Most independent observers feel that, overall, Ethiopia is on the rise, and may even emerge as an African powerhouse alongside South Africa and Nigeria—and ahead of Kenya, its regional rival. It is proud of having the African Union’s headquarters and of providing more UN peacekeepers than any other African country. It is a leading mediator in the region, especially in war-torn South Sudan, and has won plaudits from the West for its fierce stand against jihadism. It also caters for more refugees than any other African country—some 820,000 at last count.

On the home front, Ethiopia’s infrastructure plans have attracted the interest of potential investors from across the globe. Yet unless the government gets a move on frustration will grow, at home and abroad. If the ruling party had the courage to open up the economic and political system, the pace of Ethiopia’s progress towards prosperity and stability would quicken. Even lovely, remote Lalibela would gain.