give and take.
“I am not surprised they added the water issue on their constitution because it is the only water source for them, but the issue that rises is equitable water use on the Abay,” he said.
“We are open for dialogue to solve differences about the project and we have sat and talked and agreed on some issues,” he said.
“Mainly Ethiopia and Sudan have able to agree on the project after the discussion, but the Egyptian stand on cooperation and development is known,” the PM stated. According to the PM Egyptians want to continue the talks but the result will be known in the end.
The Nile [on the Egyptian new constitution amended by the interim government]
The state commits protecting the Nile River, maintaining Egypt’s historic rights thereto, rationalizing and maximizing its benefits, not wasting its water or polluting it. The state commits to protecting its mineral water, to adopting methods appropriate to achieve water safety, and to supporting scientific research in this field.
Every citizen has the right to enjoy the Nile River. It is prohibited to encroach upon it or to harm the river environment. The state guarantees to remove encroachments thereon. The foregoing is regulated by law.