Ethiopia has never been colonized by any European power in its 3,000 years history. Despite colonialists' futile effort to conquer the country several times, Ethiopians had prevented them from accomplishing their mission through fierce resistance and gallant defence. More than any other European power, Italians had invaded Ethiopia repeatedly. However, they were bitterly defeated by valorous Ethiopians in Dogali, Sahati, Gundet and other battle fronts. Even if they had been given an important lesson in the aforementioned battle fields, they could not draw lessons from their past mistakes. Thus, they launched an assault in the mountainous town of Adwa in 1896, undermining the patriotism and nationalism of Ethiopians. But the final result of the battle was not what the Italians first expected. The war lasted for only 12 hours to give stunning victory to Ethiopians and total humiliation to the colonialists. Starting from that time the Battle of Adwa is seen as a beacon of resistance and independence among black Africans and oppressed people around the world.
During the Battle of Adwa, Ethiopians from every corner of the country had been involved to subdue their European enemies. Youth, men and women had paid immense sacrifice to protect their country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. One of the many lionhearted Ethiopian women who made a superb history in the Battle of Adwa was Empress Taytu Betul, the wife of Emperor Menelik II. Taytu was not only the wife of the King but also his political and military advisor. Many Royal historians believe that Taytu had inspired Ethiopians to wage war on colonialists to be remembered later as the bravest female war commanders of all time.
After the Battle of Adwa, the European nations were shocked by the Ethiopian victory. The Italian media at that time were highly amazed by the courage and outshining patriotism of Taytu. Even some used to compare her with Zenobia, Cleopatra and Joan of Arc. There were also others who tried to defame her tirelessly on grounds of her patriotic stance when its comes to the sovereignty of her country and the freedom of her people. But all these attempts were in vain. Nothing could change her astonishing personality. Any ways who is Taytu Betul?
Empress Taytu Betul was born in Wollo in 1851 and grew up in an aristocratic Ethiopian family that was related to the Solomonic dynasty. Her aristocratic background had facilitated fertile ground to gain comprehensive education and was fluent in Ge’ez, which was a rare accomplishment for women at that time. Her father Ras Betul Haile-Mariam was not as famous as her uncle Dejazmach Wube Haile-Mariam, who had ruled much of the Northern part of Ethiopia in the 1840s. Taytu had the reputation of being fiercely proud of her linage in Yejju, Semien and Begemder where her great grandfather Ras Gugsa, a member of the powerful ruling family of Yeju traces his linage.
Taytu was a very strong woman in the history of Ethiopian Royal family. She had crucial power which had helped her to create an impact in the 19th century Ethiopian socio-economic atmosphere. She was a beloved, loyal and respectful wife as well. Understanding her wisdom, her husband used to consult her in very key political, social and economic issues of the nation. Her role in unifying the disintegrated states of the country to one strong Ethiopian Empire was what history would depict remarkably for generations to come.
Taytu was a highly progressive queen who had been eagerly striving from dawn to dusk for the modernization of her country. She had put her fingerprint on numerous technological outputs and infrastructural endeavours. It was she who inaugurated the Ethiopian Red Cross founded in the new capital, Addis Ababa. Besides, the empress worked to kick start many national industries, including wine production, candle-making and more. She was so kind and merciful that she had often been granting mercy to her prisoners. In addition, she personally cooked for prisoners and starving countrymen. Moreover, she supported women to be empowered socially and economically by providing various income generating mechanisms. Because of this Taytu had been seen as role model among women of her time and succeeding generations.
She was also a visionary leader very capable of predicting about the future. Hence, she founded Addis Ababa, which remains still now as the commercial and political centre of Ethiopia and Africa. Beyond her country, the Empress had provided the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian community in Jerusalem with dignified housing and donated financial assistance for the construction of the impressive Debre Genet church's dome. When the health of her husband began deteriorating, she started to take decisions alone vigorously and confidently and served her Empire as de facto leader for some years. However, after her husband passed away in 1913, the nobility turned against her. This situation eventually led the queen to retirement till she died in 1918.
BY TSEGAY HAGOS
Most of African nations had lived under the clutch of European colonialism. Ethiopia is one of the countries that said no to European occupation, with its brave and patriotic people sacrificing their lives to defend the country from the grip of colonialism. What the brave Ethiopians did to protect their motherland will forever be in the history annals of the country and the black people in general. In connection with the 121st Anniversary of the Adwa Victory The Ethiopian Herald's Robel Yonannes has presented to you the translation of the interview Addis Zemen daily held with Patriot Asresahegn Lemma.
Patriot Asresahegn Lemma is one of the remaining seven veterans and patriots who were involved in the second Italian war of invasion that lasted from 1935 to 1941. Our forefathers defended their country with everything they had mainly shield and spear against the invading fascist Italian army equipped till its knee and with modern arms. Patriot Asresahegn is the living eyewitness who went to the battlefield to fight fascist Italian army just at the age of six.
Patriot Asresahegn was born in December 24, 1930, to parents Lemma Aseged and Laqech Admeqe in Bulga, Amhara State. Being the eldest son of his family, his birth coincided with the coming of his uncle from the Maichew war victorious, which made the occasion momentous and joyful. For this reason, he was much adored by his uncle Aytenfsu Aseged as much as his parents.
He spent the first three years of his life in a rural town, where he was born and lived with his parents and uncle. He grew up like every other rural boy helping his parents by shepherding the family's cattle.
