“I call upon the businessmen, artists, professionals and the media to use the new tax exemption benefits which will enter into effect the up coming July, for backing philanthropic organizations to end up the battle against the menace of women, youth and to expand centers for the elderly people”
Sister Zebider Zewdie, founder and Executive Director of Mary Joy Charity Organization was born in 1963 in the then district of Gammo Goffa, Chincha Woreda. She attended her education there up to grade ten and then went to Arba Minch for preparatory education. Then she joined the Addis Ababa Nursing School. Following her graduation, she served at the Tikur Anbessa, Yekatit-12 and St. Paul Hospitals, and then she served for six years with the Norwegian Save Children in Limu-Genet and Addis Ababa offices. In the course of time, the idea of Mary Joy come to her mind and founded it. She had a short stay with The Ethiopian Herald briefing the activities her organization has been doing. Excerpts!
How did you establish Mary Joy?
Point in time, the establishment of Mary Joy was like unintended. I opened up my own clinic at Asco at the outskirt of Addis Ababa. It was named after 'Asco-Gebriel Clinic'. It has its own story. I opened the clinic due to the call from the residents. There was no health center there some 27 years back. Three mothers died of labor every month due to lack of access to health posts. The local administration rented me a house at a lower cost and encouraged me to open clinic. Then, I opened the clinic and began to render free delivery services.
However, things did not go as I had proposed. Sadly, I found myself to be subjected to tumor inside my nose.
It was the time that I passed through a life threatening medical situation. It is so depressing to talk of it by now.
I tried all medical treatments. Unfortunately, all were in vain. Finally, I put all my trust on the Holy-Virgin; St Mary and I did my prayer to Her mercy.
I took the Holy-Water. Finally, I fully recovered from my illness. Thus, I changed the name ‘Asco-Gebriel Clinic’ to Mary Joy. Mary stands for the Holy-Virgin, and Joy stands for the joyousness. I am cured by Her clemency. This was how Mary Joy Charity Organization was first founded.
When we started our operation at first, we had merely hundred children. However, nowadays, we have become accessible in 105 woredas of Oromia, Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa and Southern Nations Nationalities and People's State. The number of people who are assisted by us has also increased significantly .
What is the current status of Mary Joy?
As I mentioned earlier, the organization started its services with hundred children. Presently, we are serving over 1.5 million population, of whom 36,000 children, 10,000 youth, 5,000 elderly people and over 8, 000 baby care and guardians in the areas of education, health care, orphanage and elderly care, women and children affairs and poverty reduction activities.
We are aggressively intervening to empower women in all spheres. We strive persistently to make them self-reliant economically. While we are working these, we are not alone. Rather, nearly 4,000 volunteers are working with us. We have already counted 23 years in this voluntary service.
What services does Mary Joy provide?
There is a project that works to improve the lives of children; who lost their families. We work in collaboration with USAID and Pact Ethiopia. We have also a project known as Kokeb (Star) Pram Project that helps 22,000 children.
When we celebrate our 10th anniversary, we have launched a child and elderly care campaign. Noticeably, without the assistance of the general public, we can not go far by ourselves and cover all the necessary expenditures.
Our scheme to support children is restricted until the age of eighteen. However, to fulfill their needs and betterment their lives while with us, having sufficient capital is critical Therefore, following the campaigns which we made in earlier times to collect funds from benevolences, we can obtain around nine million Birr from Ethiopians at home every year.
The individual payment per children exceeds to 360 Birr per month. Out of this, 30 Birr goes to administration purpose and, the rest will be delivered to the children themselves.
We have volunteers who support us in various ways. They support us with educational materials, clothing and other items which are essential for beneficiaries. For instance, Yekatit Pulp Factory has granted us exercise books. Not only these, but in Holy days; like Ramadan, Easter, or Christmas children spend their time happily in special treatments with volunteers.
When we come to women’s’ affairs, our activities focus on creating opportunities that enable them generate income, empower themselves economically and let them lead stable life. However, we give priorities to educate them - how to lead secure life. In this case, due to the fact that we prioritize education, there are many people who were once supported by Mary Joy, but able to educate themselves, and pay back for the kind deeds they have received from the Organization.
With regarding to health, be it in public or in private health centers, we have enabled them to get free services, including contraception counseling, pre natal, during and post natal cares.
In addition to these, we offer entrepreneurship training to women to make them self-reliant. In this regard, for those, who organize themselves with 20 members, we provide an initial loan capital that exceeds to four million Birr. Using this scheme, hence, a number of women have changed their lives for better.
Do you have any additional income from other organizations?
USAID is one of the major income sources helping 22,000 children and women. We have also support from Save the Children International. Cord Aid International Ethiopia is also the other source of our income. These and other organizations, individual volunteers have been kind to support us whenever we need them.
