Meet the Ethiopian-American Economic Hitman from Wall Street to Poverty Street in the no man’s land

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How a little-known Wall Street sovereign fund manager ended up as a CEO of the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency to give development and transparency a whole different meaning explains impunity from lawlessness of all involved.

Teshome Debalke

May 21, 2019

“It is a shame when nonsense can substitute for facts with impunity” –Lawrence M. Krauss

The Center for Strategic & International Study (CSIS) recent conference in Washington DC titled Building a Big Tent for Agricultural Transformation in Ethiopia organized  specially for Khalid Bomba, CEO  of the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency is a tale-tale sign; modern African economic hitmen/women particularly from the diaspora are out in the open to substitute nonsense for fact to redefine economic development and checks-and-balance  to preempt any meaningful reform towards accountable governance.

The whole PR stent of global finance ‘without borders’ to socialize the risks on the people and privatize the rewards for equity investors in the name of development is better descried by Joh  n Perkins, the former economic hitman and the author of the Confession of an Economic hitman (2004) and the New Confession of the Economic hitman (2016). He retreated;

“I thought about the core tools we EHMs used in my day: false economics that included distorted financial analyses, inflated projections, and rigged accounting books; secrecy, deception, threats, bribes, and extortion; false promises that we never intended to honor; and enslavement through debt and fear. These same tools are used today. Now, as then, many elements are present in each “hit,” although that likely is evident only to someone willing to delve deeply into the story behind the story. Now, as then, the glue that holds all of this together is the belief that any means are justified to achieve the desired ends.”

In the era where nothing seems to stand on the way of global finances’ maximizing profit, corrupt depots that mismanaged their nations’ resources no longer risky investment but partners in Public-Private Partnership (PPP) ‘win-win’ scheme. Thus, watching modern economic hitmen of Africa tag along to do what they know best shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with 101 development finance.

In her August 19, 2016 article titled ‘A powerful and corrupt elite is robbing Africa of its riches’ the Executive Director of Oxfam International Winnie Byanyima showed the dark side of global finances’ collusion with African economic hitmen you find in many staged conferences organized by the usual suspects. She wrote;

“This is wrong. We must examine the root causes and do something to weed them out. As the Panama Papers show, so much of the tax avoidance or criminal movement of finance on the continent is made possible by a system propped up by a number of banks, law firms and other outfits based outside of Africa, working in collusion with African economic and political elites. It is a system designed in the Global North that helps Africa’s few wealthy and powerful elites to cheat the rest of us.”

More alarming is what the renowned Physicist and environmental activist Dr Van Dan Shiva of India in an interview reviled on what she refers as the “Poison Cartel” — multinational finance, data, seed, pharma and chemical industries’ ambition to control the world resources led by the world renowned data guru Bill Gates turned philanthropist ‘working in collusion with African economic and political elites’ in  the name of  curing diseases and transforming the economies of poor nations.

Bill Gates with multiple conflicts of interest against his own Foundation’s stated mission brought the ruling party of Ethiopia infamous Former Health and Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus in the WHO top position to help the sick and the Former Morgen Stanley sovereign fund manager Khalid Bambo as CEO of Agriculture Transformation Agency of Ethiopia to feed the hungry along a Former senior policy adviser for Mayor Greg Nickels of Seattle, Washington Haddis Taddese as PR man of the Gates Foundation African HQ in Ethiopia.

Ironically, the CSIS’s conference that featured CEO Bomba was also sponsored by “the generous contribution of the Bill & Malinda Foundation”  —  giving a whole different meaning for checks-and-balances of power and conflicts of interests in governance and development in Africa; not to mention insult the intelligence and underestimation the people of Ethiopia and the world at large in public. Understand

When they say ‘what you can’t say owns you. What you hide controls you’ they weren’t joking.  Bomba and his cheerleading panelists along CSIS’ fellows suspending every rule of governance and development with PR stunt rapped with big jargons’ presentation out of global consultancies’ templet appears to be the new and improved PR campaign to preempt meaningful reform.

