J.R.R Tolkein's 'Lord of the Rings' is considered to be one of the most important literary achievement in the English language, and one of the most classic stories ever told. Middle-earth, the mythic fantasy land where the book's world of elves, wizards, monsters and magic, introduced an entirely new realm of fantasy that had never seen before.
Anyone who have read the book, or seen the movies inspired by the book, will see the strong links between the epic tale told and Ethiopia, especially similarity in place names in the book and Ethiopia - the fictional Gondor and the real-life Gondar, Rohan and Roha (former name of Lalibela), Harad and Harar, Barad-dûr and Bahir Dar, Shire and Shire endaselassie.
A recent book by Michael Muhling, 'The Real Middle-earth: Discovering the Origin of The Lord of the Rings', depicts Ethiopia as the inspiration of Tolkein's beloved book by going further than pointing out similar names, by identifying extensive and detailed connections between Middle-earth and Ethiopia.
The aim of this introductory part is not to talk about the merits of ‘Lord of the Rings’, but to point out how being part of a discussion in one of the greatest literary work, a film, or a pop culture phenomenon for that matter, can improve a country's tourism, its brand and cultural diplomacy. [
Considering the intensity of how Ethiopia is mentioned in traveler/tourist blog-verse in relation to 'Lord of the Rings', for instance, it is obvious that such mechanism would play a huge role in spiking the country's tourist inflow.
Though anecdotal in nature so far, there is a strong correlation made between the power of film (movies and series) and attractiveness of tourism destinations to create the phenomenon called film-induced tourism. This is not done knowingly to lure visitors or investors, but it can create powerful image that would create a pulling power for the viewers to travel to the film location and experience it in reality. The capacity of popular films and television series in attracting tourists, in the form of popularizing and promoting tourist destination, is agreed upon.
According to various data, the movie 'Braveheart’ has brought 300 percent increase year after its release to Wallace monument in Scotland, while movies like ‘Mission Impossible 2’ and ‘Troy’ have brought in 200 percent and 73 percent increase in tourism of Australia and Turkey respectively. Lord of the Rings' has contributed to the economy of New Zealand, the country where the film was filmed at.
As a result to such developing phenomenon, film induced tourism is now gaining traction in the academia world and the tourism sector, and inviting in-depth study. And according to Gezahegn Abate, Public and International Affairs Director at the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Ethiopia's government also recognizes this.
Gezahegn said that in parallel to having a cultural policy, film policy is prepared and is awaiting ratification from Council of Ministers, where if the ratification is to come, then it will be put to work. The Director also mentioned that the film industry is a big promotion platform, and should play a role.
Given the competitiveness of the globalization era, there have to be new and unorthodox avenues to attract tourists these days, and film induced or pop-culture driven tourism represent those means of reaching the audience.
Also for him, the potential role film plays is not only contained in attracting tourists by depicting the good image of the country, but it also can play a pivotal role in bringing out the untapped part of the country's culture, historical heritage and fascinating landscape.
All in all, film induced tourism provide huge opportunity for countries like Ethiopia that have amazing tourism potential, but lacks the media infrastructure to get what it has out there to the world.
In general, a film or pop-culture induced tourism that is managed and carried out by local policy has even more tremendous potential. It is, however, a specific marketing niche that needs to be understood. Only by investing the necessary resources as well as establishing sustainable strategies can Ethiopia profit from it in the long run.
Nurturing and supporting local talent, providing big incentives to foreign film production so that they are attracted to film their projects here and organizing a reputable annual international film festival is one way to go as well.
BY ROBEL YOHANNES
What does reading culture and postal service have in common? According to Gedey Gebreyohannes, General Manager of the Ethiopian Postal Service, writing and reading letters signify a start or gateway into a reading culture within young minds. Writing letter represents the first love of young students with reading and writing.