Concurrently to these, at services we start recently to battle cervical cancer, we refer women to Tikur Anbessa General Specialized Hospital, St. Paul Hospital; and Ras Desta Damitew Hospitals. The main thing here is about to bring attitudinal change. Like in the late 1970s, that has happened to HIV virus, cervical cancer is now attacking several women.
There is a negative attitude towards women with cervical cancer. Due to this women try to hide the cases for the reason of social exclusion. To end this, we are working to bring change in public attitudes. Simultaneously, we are endeavoring to build the capacity of health centers in a manner they reach at the level of treating cervical cancer.
In Addis Ababa, we built the capacity of five heath centers. We have recently started this service at Hawassa in two heath centers and a clinic. With regard to this, the Cord Aid Ethiopia is working with us. The other issue we work diligently is family planing. In collaboration with Planned Parenthood Federation, Africa (PPFA) and UNFPL, we are working to raise the awareness of the youth towards family planing issues.
Your scope seems to be vast. How much is your total budget?
The total budget of the Organization is 26 million Birr. However, that is not enough to be accessed for the larger segments of the needy people. Thus, we are seeking to raise funds from Ethiopians
As it is understood, these days the number of business people who are working within the Country is increasing considerably. On top of this, as of Western Countries, the Ethiopian government has set a tax exemption benefits for those who contribute to charities, as of the 1st of July, 2017.
Therefore, I call upon the business people, artists and the media to use the new tax exemption benefits for backing philanthropic organizations.
What services do you provide at your recently inaugurated Center in Hawassa.
The Center is multipurpose elderly center. It provides different services. It is built by Ethiopians through high mobilization of media people and artists. There were also government support. It was built and equipped with a total cost of over 12.5 million Birr.
The mobilization has proven as art and media could bring big change, and their power to mobilize the society at large.
As I mentioned earlier, the Center is established to provide elderly day care service. In this regard, Yanet Clinic and public hospitals are working with us and renders services for elderly benefices of the organization. If something happens to be critical there is referral to Yanet Hospital.
Yanet Hospital has provided us coupons which cost 25 Birr per single elder. Elders, who are in need of treatment, can get the services using that coupon. They will be served with meals, including tea and coffee. The incidence, surely, will give them the chance to enjoy with peers.
The Center has also recreational rooms which elders can watch TV, play all types of cultural games, a library, gymnasium, massage rooms, computer center. These all constructed and furnished by different benevolent individuals, Organizations and Bureaus.
There are also different show-window shops that are administered by elderly people living with HIV and AIDS and their children. The shops have enabled these people to do business, generate income and lead their lives. The state TVET bureau, in its parts, trained them in various fields including cotton wavering, production of leather materials and weaving.
What is Mary Joy's future plan?
As part of our future plan, we intend to expand our services in different parts of the Country. Currently, we have received 7,000 square meters of land in Arba Minich. We have already begun a campaign to raise funds to develop the center. Various governmental and non - governmental organizations also have given us their words to take part in the construction activity of the Center.
In partnership with Dawit Elderly Association, we set a plan to construct elderly center in Dire Dawa City. For the center, we have got 5,000 square meters of land.
The other big project we intend to do is here in Addis Ababa. We plan to construct another Center in the City. Artists and media personnel are expected to participate in this construction activity through raising funds.
Something you want to add?
I want to call on those who read this piece to help us. If we help each other, everything is possible. We can end the menace of women. We can solve the problems of the elderly people, the youth and women. Particularly, my call goes to professionals. We all are going to be elders. We have to work together for our better future. We should build institutions for our grand fathers and mothers. This is the message that I want to convey.
BY HAFTU GEBREZGABIHER
Currently the world in general and Ethiopia in particular are in the process of updating financial reporting frameworks. Nations who have accepted the new International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) are preparing a complete, comprehensive and single document called the conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting.
According to the information gathered from the Ethiopian Management Institute, financial statements and reports are prepared and presented for external users by many entities around the world. Indeed, such financial statements may appear similar from country to country, there are also differences which have probably been caused by a variety of social, economic and legal, conceptual and other circumstances. Thus, different countries used different financial statements when setting national requirements.
Due to these varied circumstances and contexts, hence, variety of experiences are observed in the financial reporting practices of many nations. The differences have also resulted in the use of different criteria for the recognition of items such as assets, liabilities, equity, income and expenses in the financial statements and in the preference of different bases of measurement.
It is now believed that further harmonization can best be pursued by focusing on financial statements that are prepared for the purpose of providing information that is useful in making economic decisions.
According to experts engaged in this area, IFRS is more appropriate in order to meet the objective of providing information that is useful for making economic decisions although there is at present no consensus by all nations and organizations. Almost 150 nations in the world have accepted the standard for implementation. This new reporting has been developed so that it is applicable to a range of accounting models and concepts of capital and capital maintenance.
