Ethiopia is committed in guaranteeing freedom of expression and democratization: Ethiopian President
by Eyayu Alemayehu
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 2019 World Press Freedom Day on Thursday, African Union Deputy Chairman Thomas Kwesi said Ethiopia has made a remarkable achievement in advancing Press Freedom.
"Ethiopia is hosting this event because it progressed 40 steps in the Global Press Freedom Index," Kwesi said.
Kwesi was referring to the reforms of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who in 2018, released all journalists from prison.
Blogs, websites, print and broadcast outlets which were suspended before the reform have been re-opened.
According to the 2019 Reporters Without Borders Index, for the first time in ten years, there are no media professionals in prison in Ethiopia.
This achievement has helped Ethiopia advance 40 rankings in a single year, from its previous rank of 150th on the Press Freedom Index. The country now ranks at 110th.
Kwesi affirmed the effort Prime Minister Ahmed is making in democratizing the nation, including freedom of expression.
"Since free, independent and professional media's role is vital to the AU's Agenda (2063) we encourage and give assistance for such progress" Kwesi added.
After acknowledging Ethiopia’s advancement in Press Freedom, the Executive Secretary of UNECA, Vera Songwe, stated that Ethiopia should continue this advancement, and that more progress was needed.
“But Ethiopia can do better and I would like to see this country among the top 20,” added Ms. Songwe, referencing that although major strides had been made, there was still room for improvement.
After Songwe spoke, Ethiopian President Sahilework Zewde said that Ethiopia will continue to work in guaranteeing freedom of the press and democratization.
"The remarkable achievement we have made in 2018 will encourage us to redouble the effort in reform and democratization," Zewde said.
President Zewde also confirmed that the media reform Ethiopia has made changed its profile in the Global Press Freedom Index.
“The Ethiopian Government is fully committed to continue its effort [on advancing Press Freedom,” President Zewde said.