Owing to its closeness to reading culture of a given society, Universal Postal Union (UPU) for the past 40 years has organized an International Letter-writing Competition for young people aged below 15 in cooperation with UNESCO.
While the Ethiopian Postal Service also organized the competition since its inception, last Monday it arranged a panel discussion aimed at discussing the current state of reading culture within the young generation, thereby carry out its social responsibility in this regard. During the discussion, it was disclosed that the participation of the young in the competition have been diminishing, and various perspectives were heard to rectify the situation.
Dr. Mohammed Ali, a lecturer at Addis Ababa University (AAU) structured his argument that would help reignite the reading culture within the young. For him, as reading entails the relaying and receiving of knowledge, information, persuasion, and sharing of experience, it is a vital component to create a responsible, resourceful and ethical generation.
Reading culture also facilitates a generation of young people that are capable of identifying between the good and the bad sides of the impacts of globalization and thereby strengthen their capabilities accordingly.
According to Dr. Mohammed, the issue requires concerted efforts from the government to the individual level. And he proposed what he called a two-pronged support – professional and financial. In terms of professional support, he suggested having parents nurture reading culture within their children beginning from their young age, until they enter into school where teachers should enrich the culture through setting up reading clubs in schools. He also suggested cultural centers, the media, theater and cinemas to contribute their own role in enriching reading culture. Mentioning how theaters have started a platform for discussing newly released books, he believes that such platforms can be augmented to ameliorate reading culture.
In terms of financial support, the suggestion focused on printing press and of course investors to contribute their part, as they are in a position to contribute hugely to this cause. As per Dr. Mohammed such concerted and multifaceted effort amounts to creating a generation that is well aware of its identity, country and inner capability.
One thing Dr. Mohammed talked about was how setting up book clubs in schools can contribute to improve the reading culture in schools, and country. This is the idea the second panelist Hasabu Workneh, Director of School Improvement Directorate at the Ministry of Education focused on.
He argued that school clubs are big tools to strengthen reading culture, and they are working on them with that in mind. Hasabu further argued that due to regular school's tight nature it is impossible to bring comprehensive transformation through regular schooling alone, and this is where school clubs come in as they have a role in supporting regular schools achieve that goal. Not only that.
School clubs can also serve as a platform for students to marketalize their skills and knowledge due to their student-based approach (rather than teacher-centered approach) nature. Hasabu explained how the clubs provide the platform for the students to change into action what they have learned from regular school due to its peer learning and participative nature.
And this same nature of the clubs is what led Hasabbu to argue they have and can play a pivotal role to contribute to the betterment of reading culture in schools and in the country.
In book clubs, students will be able to share their love for books and model positive reading behavior to ignite the passion for books within young students. The director also managed to add how book clubs in schools can also provide the opportunity to encourage students to read more, connect passionate readers, and how it also gives the opportunity for students to practice public speaking and respectful discussion while also serving them as a place they feel valued and knowledgeable. Hasabu pointed out that there are works done in book clubs (school clubs in general) in this regard.
In addition to strengthening school (book) clubs, the Director also suggested for a coordination to be reinforced between various sectoral organizations so that the works done by each can come together and bring an effective outcome.
On the occasion, it was underscored that not only the reading culture in the young generation is diminishing, but also their participation in the international letter writing competition is decreasing from time to time.
Depicting his life long relation to reading, author Hailemelekot Mewa'el stressed on how [well-stacked and accessible] libraries play a pivotal and crucial role in transforming the lives and thinking of young impressionable mind. He shared life experience to pinpoint how an iron-clad discipline is important to enrich ones reading culture.
Generally, everyone concerned - from parents to teachers to education practitioners - should chip in to cultivate reading culture of the young.
BY ROBEL YOHANNES
The historical, cultural and religious resemblance between Ethiopia and the Arab world is the asset paving the way for the two parties to work together for a meaningful economic relation and reap the fruit of their engagement.
