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Why is the one of the world’s leading foreign aid recipients spending millions on internet hacking?

Why is the one of the world’s leading foreign aid recipients spending millions on internet hacking?
Fikrejesus Amahazion, PhD

Last week, a large trove of emails was released showing how the Italian surveillance firm Hacking Team sold surveillance technology to governments around the world. The technology allows governments to infect smartphones and computers with malware to covertly record conversations and steal data. Amongst the numerous governments implicated was Ethiopia, with the leaked information showing that the government targeted Ethiopian journalists based in the United States. The Ethiopian regime possesses a deplorable record on freedom of the press, and the Ethiopian diaspora is vital in presenting coverage of the country's domestic situation.

Notably, the leaked documents reveal how Hacking Team charged the Ethiopian regime $1 million in 2012 for services, while in recent years the regime has been one of the firm’s top clients (by total sales revenue). Somewhat amusingly, the emails also reveal that Hacking Team considered the Ethiopian government too “reckless and clumsy” in its use of the surveillance tools and thus representing a threat to expose the firm and its activities.

With little question, the leaked documents underscore the Ethiopian government’s status as a repressive regime with amongst the world’s worst records on human rights and free speech. However, serious questions arise when the leaked documents are considered alongside the fact that Ethiopia is one of the world’s largest recipients of foreign economic assistance. For decades, various despotic Ethiopian regimes have been highly dependent on foreign aid. In 2012, it was the world’s seventh largest recipient of official humanitarian aid and received $3.2 billion in total assistance, the latter figure representing between 50-60 percent of its total budget. Moreover, Ethiopia’s 2011 share of total official development assistance – approximately 4 percent – placed it behind only Afghanistan, while over the years, the country has received tens of millions of dollars in western (especially US) military assistance. Ironically, just last week, the annual Global Humanitarian Assistance Report was published, revealing that across 2004-2013, Ethiopia was the world’s fourth largest recipient of foreign assistance, collecting US$5.9 billion.

Thus, donors must ask why exactly is one of the world’s poorest countries, with a host of socio-economic and development challenges, spending large sums of money to illegally monitor journalists, rather than feed or clothe its people? While the international community has a moral imperative to assist governments and people around the world who are in need of help, it must also commit to ensuring that assistance is utilized appropriately. Otherwise, the international community becomes complicit in the oppression of the people it allegedly claims to want to help.

Ethiopia’s $1 million bill from Hacking Team.

A leaked email reveals that Hacking Team considers the Ethiopian government “reckless and clumsy” and thus a threat to expose the firm and its activities.

Hacking Team’s Total Revenues per Country; Ethiopia is one of the firm’s top clients.

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Why is the one of the world’s leading foreign aid recipients spending millions on internet hacking? Reviewed by Admin on 3:58 PM Rating: 5


  1. why are eritreans concerned about ethiopia and ethiopians while millions of them are immigrating and dying every where! It seems shabia has no hope its hope is already died that is why it is barking nonsesly !

  2. I know eritrea very well while i was working for an international development organization based in sudan but working for the two countries from 1995-1999.Being a senior economist what i understood veyrwell is eritrea has no resource or a potential resource even that could feed its people let alone to bring development.bringing eritrea as an indepedent coutry is a nightmare which could not be realised.the whole problem including this foolish propoganda is the result of the night mare.They could not able to live independently so day and night they propagate about ethiopia.the eritrean governemt has already no job except propageting ethiopia.Because this is the result of the nightmare! the propagation will continue because the result of the nightmare will continue and increase in size and scope until eritrea becomes desintegrated!

  3. Melaku
    What a waste of time for you to respon to your respons but I wonder who hire you as senior economist. If you have really the basic know how of the evonomic theory you should not have written a piece like you did, becouse that did really exposed that you are ignorats about Eritrea and the very issue you raiser economics. You are consumed with hatred.
    A conserned Eritrean

  4. SELAM
    On why do ERITREANS care about Ethiopia?
    you are wright we should not care, But since you are the neighbor (unfortunately)
    HEMAM GOREBET TEHALALAFI .On the ERITREANS dying every where, most of
    Them are from your Country. (we know that). On SHABIA has no hope ,SHABIA
    Does not bark in the parliament wedging WAR.(Remember SHABIA put them weyene in the place that they dreamed of .Last SHABIA is the KING & QUEEN

  5. Until the western media cover will stop, weyane could survive for a while, but not much, because we learn from history, that a puppet gov. in Burkina faso, was removed despite the support of france to Blaise Compaore, same thing even weyane will suffocate people, sooner or later will rises up, the same suppressed since weyane get power on 1991..

  6. ኣሌክ - Alec youJuly 14, 2015 at 3:48 PM

    Just STFU......

  7. ኣሌክ - Alec youJuly 14, 2015 at 3:49 PM

    To see them waste their Aid-money in this satisfying!! :)

  8. SELAM
    I think you are missing in action like some of your country men ,
    What we have we have MIND YOUR OWN BUISNESS
    Shame on U. You should talk about what you are doing now
    And for ECONOMIST you can not spell read what you wrote.
    Disintegration will happen SOUTH of THE BORDER (Ethiopia)
    We eat what we have, Not what uncle SAM GIVE US.

  9. The Ethiopians are the ones who have ERITREAN CRONIC SYNDROM
    you forget we keep telling you and them to leave us alone, It has past twenty four (24) years
    who do you think is feeding the country? your MASTERS?

  10. Bones of the dead still not collected ,how sure are you that they are Eths? Is that how you treat your war vets? We , then, thought that Assab which is Ethiopias,was the only outlet,now we have so many and for us Eritrea is a dead case. Dont waste time saying you pay x amount,which u definitely will, and tired of that and we know what is good for us and off..course we are building Djibouti ,our brothers who openly allowed us to use there port when your Dia, wantd to use your assab and masswa as a bargaining chip and exploit Ethiopias resourses.It did not work ,LOSERS.

  11. Stop crying. You did not reply the second question, if we are losers, why are you here?
    Leave the losers home alone! for God sake LOL

  12. Where is here?the web? Yes you are losers, but you never admit.why i am posting ,to let others know who genuinely want to ,what is real and the truth in the will fail soon nation of eritrea.By the way how many are sleeping with peanuts in their tummy at night like the 90s.l


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