 Among the panelists presented as an ‘independent consultant’ was an Ethiopian national by a name Dr Getachew Diriba. The Former Program Manager for CARE International and a World Food Program (WFP) employee in different capacity turn ‘independent consultant’ and author to validate Bomba’s PR stunt gave a whole different meaning for independent and author speaks volumes.

But, his one-and-only book conveniently titled “overcoming Agricultural  and Food Crises in Ethiopia (2018),  according to the Norwegian Minster of Foreign Affairs  was published with  the ‘support of the Norwegian Government and its Ambassador to Ethiopia opening speech in the launching ceremony on 16 May 2018. The synopsis of the book better reflect weather it is a scholarly research or an advertisement booklet. It reads;

“Ethiopia agriculture is an open museum of Neolithic invention; it is left out of the industrial and agriculture revolution for far too long. It is unsustainable to continue to expect to feed 100 + million Ethiopians with obsolete system of production. The origins of the discontent being displayed in many parts of the country since 2015 can be traced back to the lack of agriculture technology, land fragmentation, inadequate property rights, and absence of rural industrialization. The combination of the obsolete system in one hand, with a growing young population, sustained decline of agriculture land per capita, unstructured urbanization and absence of industrialization on the other, presents grim prospect for contemporary Ethiopia state builders”

Unfortunately, peddling for his new found love for consultancy, the author not only missed the forest for the tree to the causes of the problem but, reviled who pays his fees to validate the new global finances’ development narrative – confirming; ‘whoever pays the piper calls the tune’.

Likewise, Kimberly Flower, the Former USAID employee in Ethiopia turn a ‘Director of Humanitarian   Agenda at CSIS’s Global Food Security Project’ in Washington, DC cheerleading Bomba as the saver of Ethiopia should remind observers; her Former USAID boss Gayle Smith turn President of One Campaign, a Washington, DC based nonprofit run by the infamous Irish singer Bono that raises fund to help poor Africans and invest in ‘development’ in Africa with his London based  8 Miles private equity fund  Chained by his fellow Irish singer Bob Geldof and managed by nonother than Eleni LLC  Founded and managed by Dr Eleni Gebremedhin that seats on the Board  of Directors of One Campaign at the same time – redefining the meaning of transparency in governance for Africa and reviling; ‘the apples do not fall far from their trees’ when it come to the poverty industry of Africa.

At the meantime, Sara Boettger, ‘Senior Adviser for Agriculture Transformation’ at McKinsey & Company, a global management consultant’s enthusiasm for Bambo who claims ATA is working with the world-renowned management consulting firms including, McKinsey & Company further confirms; the staged CSIS’ conference was not to inform but to misinform the public from the naked reality.

It is interesting time to observe, how staged conferences for bunch of clowns with empty titles and words making something out of nothing in broad light passes under the radar unchallenged by the world Media, concerned civic organizations and the authorities in the ‘Free World’. If anything, it is not a good sign to bring about accountability and transparency on behalf of the long-suffering people sooner than later.

But, noting even come close to the infamous Bill Gates’ impunity to bring abroad ruling parties of  poor nations with multilateral, bilateral, and nonprofit and for-profit enterprises under one mission of maximizing profit of global finance in the name of helping the poor and development with his righthand men Khalid Bomba that pride to be expert in sovereign fund management along Haddis Tadesse that pride as policy adviser and PR expert before both joined the Gates Foundation. Subsequently, Bomba became CEO of Gates Foundation funded Ethiopian Government Agency ATA and Haddis became the PR man for the Foundation in Addis Ababa where the African Union HQ is based.