There are platforms that have been serving Ethiopia as gateways to foster its economic cooperation and coordination with countries in the Arab world. In this regard, the League of Arab States (also known as Arab League) becomes in the forefront.
The League established its embassy in Addis Ababa in 2009 representing its 22 member countries in North Africa, Horn of Africa and Arabia.
Being home to the African Union (AU) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Ethiopia presents itself for increased connection in trade and investment fields with members of the League.
Accordingly, 17 members of the Arab League have set up embassies in Addis Ababa with growing interest to step up the economic partnership.
The double membership of Djibouti, Sudan and Somalia in the Arab League and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is also believed to promote the two sides economic ties.
Ethiopia becomes one of the leading destinations for Arab investment in Africa that is manifested by the increased Foreign Direct Investment coming from Egypt, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and other members of the League.
Due to the rapid economic progress the country has registered over the past decade, it has managed to catch the attention of more investment from the Arab and the rest of the world.
Ethiopia’s favorable investment policy and attractive incentive packages are also widely regarded as pulling factors for investment from the Arab world and the trend is expected to continue by bringing others on board.
Taking in to account farming in many Arab countries has been challenged by low water supply and bad weather, the government of Ethiopia is engaged to make the country an ideal place for their priority agricultural investment.
Accordingly, big agricultural companies from the region have been invested in Ethiopia of which Saudi Star Agricultural Development Plc is the major one.
Owned by Ethiopian-born Saudi business tycoon Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Ali Al-Amoudi, Saudi Star has rice processing factory and large farm land in Alwero Woreda of Gambella State.
The government has also been hugely investing to improve country’s infrastructural networks that have been evidently successful in enhancing flow of investment and trade exchanges with members of the League.
The joint commissions Ethiopia has formed with some Arab League countries have been playing an immense role in outlining economic cooperation frameworks and initiating the signing of various agreements.
The commissions have also been credited in enabling Ethiopia signed Agreement for Promotion and Protection of Investment and Avoidance of Double Taxation with some members of the League. The agreements are thereby essential in encouraging more investors from the Arab world come and do business in Ethiopia and enhancing the trade exchange.
Ethiopian missions in the Arab League member countries and the League’s embassy in Addis Ababa have been engaged in promoting economic partnership and informing potential stakeholders about Ethiopia’s investment opportunities.
Furthermore, embassies have been participated in the annual Riyadh Travel Fair and Dubai’s Gulf Food Exhibition to seek market for country’s agricultural exports and promote its wider investment opportunities among potential stakeholders.
These exhibitions are also helpful to identify the interest of Arab companies and aware them about the potential of the country.
The national flag carrier, The Ethiopian Airlines and airlines from Arab countries have a paramount importance in strengthening the two sides economic ties.
Capitalizing on its extensive destinations in the Arab world, Ethiopian has been playing a distinctive role in promoting Ethiopia’s trade and investment opportunities among potential stakeholders in the region.
High level frequent exchange visits that have been made between Ethiopia and leaders of Arab League member countries are believed to take the multifaceted relations to new heights.
In this regard, the visit Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalgen held in Saudi Arabia in 2016 and Qatar’ Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani’s visit of Ethiopia in last April have big roles in giving momentum for the respective countries’ economic ties.
During his visit to Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Hailemariam held discussions with the high level Saudi officials including King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud on ways of scaling up Saudi investors involvement in Ethiopia and Saudi supporting Ethiopia’s development.
The visit bears fruits in short time in that two high-level Saudi delegations led by Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdulmoshen Al-Fadhli and the Senior Advisor at the Royal Court Ahmed Alkhateeb made visits to Ethiopia along with representatives of major Saudi companies.
Furthermore, the Association of Senates, Shoora and Equivalent Councils in Africa and the Arab world (ASSECAA), which was established by 24 African and Arab countries, has been instrumental in supporting Ethiopia to reach mutual economic cooperation with various Arab countries.
