These days, the influence of the social media is progressively transforming the entire system of the globe. They are accelerating the plan of the world leaders to bring people on the globe much closer through establishing wider communication. They encourage people to be more public even about their personal lives. Even though all these and others are the merits of the social media, there are several damages they are causing on the lives of individuals, nations and beyond.
A glance at social media indicates that the number of irresponsible users is rapidly increasing. Recently, it has been reported that more than 270 million Facebook accounts are anonymous that are highly abusing the advantages of the social media. Those irresponsible individuals are causing incalculable devastation on others through disseminating very distorted, perverted, wrong information about a person, an organization and a nation.
It is undeniable issue that the social media has improved livelihood by making communication so easier and taking the rate at which knowledge is transferred certain step further. Since they are relatively new, the world has been seeing their impact on society. There are certain to be many political changes that come about due to social media. There are now proposals for internet voting, which could lead to more people participating in elections. This could make social media even more influential, as people could literally vote moments after reading the latest comments or links they found on Facebook or Twitter.
Other advancements in the internet will also change the world of politics. Polling techniques on social media will become more common and, hopefully, more accurate. More virtual political rallies and town halls will take place. As social media becomes ever more popular, its impact on politics will only increase over time. Even though it is interesting to observe when all these are taking place, there are negative things accompanying the merits. What was happened in the last election of USA can be an example.
Almost a year after the election, the Americans started to wrap their heads around the role of social media in their politics. The Facebook turned over 3,000 Russia-linked ads to Congress. But Russia’s involvement in the U.S. election was just the tip of the iceberg – surfacing a level of divisive discourse that increases with each new tweet and reminds them that America continues to be torn by extremes. This is an indication of possible devastation that can be done by the social media.
Further more, the great devastation is being done by irresponsible individuals who are using names of public figures and politicians to post damaging information. Using anonymity allow them to post information that is very destructive to the socioeconomic situation of a nation since they do not have any responsibility for their deeds.
For instance, in the last two years in Ethiopia, these irresponsible unidentified individuals have caused huge damages on the nation's culture and peace. Let alone for its citizens, the nation has been known in ensuring sustainable peace in the Horn and beyond for a couple and half decades. Even though the evil strategy of 'nameless' individuals tried to cause considerable loss through disrupting the harmonious relations of citizens through using the social media, the government together with the public has successfully reduced the extent of the possible damages.
What is worse about the situation is it is impossible to withstand, escape from its damaging consequences. Every individual on the globe is a victim. Even well educated people are usually deceived by powerfully disseminated information that is impossible to discern its evil purpose.
In order to reduce the extent of the damage, the international community has to design a possible mechanism that helps to encourage responsible and ethical use of the emerging social media. What is more is, nations have to boost the awareness of their citizens concerning the problems accompanying the social media; while the civic society and higher institutions are expected to aware the young people who are very prone to the damage to be so conscious in using the information disseminated through the social media
The Axumite Kingdom was one of the superpowers of the ancient times. Once, it was the mightiest kingdom politically, economically and culturally. It had strong trade ties with the prosperous kingdoms such as Persia, Rome and Greek. The Axumite coins which were minted from gold and bronze have depicted how much strong the kingdom was by that time. Christianity was first introduced during the 4th century AD by two Syrian monks. The then King of the Kingdom, King Ezana accepted as his state religion and expanded it to all parts of the kingdom.
King Ezana renown in building several churches and monasteries in his kingdom (present day Ethiopia and Eritrea) and as part of his ambition, he built the most influential church in the country, The Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion. The Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion is the most important of all churches and monasteries in Ethiopia. It is found in Northern Ethiopia, in Tigray State in the ancient town of Axum. The original church is believed to be built by King Ezana in 372 AD. The church has been rebuilt many times since then. However, the Cathedral of Our Lady Mary of Zion, built during the reign of Emperor Fasilides. What makes the ancient church more unique is that because it kept the Holy Arc of the Covenant for thousands of years.
Though St. Marry of Zion has prestigious religious significance which could amuse tourists, it has not been promoted yet to the outside world. Having understood this, Axum Culture and Tourism Office is working to increase the tourist flow in collaboration with the Tigray Culture and Tourism Bureau, Ministry of Culture and Tourism and other concerned bodies. Axum Culture and Tourism Office Head Gebremedhin Fitsm told The Ethiopian Herald that the number of pilgrims is increasing from time to time. But he insisted more promotion activities remain to be undertaken.