It all started with one unfaithful meeting between the late ‘beggar’ PM Melse Zenawi and corporate philanthropist Bill Gates instigated by nonother than Dr. Eleni GebreMedhin, the Founder and CEO of the infamous Ethiopian Commodity Exchange in 2008 funded partly by the Gates Foundation through UNDP. The onetime celebrated “Market Maker” that set the stage for the ruling member party TPLF capture of the private sector in the agriculture sector turn foreign private equity fund manager at Eleni LLC based in Kenya with initial investment of Morgen Stanley and the IFC  and the Founder and CEO of a new venture capital firm Blue Moon Ethiopia based in Addis Ababa with the help of European Investment Bank.

Consequently, the Agriculture Transformation Agency (ATA) under a global development consulting firm Synergos Consulting Service  based in New York  with Bomba as CEO was established in 2010. Ever since, the ruling party captured private sector as driver of agriculture transformation on behalf of a the ruling member party TPLF hellbent to control the means-and-ways of the economy — production, finance, data,  marketing… not to mention the rules that govern the economy for the convince of global finance has been the driving force.

Welcome to an ethnic apartheid party-captured ‘Developmental State’ of no man’s land of Ethiopia where Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with foreign private equity funds led by Morgen Stanly, corporate philanthropist led by Gates Foundation, bilateral and multilateral donors funding led by USAID, EIB and IFC in partnership with diaspora economic hitmen and women colluding with pseudo private investors ‘transforming’ poor nations’ economy like never had been done before, talk about ‘the bigotry of low expectation’.

The whole PR stunt at CSIS conference raped with lots of economics 101 jargons in one staged ‘Big Tent for Agricultural Transformation in Ethiopia by Bomba and his cheerleading panelists tells everything you need to know about the present problems and causes of the political, social and economics of Ethiopia.

What is not clear yet is whether Bonba’s PR stunt was sanctioned by the new reformist Prime Minster Abiy or simply an effort by reneged interest groups associated with the old guard and sponsors to undermine reform.  In that regard, Bomba’s amnesia about the late PM Melse that instigated ATA that brought him abroad as CEO and his halfhearted praise for the new PM reform indicates; his boss Gates has little interest on reform than what he agreed to accomplish with the late Zenawi to establish ATA  — fully knowing; the Zenawi led ruling member TPLF party led regime he fell in love with was a menace for governance and economic development and remained so for the reform.

“The only thing more dangerous than ignorance is the pretense of intelligent ignorance. The former is teachable; the latter is not” wrote the American poet, philosopher and essayist Christopher James Gilbert better known by his pseudonym Criss Jami.

Bomba, his boss and the cheerleading panelists’ at CSIS conference ‘pretense of intelligent ignorance’ on the fundamentals of governance and economic development – (checks-and-balances of power, transparency of public data and the very meaning of private sector itself) speaks volume to validate; ‘pretense of intelligent ignorance’ is rampant among many contemporary dysfunctional elites and sponsors at the expense reform in the public interest.

When it comes to checks-and-balances of power, the Agriculture Transformation crusader Bomba pretense of intelligent ignorance needs no checks nor balances from anyone but his boss –  reducing it; “our objective is the government objective — Improve the livelihood of small farmer,  food security at a national level and agriculture sector as a catalyst for transformation.”

It is not clear why Bomba didn’t mention the driving force behind his transformation agenda he refers as ‘our objective’ is referring the global development consulting firm Synergos Consulting Service funded by corporate foundations.

When it comes to public data, the Wall Street sovereign fund finance guru Bomba ‘pretense of intelligent ignorance’ goes as far as wanting to have his cake and eat it too — reducing it as “much more impactful is the way we do integration and coordination of the agriculture commercialization cluster”.  No one knows where in this world integration and coordination of ‘agriculture commercialization’ possible without open and independent data readily available to the producers, the middlemen and the consumer as well as investors and the Free Press is where Bomba and his cheerleading panelists had complete amnesia.