ASSECAA also helps the government of Ethiopia to inform development activities that have been taking place in the country. By doing so, Ethiopia has been employing the Association to lure more investments from the Arab world to its economy.
Bearing in mind the stated facts, however, Ethiopia’s economic ties with members of the League have not reached at the desired level compared with the two sides long-standing people-to-people and diplomatic ties as well as geographic proximity.
As a potential arm to advance Ethiopia’s multifaceted relations with members of the League, a lot is expected from the joint commissions in initiating new areas of cooperation and enhancing the existing ones.
Ethiopia needs to work closely with members of the League and expected to facilitate conditions to attract more investments from the Arab world. Besides, the government should initiate high level visits that would be crucial in cementing economic cooperation agreements.
Embassies in members of the League need to extend their leading role in promoting Ethiopia’s investment opportunities and hold discussions with investment authorities of the respective countries to encourage potential investors from the region to come and do business in the country.
Above all, realizing the much desired synergy between the economies of Ethiopia and countries in the Arab world is not the assignment of a single entity rather a shared responsibility of all actors in the effort.
Investment and trade, particularly investment in the agriculture and industry sectors has remained the main cooperation areas between Ethiopia and the Arab world. Through enhancing this relation, Ethiopia could benefit from the Arabs’ huge capital and the Arabs could benefit from Ethiopia's untapped investment potential.
BY BILAL DERSO
To this effect, various insecticide and pesticide have been tested and proved to be effective. Among these, Bacillus thuringiensis, a bacterium which has been used to control crop-eating insects and kill mosquitoes, is the one.
Bacillus thuringiensis, commonly known as Bt, is a genetic modification which is done through the insertion of one or more genes from a common soil bacterium. These genes encode for the production of insecticidal proteins, and thus, genetically transform plants to produce one or more toxins as they grow. And these toxins protect the plant from bacteria and enables it yield better. Bt, was first identified in 1911 when it was discovered killed the larvae of flour moths, as sources indicate.
The gene is used globally for pest control practice and in integrated crop management system. Particularly, because it has shown remarkable results in protecting cotton crop, it is used widely to growing insect-resistant or genetically modified cotton, known as 'Bt cotton'.
Ethiopia, following the adoption of a law that granted experimentation rights of the Bt cotton both in labs and fields, is also at a point to grow bio technologically developed cotton. As a long term plan, it has also intended to supply biotechnologically engineered cotton seed varieties to the global market.
As it is learnt from the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) released recently, nation's field trial towards Bt cotton has now entered into final stage. The experiment has been conducted for over four years on four different sample varieties taken from India and Sudan. And the findings of the field trial show that Bt technology could reverse the influence of insects that greatly affect the productivity of cotton.
The field trials and most of the preparation activities that have been undertaken in the North, South and Eastern parts of the country has shown better results. And the results indicate that Ethiopia will have a Bt cotton variety in its farmlands soon.
As this same release stated, development of Bio-technology and bio-safety are necessary for the effective implementation of Bt technology. And the various bio tech and bio safety works done so far are directed towards resolving the daunting demands of agricultural inputs of the country. They also put the nation one among the best exporters of bio tech products in the long run.
Recently, a workshop aimed at sharing countries best experiences of Bt cotton practice was organized here in the capital under the theme: “Technology Commercialization and Product Stewardship Outreach Program for Cotton Stakeholders in Ethiopia.”
Sanjay K. Gupta, an Indian and a representative of JK AGRI GENETICS LTD Company told The Ethiopian Herald that Ethiopia is a country endowed with fertile land and abundance water resources. “Thus, the nation could get higher yield and greater profits through utilizing genetically modified cotton seeds, Bt varieties. Luckily, nowadays huge and star textile and garment industries are showing keen interest to commence business in Ethiopia.”
Mentioning that JK AGRI has already invested a huge amount of capital at Hawassa Industrial Park, Gupta said his Company is on the way to open a new cotton factory which is crucial for textile and garment industry and make big investments in the country.
