ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia–The late prime minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi could be smiling from his grave. His dream of forever-nourished Tigreans has become reality. Tigray is one of Ethiopia’s regional states with unfavorable weather and land for agriculture. As a result, the region was a victim of recurring food crisis until Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), currently ruling Ethiopia, took power.
As it is often the case in most African countries, there has never been a peaceful relay of power in Ethiopia. In the early 90s, when TPLF assumed power, it had the opportunity to amass all the public wealth upon the departure of Mengistu Halemariam, former President of Ethiopia under socialist Derge regime. Meles and his fellow party leaders had an idea of rehabilitating the often starving and war-torn Tigray, with the cash they stashed from sales of food aid, and other goods meant to help Tigray people and armed struggle to topple the military junta. That was when the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT) was founded. It’s current CEO is Meles Zenawi’s widow, Azeb Mesfin.
In a cable sent to Washington D.C. in March, 2009 under the subject line, “Party-Statals:How The Ruling Parties’ ‘Endowments’ Operate,” Donald Yamamato, former Ambassador to Ethiopia detailed how EFFORT came to being, recounting the story told by EFFORT’s own former CEO, Seye Abraha.
EFFORT started with four companies owned by individual shareholders, who were prominent members TPLF, and now encompasses at least 15 such companies. Even though the profitability of the endowment is not public, it definitely rehabilitated the war-torn region, by creating jobs for the youth and bring modern irrigation to the region.
Here is the list of the current companies operating under the umbrella of EFFORT:
Messebo Building Materials Production PLC
Addis Pharmaceutical Factory (APF)
Mesfin Industrial Engineering Guna Trading House PLC
Ezana Mining Development PLC (EMD)
Hiwot Agricultural mechanization PLC
Saba Dimensional Stones PLC (SDS)
Sheba Tannery PLC
SUR Construction PLC
Almeda Textile Factory PL
Express Transit Service PLC
Experience Ethiopia Travel (EET)
Trans Ethiopia PLC
Maichew Particleboard Manufacturing
As originally published on August 30, 2015.