He spent a brief time to study theology education in the local religious school as his father wanted him to become a priest when he grew up. But, for him there was nothing important than protecting his country from the invading force of Italian army. So at a young age, he went to the battlefield with his uncle to drive out the invading army out of the country.
Childhood in the battlefield
Not many parents will dare and be willing to send their six year old son to the battlefield particularly when the enemy is ruthless, well armed and trained. Remembering the episode, he said “My uncle loved me even more than my parents did. As I didn't want to be afar from him and live with my parents alone, I followed him into the battlefield. And my parents didn't hesitate to give their consent when I asked them that my uncle wanted to take me with him.”
In 1936, the Fascist Italian army invaded Ethiopia from multiple directions. The war at Tegulet and Bulga area was even more intensified and bloody. The kid Asresahegn joined the resistance at his tender age with his uncle not to fight of course but to be a source of morale and support to his uncle, whom he loved dearly.
The six year old Asresahegn started to live in caves with the resistance under the watchful eyes of a guardian. Living like that had afforded him the chance to get a close range view on the successes of the resistance campaign.
Prior to the war as the leaders of the battle were Kefelew Weldetsadiq and his uncle and victor of Maichew war, Aytenfsu Aseged, they believed that they would win. As expected, the Adabay Jama battle ended with victory.
“At that time I was crawling and breaking into the middle of the war without asking anybody just to see the place where my uncle and his compatriots were fighting. And he used to get angry with me for doing such stunt. My love for my uncle cannot be described with words.”
“When I was seven, the mule I had my riding hit by bullet and I felt from my saddle hurting both of my laps,” said Patriot Asresahegn reminiscing the war scene during the fight against fascist Italy.
Witnessing the courage and morale of his uncle and other patriots, Asresahegn returned back home with small injury after his first exposure to a battlefield. Although not physically fit and was not given a weapon at that time, obviously, he used to put the of holster his uncle's gun. He also burned down houses at night with his uncle where the invaders lived beside seizing fortresses.
His uncle along with many other patriotic Ethiopians foiled the invasion of fascist Italy's plan to colonize our people and country. Asresahegn was involved in daunting wars that took place in Tegulet and Bulga at a tender of age, not as a fighter of course but as a morale booster. Without being intimidated by the bone-chilling weather of the night and the scorching heat of the day, he was one way or another involved in sending the invading foe back to where they had come from.
After Ethiopia reclaimed its freedom in 1941 and drove the invading army out of the country, Patriot Asresahegn came to Debre-Birhan. He started to work at the then newly established Ministry of National Defence with a monthly payment of 90 birr. He has taken on various tasks and responsibilities in different and other parts of the country since then.
A burning desire for education
As a little boy he had aspirations to become a priest and even started taking on theological study, but his love for his uncle and country has put a dent on that aspiration. Out of his love to his uncles' morale to fight the foe, he trekked to the battle where he unknowingly found himself caught in fighting and driving out the invading fascist Italy army out of his town by putting a halt into his school as a kid, but he knew very well the importance of education that he started to read books at every spare time he got.
Talking about his love for books, he says “It was hard to get access to school and formal education like now during those days, as there were not many schools at the time. And the payment it took to go to the ones that existed at that time was also extremely expensive as well. It was not the easiest of times either in terms of peace as well and, it was also hard to get the opportunity to go to school. I have read many books ever since the days I was in the cave in the middle of the battlefield, and my appetite to read did not stop when I went to Debre-Birhan”
He didn't learn through the chalk and board form of conventional school, but had a real desire to learn which made him turn into a serial book reader to quench that desire, which continued even after leaving Debre-Birhan for Makalle. Fortunately enough, when he arrived at Addis Ababa in 1955, he was sure that he would get the chance to learn in school.
As he expected, he found the chance to do so when he started regular school at Shimelis Habte School in the evening shift. Unfortunately, his desire lived short as his salary wasn't enough to cover school fees and get by for a month that he was forced to quit as ten grader.
The Congo Stint
In May 1961, the United Nations requested Ethiopia to give military support in its effort to free that war-torn African country, Congo. When the Ethiopian Minister of Defence decided to dispatch the second battalion of the army to Congo, Patriot Asresahegn was chosen and sent to Congo as an assistant to the tank commander.
When he came back home after a one year generous service in Congo, where he displayed a huge bravery on mission, he received heft amount of prize money from the United Nations. Given that it was the UN that was paying their salary; he came back to his country with some money saved up.
Marriage and Personal Life
Patriot Asresahegn bought a huge house in 'Qera' area located at the capital Addis Ababa with the money he saved up after coming back from Congo. Despite the pain he felt with the death of his first wife, he was able to remarry again in 1990. “I was unfortunate for not having a child from both of my marriages. Though it seemed not enough to show how I adore him, I raised two children of my beloved uncle to show my love and respect to him.”
His uncle Aytenfesu Aseged was survived by his two children when he lost his life in the Somalia war. Brought up by Patriot Aserasahegn, his uncle's two children were fortunate enough to live along side with him. And now the eldest son is working as a lecturer in Switzerland, while the other one is working as consultant in the construction sector.
When he came to Addis Ababa, he worked as Property Officer in the army up until 1968, before he started working as Head of Documentation Office in the Armed Forces. In 1972, he left the Armed Forces and joined Ministry of Information. He worked there for many years as head of procurement department in the ministry's radio section.
