Ethiopia: Faces, Voices of Addis Abeba

The residents of Addis Abeba are pragmatic. They do not expect the city to become the shining city on a hill, although that would not displease them. They do not cry foul when the glittery, animated design-concept renderings of a project created for public consumption fail to materialise in their brick and mortar edifices.

What they really want their city administration to do is to clean the filth off the streets, provide a decent public transportation system, control rising rental costs and keep the peace. Uppermost in the minds of 50 city residents interviewed by Fortune were the problems of public transportation and failed infrastructure. The interviewees came from six different locations in the city - Qera, Piassa, Bole, Mesqel Flower, the Stadium area and Haya Hulet - and from various occupations and lifestyles.

Collectively, they are exasperated by the unceasing power and water shortages, drainage problems, transportation challenges and the unclean conditions of the city. They are exasperated by the rising cost of living that is spiraling out of control and persistent unemployment that is gnawing at their aspirations. They registered their discontent about the business environment in the city and insecurities about the rule of law. Unless these issues are addressed by the municipal authorities, they cannot envision a thriving city on a hill.

Residents want their city to live up to its name - New Flower - vibrant, clean, at peace and run by an approachable government. Diversity is crucial they said, as is the preservation of the city's cultural and historical heritage. They want to see the city administration and mayor have an entrepreneurial spirit and govern with pragmatism and loyalty toward the residents.

They are repelled at rampant homelessness, numerous street children and the income inequality that exists in the city. They are longing for good governance that takes their concerns into account during the decision process.

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