Britain Gives £5 Million To The Ethiopian Spice Girls...
UK taxpayers have picked up a new £5.2million bill to fund a talk show for Ethiopia's own Spice Girls.
Yegna, a five-strong pop group, has been awarded a contract to develop its 'branded media platform', which also includes a radio drama and music.
The foreign aid cash - which will keep the band going until at least 2018 - comes despite officials warning it may be a waste of money.
Yegna's aim is to empower young women in the African country through music.
In 2013 a Mail investigation from Ethiopia, which is one of the biggest recipients of British aid, revealed a UK-funded project named Girl Hub had provided £4million to help fund the group.
Ethiopian critics at the time said it was enough money to run the Yegna initiative for 154 years.
Then last year the Independent Commission on Aid Impact watchdog warned ministers to halt the project unless managers could show it was working.
It called for a review on whether 'funding is merited' amid 'significant concerns' as officials considered plans to pour another £16million into the project as a whole.
But following the report, the Department for International Development (Dfid), gave the go-ahead and injected a further £5.2million in the Yegna brand alone, it can be revealed.
The remaining of the £16million planned for the wider project of Girl Hub - then re-branded as Girl Effect - was also signed off.
The £5.2million Yegna contract for its brand and media platform was published on the Government website under its Dfid contracts.
Plans to pour new money into the project has never been publicly announced by the government.
The Ethiopian, from left, Lemlem Hailemichael, Zebiba Girma, Rahel Getu, Eyerusalem Kelemework and Teref Hassahun, have been funded by the UK taxpayer
Like the original Spice Girls, the Yegna members each have a nickname.
Lemlem Hailemicheal, 29, plays a tomboy, Zebiba Girma, 25, a mysterious character, Rahel Getu, 25, a dependable one, Eyerusalem Kelemework, 30, is a genius, and Teref Kassahun, 29, plays a spoiled brat.
They have performed concerts in Ethiopia, taken part in film screenings, and had several number one hits.
Their song This House says: 'Women are sisters, women are mothers, women are wives. Let's respect them. Tell that guy to respect girls and we will respect him.'
They are now looking to develop their media brand.
In 2013, Miss Hailemicheal said: 'It is definitely worth the cost – it is an amazing issue. It means a lot to Ethiopia and we are using the money effectively … We are like the Spice Girls except our music is not just for entertaining – it is educational.'
Yegna manager Selome Tadesse has said the band aims to bring about behavioural and material change for girls, by girls.