He has also worked in the capacity of administrator in various departments of the ministry from 1972 to 1985. In addition, he has also worked in Ancient Ethiopian Patriots Association at various posts . He has also served his country as member of the parliament for many years.
Award and Recognition
He has won nine different prizes for the bravery and courageous acts he has shown in various battlefields. The five-palm medal, bronze star medal, 15 years of service Menelik II Silver medal, long years of service Menelik II gold medal, cavalry gold medal, UN medal awarded for service in the Congo, Congolese government medal, Ethiopian Millennium Medallion, and Peace Ethiopia Medal are some of the medals of honour he got for his achievements. On top of these medals, he has also received many awards in terms of cash and gifts.
Whether if it comes from the things he learned or picked up from his uncle or some other reason, he is an astute and judicious man that he is mostly chosen to come up with solutions to problems. He is an admirer of the two Ethiopian kings from Tewdros II to Menelik II. He says he has learned a thing either from one or the two of them on how to bring solutions to problems.
He has worked tirelessly in social associations like ‘Idirs’ at various capacities. He has also served as a chairman of history and news service in the Ancient Ethiopian Patriots Association, whilst playing a prominent role in the effort to acquire 1.5 million birr from Addis Ababa City Administration that would be used for the construction of the Association’s headquarters building and member's of the association.
Ethiopia is one of the only two countries that didn’t surrender to colonialism. Although Fascist Italians tried to invade the country twice, they were driven back with humiliation and shame by our brave and patriotic forefathers. As someone who was involved in the second attempted but failed invasion of 1935, Asresahegn says, “The level attention and respect that are accorded to us patriots from the people and government is good. We have got the recognition and honour the country can possibly give to us.” As patriots did not and do not let Ethiopia's sovereignty be compromised, the young generation of this time should develop their country and get rid of poverty. The youth should be courageous just like the patriots who got rid of the fascist invading armies, said Asresahegn.
Previously, our leaders used to fight each other in order to assume power. But, now all this has stopped, and every nation, nationalities and people of the country have continued to live together owing to the results of the democratic success gained so far. Today's generation is not entrusted with fighting war to protect their country but they should work to develop their country by working in their homeland and should stop looking for other countries making perilous journeys to find work while they could have created jobs in their motherland, according to Patriot Asresahegn.
Currently, Patriot Asresahegn devotes his little off time to the bureau of the Patriot Association. We wish our patriot father long years of health.
Hundred years ago, there was a kind woman living in a village near Wondo Genet. She went by the name Shashe. She was seen as a mother of all by dwellers of the village. Almost all inhabitants of the village used to go to her home to enjoy or to get a shelter. She usually brewed local alcoholic liqueurs like tela and tej. When people wanted to take quick ones, they used to say “Let's go to mama Shashe” which means Shashe's House in local Oromifa language. This way the town acquired its name after Shashe and continued to be known as Shashemene.
Shashemene town residents recount this story when asked about the naming of the city. They say “the name of Shashemene town was derived from Oromifa word 'Mana Shashe' or the house of Shashe, the home, where most of the town residents sought shelter and peace of mind during good and bad times.”
Mulunesh Anjelo is a resident of Shashemene town. She has been living there for the last 47 years. She is very much familiar with the story behind how the town was named after Shamshemene. She also knows people that belong to Shashe's linage. Known for her humble and generous characters and deeds, Shashe was most adorable among her communitymembers. The main reason behind Shashe's kindness was her friendly and close approach with people of the environs regardless of their ethnic background. Inspired by the good gesture of Shsahe, today, even hundred years after she passed away, true to Shashe's lifestyle, residents of the town prove very friendly said Mulunesh whom the writer met on a consultative meeting organized by the municipality.
Beside, their harmony and culture of tolerance, most of the local people are kind and respectful to fellow compatriots and expats who set foot at Shashemene for different reasons. Mulunesh added that, if the town manages to integrate the hospitality of the people with its rich cultural and historical heritages, tourism will be a lucrative businesses. The farming plots of the town are gifted lands , which are capable to produce harvest twice a year and to fill the baskets of the nation with fresh fruits and vegetables even during the winter season.Therefore, she said, being home to various essential treasures; it needs a little effort to exploit the town's untapped potential in terms of utilizing tourism or generating economic benefits.
A member of Rastafarian Community Police Bariso Babo has been involved in various peace keeping activities around Jamaica village in Shashemene Town. He also holds inhabitants of the town in respect. He is of the opinion that: " Residents of the town are the most decent and friendly people I have ever met." He said nurturing and promoting such culture would be helpful in enhancing town's tourism potential.“Ethiopia is a God-blessed country that is why its people are the most hospitable in the world.”
Bariso's colleague Ayano Babo seconds this idea. Ethiopians are the most blessed and God chosen people. As to him, this was clearly demonstrated when they fought and claimed victory against colonial powers. For this reason the nation carries an emblem of freedom. “ We have been living excited with the local people consolidating deep relationship.’’
Town Culture and Tourism Bureau Head Sofiya Mohammad said for her part that Shashemene is nicknamed 'The little Ethiopia' as it is the hub for various nations, nationalities and peoples. Moreover, the town is home to a large number of foreigners including Rastafarians and Arabs. According to the head, the town has five main gateways, which are the pass-throughs to the national parks and other tourism destinations of neighboring cities. It is situated near to various touristic spots such as Dinsho, Sankile and Abijata-Shala Natinal Parks, Sof Umer Cave, among others.
“All tourists heading to those tourist attractions will take a break in Shashemene.”