International Financial Reporting Standard is useful to assist in promoting harmonization of regulations, accounting standards and procedures relating to the presentation of financial statements by providing a basis for reducing the number of alternative accounting treatments; to assist national standard-setting bodies in developing national standards; to assist those preparing financial statements in applying the standards for a safe and more accurate financial decisions, to assist auditors in forming an opinion on whether financial statements comply with IFRSs; to assist users of financial statements in interpreting the information contained in financial statements prepared in compliance with IFRSs; and to have transparent, corruption and other risk free reporting and monitoring endeavors, as these same experts in the area suggester.
Chief Facilitator of the training of this new standard, Wegayehu Woldeyesus told the Ethiopian Herald that IFRS set out recognition, measurement, presentation and disclosure requirements dealing with transactions and events that are important in general purpose for financial statements. The standard is aimed at facilitating the consistent and logical formulation of financial reporting so as to provide the basis for the use of judgment in resolving accounting issues in an easiest way.
It is with this general concept in mind that economic analysts and managers from Amhara State have attended a seven days breakthrough training on employing the Standards recently. They all have capitalized during the training that it is timely to employ a consistent accounting language and reporting in Ethiopia to communicate smoothly with the rest of the world.
The other advantage that this standard will offer to trainees is the high level transparency it has as it is the simplest and easy for auditing and narrowing the gap of corruption and other financial discrepancies which may lead to confusion and misunderstanding on the stream.
IFRS training which will be given continuously for various organizations in the coming year, will provide awareness and practical skill training on the standard as Ethiopia has recently accepted the standard among many nations in the world, Wegayehu remarked.
The facilitator further said that almost all companies in the country are expected to go through this transition, and take the training and practical implementation to adopt the standard especially to those institutions that have international financial communication and transaction with organizations outside Ethiopia. He said “This is a new reporting standard which is new from the previous US standard. All over the world almost 150 countries are employing this standard and Ethiopia should speak uniform language with the rest of the world on the matter after practically employing it within a couple of years.”
Since we are part of the globe we have to apply the same standard and assist the system with the required software to go in line with the rest of the globe, he added.
Tiret Corporate Addis Office Representative and Senior Accountant Yimam Nurye agreed that the ongoing training for experts and officials on the topic should further strengthened and offered to other experts at other states and areas to empower government and non-government development firms, speak an international accounting language in a transparent, consistent and easily auditable manner.
Ethiopian Management Institute Business Development and Licensing Authorization Director Terefe Tize said that even if the institute has an experience of offering training on human capacity building streams for over 60 years, IFRS is a focus of many governments in the world to administer consistent and transparent financial reporting, to understand and be easily understood for all professionals in the globe.
The director added the standard will be put in practice as of next Ethiopian budget year. He said adding “The institute is taking responsibility to offer training for government and non-government companies on the area as well as monitor and support them with their activities.”
According to him, employing IFRS though needs a lot of infrastructure and budget but its outcomes are rewarding.
Tiruye Alemayehu from Tiret Corporate Finance, Cost and Budget Administration Head, told The Ethiopian Herald that IFRS is a new reporting standard accepted by many countries in the world. The standard is a must for all business community to utter the same accounting language. She said “Our nation is a home of many investors and international development partners. This calls IFRS to having consistent reporting standards with branch offices working abroad and here in Ethiopia. That is one reason why the IFRS will be very important.”
This standard will enable to communicate similar mode of financial communication, facilitate financial transaction and business communication. She added “ The previous standard shows some gaps in compiling Financial and accounting reports as there are various approaches used by different organizations in an inconsistent way.”
The Head also added that IFRS will help investors and business partners to easily invest and understand their business well using these simple, world wide and quality financial reporting standards.
It was learned that, in the recent training organized by the Ethiopian Management Institute for Tiret Corporate professionals and managers, IFRS training was given for managers and economic analysts who can quickly obtain a broad overview of the key issues on the matter so as to providing a useful tool to managers and financial analysts.
The training will be offered persistently for professionals after it is tested practically for sample trainees to assess its practicability as of next year for about one year before its implementation.
BY YARED GEBREMEDEN
At the end of GTP-I in the year 2015/16, the export of animal products has shown an increase to 19,051.5 tons.
Ministry of Livestock and Fishery, and Institute of Meat and Dairy Industry Development Institute (EMDIDI) have witnessed that Ethiopia is attaining significant outcome from the export of meat and other livestock products which has substantial contribution to nation’s economy.
Ministry’s Animals Marketing Director Fekadu Getachew recently told The Ethiopian Herald that Ethiopia is a nation with the largest livestock population in Africa and it has an abundant supply base for the export of live animals.
In the last nine months, the country has exported over 232,228 live animals and earned 58.89 million USD. Of which, 42.72 million USD was obtained from the export of 71,105 live cattle, while 6.57 million and 9.6 million of USD have been generated from the export of 11,527 camels and 149,595 sheep / goats / respectively, according to Fikadu.