The irony of rationing public information for specific cash commodities productions as the means justifies the ends’ on behalf global finance profit maximization disguised as ‘improving the livelihood of small farmers and food security at a national level’ alone qualify as a crime against humanity let alone a crime of conspiracy of an economic hitman.

More telling was the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs and Office of Global Partnerships organized  Ethiopia Partnership Forum (EPF) in May 15, 2019 featuring Bomba and known and unknow operatives representing the ‘private sector’ as well as governments and nongovernmental sector if unchecked reveles what direction the new PM reform may be heading.

The Forum participants representing PM Abiy’s government listed were Dr. Arkebe Oqubay, Adviser with the rank of Minster in the Prime Minster Office. Fistume Argea, the Ethiopian Ambassador to the United State. Mamo Mehirtu, Senior   Adviser to the Prime Minster and Chief Trade Negotiator. Dr. Yarid Sied  (International Growth Center based in London) and Dr. Nemera Mamo (teaching Fellow Queen Mary University London) members of Policy Team in the Office of Prime Minster.

Representing the Diaspora in ‘private sector’ on Telcom, Power and Transportation Tewodros Ashinafi presented as the Founder and CEO SouthWest Energy. On Access to Capital: Financing Growth, Worku Gachou presented as Managing Director for Africa, OPIC. Helawe Taddese presented as Director of Research and Analytics, Cepheus and Zafu Eyesuswork Zerfu presented as Chairman of the Board, United Bank and Adviser to the CEO United Insurance SC. On Start Up: Engine of Growth, Solomon Kassa presented as TV Personality, Producer Host –Tech Talk with Solomon, A Fortune 500 Tech Consult Manger and Author. Eleni GebreMedhin presented as CEO, Blue Moon Ethiopia. Kebron Dejen presented as Founder/CEO Viditur.

Representing non-governmental sector: on Agriculture tool Box: Investing in Value Supply Chain, Kalid Bomba, CEO of Agriculture Transformation Agency.

What stood out representing the US and the Ethiopian governments and private sector tells a story of its own.

Dr. Arkebe Oqubay, presented as Adviser with the rank of Minster is the Central Committee member the ruling member TPLF party. Fistume Argea presented as the Ethiopian Ambassador to US is the long-time Ethiopian Investment Commissioner who know everything who is or not allowed to invest in Ethiopia over a decade.

Mamo Mihertu presented as Senior   Adviser to the Prime Minster and Chief Trade Negotiator is a World Bank Operation Officer’ and ‘Program  Manager for Ethiopia Investment Climate Program’ based in Nairobi, according to the World Bank.   Mamo’s only article published on the WB blog in 2015 speaks volume what may be his role as  Senior   Adviser to the Prime Minster and Chief Trade Negotiator.

Dr. Yarid Sied  and Dr. Nemera Mamo presented as members of Policy Team in the Office of Prime Minster are a teaching Fellow Queen Mary University London and employee of International Growth Center based in London respectively.

Worku Gachou presented as the Managing Director for Africa, OPIC is a US government employee for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) responsible to oversee who receive US government investment loan and political risk insurance assistant.

Helawe Taddese presented as Director of Research and Analytics, Cepheus  is representing the Founder and Managing Partners of Cepheus Growth Capital/Fund (2016) Kassie (Kaasahun) Kebede and Berhane Demisse. Kebde is also the Founder and CEO of Panton Capital based in New York (2004) and Panton Alternative Fund Ltd (2009) based in Cayman Island that managed nearly a billion dollars private fund of unknown individuals investing in Ethiopia. He is also a member of Prime Minster Abiy’s Diaspora Trust Fund Advisory Council and the Public Enterprise Privatization Advisory Counsel.  Helawe Taddese has no public profile nor disclosed on the official Gepheus Growth Fund website.