On the other hand, other recreational spots in the town like the Jamaicans village and the Haileselassie I Palace are breathtaking places frequently visited by a number of foreigners and local tourists. According to her, the town is working to exploit its tourism assets. To realize this, currently 102 investors have engaged in hotel and tourism services.
In a nutshell, exploiting the natural and man-made tourism resource will help the town to generate hard currency thereby speed up the ongoing infrastructural development and other basic services.
BY YOHANES JEMANEH
G.E Gorfu, a poet, university professor and a philosopher had authored a handful of literary and non literary books. Gorfu Contra Nietzsche, by which he wrote some rejections of Nietzsche, is his best selling piece. He admits that he adores Nietzsche, calling him his Guru, yet he decided to challenge Nietzsche's thoughts. Gorfu's love of philosophy is not only represented in Gorfu Contra Nietzsche, but initially materialized in poems in his book entitled Wild Oats.
We all are poets at heart, contends G.E. Gorfu writing on the back of Wild Oats, because we are all involved in the greatest poem ever written-Life. He also replies to contentions criticizing him that his poems are more of about a man-woman relationship, saying “the man woman relationship is the origin of all relationships.”
Once asked about, how he came to be interested in philosophy, G.E. Gorfu replied “Actually, it really was not my main interest. I can even say I stumbled into philosophy by a detour of literature. You see, I loved reading literature, especially poetry and novels”. He believes his childhood exposure to different literary works laid the foundation for his interest both in literature and philosophy on the way.
For instance in his poem entitled Aimless I (Early disillusionment), he ironically depicts the disappointment of a young person in the pointlessness of his future life using the antithesis, bad and good blended in a person making the person miserable with their hate to each other. In the poem, he initially admits the fact that a young and good-looking person is presumably optimistic about his life. Yet, he swiftly contradicts the idea with a claim that his feelings are stuffed with “a concert of monotone” depicting the absence of new thing in his life prospects.
He, further challenges the well accepted scientific fact, “Opposite polls attract..” and explains his disappointment at finding this to be not exactly true considering his circumstances, the way the opposite things, apparently thoughts of himself keeping him in doubts. He metaphorically describes this feeling by calling himself a “battlefield”, where his own contradicting thoughts come in to fierce fight.
In his other poem entitled we live alone, Gorfu aims at disproving the conventional way of thinking in which couples married to each other actually belong to each other. He claims:
For just this once let us be sincere,
In love's fit each is alone though near;
Here the voice in the poem frankly asks his lover to accept the fact that each belong to their own selves, not each other. That again breaks the conservative thought of oneness in romantic love. He even extremely went to question the oneness in once heart. In the following lines:
Even the inner self, the heart
Within itself is divided apart;
It never has any true harmony
And that is what makes life an agony.
He is painting a vivid picture on the reality that we usually do not dare to accept, which is the divide in the heart of people. He’s arguing here, let alone two people, a single individual can’t have oneness as once heart is apparently divided between different wishes and desires. Hence, a person’s heart itself is a source of misery for the oneself putting him/her in the middle of a dazzling dilemma.
Ear’s Eternal Error is the longest piece of poetry in the book in focus, having twelve Cantos and trying to criticize life on the universe, starting from the dawn of time to today. It sounds like the poet is trying to hold the “Ear” responsible for every evil that prevails in today’s world. He aggressively argues on the beauty and peacefulness of silence, mentioning the quietness of the universe before the existence of earthly creatures. Hence, the poet claims that, the human race starts to suffer the ups and downs of the world as a result of the silence first disturbed, when Eve listened to the python, when Adam listened to Eve in Eden.
In the same poem, he also blames people for teaching others what they don't comprehend themselves, arguing silence could have made things better. Thus, he argued that, people of religion tend to make the problems worse as they preach with a claim of knowing the Almighty as father, Son and Holy spirit. He believes they are nit sure about what they are talking about, since, according to him, they know what father and son are whereas they don't have any idea on what a holy spirit is. The striking part in this specific long piece of poetry is the fact that the poet bravely challenges ideas that apparently are Sacred to many of us.
Bottom-line, Wild Oats being full of interesting poems, I have the freedom to claim that, the prominent thing that one can observe in G.E. Gorfu's poems in Wild Oats, are how he tries and mostly succeeds in liberating his readers from a deceptive mainstream perceptions and thoughts, through the presentations of lively and concrete incidents that helped him to free people from the deprivations of their own illusions.
BY HOMA MULISA
Forefathers shedding blood
In a spectacular
Bravery and unity
"A violated-not sovereignty
And self confidence"
What is more
An unpolluted culture
And intact identity!
Thus, maintaining integrity
And hard-preserved identity
Getting poverty and lack
Behind our back,
For the coming generation
We have to pave the track
With Mega projects like
So that on a bright tomorrow
Our children embark!//
Ethiopia today has locked horns with poverty mobilizing its citizens
Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) -- A self-financed exemplary project that could feed electricity to the horn of Africa and beyond!
BY ALEM HAILU
Getting just a sliver of the global trade in goods and services worth more than 70 trillion dollars, Africans have every excuse to decide to trade among themselves.
Many argue that it is the only way to leverage trade to secure a better life for the continent’s more than a billion people who need food and jobs.