In the preceding year, the country has secured over 147 million USD from the export of 667,005 live animals. Of these, the sheep market took the dominant volume, which is 398,333. Similarly, over 153,000 cattle were sold out to foreign markets. The remaining 28,271 is accounted for camels and 82,724 for goats, he disclosed.
State Minister Dr. Misrak Mokenen also said that the government has been working to raise nation's benefit from livestock export. In this regard, though a lot remains to be done, considerable activities have been taken to improve species of cattle, deploy professionals and utilize latest technologies in pastoralist areas, she added.
According to the Ministry, nation’s livestock resources are estimated to be 57.83 million cattle, of which, 55.38 per cent of them are cows and heifers.
Moreover, a livestock population of over 28.89 million sheep, 29.7 million goats, 1.23 million camels, 60.51 million poultry, 10.37 million equine and 5.9 million bee colonies are also the livestock potentials of the nation.
According to Dr. Misrak, Ethiopia though has the largest livestock population, it does not benefit a lot from the sector. Thus, she underscored, stakeholders concerted efforts should be there to address bottlenecks of the sector, in a manner to improve performance, boost up foreign trade engagement, stimulate economic development and increase social benefits.
Ethiopian Meat and Diary Industry Development Institute (EMDIDI) Deputy Director General Dr. Tekeba Eshete told The Ethiopian Herald that Ethiopia, apart from exporting meat to Arab countries; is now penetrating to the global market including the U.S.A, Japan, and Europe, through exporting livestock products such as meat, honey and wax, fish, milk products, and byproducts of meat.
Regarding the potentials of livestock markets, Dr. Tekeba, he is also National Coordinator for Meat Honey Poultry and Fish, said there is an increasing trend in the export of livestock products. However, it could not reach at the expected level.
Being the first in Africa and fifth in the world of livestock figure, the country has become beneficial from the export of livestock products, he added.
According to Dr. Tekeba, the country has started exporting animal products in 2011/12. Since then there has been an increasing trend in the meat sector. However, the exports of other products such as honey, fishery and wax have remained constant, particularly in this current Ethiopian fiscal year, he further said.
In 2011, the country had exported 16,877.3 tons of meat to the Middle East. In 2012/13, the figure has increased to 17, 779.75 tons. To the contrary, the total amount of meat exported in the years 2013/14 and 2014/15 was 15, 521.36 tons.
At the end of GTP-I in the year 2015/16, the export of animal products has shown an increase to 19,051.5 tons, Dr. Tekeba noted.
He also said that the export of meat in 2016/17 has shown a little bit decline to 19,037.65 tons, which is equivalent to 97.51 million USD. Comparing the performance of the current fiscal year over quarters, the nation has earned 22.51, 24.4 and 25.22 million USD in the first, second, and the third quarters respectively. Optimistically, the fourth quarter is anticipated to show an increment.
Dr. Tekeba also noted that the country is fully dedicated to export fish to Sudan harvested from Lake Tana. In the last nine months, though it was planned to earn a total of 390 thousand USD from the fish sector, it was obtained only 170 thousand USD. Similarly, even if a target was set to earn a total of 125 million USD from honey export in 2016/17, it was earned only 102.51 million USD, which accounts 82 percent of the plan.
In 2017/18 fiscal year, it was planned to earn 8.8 million USD from honey and wax, despite 3.19 million USD still remains to be attained.
With regard to milk products, over the last 9 months, 230 thousand USD is earned from the export of milk products.
Noting that drought in the pastoralist area had affected the supply of animals over the last two consecutive years, Dr. Tekeba said, however there would be a promising achievement in the export of animal products in the year ahead as the rain is currently started falling well and provide some drought relief.
As to him, to effectively utilize the potentials of exporting animal products, there is a need to increase the number of foreign markets, other than improving input supply. Currently, the institute has been exploring potential markets beyond Saudi Arabia and Dubai. As a result, “We have identified 27 countries to export our animal products, ” he underscored.
“We have also designed mechanisms to strengthen the sector:- organizing youth group to be engaged in the areas and encouraging unions to supply animals and other inputs to the industry. In this regard, a number of unions are currently organized to provide inputs for export abattoirs. There is official agreements between these export abattoirs and unions,” Dr. Tekeba stressed.
Concurrently, he further said, with the aim of curbing companies’ technical gaps, we are providing them training by known experts and consultants. In addition to these, we are looking for funds to support and equip laboratory with required materials, and facilitate market linkages.”
“The government must also develop policies, strategies and other systems for the development of such industry. It should also design various incentive mechanisms; to promote products to external world, improve the tracebility and registration of livestock products.”
“Unless the products are traceable, the market will never penetrate to advanced countries. We have already started at a pilot level around Boranna Zone in relation to product diversification. We have also encourage private companies to diversify their products other than meat,” he underscored.
