Ethiopia police have in the past week seized huge cash sums and arms in different parts of the country, state affiliated FANA Broadcasting Corporate have reported.
The report quoted the police as saying they had seized close to $10 million dollars in cash. The said amount was intercepted in a multi-agency operation in and outside of the capital Addis Ababa.
According to Zeyinu Jemal, Commissioner General of the Federal Police Commission, the operation was conducted jointly with the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) and Oromia regional police with support from the public.
He added that over 1,000 weapons were also seized during the operation, among others: pistols, two machine guns, and 80,000 ammunitions.
The police said they believed that the weapons were smuggled into Ethiopia via Sudan and Djibouti to create instability. “Those individuals suspected of hoarding the foreign currency are under police investigation,” the FANA report added.
The incident is not the first time that foreign currency has been intercepted by the authorities. In November 2017, custom authorities said they continued to record increasing incidence of forex smuggling especially via its main airport, Bole International Airport in the capital Addis Ababa.
Authorities reported that they had intercepted an audacious attempt to take out 4 million US dollars via the airport in 2016.
Despite showing the fastest growth in Africa for the past decade, Ethiopia – a landlocked country of 100 million people is heavily dependent on imports.
A hard currency crunch caused partly by spending on big infrastructure projects has reduced foreign currency reserves to less than one month’s worth of imports, according to analysts’ estimates. Foreign investors and local businesses say all sectors of the economy have been hit.
Abiy said in April that the government’s plans to continue expanding its infrastructure and the nascent manufacturing sector meant the currency crisis might last for 15 or 20 years.
The United Arab Emirates promised to give Addis Ababa $3 billion to ease the shortage with a foreign ministry official stating that $2 billion from Abu Dhabi would be invested in tourism, renewable energy and agriculture. The remaining was to be deposited at the central bank to ease the crippling currency shortage.