In his efforts to purge military favoritism and government control over key sectors, Abiy also canceled the state-run Metals and Engineering Corporation’s (METEC) contract to supply hydraulic pipes for the multi-billion-dollar Grand Renaissance Dam. Located in the headwaters of the Blue Nile, the dam is the centerpiece of Ethiopia’s bid to become Africa’s biggest exporter of electricity through hydroelectric power. Its construction had created long-standing tensions with Egypt—worries that Abiy assuaged when he visited the North African nation in June by telling president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi that Addis Ababa won’t cut its share of the Nile. METEC also suffered a blow in April when its contract to develop the country’s sugar industry was revoked.

Ahead of these key announcements, Abiy met on Friday (July 24) with the community and religious leaders from the Somali Regional State. The eastern state had recently experienced chaos and violence, with the government deploying federal troops to oust local officials accused of human rights violations.

The delegation was led by the region’s new president, Mustafa M. Omer, whose own brother was allegedly killed by the previous regional administration, led by Abdi Mohamoud Omar, better known as Abdi Iley. Iley is accused by Human Rights Watch of committing a range of abuses and using the controversial Liyu police to deepen his control over the region since 2010—a regime largely sanctioned by the previous administration in Addis Ababa. Forced to resign earlier this month, Iley was arrested on Monday (Aug. 27) for overseeing brutal crimes and stoking ethnic violence.

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.