Solomon Kassa presented as TV Personality, Producer Host — Tech Talk with Solomon of unidentified Media works for Ethiopian Broadcasting Service (Ebs) TV established in Maryland in 2008 by a TPLF operative Amman Fissehazion & Brothers using the Ethiopian Government Broadcasting Agency satellite service. Solomon Mulugeta Kassa according to his own profile ‘currently works as a senior technology consultant at a Fortune 500 Global Consulting firm’. It is not clear why he failed to revile the name of the Consulting firm he works for.

Dr Eleni Gebremedhin presented as CEO, Blue Moon Ethiopia is the Founder and Former CEO of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange and Eleni LLC with multiple ventures as mentioned above.

Unfortunately, the list of participants or any news of the proceeding was taken down from the State Department website a day after the event for unknow reason but, a Pdf document listing participants and EPF-Agenda is found. The US Embassy in Ethiopia also reported on the Forum — reviling more corporate participants listed on the original State Department list.  The Former US Ambassador to Ethiopia Tibor P. Nagy, Jr. (1999-2992) is the present Assistant Secretory of Bureau of African Affairs since July of 2018.

At the meantime, the PR stunt to convince Ethiopians in the Diaspora is underway in multiple front. The  infamous Ethiopian Diaspora Business Forum that was established by two brother operatives by the name Yohannes Assefa, the present  and Henock Assefa are back with elaborate PR stunt — indicating more of the same to undermine the ongoing reform to come. Among the 2018 Diaspora Business Forum speakers were the infamous Zemedenhe Negatu, Former Ernest Young Ethiopia investment adviser of the ruling party turn Global Chairman of Fairfax Africa, US based private equity fund investor and Mani Amar, a clandestine TPLF operative that run and managed the Ethiopian Investment Commission website and data from 1991 to 2010 out of New York under through three successive Commissioners including, Fessume Arega (the last Commissioner and the new Ethiopian Ambassador to the US) website he managed  turn ModernETH info tech investor with no public profile.

When that was not enough, in December 2016 the US Embassy reported AmCham was launched with Daniel Hailu as President at the presence of Embassy Charge D’Affaires   Petter Vrooman and the then Ethiopian Investment Commission General Director Fesum Arega ( the present Ethiopian Ambassador to US)  the But, the State Department in January 2009  reported American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham)  Ethiopia established under the Former US Ambassador to Ethiopia Donald Yamamoto to “enhance the bilateral trading relationship between the two countries”  and,  Nazeret Media in its January 12, 2009 report confirmed ‘AmCham launch with its President Getachew Ayele’ in the presence of Ambassador Yamamoto and Ministry of Trade and Industry Girma Birru.

Unfortunately, the US Embassy nor the State Department didn’t know AmCham Ethiopia was launched in 2009 in the same Embassy it was relaunched in 2016 again.  Nor, the new President Daniel Hailu, (the only person identified on the new AmCham Ethiopia official website says where the old AmCham gone and who may be the officers of the new AmCham Ethiopia. The only public record found on the new President is Bloomberg reporting; ‘Daniel Hailu is a CEO of General Electric Ethiopia since 2016, the same year the new AmCham was launched.

At the meantime, a woman identified as Rebeca Araya is profiled on World Economic Forum website as the General Manger at AmCham Ethiopia. No one knows who may be behind AmCham established in 2009 nor reestablished in 2016. A comparable AmCham Kenya not only disclose it Founders, the officers and their credential but what they do as chamber of commerce.

Regrettably, people who belong in penitentiary or reformatory are free to come on the world stage as private equity investors, journalists and development experts, trade reps… to legitimize a corrupt system under reform that demands a complete overhaul and accountability on how the public affairs is conducted.

They say, ‘where there is smoke there is fire’. In this case, where there is dollar to be made, there are a pack of economic hitmen and women out to get it. With the old edict of ‘follow the money’, there is no need to go for endless search to find the source of the political, social and economic problem of Ethiopia but to follow the dollar.