The Africa rising narrative might be getting the much needed validation to tackle widening inequality, joblessness, generalized poverty, food and nutritional insecurity that eclipse successes in meeting some of the development targets included in the newly agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
A rich but poor Africa
The narrative of a poor Africa is about to change. That is, if Africa stands together as much as it did in fighting for its political independence. This time the fight is for a place on the global trade stage. After years of negotiations and the establishment of several free trade blocs, the signing of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) agreement targeted for December 2017 could set Africa on a new development path.
Africa has more to gain than lose in creating the CFTA, which will rival trade agreements like the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the 16-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Africa already has the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) signed in June 2015 combining three largest trading blocs: The East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).
The three regional economic communities have a combined GDP in excess of 1.3 trillion dollars and a population of 565 million. However, the TFTA, which has been signed by 16 of the 26 member countries, is yet to be ratified to come into force, a blow for the journey to the CFTA.
In their paper on the adoption of the TFTA, Calestous Juma, Professor of the Practice of International Development and Director of the_Science, Technology, and Globalization Project at the Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, and Francis Mangeni, COMESA Director of Trade, Customs and Monetary Affairs, view regional trade as part of a broader strategy for long-term economic transformation.
They argue that African trade integration measures combine the facilitation of free movement of goods and services, investment in infrastructure, and promotion of industrial development as part of the long-term political vision to unleash the continent’s entrepreneurial potential through regional trade culminating in the African Economic Community by 2028.
Global trade is an undisputed source of economic development and a decider between the rich and the poor as it facilitates wealth creation and spurs innovation in every sector.
According to United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, global trade is on the rise but developing countries, many in Africa, account for a small share of this global commerce. Foreign direct investment has gone up in Africa from 9 billion dollars in 2000 to 55 billion in 2014, but rich countries have benefited more, a situation the first target of the expired Millennium Development Goals sought to address through the development of an open, rule based, predictable and non-discriminatory trading and financial system.
While an equitable trade system is a global ideal, Africa has the potential to turn the trade tide in its favour by transforming political will into action. Africa has a wide range of natural and mineral resources making beneficial industries a viable investment option that will help cut unemployment and eliminate poverty which dog many countries in Africa.
Prospects and problems
The prospects of a single market are appetizing: 54 countries, over a billion people and a combined GDP in excess of 3.4 trillion dollars, nearly double the current annual value of traded goods and services in Africa.
“The proposed Continental Free Trade Area will expand the continent’s regional investment to West Africa which is currently not covered by the tripartite consolidation of COMESA, EAC and SADC,” Juma stated. “This will enlarge investment opportunities for Africans to invest across the continent. A larger continental market will also make African more attractive to foreign investors.”
Juma, who is writing a book on the CFTA to be published to coincide with signing of the agreement in 2017, believes that a larger single market will enable African factories to operate at full capacity, which will in turn stimulate greater technological innovation.
“The impact on innovation will include greater movement of skills to the continent from outside and across the continent between countries. Africans will be able to learn new skills from their foreign counterparts which will help to strengthen the continent’s technological base,” he said.
Africa has as many trade opportunities as it has obstacles to realizing the free movement of goods, services and people. One of the major obstacles to the CFTA identified by Juma is adjusting national laws and practices to enable countries to implement the agreement. Resistance will come from firms that have been previously protected from external competition. A solution, Juma is convinced, lies in balancing corrective measures with incentives.
“The agreement needs to include remedies and incentives that help countries to adjust to the new regime,” he said. “In this regard, the agreement should not be about free trade but it should also have provisions for infrastructure and industrialisation. It should be an economic development agreement, not just a free trade arrangement.”
Africans not trading with Africans
Statistics from COMESA indicate that inter-Africa trade is a paltry 12 per cent compared to trade with Europe and Asia, at nearly 60 per cent. At the heart of the poor intra-African trade are prohibitive national trade measures. It is easier to buy products from Europe than for African countries to sell to each other.
Trade policy harmonisation and reducing export/import duties are critical to freeing the movement of goods and people. Last month, the African Union launched the electronic Pan African passport, paving the way for free movement across borders and an important step towards a free trade zone. The passport, initially for African heads of state, foreign ministers and diplomats, will be available to African citizens by 2018.
African governments under the African Union have established the Continental Free Trade Agreement Negotiating Forum which has met several times to hammer out modalities of the continent wide free trade zone mooted in 2012. African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Fatima Haram Acyl, told the first meeting of the negotiating forum in February 2016 that the Continental Free Trade Area will integrate Africa’s markets in line with the objectives and principles of the Abuja Treaty.
It remains for Africa to up investments in road, rail and air infrastructure, communications and seamless service delivery and agriculture which are disproportionate among the 54 member states creating unease as to what a single market will mean for both poor and rich economies.
Economic disparities present a hurdle Africa must overcome as many of Africa’s 54 countries are small, with populations of less than 20 million and economies under 10 billion dollars. National markets would be insufficient to justify investments as adequate supply of inputs and sufficient demand would be too expensive or out of reach that a bigger market will achieve.
The consulting firm McKinsey predicts consumer spending in Africa will rise from 860 billion dollars to 1.4 trillion by 2020, potentially lifting millions out of poverty should a single market be inaugurated.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has calculated that the CFTA could increase intra-African trade by as much as 35 billion dollars per year over the next six years.
BY BUSANI BAFANA
Once degraded and barren lands now turned to be fertile and become productive as a result of ceaseless, integrated conservation and watershed management performance. Rehabilitating of a badly degraded and closured areas have brought fundamental changes amid mass engagements.