In addition to that “We have taken best experiences from bench marking countries such as India to benefit better from the sector. To make this happen and achieve better results, the government allocating funds, has introduced and scaled up better technologies from India,” he confided.
According to Dr. Tekeba, there are some major and dominant local abattoirs such as Mojo and Luna which contribute to the development of the meat sector. For instance, Alana, an Indian Meat Processing Company, which is located around Zeway, is contributing a lot in animals slaughtering and exporting their by-products.
“Alseker, Sister Company to Alana, has also substantial contribution to the growth of meat export. Totally, there are about 11 companies working on processing animal products.” he informed.
In general, the sector apart from generating hard currency to the nation, has surely created remarkable job opportunities for youths and cooperative unions, which showed a two fold times progress since the Institute was established, Dr. Tekeba disclosed.
BY ZELALEM GIRMA
Immigrants have been suffering abroad for various reasons. Some of them faced serious challenges just before they arrived at destination countries. The problems are caused by those who shouldered responsibility to help them cross boarders illegally. Some of them lost their internal organs and others lost their lives. Besides, they were raped and hurt both physically and psychologically. A number of early age girls face severe abuses and were liable to early pregnancy and various diseases in foreign lands where they could find no one who to help them.
It is also usual for migrants to face similar challenges after they arrived at destination countries. In some cases, immigrants face government and citizens’ refusal to reside in those countries undocumented. We heard such trend now and again. For instance, Saudi Arabia has planned to drive out unlicensed foreign citizens for the second time. In its first attempt there was different chaos that a number of immigrants faced challenges. Unless, undocumented foreign citizens return to their home in the amnesty period, similarly they might suffer a lot.
Three months ago Saudi Arabia passed a decree to force all unlicensed foreign citizens including Ethiopians to leave the country. It gave three months amnesty period. Some migrants have turned back to their home but the majority don’t seem responsive. Now, the period given by the Saudi government to force undocumented immigrants to leave that country is at a stone’s throw. Unless, foreign citizens used the given period to make some arrangements and leave that country, they will face serious problems.
Cognizant of that the Ethiopian government has been attempting to bring back home its citizens. As a result, over 20 thousand undocumented migrants returned home so far. About 75 thousand Ethiopians have also taken the travel documents. However, the registered number of Ethiopians to come back home is by far less than the expected number of undocumented Ethiopians residing in that country.
I think there is delusion about the next steps the government of Saudi Arabia could take. What it will do is as plain as the nose on our face. Unlicensed Ethiopians and any other migrants should know what will happen if the amnesty period comes to an end. There will be forcing unlicensed citizens. It is highly expected that the Saudi police would raid door-to-door to look for any undocumented foreign citizens. They might face challenges including psychological and physical harms. It will be even difficult to get help for evacuation.
Ethiopians shouldn’t let this to happen. Rather it is of paramount important for all undocumented Ethiopians to sense the gloomy future and decide on time to come back home proudly. They should visit where registration is taking place and register for safe repatriation. That is why Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn recently urged all unlicensed Ethiopians to leave that country before the deadline as the government has made everything ready to bring back those citizens home safely. It has been working hard to avoid any possible danger upon unlicensed Ethiopians living in Saudi Arabia until the last minute.
However, there are still challenges in the repatriation scheme. Firstly, there are brokers who have been still misleading the undocumented citizens to hide themselves. The brokers who agitate them against the decree of the country and the efforts of the Ethiopian government to bring its citizens back because the life of the brokers is relied on them. As a result, the number of migrants who have taken repatriation documents is by far less than the large number of undocumented citizens residing in that country.
Ethiopians would not take migration as a way to escape poverty but they have to face it and defeat it through hard work. In fact, things have absolutely changed at home. The country is incredibly altered in all aspects: political, social and economic. It is now possible for anyone to change his/her life working at home. While working at home, there are a large number of citizens who pulled themselves out of the quagmire of poverty.
Those citizens who need to live abroad have the right to do that but it would be better if they get residential licenses from destination countries. Unless that has happened, their lives would be at risk.
The unlicensed Ethiopians in Saudi should use the opportunity. Since the beginning of the decree of the amnesty period, the government has been attempting to safely bring home undocumented citizens in a great sense of responsibility. Its effort is to help citizens repatriated with their dignity respected. There are also some preparations and readiness to support them after they come back home.
Unless they use this opportunity, there will be similar problem to the 2013 where a number of citizens harmed, their properties were also plundered. The government had no enough time to make preparations. In fact, although there was not enough time for the government to make some arrangements like the present one, it invested a lot to help citizens come back home amid a number of challenges. It handled well the challenging issue without prior notice. Despite the challenging situations, the government, with relentless efforts, handled it and managed to bring back around 150 thousand Ethiopians.
In the contrary, at this point of time, the government has made all the necessary preparations for the Saudi police will begin driving out all undocumented citizens after the deadline. That is why the government has been doing its level best to ensure the safe return of Ethiopians. Although more Ethiopians are expected to report and settle their return before the amnesty period, a large number of unlicensed citizens residing in Saudi Arabia failed to respond as expected.