‘‘Axum has untapped tourism potential. Beside the historic part mostly related to the Axumite civilization, St. marries of Zion has huge tourism importance. More than anything else, it is the home of the arc of the covenant. We should exploit all these blessings to generate income which could benefit the nations and the nearby community,’’
He indicated that more than 450,000 people have attended at the feast of our St. Marry of Zion which was celebrated colorfully yesterday in the historical city of Axum. Gebremedihn stated that three committees from public, business people and administration were formed to undertake warm reception, to arrange accommodation and to ensure peace and security.
‘‘The preparation was started one month ago. The three committees have done great job. The reception committee had the mandate of welcoming guests and providing necessary hospitality,’’ Gebremedhin indicated, adding that there were youth volunteers who are committed to welcome their guests in an hospitable manner and have erected 15 tents in the streets to serve food and drinks for those who have not relatives in the city.
For his part, Kibrom Tadesse, a tour guide at a private tour and travel agency told The Ethiopian Herald that visiting St. Marry of Zion has been the life time dream of most Christians. ‘‘As we know all of us, our people give high value for their religion. Thus, visiting St. Mary of Zion is the lifetime dream of most Ethiopians.’’ But he stressed that many things remain to be accomplished before aiming at luring more tourists to the area. Tour and travel agents should have to modernize their service and should ask fair price. ‘‘Nowadays, you can do nothing without cooperation. There should be cooperation and integration among travel agents, hotel and hospitality service providers, Ministry of Culture and Tourism to upgrade the sector to higher level,’’ Kibrom noted. Hence, the cooperation of all pertinent bodies would help to unveil the mystery of St. Marry of Zion in particular and Axum in general to the rest of world.
BY TSEGAY HAGOS
Nowadays, Ethiopia is in an incredible double digit economic growth. According to IMF, World Bank and other international institutions, the nation has continued to be one of the few fastest non-oil growing economies in the world. Thanks to its 70 percent young demographic base, abundant natural resources, suitable climate, land availability, sustainable peace and stability, it has huge opportunity to realize the middle income status by 2025. However, there are several challenges the nation is struggling with. Among the challenges, persistent drought and climate change related upheavals take the lion's share. The frequently occurred drought has been severely affecting agrarian and pastoralist communities. Realizing the extent of the consequences of this problem, the government, private institutions, donors and other pertinent bodies have been designing problem solving mechanisms to address the predicament of farmers. Introducing micro-insurance service to low income livelihoods in rural and urban areas is among the schemes designed to alleviate the problem facing mostly the low income society.
Speaking to The Ethiopian Herald, Nyala Insurance Share Company, Micro-Insurance Department Manager Solomon Zegeye said that micro-insurance as a tool of managing risks facing low-income population has paramount importance in maintaining and sustaining achievements gained in poverty reduction and food security of the low income population.
He said that Nyala insurance provides mainly livestock insurance for farmers in rural part of the country. According to Solomon, livestock insurance itself is divided into two. One is index based insurance, a type of livestock insurance which checks the availability of pasture. The index measures the amount of precipitation. If the rain is low that means it will not grow grass for the animals. Index insurance is used for pastoralist society. The other one is called indemnity based is used for agro-pastoralists and highland dwelling society. So the insurance that could be provided depends on the way of living of the society. The manager highlights the importance of micro-insurance in empowering people economically.
‘‘Many people want to start and expand their businesses. But they fear to take risks due to lack of insurance service which could replace their loss. However, insurance institutions like Nyala are involving to support poor livelihoods in the country,’’ Solomon stated. Nyala Insurance has started its first insurance program in Tigray State in 2009 in collaboration with Oxfam America.
Out of the eight projects being undertaken by Nyala Insurance, two of them have been implemented in Tigray State. These are known as Promoting Autonomous Adoption (PAA) and Mekelle University WII Research Project. PAA is a weather index insurance project under Climate Smart Agriculture initiative being implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate Change of Ethiopia with financial support obtained from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). So far, 2,097,386 Birr was paid for weather index insurance beneficiaries in the State. And the Mekelle University WII Project is provided based on research project tasked with examining the effectiveness of weather index insurance within the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP). It was launched in 2016 in four districts and targeted 380 beneficiaries. The project is funded by government of Netherlands.
