Ethiopia’s new Cabinet 50 percent women, including defense

Ethiopia’s ruling coalition is expected to take the next steps this week on sweeping reforms announced under its new prime minister as it begins its first congress on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018 since Ahmed took power in April. (AP/Mulugeta Ayene)
Updated 16 October 2018
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Ethiopia’s new Cabinet 50 percent women, including defense

  • This 20-member Cabinet, trimmed from 28 posts, is the second named since Abiy took office in April
  • Aisha Mohammed Musa will lead the defense ministry

ADDIS ABABA: Ethiopia’s new Cabinet is now a record 50 percent female, including the country’s first woman defense minister, after lawmakers on Tuesday unanimously approved the nominations put forward by reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
“Our women ministers will disprove the old adage that women can’t lead,” Abiy said while presenting his choices. “This decision is the first in the history of Ethiopia and probably in Africa.”
Ethiopia has faced sweeping political and economic reforms since the 42-year-old prime minister took office in April after months of anti-government protests and made pledges that include free and fair elections.
The Horn of Africa power joins a handful of countries, mostly European, where women make up 50 percent or more of ministerial positions, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union and UN Women. French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in recent years unveiled “gender-balanced” Cabinets.
Aisha Mohammed Musa will lead Ethiopia’s defense ministry. Another woman, former House speaker Muferiat Kamil, will lead the new Ministry of Peace at a time when Africa’s second most populous country faces sometimes violent ethnic tensions as the wider political freedoms are explored.
The Ministry of Peace will oversee the powerful National Intelligence and Security Service, the Information Network Security Agency, the Federal Police Commission and the Finance Security and Information Center, Abiy’s office confirmed Tuesday.
This 20-member Cabinet, trimmed from 28 posts, is the second named since Abiy took office in April. The first was criticized for the low number of female ministers.
Ethiopia has long been considered a patriarchal society and it “suffers from some of lowest gender equality performance indicators in sub-Saharan Africa,” UN Women has said. “Women and girls in Ethiopia are strongly disadvantaged compared to boys and men in several areas, including literacy, health, livelihoods and basic human rights.”
Recent efforts have been made to show women in more prominent posts. Ethiopian Airlines, which calls itself Africa’s largest carrier, has publicized all-female flight crews.
Several African nations have had female defense ministers including South Africa, Central African Republic, Kenya and Guinea-Bissau. And Rwanda has received international recognition for female representation in government, with women making up 43 percent of its Cabinet and 61 percent of parliament members.


Brazil seeks to privatize key stretches of Amazon highways

Updated 47 min 31 sec ago
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Brazil seeks to privatize key stretches of Amazon highways

  • President Jair Bolsonaro’s government is seeking to overhaul Brazil’s poor transportation infrastructure
  • The Trans-Amazonian highway was inaugurated in the 1970s but only a fraction of its nearly 3,000 kilometers were paved
BRASILIA: Brazil will add the Trans-Amazonian Highway to the list of projects for privatization, its infrastructure minister said on Tuesday, seeking new investment to pave part of a dictatorship-era roadway already blamed for extensive deforestation.
The road concession will be added to a priority list for privatization at a meeting next month, Infrastructure Minister Tarcisio Freitas told Reuters in an interview.
The government will package a short section of highway with a concession to run a major section of BR-163, a key northern route for shipping Brazilian grains, a ministry spokesman said later on Tuesday. The 40-km (25-mile) section of the Trans-Amazonian up for privatization will connect BR-163 with the river port of Miritituba in northern state of Para, the spokesman said.
President Jair Bolsonaro’s government is seeking to overhaul Brazil’s poor transportation infrastructure, which raises costs and causes delays for the commodity-exporting powerhouse, by seeking private investors to operate dozens of road, rail and airport projects.
On Monday, government Secretary Adalberto Vasconcelos, who has been tasked with creating public-private infrastructure partnerships, said the country would privatize more airports and secure new investment for railways.
For roadways, five concessions are slated for auction this year with a long pipeline of projects to follow, according to Freitas. BR-262/381 in the state of Minas Gerais, sometimes called the “Road of Death” because its poor condition has contributed to lethal accidents, will also be put on the privatization list next month, he said.
The Trans-Amazonian highway, officially known as BR-230, was inaugurated in the 1970s under Brazil’s military dictatorship, but only a fraction of its nearly 3,000 kilometers (1,864-miles) were paved and much of the existing roadway has fallen into disrepair. It stretches from the coastal state of Paraiba deep into Amazonas state. Original plans for it to reach the border with Peru were never completed.
Nevertheless, research by Brazil’s space agency and academics has linked the road to a rise in deforestation, and road improvements allowing easier access deep into the Amazon have consistently led to increased deforestation nearby.
He said that major construction firms that were implicated in corruption schemes remain unable to participate in public auctions for infrastructure projects, but could act as subcontractors for winners of concession auctions.
Engineering conglomerates Odebrecht SA and Andrade Gutierrez SA, both implicated in corruption schemes to fix contracts, signed leniency deals with the government admitting guilt and agreeing to cooperate, which allows them to contest government contracts. Companies linked to corruption but without such leniency deals may be subject to legal challenges.
“They are companies that have know-how, companies with engineering (ability), companies that can provide good services,” Freitas said.