As part and parcel of its efforts, Ethiopia has been dealing with Saudi Arabia so as to have an agreement on holding the returnees respecting their human rights while repatriated.
Those who remain behind being disguised by some illegal brokers who always run after their personal benefits or any other reasons will face problems. It would be unreachable for the Ethiopian government to protect any possible danger during forceful deportation. However, the government is ready to help all of its citizens if they go to the Embassy and temporary post centers before June 29, 2017.
Citizens must know the various opportunities at home at this time. That is why the people and government of Ethiopia are deeply involved to the safe return of migrants.
The government and people of Ethiopia have been working industriously in creating job opportunities at home and supporting those who create their own means of income. Even though it demands lots of efforts, there is possibility to change ones own life working at home. There are millions of citizens in Ethiopia who have already accumulated a ransom of wealth in the past twenty six years working at home.
Ethiopians who entered those countries illegally have no rights to freely move from one place to another place to work even before the decree and many Ethiopians deported back home when they were found while moving from one place to another place.
Repatriating unlicensed citizens is the urgent task of the government. But this is not the last solution to avert the problem. The major solution could be working industriously to curb illegal migrations, which could be achieved through joint efforts of all stakeholders.
It is important for the government to strengthen what it has already started. It has already budgeted to support the youth. Although it is undeniable that migration will remained being a challenge throughout the world with serious impacts on the socio-economic issues, there are efforts to curb the problem. Therefore, citizens should come back as the amnesty period is at a stone’s throw. It will be a critical time for unlicensed citizens in Saudi unless they immediately take action and come back home proudly.
BY MOLLA MITIKU
Sscholars argue that there are two types of power excises in foreign relations: soft and hard power exercises. The political scientist Joseph Nye stated: “When one country gets other countries to do what it wants, it might be called co-optive or soft power in contrast with the hard or command power".
This has been exercised all over the world. Countries like the United States of America, the United Kingdom, China and the Qatar have experienced soft power at different times.
The globalized and multi-polar nature of the current global challenges or security issues require the usage of soft power than hard power so as to be successful in terms of country influence for relatively low expenditure, which makes it an important asset for low income countries like Ethiopia to implement foreign policy in a chaotic neighbourhood.
Ethiopia's foreign policy benchmark is soft power in that it looks to communicate its foreign policy priorities to mutual benefit. The government looks at every possible avenue to exercise soft power. In this regard, Ethiopia's impressive peacekeeping history and reputation is worth to be mentioned.
Using peacekeeping missions as soft power exercise may be unorthodox or atypical, but it can still serve its objectives if used right. The country has been contributing to African peace and stability through peacekeeping missions. It is the leading country in Africa and the 4th worldwide in contributing troops to peacekeeping missions.
It is not only about the contribution but also the long standing participation in peacekeeping missions, dated back to 1950 when it dispatched its troops to Korea, that glitters its peacekeeping missions record, but how the troops perform their duties, which is well disciplined and effective.
Above all they have the tradition of undertaking humanitarian projects parallel to their military operation, which adds on an already impressive resume of the army. They have helped rehabilitate schools, hospitals, bridges and roads found at the sector they are stationed. As a result, the Ethiopia peacekeeping army stationed in Liberia was awarded with UN Peacekeeping Medal for their invaluable contribution to the peacekeeping process in 2000.
Furthermore, the Ethiopian troops have three overlapping strategic components during their international operations in UN peacekeeping missions, which has brought successful results and outcomes so much so in an unprecedented feat and in a culmination of its great achievements, the UN Security Council unanimously voted Ethiopia to solely police and keep the peace of the contentious region of Abeyei, no country has ever been given such task and responsibility.
The country’s soft power diplomacy served it as a vehicle not only to mirror Ethiopia's foreign policy priorities one of which is to promote peace and stability but also to promote its brand of 'policing' or peacekeeping'.
Ethiopia has been playing a leading role in keeping the peace and stability of the region, which has become a breeding ground for transnational violent extremists and potential safe haven for terrorist groups helps it yield leverage in the diplomatic corners as a soft power.
Looking at these facts and mechanics and understanding how important and central role soft power plays in the new global affairs and states' foreign affairs, policymakers should not only look into optimally utilizing its potential soft powers, especially given the country is situated in a tough neighbourhood, but should look into its impeccable record and reputation it has on its peacekeeping missions, which is a new charm of offensive, as an exercise of soft power. Ethiopia has developed a new charm of offensive sticking to soft power in its relations with other countries in the region that contributed a significant role to enhanc economic integration and ensure lasting peace.
The government has taken various measures in empowering women and girls to maximize their contribution in the ongoing development efforts.