The insurance service being provided in drought prone areas of the state in collaboration with donors and micro-finance institutions has created self-confidence and upgraded the production and productivity of low income farmers.
‘‘Nyala insurance has been focusing mainly on drought affected areas. Index and indemnity based insurance schemes were offered to the farmers,’’ he said adding, ‘‘index based insurance system is used for tackling drought in pastoralist society who depend on pasture for their animals, whereas the indemnity insurance is multi-purpose insurance which is mostly provided for agro-pastoral society to pay compensation for fire, flood, pest and drought.’’
It is obvious that Ethiopia is rich in livestock. But the farmers were not beneficiaries of the huge number of livestock population. The main reasons being noted for harming the livestock sector are drought and diseases. Understanding this problem, Nyala Insurance has designed insurance package on ways of alleviating the challenges.
‘‘We gave priority for Tigray State because the state was affected by soil infertility, drought and land degradation problems for several centuries. Thus, supporting the deprived farmers who want to engage in water and soil conservation, animal husbandry and agriculture was the prime mission of our company,’’ Solomon indicated.
According to him, the company was able to reach for 24,219 people over the last 10 years and this is extremely low compared against the market potential vigorous move the company had shown at early stages.
‘‘When we launched the first project in Tigray in 2009 in collaboration with Oxfam America, there were only 200 farmers. Currently, we have more than 6,000 customers in Tigray State,’’ Solomon noted. The same project was started in Amhara State in 2011 and 4,000 households have become beneficiaries of micro-insurance service so far.
The insurance program has been expanded to other states including Somali, Afar, Gambela and Southern Nations and Nationalities of People in collaboration with donors and micro-finance institutions.
Solomon indicated that the insurance payment process includes those who are unable to pay the debt, adding, ‘‘the rate of the payment is fair. For instance, a farmer who bought an ox would pay 3.5 percent of the purchasing price of the ox. That means if the farmer buy an ox with 10,000 Birr, he/she will be expected to pay 350 Birr per year.’’
Besides, the company has planned to introduce funeral insurance in urban areas in collaboration with the International Labor Organization (ILO) and strategic plan is being prepared, he confirmed.
‘‘Nowadays, the most exasperating issue in the urban areas is the fee being spent on funeral ceremony. Families are paying 25,000 Birr for one funeral and the price is souring from time to time. Insurance companies should include this issue.’’
For his part, Haylay Gebremeskel, Project Coordinator at the Relief Society of Tigray (REST) told The Ethiopian Herald that in 2016 three insurance projects that were launched in Tigray in collaboration with Nyala Insurance, Africa Insurance and other donors, made 29,944 farmers beneficiaries and out of this number 39 percent of them are women.
The first project was started operation in 2004 in one village called Adiha which is found in Kola Temben is now expanded to eleven woreda, according to the coordinator.
‘‘The project has brought real change in the livelihood of the society. Farmers developed self-confidence to take loans to buy cattle, to use better fertilizer and develop the culture of saving. They are able to develop self-reliance and continued sending their children.’’
Haylay reaffirmed that the micro-insurance service being provided in the state has been playing decisive role in ensuring food security.
Meanwhile, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) indicated that more than 2,250 pastoralists received insurance payouts from insurance companies in 2017 following the extremely poor rains in southern Ethiopia. Low levels of rainfall have led to the loss of approximately 300,000 livestock in 2017 in the Borana Zone of the southern Oromia State. The insurance payouts of more than 5,233 million Birr (USD 220,000) was the largest-ever micro-insurance made in Ethiopia. Each insured pastoralist received an average of 2,255 Birr (USD 96), which will allow the herders to purchase feeds for their surviving animals and to restock their herds.
According to him, the micro-insurance service has been facing many challenges. Lack of awareness, absence of well-instructed business model, technical capacity limitation on product development and pricing, absence of efficient distribution channel, high premium cost, inaccessibility of reinsurance service at competitive rate and most importantly lack of regulatory framework has adversely affected the expansion and development of micro-insurance services provided.