Recently the writer of this piece of article held a telephone interview with the Amhara Agricultural Bureau, Natural Resources Development and Conservation Section Head Getachew Ingidayehu. He said that Natural and Watershed Management activities have been carried out for a long time in Amhara State. But it did not register expected results for an array of reasons.
“We did not develop a sense of ownership among the community. However, starting from 2010-2011, the state’s rigorous discussions and appraisals helped to bring fundamental attitudinal change among the management, thereby citizens have reached a consensus on carrying out natural and watershed management, making it a matter of life and death,” stipulates the Section Head.
Getachew further said, “We conducted extensive discussions due to the need in mass labour and participation in natural conservation and watershed management efforts. The community has to believe on the importance of the agenda, and to do so, they have held continuous discussions on how they implement and the types of techniques they use. Besides they have taken constructive measures since 2010-2011, as a result, barren lands rehabilitation, production and productivity have greatly leaped ahead in areas where watershed management activities carried on.
He further said that, regarding scaling up previous best experiences, management activities have continued in a coordinated manner and effectively throughout the state. “We practice the management effort in all areas of the state. Accordingly, there are 23 thousand watersheds in the region. So far, conservation works have been implemented on 17 thousand watersheds. This year, we have started implementing the conservation duties on 6,700 watersheds participating 4.63 million citizens categorized under 112 thousand development groups.” Various watershed management practices are going effectively.
To this effect, several success stories have been registered on areas where management and conservation works performed, with decrease in soil degradation, increase in ground and surface water amount, ensuring citizens’ privileges. Moreover, due to the expansion in Irrigation schemes, currently, 800 thousand hectares of land is developing through irrigation. Accordingly, production and productivity has been increased up to 89 per cent, where management implemented agro-ecologies, he said.
Besides, vegetables and fruits, animal fodder have been highly developed concurrently, farmers income generating capacity have been increased from time to time.
According to Getachew, once barren lands and mountainous areas are being recovered using area closure and other conservation methods, where as various agricultural activities such as sericulture, animal fodder and animal fattening among other related agricultural practices have been performed. As a result, youth are engaged in the aforementioned farming practices. So far, in all job categories, over 200 thousand youth have been involved in the job opportunities created in the sector.
He further said that natural and watershed management have two main objectives, the first being to preserve the natural resources, increase soil fertility, production and productivity among others, the second is to protect nation’s dam infrastructures particularly, protecting the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) from silt deposition.
According to Getachew, all in all citizens involvement on natural conservation and watershed management tasks have greatly escalated. They have developed a sense of ownership and belongingness. Currently, people no longer argue on the importance of conservation among the communities, thus 85 per cent of the community participates in conservation works, by which they spend from 25 to 35 days on managements duties every year .
Although there is no specific time frame for natural conservation tasks in the state, citizens perform conservation efforts as a campaign at state and national level from January to February. However, lack of follow up and appraisal methods are still challenges observed in the state, as he explained.
Senior Public Relations Officer at the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Daniel Dentamo said that although, the annual natural and watershed management campaign implementation time differs from state to state, the management duties carry on accordingly. Some states implement starting from January, while others start at the mid of January. Due to consecutive and concerted efforts of the public and the government, major successes, exemplary outcomes have been registered in natural and watershed management duties in the country. Thereof, nation’s plan, agricultural production and productivity have been increased, while degraded natural resources and watersheds have been rehabilitated.
Following multifaceted conservation approaches in the country, both ground and surface water storage has been also increased. Favourable conditions for irrigation schemes have been created and expanded widely. Several dams and water ponds have been constructed so as to utilize them for irrigation and other agricultural and power generating aims. As ground water converge capacity increased, farmers can easily dig up and use for small scale irrigation. Similarly, various soil and water conservation practices have been well done.
There were about 853 thousand hectares of land covered by irrigation schemes but the government has given due emphasis on natural conservation duties staring from GTP I through an array of mass mobilization. Currently about three million hectares of land have been developed by irrigation that benefits about six million farmers. The management could also help improve animal fodder supply. So far, some 20 million hectares of land, both biological and physical soil and water conservation duties have been implemented on various watersheds nationally, as Daniel explained.
Women and youth have been engaged in different created job opportunities, like in animal fattening, he added.
This year, natural conservation and watershed management efforts at national level has been carried out on 6,233 new watersheds and the effort will carry on. The activities that have been implemented include new watershed tasks, restoring barren lands, areas closuring, water harvesting and strengthening previously performed conversations on six million hectares of land among other preservation and management activities, he said.
BY ALAZAR SHIFERAW
In his recent briefing in connection with the 6th years anniversary of the commencement of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) Communication and Information Technology Minister Dr. Debretsiyon GebreMichael stated that power generation capacity of the GERD up on installation has been boosted to 6,450 MW, following enhancement of capacity of generators.
According to him, nearly 56 per cent of the project has so far been completed. Strenuous activities including the construction of power receiver and transmission stations, installation of power transmission lines and two turbines that generate 375MW each are being carried out to finish final activities that enable the Dam generate 750MW as per schedule.
Initially the Project was designed to generate 5,250MW. However, as a result of improvements made on the power plant generation its capacity increased to 6,000 MW. However, after six years, the total generation capacity of the Dam has been upgraded to 6450MW, as a result of improvement made on generators to boost capacity of the power plant; upgrading activity has enabled to augment electricity generation capacity of the Dam by 1,200 MW, which is equivalent to power being generated from Tekeze, Beles and Gibe-II power plants.