In an exclusive interview with The Ethiopian Herald, State Minister of Women and Children Affairs Alemitu Umod said investing in women is vital to meet the national development plan and goals set.
The country is employing utmost efforts at increasing the participation of women and girls in various sectors on this regard. “We have been able to register significant achievements towards gender equality and women empowerment in various areas though we still have a long way to go.’’
The State Minister said that women and girls' potential will be unleashed through education, skill development and empowerment which in turn will be of paramount importance in the elimination of poverty, illiteracy and their extreme health situations that they might face.
A number of measures have also been taken to address obstacles such as harmful traditional practices that hindered women’s and girls’ contribution, the State Minister said “A strategy has been developed and implemented to eradicate harmful traditional practices and gender based violence which have been inhibiting women and girls from using their potential.” She added, “the nation has made a firm commitment to end child, early and forced marriage, and female genital mutilation by 2025.”
Females are contributing their fair share to the impressive double digit economic growth that the nation has registered over the past decade, which is accompanied by positive trends in poverty reduction, she said, adding that “it is very critical in paving the way for Ethiopia to join the middle income countries.”
BY GIRMACHEW GASHAW
Dr. Belay Begashaw
The SDG Centre for Africa said that it has been assisting African Countries to better intertwine their plans in line with the continental Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In an exclusive interview with The Ethiopian Herald, Centre Director General Dr. Belay Begashaw said that the Centre has prepared a working plan combining SDGs with other continental plans such as Agenda 2063.
The Centre was established to provide technical assistance, conduct research, assist programme implementation processes through ICT and introduce technologies that are expected to bring fast economic development.
“Ethiopia has been working to intertwine Growth and Transformation Plan with Africa Vision for 2063 (Agenda 2063) and SDGs,” Dr. Belay further said Ethiopia is doing its best in advisory roles to other countries for effective implementation of the goals.
The Centre which opened its headquarters in Kigali, is assigned to make follow up, supervision works and provide support to countries through ICT. Currently, it has finalized preparation to provide all the necessary assistance in the nearly opened branch offices in South Africa, Senegal, Nigeria and Kenya identifying Countries challenges.
SDGs are extensions of the Millennium Development Goals, which is endorsed by 193 countries. Right after the global agreement in September 2015, Countries are engaged into some activities on that regard.
BY GIRMACHEW GASHAW
Alem Tesfai: Founder of German Ethiopian Business Network
The German Ethiopian Business Network, which is aimed at engaging in high level technological and business investments, announced that it gave primary focus to Ethiopia investment among other African countries .
Alem Tesfai, Founder of the Network, said that the network is aimed to bring knowledge, technologies to Ethiopia and Africa through facilitating ways for the German investors and Business persons.
The network also helps Ethiopians to have a better understanding of making investment and business in Germany. “We established the network to have each other to be part of the collaboration.”
So far there are about 30 business members in the network from Germany with most of them Germans by origin and five Ethiopians with German citizenship, she highlighted.
The members of the network are all business people with companies like textiles, machinery, fuel and energy, housing construction, agriculture, fertilizer, and construction technologies, she noted.
She stressed that the construction technology she is introducing will be crucial for environmental friendly construction with value added quality having an advanced and durable outcome to Ethiopia.
“We have already sighed a test field contract with the defence construction so that we are going to start a test project next month June 10 with 5km Makalle-Ayder-Makalle Airport route,” she added.
She outlined, “economic development will be secured if there is a strong commitment towards infrastructure development, road construction and housing development with an advanced progress in technologies, telecommunications, electricity, renewable energy production and others development spectrum.”
The network with its Construction Company from Germany named Poligate has signed a contract with Addis Ababa Roads Authority on road maintenance and projects, she added.
BY YARED GEBREMEDEN
Foreign Companies show keen interest to collaborate with Ethiopia in power, energy, automobile and other business activities, foreign companies representatives stated.
Proprietors and representatives of companies from Saudi Arabia, China and France stated that Ethiopia has become one the fast developing countries attracting investments.
Mohamed Irshad Burney is an Indian businessman. He paid a visit to Ethiopia, deputed by his Company, the Saudi Transformers Co. LTD, which represents seven group companies that are engaged in power transformers production, cable management system and other related electric products, with the aim of assessing business opportunities in Ethiopia.
“We are looking for market in Ethiopia for our products” due to the conducive investment environment and promising emerging economy.
As to Mohamed, Ethiopia is endowed with favourable climate and geographical locations. These and other blessings make the country more desirable for investment.
''We would definitely urge our friends and partners to pay a visit to Ethiopia and take part in development activities undertaken within the country,” he said.
The situations they have witnessed during their visit has initiated them to plant a factory in Ethiopia.
Mohamed suggested that the government should give attention in having flexible visa policy and should also improve its networking systems. “As networks and modernized telecoms are very crucial in any country's information communication systems, I think the government needs to take this into account.''