Now the world is expecting Ethiopia to be exemplary on the area as it has already done its assignment on Bio-safety, Bio-technology and related regulatory works that are per-requisite to the implementation of Bt technology commercialization. The political will of the nation is also another aspect that is highly appreciated, as Gupta stated.
In Ethiopia, the expansion of the textile manufacturing industries has shown an increasing demand for cotton. Furthermore, the introduction of industrial parks in the manufacturing sector is expected to push the increase in the supply of cotton production. EIAR is echoing the premise that Ethiopia is on the right track and at the final stage to commercialize Bt cotton technologies. The reasons behind this push are attributed to the availability of ample investment opportunities and expansion of infrastructures throughout the country.
EIAR Deputy Director General Adviser Dr. Adugna Wakjira said that in the process of transforming nation's economy from agriculture based to industrialization, textile and garment industry sectors have been given priorities. In this regard, he said, at the end of the second Growth and Transformation Plan years (GTP-II) a plan is set to generate some about 1 billion USD from textile and garment sector.
To realize this, employing modern technologies and improved cotton varieties are highly decisive to increase productivity and produce commercialized Bt cotton. He stressed adding “EIAR is conducting researches as per the direction put in place by the government.”
The Adviser further said that Ethiopia has ample natural resources, trainable work forces, institutions, infrastructure, and all the necessary inputs. However, lack of modern varieties and quality related to the market are still challenging the sector. It is crucial to strengthen the capacity of all stakeholders by sharing relevant expertise information and experiences at hand, he added.
Agricultural Counselor and USAID Liaison to the African Union Michael G. Francom said on the occasion that Ethiopia including the amendment of the Bio-safety proclamation, it has gained lots of achievements in the areas of Bio-safety, Bio-technology and other endeavors which depict that things are in the right direction. He further noted “The government of Ethiopia is leading the charge on that regard which the US is keen to support its effort.”
Professor Karim M. Maredia from Michigan State University of the US said that Bt Cotton is a new technology that Ethiopia has already done field trials in advance. Now the nation is moving forward for its commercialization. He added “The implementation of the technology would enable Ethiopian farmers benefit more from the technology.”
Ethiopia has great Bt cotton potential and nation's textile industries are demanding more out of it. As the technology is instrumental to increase productivity, it hopefully will fulfill the demands of local industries and generate revenue from export markets.
Highlighting the various efforts done to link Ethiopia to other countries that have benefited from the technology, he said India is the notable one among others.
At the workshop, six countries: Sudan, Burkina Faso, South Africa, India, Australia and United states have shared their experiences to participating countries.
Since 2001, COMESA has been engaged in promoting bio tech activities across member states. In addition to initiating bio tech policies, the regional bloc has been active in awareness campaigns; part of that is the collaboration of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has with US Department of Agriculture (USDA), The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) stationed in Kenya, the South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC) and the likes have long joined hands to induce the use and utilization of GMOs across Africa and beyond.
BY YARED GEBREMEDEN
As we all may remember the motto of the 10th congressional meeting of the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF): “Crown peoples’ trust with a supreme growth and transformation,”
it reveals that the ruling party has fully realized the enormity of the responsibility conferred on it by the Ethiopian people.
And it had engaged itself in soul-searching self-scrutiny to prepare itself for better tasks correcting its past mistakes. It has passed important decisions that could radically transform the party and the country at large.
The EPRDF was fully aware of the overwhelming tasks it is entrusted with. Giving leadership to effect all round transformation is not of course a simple task. Taking seriously the responsibility bestowed upon it, the Front had taken uncompromising stance to deal with the identified deficiencies of the organization, such as chauvinism, narrow nationalism and anti-democratic dispositions.
