Kitaw Yayehyirad Kitaw

PhD fellow

Research group(s):
4. Sustainable Development, Innovation and Societal Transitions
7. ICT-enabled Innovation and Societal Transformations

Kitaw Yayehyirad KITAW (Yayeh KITAW) is a PhD Fellow in Governance and Policy Analysis at the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance. He works for the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations specialized agency for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) based in Geneva.

In addition to his technical and policy-related experience in ICTs with the ITU, he is the founder of, a pioneering, award winning and impactful website that provided the first discussion forums using the Ethiopian Geez Alphabet on the Internet (Warka) and this, in the early days of the World Wide Web when only images and latin characters could be posted online. Launched in 1996, CyberEthiopia was among the first popular websites restricted from being accessed in Ethiopia by the then regime from May 2006 to June 2018 (12 years), unblocked in 2018  when a new Prime Minister arrived in office, announcing waves of reforms preluding the democratization of the nation.

Combining his collected experience relating to the community website with those at the International Telecommunication Union, he aims to advance thinking and advocate practices so that innovation and technology advancements are informed by their social and human impacts when addressing developmental challenges outlined in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Kitaw holds an MBA in Management of Technology from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) and is currently a PhD Fellow  at the University of Maastricht - UNU-MERIT researching on the role of the Internet in pathways to democratization of authoritarian regimes.

More broadly, his research interests include how ICTs are reshaping authoritarianism, democratization, governance and democracy in general.

Related links



The views and opinions expressed in these research working papers are solely those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the official position of his employer and the academic institutions he is affiliated with.