The project has also witnessed finalization of construction of 400 and 500KV power transmission lines traversing from the GERD all the way to Beles project and Addis Ababa main on grid reservoir. These lines are readied to convey GERD- generated power to targeted destinations.
The preparation to celebrate the 6th anniversary of the commencement of the construction of the Dam has been launched with various assortments used to mobilize resources and accelerate construction of the Project. Accordingly, it has been planned to collect 1.8 billion Birr from the fund raising programs which will be carried out in connection with the 6th anniversary.
The 6-km road race has held today under the motto “We Run for the GERD”. The race has aimed at raising fund to support construction of the GERD. The occasion is expected to attract over 650, 000 Ethiopians across the country. The Council has called on citizens to massively participate in the race and help strengthen the noble cause of finalizing GERD.
Citizens have so far contributed 9.4 billion Birr for the dam. The people of Ethiopia have continued their support to the construction of the Dam through environmental conservation activities and the purchase of bonds.
The Project is underway with an encouraging pace and is going to be finalized with the given time frame. To this end, all citizens are providing unreserved assistance. Let alone citizens at home, most Diaspora Ethiopians are supporting the GERD. Indisputably, nation will keep on exerting unreserved effort to complete the construction of the GERD for the realization its renaissance journey.
Contrary to the genuine aspirations to develop its natural resource, there is a selfish position of Egypt to utilize the Nile River unfairly for years. Even to worth Egypt was trying to block Ethiopia's effort to mobilize resource for the construction of the GERD. In fact, Ethiopia has made it abundantly clear that the project is self-financed. As a result, no influence has come from the external elements in terms of finance. Not only securing the finance but also the security of the project is under the watchful eyes of the people and government of Ethiopia.
Always, the people and the government of Ethiopia are vigilant to protect the grand project from any possible attack. The recent foiled attempt by the Behinen militia is a case in point. According to Government Communication Affairs Office State Minister, Zadig Abreha, the Ethiopian defense forces had in inflicted punitive measure on 20 Behinen militia that were hell bent on attacking the GERD and hindering ongoing development activities in the project area.
The defense force has annihilated 13 militia men that infiltrated from Eritrea, while seven has managed to flee to Sudan. However, Sudan has extradited the fugitives to Ethiopia. According to him, the thwarted attack was organized by Shabia and anti-Ethiopian elements garrisoned in Eritrea. Since the GERD is popular project and it is under reliable protection of people that are committed to stand sentinel to protect sovereignty of their country.
Obviously, the GERD has reached to the current level defying all external sabotages intended to halt it. For instance, Al-monitor of Egypt has earlier reported that Egypt wants to halt the GERD and has started campaign. The report said : “The campaign initiated by Egypt was on two fronts’’: one that is explicit and involves meetings by Egypt’s ministers of water and foreign relations with their counterparts in countries with influence in the Nile Basin, and the other is undeclared and involves meetings by Egypt’s ambassadors in these countries; the two tracks aim to persuade the international community to reject the dam’s construction because it may lead to further conflict and instability in the Nile Basin.
Similarly, Economist had reported last January that when Egyptian politicians discussed sabotaging the GERD in 2013, they naturally assumed it was a private meeting. But amid all the scheming, and with a big chuckle, Muhammad Morsi, then president, informed his colleagues that their discussion was being broadcast live on a state-owned television channel.
Unquestionably, it is a public secret that Egypt wanted to stop the largest hydroelectric project in Africa. When Ethiopia completes construction of the dam in 2017, it will stand 170 meters tall (550 feet) and 1.8km (1.1 miles) wide. Its reservoir will be able to hold more than the volume of the entire Blue Nile, the major contributor of Nile. And it will also produce 6,450 MW of electricity, more than double Ethiopia’s current generation capacity.
However, according to the Economist, the Egyptian government has adopted a more conciliatory tone only recently. In March of last year Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, who ousted president Morsi in a coup, joined Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to sign a declaration that tacitly blesses the construction of the Dam so long as there is no significant harm to downstream countries. The agreement was affirmed in December, when the three countries settled on two French firms to study the Dam’s potential impact.
Time and again Ethiopia insists that it will produce only power and that the water pushing its turbines (less some evaporation during storage) will ultimately come out the other side. But Egypt fears it will also be used for irrigation, cutting downstream supply. But experts are skeptical. “It makes no technological or economic sense [for Ethiopia] to irrigate land with that water,” as it would involve pumping it back upstream, says Kenneth Strzepek of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
All three countries will benefit if they work together. The Dam benefits all the three countries as it stores water for use in drought years and has potential to produce cheap energy for export once transmission lines are built (the Renaissance Dam is merely the latest test of countries’ willingness to share water, though Ethiopia plans to build other dams on its rivers), according to the Economist.
In line with this, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development stated that Ethiopia’s electric energy demand is growing by over 20 per cent a year and it is difficult, and almost impossible, for Ethiopia to meet this huge demand without pursuing economic growth and industrial development using untapped renewable water resources. Therefore, development of renewable energy sources is predominant objective and urgent to satisfy the ever-growing energy demand.
Hence, GERD is at the center of Ethiopia’s development strategy. It will provide cheap and abundant electricity to the booming manufacturing sector of the country and sustain its well-oiled economic progress. It is well known that Ethiopia has formulated Climate Resilient Green Economy Green that centers on the utilization of renewable energy resources such as hydro power.