Solomon underlined that in order to address the challenges, the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) has been designing Financial Inclusion Strategy. The strategy is keen to promote micro-insurance in the country through developing an appropriate regulatory and supervisory structure that will greatly assist in enhancing transparent, sustainable, regulated and supervised market that is capable of addressing the varied insurance needs of the low income society. Hence, NBE is finalizing the strategy in collaboration with World Bank. The strategy will have four components including micro-insurance product development, regulation and supervision, consumer and financial protection, financial literacy and index based insurance.
Moreover, Solomon gives stress to enhancement of micro-insurance delivery channels and micro-insurance product offerings. The micro-insurance service should be developed and delivered by insurance companies, NGOs, donors, government and semi-government bodies. In Ethiopia, only insurance companies and deposit taking Micro-finance Institutions (MFI) were allowed by law to issue micro-insurance policies. Other providers such as cooperatives can be used as agents of the insurance companies and deposit taking MFI. Although there has been relative success in building sustainable micro-insurance providers in Ethiopia, such as insurance companies, deposit taking MFIs, and cooperatives, they failed to provide tailored micro-insurance service and interventions which address the insurance demands of low income households both in rural and urban areas of the country. On the other hand, micro-insurance product offerings have been limited in range. Thus, MFIs and other credit cooperatives are currently self-insuring their loans through credit life insurance because of the lower cost structure, simplicity, and limited risk and the focus of the micro-finance insurance providers protecting their assets. Therefore, upon functional, the Financial Inclusion Strategy will resolve all those aforementioned challenges and limitations.
To sum up, even though Ethiopia has been registering remarkable economic growth which lifted millions out of absolute poverty, many tasks remain to be accomplished. There are still millions who couldn’t afford their daily bread. Though they have tangible business ideas, they have financial constraint to change their feasible ideas into reality. Let alone creating their own businesses, there are many Ethiopians who fear taking risks due to lack of insurance service which could replace their loss in the way of compensation. The rural households are the main insurance deprived society in the country. Therefore, the government, non-governmental organizations, private companies and development partners should step up their efforts in developing micro-insurance service in all corners of the country. They have to extend their reach to low income population and fulfill their economic needs. If such swift measures are taken, Ethiopia would realize its dream of becoming middle economy status. Beyond that, it will reclaim its glory, a glory that restores the nation’s ancient prominence in all aspects.
BY TSEGAY HAGOS
In about a week, the peoples of Ethiopia will mark this year’s Nations, Nationalities and People Day. The day is marked against the backdrop of various achievements, events and challenges that the peoples of Ethiopia are working in unison.
Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Day is marked in Ethiopia when the major parts of the world are grappling with multi-faced conflicts, various rounds of natural and manmade disasters. Even in the Horn of Africa, our neighbors are suffering from civil war and the heinous actions of terrorist organizations like ISIS.
Some mat think that marking the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Day in Ethiopia is an occasion limited only to Ethiopia. Ethiopians comprise part of the international community and they have rendered a lot of historical, cultural and traditional values which would add up to the promotion of international civilization. Ethiopia has proved to be the origin of mankind and ancient civilization. Ethiopians have continued to live together in peace and peaceful coexistence for thousands of years. Religious tolerance in this country has already set a vivid example for those countries in the world that are suffering from religious conflicts.
The Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Day to be celebrated soon is not a mere cultural show in which the peoples in the country come together to celebrate. In the USA for instance, a Thanksgiving Day has been observed with a lot of events. However, what the peoples of Ethiopia are celebrating surpasses such events.
Nations, Nationalities and Peoples celebrate their day which symbolizes their sovereignty, unity in diversity. The day also marks the implementation of the constitutional rights of all Ethiopians setting example for the rest of the world. Today, almost all the events that are being conducted in the country show that Ethiopia is in fact Africa in the miniature. As a country that has heralded the spirit of Pan Africanism for over 100 years, Ethiopia now stands for peace, development, peaceful coexistence, unity and mutual respect among African nations. This is a country that has continued to keep peace in Africa under the auspices of the AU and the UN. The representatives of the peoples of Ethiopia who would be gathered in Afar soon celebrate the occasion with further commitment to struggle against poverty destitution, lack of good governance and rent seeking trends that are and were observed in the country.