EPRDF’s congress conclusions indicate that the party was crowned with renewed resolution that gives hope and motivates members and participants of the convention. It has determined to adopt a more radical approach to the problems of good governance and economic transformation. Accredited agents of the political parties that are invited from different African countries and China delivered humble addresses, and in their speech, they have congratulated the EPRDF for the commendable job that it has performed in creating notable growth and economic transformation.
At the event there were around twelve foreign political parties that have ideological kinship with the EPRDF. Among these political parties, the Communist Party of China (CPC), the African National Congress (ANC of the South Africa), the National Congress Party (NCP) of Sudan were also in attendance.
In their solidarity address, they have declared their commitment to consolidate their existing political and economic ties with Ethiopia. Some of them have expressed their strong interest to emulate the ideological and organizational stance of the EPRDF and promised to further consolidate the bonds with the people of Ethiopia.
The ruling party has evaluated the implementation of the first GTP and had found its performance to be satisfactory, but not good enough in delivering what it promised to accomplish. It was also a revealed fact that the ruling party had assessed honestly its performance without exaggerating its accomplishments and shortcomings.
To this end, EPRDF had realized that the difficult situations that it faced requires its members' commitment as well as tough and resolute leadership.
It also shows willingness to address the stumbling-blocks that have hindered the effective implementation of nation's development plans.
In fact, the congressional meeting was a remarkable event that had shown the changed attitudes of the ruling party in dealing with its shortcomings as acknowledged during the congressional meeting. EPRDF had truly acknowledged the suffering of the people that arise from lack of good governance, corruption and injustice by the perpetration of authorities who wish to satisfy their selfish interests.
To reverse bad trends and to rectify ideological rift that has led corrupted officials astray, the party has vowed to work hard to weed-out the bad apples found in the highest echelon of the leadership strata. This kind of radical move should begin by candidly acknowledging the problems that tend to incarcerate the vision of the leadership.
Evidences suggest that officials are making use of their political influence and deceitful media reports to paint a rosy picture that does not reflect the true state of things in areas falling under their jurisdiction. The Front then seems to have realized the gravity of that problem and thus made pledge to root out the bad apples.
Now, are all the promises EPRDF made happen to be hollow words or fulfilled? As these are questions that are raised continuously by the public, the promises made by the EPRDF will be tested in times.
Of course, the EPRDF has identified and vowed to addres its deficiencies after conducting brutal self-assessment. One of the things that could be considered as an outstanding gift from the EPRDF’s 10th organizational congress is that its leadership commits itself to combating bad governance with resolve. The problems identified by the congress were serious; and if the party fails to address them in time, then it will lacerate the hard-won victories and diminish praiseworthy accomplishments of the organization.
To put the resolution of the congress into action, the Front need to thoroughly vet everyone of its member and take action to purge bands of charlatan cadres who try to shroud themselves with high-sounding catch phrases and slogans of the party. In these regard, EPRDF has done commendable jobs that satisfy the public though further actions are required.
The party must always be on the alert to understand the devious character of rent-seeking cadres who wish to lurk in the organization to advance their selfish interests. It is high time for EPRDF to reassess itself and reclaim public confidence.
Based on developmental state paradigm, the ruling party has been able to design a pragmatic development strategy, which is tailored and adjusted to the country's unique socioeconomic structure. The experiment has resulted in the unprecedented mobilization of resources and outstanding economic performance in the country's history. However, the staggering double-digit economic growth success story is accompanied with another shadow story of epidemic rent seeking practices, which becomes the greatest threat to the nation's steadfast economic growth and national security
Therefore, the EPRDF needs to work hard to dispel this threat and take strong action to dismantle the networked rent-seekers and corrupt officials.
BY AMEN TEFERI
Ethiopia is endowed with all sorts of tourism potential. Unlike the previous times the incumbent is now extending its hands to harness this untapped potential. Of all the avenues, setting national tourism brand is the smartest intervention to build the positive image of the country and entice foreign tourists into it.
As attested by many studies, a well constructed and communicated branding means attracting more tourists and investors to that specific country. The competitive nature of this globalized world is challenged by countries which are capable enough to pull potential resources or attention to their best interests.
