Cash rules everything around me
Addis Ababa, a city ruled by cash with a population that has none. What does the future hold for its citizens who navigate this labyrinth with no end in sight?
Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, is a bustling metropolis that exudes potential. It is a city where modernity and tradition meet to create a unique identity that could rival any other city in the world. However, this potential is being hindered by the colossal and absurdly high cost of living.
The price of basic food items such as milk, bread, and eggs has skyrocketed in the last few years. This inflation has left the residents of Addis Ababa struggling to keep up with the ever-increasing prices. For instance, a gallon of cooking oil can cost as much as $20, which is a staggering amount for most of the population. One cannot help but ponder, why are these prices not available à la carte at Michelin-star restaurants? Food prices have risen so high that they are beyond the reach of the average resident of Addis Ababa, who would never be able to afford a decent meal let alone have enough leftovers to store in a refrigerator, or even buy a refrigerator to begin with.
Real estate prices are perhaps the most insane aspect of this debacle. It is astounding that the value of properties in Addis Ababa is similar to the value of real estate in Dubai. For comparison, the annual salary of the average Ethiopian is less than one-tenth of the average person in Dubai, and yet the value of real estate is the same if not more in Addis. Dubai, with all its tourist attractions and affluent lifestyle, appeals to millions of people around the world. At the same time, Addis Ababa is still struggling to gain that level of international appeal needed to attract genuine foreign investment. It's no surprise that the residents are bedazzled and frozen stiff, not knowing how to react to this unprecedentedly preposterous situation in which they find themselves.
The irony of this situation is that those in charge are promoting Addis Ababa to be the next Dubai when the basic cost of living is drastically different. From the comfort of their palaces, they levy an unprecedented property tax on citizens who can barely make ends meet. The irony continues; city officials flaunt designer clothes and shoes that are custom-made for their plus-sized bodies while a significant proportion of their constituents are struggling to feed themselves. We wonder how it's possible for the mayor to wear Prada heels designed for a 14-year-old while her feet are the size of waffle irons and her Gucci overcoat is snapping like a whip over her straining belly. Maybe she is using levitation techniques instead of walking. How much for a Gucci overcoat? One million dollars? Two million dollars? Where did that come from? One can only wonder as they commute from home to work on a rather uncomfortable bus seat of a suffocating shuttle.
Complaint has only taken us so far, "It can always get worse!" the average citizen will tell you. It's better to commute in an overpacked shuttle than to walk from your home in the suburbs. Better to live in the suburbs than to be left on the streets of the downtown area. Better the downtown streets than starvation. Better starvation than war. Is there any end in sight? These questions have often been left to waddle amongst the lower to medium echelons of the working class, but with the recent turn of events and a largely educated demographic of middle income people now finding their position in society threatened, it would seem those questions have finally surfaced to the light. What does the future hold for your average Abebe, Tesfaye or Aster? After all the generational wealth being poured into their education do they now find that they have to work another 150 years just to afford a house?
It is a sad state of affairs when residents of a city cannot imagine a better future due to the persistent rise in cost of living. With no end in sight to this inflation crisis, social unrest and high rates of crime are to be expected. "Just a few years, just a few more years and a few more palaces until prosperity!" the residents hear, as they watch their homes being razed to the ground. Just 150 more years until they get their palace, give or take a few years, most likely take considering the price of food items. Or is that give? Who am I kidding, nothing gives around here.
In conclusion, one cannot help but imagine a future where the residents of Addis Ababa will have to insert debit cards into their mouths just to eat. Inflation in any city can have an impact on the residents' lives. It remains up to the authorities to take charge, reduce prices, address the pressing issues regarding the citizens' basic needs and ensure that Addis Ababa's potential is realized by not trying to live above the city's already strained economic reality.