Whether Bomba and his cheerleading panelists at CSIS’s conference and participants at the  Ethiopia Partnership Forum (EPF) and privately invite Diaspora Business Forum as many more before and to come to tell the world; what is good for them is good for the people of Ethiopia  and America shouldn’t surprise anyone.  After all, that is what they do best to socialize the risk on the people and privatize the reward for themselves and sponsors and, why individual accountability and transparency matter now than ever.

In a nation like Ethiopia where the government, the ruling party, the private and non-governmental sector as well as the Media are indistinguishable as long as we can remember, Interest groups running their mouth on staged conference and Media is nothing more than a ‘pretense of intelligence ignorance’ of the highest order.

Once again, as the vocal animal rights advocate Sir Paul McCartney said; “if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone will be vegetarian”. In the same breath, if public houses had glass walls, every elite would be kosher or go to jail.

The Agriculture Transformation Agency CEO Kalid Bomba and associates may transform the profits of offshore venture capital by creating a banana republic but, for sure they won’t transform the economy nor “improve the livelihood of small farmer,  food security at a national level and agriculture sector as a catalyst for transformation” as Bomba put it and they know it.

As absurd as it is for a self-described Wall Street sovereign fund manager to utters empty jargon and for his cheerleading  consultant scribble promotional booklet that belong in the 17th century agriculture revolution for an party captured ethnic Apartheid Developmental State under reform in the 21st century, it is clear they aren’t familiar with their Miranda Rights  — ‘the right to remain silent. Anything you say and do can and will be used against you in court of law’ not to self- incriminate.

Our people say; ‘የጎርጊስን ግብር የበላ ያስለፈልፈዋል’. Bomba like many of his dysfunctional peers utters nonsense because there has never been individual accountability in lawless nation of Ethiopia under ‘reform’.

Plato,  the Athenian philosopher, the founder of Platonist school of thought — The Academy, the first institution of higher learning  in Western world in the early 400 BC wrote; “we can easily forgive a child who is afraid of dark, the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of  light.”

Here we are in the 21st century, adults with credentials exclusively from Western institutions of higher learning afraid of light they are hiding in the dark to do the bidding of their sponsors against their own people. As tragic as it is, what Ethiopians do to adults, particularly learned men and women afraid of light is the ultimately solution for the entire problem facing the people of Ethiopia.

As the debate among the elites on the political, social and economic reform of the 27-year-old ethnic apartheid Developmental State continue, the advice of a young Indian author and magician Amit Kalantri — “you will have relatively less problems to solve, if you don’t confuse problems with inconvenience” goes a long way.

The reformist Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed took a quantum leap in the right direction to draw the line between lawless ethnic apartheid developmental state led by ruling member party TPLF elites and the public interest led by popular demand for reform but, so far he came short of the basic test of the reform – to put a light on the elites he encounters in his reform effort — starting with members of the Office of the Prime Minster and government agencies and the public data held hostage  by the ruling party.

Short of explanation, he appears to confuse the problems of Ethiopia with the inconvenience of the ruling elites’ and their sponsors that caused the problem in the first place. It will be indeed another tragedy in the political history of Ethiopia if the PM reform fail to tell the difference between what is good for the elites and sponsors is not necessarily good for the people of Ethiopia as we see them scramble to look ‘holier than the pope’ talking on both side of their mouth afraid of light at the expenses of the blood and sweat of the people of Ethiopia.

The sooner PM Abiy turns the light on the adults around him, the better he and the people of Ethiopia will be. But, under no circumstances, he should insult the intelligence of the people of Ethiopia not to know the difference between who-is-who afraid of light.

That said, the responsibility does not rest on the PM alone but on each-and-every elite particularly the Media elite that sees, hears or speaks no evil to excuse adults operating in the dark afraid of light.

After all, democratic reform and economic development is all about putting light on adults hiding in the dark doing nefarious things for power and money at the expenses of the people and, it shows.

The article is dedicated for the youth of Ethiopia caught up with adults afraid of light talking on both side of their mouth to lead them in the dark.