Peace and development in Ethiopia contributes to peace and development in the rest of Africa. On the other hand, Ethiopia cannot be fully peaceful and developmental when the rest of Africa is rid with conflicts in a number of countries. In this sense, the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Day is also an occasion on which the peoples of Ethiopia express their commitments for peace and development in the rest of Africa.
Ethiopia’s economic development is in one way or another linked with its economic relations with the rest of Africa and even the world. Heralding and implementing the lofty goals of Agenda 2063, the nations is already pioneering in the development of power and infrastructural integration. All the more, Ethiopians are celebrating their day not only to just mark an annual festival but also to show their practical commitment to the creation of a democratic order in the country and the establishment of a single unified socio-economic and political entity in the constitutional context of a new federal order that many African countries have resolved to benchmark.
Celebrating Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia in Afar region is also crowned with the development achievements that the people in the state have registered. This is based on providing basic development for all nations, nationalities and peoples in the country. It is based on the constitutional rights that the peoples of Ethiopia had achieved more than two decades back.
The Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Day have a message for the rest of the world. The day demonstrates a message that peace, development and cooperation cannot be achieved in the world unless the peoples of the planet realize that their very survival and development depends upon the maintenance of peace in the world. While the earth is still suffering from the effects of climate change, a number of leaders of the world are still taking time to get into swift action, as if another world is in store for mankind.
Ethiopians are again celebrating their day in due commitment to hosting the refugees from the neighboring countries that are feeling their own homeland to get peace in Ethiopia. This country is hosting more than 800,000 refugees from the neighboring countries because Ethiopia is also committed to peace and development in the rest of Africa. Hundreds of refugees are being offered educational opportunities in the institutes of higher learning and universities in the country simply because Ethiopia is concerned with the plights of refugees in Africa and elsewhere. All this based on the understanding that the principle of unity in diversity among peoples of Ethiopia also works for the rest of Africa.
The Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Day is not marked under the context of a specific ideological overtone. It is based on respect, concern and mutual socio-economic development for the entire peoples of Ethiopia.
In terms of culture, the day enables the peoples of Ethiopia to enjoy the varies of cultural intangible heritages some of which were already registered by UNESCO. The day shows Ethiopia as a mosaic of cultures which have already won international recognition and admiration. It gives an occasion on which Ethiopians can learn from each other and share their experience in every aspect of their daily cultural life.
There quite a number of intangible cultural heritages that are found in Ethiopia and wait for international recognition at UNESCO. The Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Day is a unique celebration that can effectively qualify to be registered at UNESCO as a global intangible human heritage. The occasion also set a very good opportunity for international researchers in anthropology and sociology. Besides, media centers in the country can replenish their archives so that they would be able to document the history of the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Day right from the beginning as part of the documentation of the history of this country.
The youth in Ethiopia should naturally give due attention to this day as they are the ones that shoulder the responsibility of carrying over the event to the next generation. The youth is already encountering some level of cultural neo-colonialism by fully appreciating the cultural values of foreign countries that do not tally with the age old cultural values that have developed through ages in the country.
Further studies on expanding the content of the celebrations should be made with the view of putting in various aspects of the development of various spiritual and material culture of this country.
The Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Day to be celebrated soon can also be a center of tourist attractions so that the rest of the world could see Ethiopia in just limited pavilions that could easily show Ethiopia in a nutshell.
Ethiopians shall continue to celebrate their day crowned with more achievements in the overall development of this country already in pace with fast socio-economic development.
BY SOLOMON DIBABA
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) concluded its extensive meeting electing Debretsion Gebremichael (Ph.D) and Fetlework Gebre-Egziabher as Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson respectively on Wednesday evening.
According to Walta Information Center, the Central Committee (CC) which has been undertaking the deep renewal for more than a month has also appointed new executive members to replace the outgoing ones.
Accordingly, Asmelash Woldeslassie, Abraham Tekeste (Ph.D), Getachew Reda and Kerya Ibrahim have been promoted to the executive committee membership.
TPLF have been undertaking intensive evaluation to identify its limitations and vowed to take drastic measures.
As part of its deep reform and evaluation process, the Central Committee has demoted Abay Woldu, Chairperson and Beyene Mekru from their executive roles and suspended Azeb Mesfin from membership of both the CC and Executive Committee.
BY TSEGAY HAGOS