Abiy Ahmed | KBIA

Abiy Ahmed

European Pressphoto

The young nation of Eritrea is often referred to as the North Korea of Africa.

The country has jailed thousands of political prisoners, eliminated the independent press and forces much of the population into indefinite military service. Border guards sometimes ‘shoot to kill’ Eritreans fleeing the country.

But since a July peace agreement, with longtime adversary Ethiopia,  Eritreans are waiting to see if new contacts with the outside world will open up a closed state.

On this edition of Global Journalist, a look at Eritrea's moment of opportunity.

AP Photo

The East African nation of Ethiopia has spent much of the last three decades as an authoritarian one-party state.

Political opponents of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front were regularly jailed. Independent journalists could be beaten, exiled or charged with terrorism.

But earlier this year a new prime minister took power in Africa’s second-most populous nation and has set out to make some big changes. Abiy Ahmed is just 41, and is often compared by Ethiopians to Barack Obama for his youthful looks and energetic speeches.

He's released hundreds of political prisoners - including many charged under a sweeping “anti-terrorism” law. He’s made overtures to Ethiopia’s archenemy Eritrea and condemned his own security forces' use of torture and arbitrary detention.

On this edition of Global Journalist, a look at Ethiopia’s new prime minister and his efforts to open one of Africa’s most repressive states.