Simon Fu is a sales manager who came to Ethiopia seeking for Ethiopian co-partner distributors for products of his Chinese Company Techfine' engaging on solar technologies and manufacturing various kinds of rechargeable batteries.
We need to work with Ethiopian partners in a manner to fulfil the energy demands of the rural community through supplying solar energy technologies and rechargeable batteries, he said.
''Our company sees Ethiopia as the best business spot in Africa and we hope to have sound business partnership with the nation in the near future.''
Engineer Fabiano Alfredo Zamuner is from Italy’s Botto Ricambi’s Spare Parts Manufacturing Company for Trucks and Buses. He too came to Addis Ababa with the same purpose: looking for business contacts to work with Ethiopian business people.
The Ethiopian market is growing over the past few years that there are opportunities to start business in Ethiopia which is a strategic nation expanding business within itself and with neighbouring countries, he witnessed.
'This is our first experience to conduct business assessment in Ethiopia. As we understood from the information we gathered and witnessed, the nation has ample potential for investment. Hence, we hopefully will invest in the country, as we reach at conclusion,” he uttered optimistically.
Ethiopia is moving fast in all aspects that it is at the right track to host vast investment opportunities, the foreign businessmen emphasized.
BY YARED GEBREMEDEN
Ethiopia’s abundant livestock resources and geographic proximity made it competitor in the Middle East meat market, Meat and Dairy Industry Development Institute disclosed.
Ethiopia has the lion’s share in delivering fresh goat and sheep meat to United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabian market. The revenue obtained from meat exports to the region has reached to 84.1 million USD during the last ten months of the current fiscal year.
However, there is a huge imbalance between Ethiopia’s potential for meat exports and its actual engagement with Middle East countries due to insufficient export quality and quantity.
Cognizant of that the government, in collaboration with other stakeholders, has been striving hard to narrow the gap between Ethiopia’s potential for meat and its actual performance.
Ethiopian Meat and Dairy Industry Development Institute Deputy Director-General Khalifa Hussein told The Ethiopian Herald that due attention has been given to exploit Middle East’s ever increasing demand for meat.
The Institute is working in concert with various stakeholders to improve quality and supply of slaughtered cattle, certify export abattoirs and bolster up availability of transport services that would in turn enhance country’s competitiveness in the Middle East meat market.
Khalifa said: “Almost all abattoirs across the country have implemented ISO 22000 food safety management system. The system enables them to meet international standard. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabian and Emirate experts have been paying frequent visits to those abattoirs and expressed satisfaction.’’
The Institute, along with Ethiopian Meat Producers-Exporters Association, has executing various promotional activities to enhance Ethiopia’s competitiveness in the Middle East meat supply and enable it retain its big share in the market.
Ethiopian Meat Producers-Exporters Association Secretary-General Abebaw Mekonnen emphasized that the Association has been engaged in expanding laboratories, chilled storages, loading docks as well as certifying abattoirs and offering capacity building trainings for workers.
The Association has reached agreements with the Ethiopian Airlines and Fly Emirates to arrange additional flights to fresh meat during meat export peak season of Ramadan.
The active participation of all stakeholders to ensure Middle East Countries consistent live animal supply is highly desirable. In this regard, meat exporting firms are expected to play a leading role, he added.
Commercial Manager of Meat Exporting Factory, Mojo Modern Abattoirs, Almaz Arega agreeing with Abebaw's idea, she said her Company is working to use its full capacity to satisfy the Middle East demand for meat.
The firm uses refrigerator fitted vehicles to transport goat and sheep meat from the factory to Bole International Airport while keeping its freshness. Almaz said: “We have made several activities in terms of preserving the chiller room and equipped it with the necessary materials to provide reliable meat supply throughout the year.’’
However, she expressed her concerns about a higher demand for livestock that it could create shortages in the market and urged all concerned bodies to make consolidated efforts to maintain uninterrupted cattle supply to the region.
The Ministry of Livestock and Fishery is closely working with stakeholders to ensure the availability of live cattle all over the year. The Ministry supports export abattoirs to have access for animals from livestock supplying areas and conducted consultations with suppliers to supplement the possible shortage, according to Ministry’s Public Relations Head Abraham Tesfaye. Abraham noted that the Ministry has been working to enhance the link between live animal suppliers and export abattoirs so as to enable the country provide uninterrupted meat supply to Middle East market.
He said: “The government encourages investors to have a meaningful participation in meat exporting sector and is committed to provide them with the necessary support that would be helpful for the country generate additional foreign currency.’’
Ethiopia should give emphasis to improve the quality and the supply level of meat, expand laboratories, increase certified abattoirs as well as ensure consistent delivery of meat to beat the competition for Middle East meat market.
Besides, conducting strong promotional activities in primary meat destinations and seeking new markets for Ethiopia’s bulk sheep and live animal supply are the necessary measures that the country should undertake to get a significant outcome from the sector.
BY BILAL DERSO