Therefore, countries like Ethiopia are trying to craft influential brand to market their natural resources, values, blessings or wisdom. In this context, Ethiopia has already launched a new national tourism brand- “Ethiopia: Land of Origins”.
The newly crafted brand is attributed to country’s rich natural, historical and archaeological accounts that confirm for its being origin mankind. It is telling the world that the country is the home of the human ancestors and origin of coffee which will make Ethiopians the first industrialists, and where the Blue Nile begins the longest journey. All these make the country a contributor to the civilization of the Blue Nile Valley.
What is more, though it anticipates further studies, it is believed that St. Yared's melody and music notes to be the source of the notes seen in Europe in the 15th century. More importantly, the country is a home for world class athletes.
For these and other obvious reasons, the Ethiopian brand that declares the country as land of origins is quite perfect and self-explanatory.
With no doubt, the assertion made in the brand is justified. The active consultation made among pertinent actors in the sector is attributable to come up with the precise brand. The task of crafting national brand is getting the best representation for the country. This has been the case for Ethiopia as many believed that the country is a place where many things originated from.
It is quite clear that the big task is positioning and campaigning about the brand after devising a well-constructed brand image that speaks truth to the realities on the ground.
For this to happen, the smart use of various mediums and advertising campaign that is fashioning a well-communicated brand is instrumental. As many would agree such intervention would cost huge sums of money for developing countries like Ethiopia.
However, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has been devising cost effective strategy to popularize the brand to the rest of the world in selective and potential avenue that would enable the nation benefit the best out of these opportunities.
Spotting the country’s growing conference industry through preparing travel and tour package for big international media outlets that come to cover the conference is a commendable practice that needs to be further expanded.
The role and contribution of the Ethiopian tour operators in communicating Ethiopia’s image using international trade fairs to promote the country and the brand is valuable.
By the same token, the Ethiopian Tourism Organization (ETO) is using fair trip method that includes using travel bloggers from popular market source countries in the e-media to promote the brand instead of using huge and big international media.
Brand using international acclaimed media outlets are also important to lure much more tourists around the world. Therefore, the Ministry, ETO and other actors in the tourism and hospitality industry should look into potential and influential media to reach out more tourists.
It is unquestionable that branding the country would help promote nation's potential and increase the revenue generated from the sector. As the country is working to be one of the top five tourists’ destination in Africa and to increase the share of tourism for the country’s Gross Domestic Products, exploiting every opportunity especially marketing nation's brand on reputable international media is the best option.
Due to lack of law enforcement, various organizations have not been applying the proclamation of flag properly. Thus, the judiciary bodies should strive to make the public aware and enforce the law accordingly, said Zefania Alemu.
Zefania, a lawyer, said that when celebrating the Flag Day, it is decisive to give special consideration to raising the awareness of the public towards flag regulation in a bid to avoid misinterpretation of the proclamation.
Given that violating the flag proclamation means misinterpreting the meaning and symbolization of the flag, he said before adding, raising the awareness of the public can help reduce the misconception.
He also said that in some areas the flag doesn't have the exact color brightness as indicated by the proclamation and others also utilize flagpole that does not go hand in hand with the law.
Furthermore, he indicated that the national flag serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made, while these days it serves as a means to herald the renaissance the country is going through.
Indicating that the day is so special for judiciary bodies, he went on to say that we have to put the flag first in our mindset before enforcing the law.
Zefania finally said that celebrating flag day not only help strengthen our unity and contribute our share for the sustainable development of the country, but it is also help to raise awareness of the next generation towards the flag and the meaning it has.
BY GIRMACHEW GASHAW
National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) has devalued Birr by 15 per cent and made interest rate policy adjustments as of today.
Foreign exchange earnings from export could not finance the import demand of the manufacturing sector, said Dr Yohannes Ayalew, Vice-Governor and Chief Economist at NBE during a press conference held yesterday.
