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The Economist Didn’t Publish an Article on PM Abiy Ahmed “Modernizing Addis Ababa Too Fast” 

By Naol Getachew

Claim: A Twitter account shared an image claiming to be a screenshot from The Economist website, titled “Ethiopia’s restless prime minister is modernizing Addis Ababa too fast.” 

Verdict: False. The image is a manipulated photoshop creation.

An X account with 6,900 followers named CHERBOLE shared an image on April 27, 2024 with an Amharic caption that translates to “[t]hat’s it. Abiy Ahmed Ali (the prime minister of the FDRE) has impressed the world this much.” This post has received more than 20,000 views and has been shared more than 78 times as of the publication of this article.

However, the image used by the account is a photoshop creation.

The image in question contains a photo of demolished houses with a title of “Ethiopia’s restless prime minister is modernizing Addis Ababa too fast.” The subtitle reads “Abiy Ahmed is making the city is too clean for Africa”.

MFC used three methodologies to verify the claim: observation, use of tools, and communication with the media/journalist of The Economist.

Observation

MFC first searched the title in The Economist website but found no matching article. 

We then reviewed recent articles written about Ethiopia and found an article titled “The historic heart of Addis Ababa is being demolished: Abiy Ahmed is imposing his vision on Ethiopia’s capital” (see screenshot below).

The claim carried the same cover photo, date of publication, image, and image credit as with the above original one.

When we examined the image shared by the X account, we also noticed a grammatical issue in the subtitle, which is unlikely for such a large international media outlet to make such an error (see screenshot below).

Tool

MFC also used the Fake Image Detector tool to check if the image had been modified. The tool returned the result: “Looks like Computer Generated or Modified image.”

Communication

MFC contacted a correspondent journalist at The Economist, who confirmed that there is no article with the title “Ethiopia’s restless prime minister is modernizing Addis Ababa too fast”.

Based on the gathered evidence, MFC confirmed that the image shared by the X account claiming that The Economist wrote an article with the title “Ethiopia’s restless prime minister is modernizing Addis Ababa too fast” is false.

Context

The Ethiopian government, through the Addis Ababa City Administration, has been demolishing buildings in the Piassa area as part of the Addis Ababa Corridor Development Project. The government says the project aims to modernize the city and achieve international smart city standards. However, critics argue that the demolitions are destroying historical heritage. This tweet was circulated in this context.

We at the MFC strive to verify misleading and false claims so that people get fact-based information and make an informed decision as well. In the process of our work, accuracy and transparency hold a central role. Therefore, if you see errors in our content, please write to us at [email protected] so that our team will make corrections.

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MultiFactCheck

(MFC) is an independent fact-checking organization which is launched to pin-point, track-down, scrutinize, investigate, interrogate, publish and distribute the factual accuracy of claims made by public figures. MFC’s project has geographical priorities. Our work mainly focuses on nations in the Horn of Africa and their diaspora community who reside abroad. We operates from various regions of Africa, Europe and North America. Through a multitude of professional proficiency, MFC deploys best practices of journalism, scholarship and expertise in order to flag, investigate and publish a fact.

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