Sahle-Work Zewde is Ethiopia’s new president after the resignation of Mulatu Teshome Wirtu who was at the helm from October 7, 2013, to October 25, 2018.
In a historic moment for Ethiopia, Zewde becomes the first female to be appointed to that position since the country’s founding.
The 68-year-old Zewde is a career diplomat whose tenure spans three decades.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Zewde the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON) in 2011 making her the first person to hold the post at the level of Under-Secretary-General.
Zewde’s career includes being the country’s Ambassador to Senegal, with accreditation to Mali, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia and Guinea, from 1989 to 1993.
The president who studied natural science at the University of Montpellier, France is fluent in Amharic, French and English and she served as the Ambassador to Djibouti from 1993 to 2002.
Within the same period, she was Ethiopia’s Permanent Representative to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
Zewde also served as Ethiopia’s Ambassador to France and accredited to Tunisia and Morocco from 2002 to 2006 while also being the Permanent Representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
She also held a number of other high-level positions including as the Director-General for African Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia. Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
Zewde has also served as a Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA).
Born on February 21, 1950, Zewde takes the helm at a time when Ethiopia is experiencing radical changes in its governance.
Ethiopia’s youthful Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is the 15th to hold that office since April 2, 2018.
Some observers believe that being the first Oromo to head the ruling EPRDF coalition, he can bring change and sanity in conflict-ridden regions in the country’s population of 105 million.
This year has seen many Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in Ethiopia due to the renewed vigour in expanding democracy and also the availability of labour and other human resources in Africa’s second most populous country.
Among investors interested include those from Thailand, Italy, Hong Kong and India. The country has also opened up its financial sector while its flagship airline continues to dazzle global airspaces including in Somalia.
Prime Minister Abiy and President Zewde may just be the key ingredient the country needed to propel it to a first world economy.
Already, companies like Volkswagen and Maersk are pitching a tent in the country while South Africa-based MTN is also eyeing a share of Ethiopian cake.
Ethiopians have been ranked among the world’s poorest citizens with DR Congo’s and Nigerians but the country has started opening up its economy by approving a $86 million kitty to create 161,000 jobs.
ERC which has been mandated to develop a modern railway infrastructure to ease both goods and passengers transportation has challenged private players to come on board to make the dream a reality.
The country introduced a new PPP law early this year in the realisation of the private sector’s role in economic growth and improvement of public services.
ERC recently completed the $4 billion Addis Ababa-Djibouti cross-border electrified standard gauge railway (SGR) to improve cargo movement between the two nations.
The new cross-border project is the first electrified SGR railroad on the continent and the railway infrastructure will contribute significantly to the region’s economy.