Some sources indicated that once it is put into service, the GERD will increase the amount of electricity produced in the country by 270 per cent and bolster Ethiopia’s role as an energy exporter to neighboring countries. By transmitting electricity to Sudan, Djibouti, South Sudan and Yemen, it will be able to generate two billion USD in revenue annually.
Currently, successful engineering prowess has topped off GERD with additional 450 MW. It is part of national struggle to rotate turbines and utilize the GERD only to electrification purpose; Ethiopia has formulated outstanding strategic plans to develop green economy and transform its economy through production of electricity from renewable sources.
It is a recent memory that Ghibe III Water Project with 2870 MW has been inaugurated and efforts are underway to finalize same projects. Envisioning to boost its electricity production from close to 5,000 MW at present to 17,000MW at the end of GTP-II Ethiopia will move heaven and earth to accomplish its mission. of poverty eradication through massive electrification program. And as an emblem of poverty alleviation endeavor, construction of GERD will be intensified despite all the cry by anti-Ethiopia elements.
BY FIKADU WUBETE
There is a flurry of activities these days in Ethiopia. The month of Yekatit that is (days between the European month of February and March) are very significant months in the politico-historical landscape of the country.
It is the eventful month during which there were severe confrontations with invading Italian forces. In the first case, the ‘Martyrs Day’ is commemorated as a remembrance of the thousands of innocent Ethiopian civilians including women and children who were made to be victims of the rage of Mussolini’s soldiers’ revenge due to the attempted assassination of Graziani by Ethiopian youths opposing the Fascist rule.
That was February 19, 1937. Later on there is the commemoration of the victory of the Battle of Adwa where Ethiopian forces led by Emperor Menelik and his aids including his spouse Taitu led one of the most astounding military victories of an African nation over a European force. That was March 2, 1896. Again, it was during this period that the Tigray Peoples Liberation movement began, some forty two years ago (February 18, 1975) their struggle to depose the oppressive ancient regime of Emperor Haile Selassie.
Similarly, it was in this period six years ago that the cornerstone for one of the greatest economic and development achievements of modern day Ethiopia has been laid by the former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi: the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. This is practically a game changer in the recent history of Ethiopia as it is set to completely transform not only the economy of the country but also usher a new era of integration and cooperation among the Nile Basin countries.
Hence, there is a lot to celebrate during the days of February and March in Ethiopia. On the one hand, we look back on what our ancestors have achieved with pride and dignity while acknowledging and giving due credit to their efforts and sacrifice. On the other hand, taking motivation and inspiration from their deeds, we try to forge the present and the future on that footprint.
The spirit of Adwa must serve as a springboard to go ahead with all the commitment of the world and finish the job with the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. As the invading forces were defeated thanks to the mobilization of all the youths of Ethiopia; as the contribution of each and every citizen was asked and secured thanks also to the able leadership of Menelik and his generals.
The spirit of nationalism and sovereignty was the basis of the victory of Adwa, so can the current generation of Ethiopians and leaders apply the same principle in the fight against poverty, in the buildup of democracy and the consolidation of Ethiopia’s position in the Horn of Africa in particular, but also in Africa and the world as a whole.
As we celebrate the six anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone for the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, we cannot afford to forget that the contribution of each and every Ethiopian is fundamental in more than one ways, just as Prime Minister Meles Zenawi had underlined that a spirit of belongingness is key in achieving the completion of such a mega project.
Though the GERD challenges the capacity of the country in terms of resources but presents equally immense opportunities for the long term advancement of the country, its growing confidence and self-reliance was well as for the image that it portrays not only to its neighbours but also to nations further distant.
Ethiopia is bound to have its secured place in the community of nations and will play an important role in contributing to the peace and stability of the region as it has been for the last several years. It could be asserted that Ethiopia’s role in the community of nations dates back to the days of the Battle of Adwa when it inspired nations that were downtrodden by oppression such as the battle in the liberation of Africa from European dominion. Even African-Americans have testified to the importance of the victory at Adwa as an inspiration for their battle for civil rights and liberties in the US. African liberation movements in early days of the twentieth century and the pan African movement were inspired by the Adwa exploit.
By the same token, Ethiopians should show to the world that they can achieve what they intend to if united and for the realization of the dream of defeating poverty, once and for all, the completion of the huge hydro power project on the Nile is just the beginning. Others will definitely follow, and poverty will be defeated.
The 121st anniversary of the Adwa victory was colorfully celebrated last Thursday at national level with grand event in Adwa Town, Tigray State.
On the occasion, Deputy Premier Demeke Mekonnen, present at the event, handed over a torch to President Dr. Mulatu Teshome and House of Federation Speaker Yallew Abate which signaled the marking of another history—already on the making — 6th anniversary of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
Forefathers/foremothers had defeated colonizers, and the present generation is building GERD to deny poverty safe havens in the country. The torch would catch fire in Addis Ababa in March 26, 2017 and tour across the country raising fund for the GERD construction.
As people of Ethiopia moved in unison to Adwa, the present generation also joined its heart and mind to see the completion of the flagship project, building the dam with own fund.
Also in the capital, a Bond Week themed: 'No time; We run to Fund the GERD', has been launched, and various segments of the society are now purchasing bonds.
Three days after the launching of the bond week, 14.8 million Birr has been raised, according to the Office of National Council for the Coordination of Public Participation on the Construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
The sum was collected from Amhara and Oromia State as well as Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa City Administrations.
BY HAFTU GEBREZGABIHER