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Open Society postpones office opening in Addis
Patrick Gaspard, President of Open Society Foundations

Open Society postpones office opening in Addis

Open Society Foundations (OSF) has delayed its long belated Addis Ababa office opening, which was supposed to have been opened in August, over “logistic” issues, The Reporter has learnt.

Ruth Omondi, the communications officer of Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa, told a media availability session at Radisson Blu on Thursday that, it is business as usual within the capital and the group is set to offer funds to a slew of local organizations. This is comes as it targets its office opening to “sometime in June” of next year.

According to sources, so far, government institutions and media outlets are set to receive funding. Among them are, the online Addis Standard and Addis Fortune newspaper, getting USD 200,000 and USD 160, 000, respectively.

In addition, the organization is set to start soliciting funding requests for a USD 15 million to help recoup looted African cultural artifacts that are scattered around the world.

Open Society Foundation is known to fund projects it deems “work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies” around the world. As such, it has funded various organization and on rare occasion, individuals it sees as fulfilling its mission, in addition to generous scholarships. Up to 50,000 USD is funded by regional offices (internally) while more than that are determined by its headquarters in Vienna, Austria by a boards selected from a pool of applications submitted by three sets of deadlines annually.

Owned by George Soros and founded in 1993 in the midst of a right-wing wave that was taking hold in the world which Soros opposed; the funds are to be used for “ongoing research projects and initiatives addressing the restitution of African cultural heritage.”

“The legacy of colonial violence has deep implications for the ways that racism and imbalances of power are perpetuated today. “This isn’t just about returning pieces of art, but about restoring the very essence of these cultures,” said Patrick Gaspard, the President of Open Society and an Obama era ambassador to South Africa.

In recent months, the society had to fight against Facebook for claiming those that oppose the company as “agents of George Soros,” for which Patrick responded as the attack being something that “threatens the very values underpinning our democracy.” Within Ethiopia, this sentiment has been echoed by Olympian Haile Gerbeselassie, who has threatened to sue Facebook for being an accomplice to some of the deadly unrests that occurred regularly within Ethiopia.

The foundation also had to fight from re-locating its educational institution, Central European University from Hungary to Austria, which it later moved it to Vienna. The university led by Canadian–American Harvard educated academic and one-time aspiring Canadian Prime Minister; Michael Ignatieff has been accused of political interference by Hungary’s ultra conservative government led by Viktor Orban and echoed by President Donald J. Trump.

Ruth Omondi promised to reveal the names of all the local recipients of funds to The Reporter, which did not come to fruition until press time. 

The Open Society Foundations are active in more than 120 countries around the world. National and regional foundations and thematic programs give thousands of grants every year toward building inclusive and vibrant democracies.