Ethiopia will host the next World Economic Forum's Africa meeting a year from now. At a press conference in Cape Town, Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said he is delighted that the WEF - host of a high-level global conference in Davos, Switzerland, each January - has chosen his country for its annual Africa conference. He said all attendees, including journalists, will be welcome.
The status of journalists in Ethiopia became an issue at the press conference when a Nairobi-based correspondent said journalists are abused and harassed by the Ethiopian government. He questioned whether opposition parties would be welcome at the conference and asked for guarantees that human rights and freedom of expression would be respected in Ethiopia. The deputy prime minister responded that the questioner's facts were wrong, saying that a distinction must be made between legal opposition and parties affiliated with armed struggle and terrorism. "Ethiopia is an island of stability" in the Horn of Africa, he said, and the rule of law must be observed.
Ethiopia is predicted to have one of the world's fastest growing economies over the next decade. Among the reasons for holding its Africa forum in Addis Ababa, said a WEF spokesperson, are that it is a diplomatic hub - including hosting the African Union, it is extending development to the rural poor, with lessons for the rest of Africa, and it has never been colonized.