Investors have also struggled to gain foreign currency permits to import raw materials and capital goods, according to him.
As to him, to achieve the lofty goals set in the Second Growth and Transformation Plan, the country needs significant amount of foreign currency. Hence, the government is expected to come up with strategies to mobilize and raise the required foreign currency demand.
Hence, the devaluation measure was taken with the view to boost exports, shrink trade deficit, and reduce sovereign debt burdens, he noted.
The Chief Economist added that devaluation of the birr might also have negative consequences, mentioning inflation as a major case in point.
The devaluation measures would just add to price hike expectations and the already existing inflation rates, apart from making imports expensive, he added.
Directly or indirectly, currency levels affect a number of key economic variables. As he indicated, the devaluation will make the inputs needed to finalize the ongoing hydro-dams more expensive, hence raising their overall construction cost.
In addition, NBE has also raised banks’ savings account interest rate and minimum balance from 5 to 7 per cent starting from today. Different international monetary institutions such as the World Bank in 2014 has been saying that the birr was overvalued and suggested the government to devalue its currency to increase in export earnings and economic growth.
BY KASSAHUN CHANIE
The House of Peoples' Representatives (HPR) yesterday endorsed the bill for the provision to increase the number and restructure Standing Committees in a bid to augment its supervision task.
HPR Government Whip with the Rank of State Minister Amanuel Abraham on the occasion told the parliament that a standing committee that would oversee matters concerning with revenue and customs is set up by splitting up the Budget and Finance Standing Committee.
He also stated that due to the vast number of issues, the Law, Justice and Administrative Affairs Standing Committee used to manage; a new and independent standing committee has been branched out in order to supervise issues that have to do with democracy, human rights and non-governmental organizations.
In addition, the former Higher Education Institutions Affairs Standing has been restructured anew as Education Affairs Standing Committee by adding Technical and Vocational Educational Training under its auspices.
Meanwhile, the House referred various diplomatic agreements to the relevant standing committees. Noting that the agreements are in-sync with the economic interest of Ethiopia, Amanuel told the MPs that the ratification of the agreements by the parliament can bring benefits in the transport, science and technology sectors.
It is learned that the ten agreements include train line construction and installation with Sudan; passenger transport service with Djibouti; and an air transport agreement with Czech Republic.
BY ROBEL YOHANNES
President Dr. Mulatu Teshome called on the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to extend its support for Ethiopia’s efforts towards building a resilient society.
While holding talks with delegation led by IFRC Under Secretary Dr. Jemilah Mahmood yesterday, he commended the humanitarian activities societies have been doing in Ethiopia.
President Dr. Mulatu stated that the Societies need to give attention to support government’s endeavors in building a resilient community having the capability to withstand natural and man-made challenges.
Enhancing water supply in the drought-prone areas would have lasting effect in improving the community’s drought resilience capacity, the President noted.
Dr. Mulatu affirmed his government’s unreserved support for IFRC in its humanitarian activities in the country.
After the discussion, IFRC Under Secretary Dr. Jemilah told reporters that the IFRC is closely working with the Ethiopian Red Cross Society to address the critical needs of drought affected citizens.
She said the two societies have been engaged with local communities to build their drought resilience capacity.
Praising the role the Society has been playing in responding the drought, the Under Secretary reaffirmed the IFRC’s support.
Dr. Jemilah noted that the delegation would pay a field visit to assess the magnitude of the problem with a view to mobilizing donors’ support to people affected by the drought.
For his part, Society Board President Dr. Ahmed Reja said the Society has been closely working with international entities including IFRC to address drought burdens.
Dr. Ahmed noted that the Society has extended various supports to people affected by the drought in supplying cattle and digging water wells.
Stressing the active participation of all actors in the drought response, he called on IFRC and other stakeholders to support the Society’s effort.
BY BILAL DERSO