The Harari people are familiar with a number of rituals that they perform during their joy or mourning times. They trust in God for each involvement alongside with their tireless effort. They reside in the city of Harar, situated in the Harari State, eastern Ethiopia.
Harari people have a traditional tool in their homes made up of mud designed as a cemetery. They use it for two purposes: as a Holy Quran table or a remembrance of death. They believe that thinking about religion and death would help one to be diligent and disciplined. This means, when anyone remembers about mortality, he would be committed to use his lifetime to bear notable fruits that come after hard working before confronting of his last moment.
Hararis also erect a statue called Awach or Inayach for men and women who passed away after accomplishing invaluable favour to the society in their religion, knowledge and discipline. Therefore, everyone in the society is curious to carry out such success and deserve this reverence. This is the major reason behind the peaceful life norms and hospitality of the Harari people. Recently, this and similar cultural experiences were presented at the Ethiopian National Theatre. The occasion was also observed with the presentation of various researches conducted on the culture and ritual performances of the Hararis.
Presenting a paper on the ritual performances, National Theatre Ritual Performance Research and Training Director Lakemariam Lisanework said that as they dwell in a city that has long history of mankind, Harari people have been living peacefully and cooperatively with their neighbours. "They have been leading their lives with the norms of Afocha, a group of people that would help each other either the good or bad times. They share feelings during marriage, mourning and field work."
During Ashura, New Year's festivity, youths enjoy through breaking a gourd, a fruit with a very hard shell, to show their strength to their peer mates and to attract girls. And the girls would give response to the guy they are interested with.
The Hararis New Year celebration is consisted of various activities including the porridge feeding programme and observation of the show of hyenas. It seems very adventurous but interesting scene to look at such interaction between a human and wild animal. The programme is led by the leader of the group of the hyenas. If the leader hyena does not eat the porridge, the rest would reflect similar response. But if it takes its portion the others would immediately follow.
In the custom of the Harari people, this ritual performance has been carried out for a long period. Feeding the hyenas has two meaning to this society. First, if the hyenas eat the porridge, it means the New Year is hopeful. However, if the opposite occurred the Hararis would start the eve with long prayer assuming the year would bring something bad.
On the occasion, researches on marriage proceedings, burial ceremony, group work, traditional medication and ethics of this historic society were presented. Researching on such rich culture would help to bring them to the stage to promote and draw lessons about how this people have been living with neighbouring societies and untamed animals as well. In his recommendation, Laikemariam suggests that researchers need to exploit such ritual performances within other ethnic groups and bring them to the public for artistic and societal purpose. He also stated that the excavation of such cultures would also help for tourism promotion and policy making.
National Theatre Evaluation and Training Senior Expert Samuel Tesfaye elaborates the significance of the ritual performances from its artistic value. He believes that studying the cultural values of various ethnic groups would help to promote the culture via theatre. "Traditional ritual performing spheres have not been well discovered yet. However, the recent motives by various experts seem inspiring to identify the current status of the traditions and to promote them with the necessary rehabilitation support and paving way to advance tourism," Tesfaye added.
Peoples at every corners of the world have their own norms in which they demonstrate their happiness as well as sorrow. Especially, in a country like Ethiopia which is the home to various ethnicities, there could be several rituals that are unique to the society. Because of their uniqueness, they can serve as input to tap tourism potential. Moreover, acknowledging them among other peoples has significant role in art.
As to Samuel, some of the traditional inheritance of the country are invaluable to perform on stage with few decorations to add artistic value. He believed that in an effort to promote ritual performance within a given art, the artists have a great responsibility in decorating or adding some fascinating art colours.
House of Peoples' Representatives Culture, Tourism and Media Affairs Standing Committee member Momina Mohammad attended the paper presentation programme. She gets the study as a significant method in promoting and sharing cultural values among ethnic groups.
According to her, the ethnic relation would help to consolidate national unity. “And this effort should be implemented across the country. Harar is a city where people and animals are living in friendly manner. It is miraculous to observe this cordial relationship between humans and animals. I believed that the experience of Harari people could be best example to the societal coexistence of people of the country.” She also pledged that the counsel would continue its inspection and support to similar studies conducted in other ethnic cultures of the country.
Assistant Prof. Ahmed Zekaria from Ethiopian Research Institute of Addis Ababa University noted that studying ethnics, cultures and ritual performances means exploiting something special to the other group of societies about a new life style. It is very important to assimilate such cultures specifically to solve social problems with especial parameters. Using such norms to develop artistic pieces is also critical in reflecting the real life of the people.
Conducting ethnographic research is critical to identify and promote cultural values and indigenous knowledge. This is clearly seen in the theatre entitled Yekake Werdwot currently on display to audience at the National Theatre. However, insignificant number of theatrical arts has been performed so far comparing to the numerous cultural inheritances that the nation is endowed with. Provided that the attention of conducting such researches and their findings are used by the art peoples, the nation would have invaluable theatres that are directly related to the real life and daily routines of the people. Furthermore, the endeavour would be helpful to reduce the cultural barriers and improve communications among various ethnics.
BY YOHANES JEMANEH
Very recently, when one of our famous artists has posted his photos on the social media that display his religious belief, some friends of mine started reflecting their different views. One of them said that what the artist did could be offensive to his fans who have different religious background while the other friend took diametrically opposite position stating, “The artist has the right to pursue his own religious practice, his fans ought to respect that.”
It seems that the former view lacks proper tolerance to accommodate the differences while the latter one allows religious freedom. Well, the choice can be left to the fans themselves but to me, it is proper to develop the attitude that can recognize the differences.
On the other hand, the question is that if peoples' perspective about the issue, extremism, goes that much to a personal level, how are we to keep the historical togetherness with diversified cultures and religions that we brought through many other challenges?
It is obvious that extremism and radicalization have become major issues and causes of destruction around the globe as terrorist groups are widely using them to imposing their failed political ideologies in the name of religion. The consequences are also spreading fast in different parts of the world and affecting different countries whose unity in diversity has been celebrated and made exemplary for many years.
Even though Ethiopia is enjoying stability and peace since the fall of the Derg regime, it is one of the countries who seem to have become vulnerable to such dangers due to its geopolitical position. Ethiopia's Constitution, Article 27 guarantees religious freedom and it also ensures the independence of the state from religion.
According to M. Zuhdi Jasser Council on Foreign Relations, Ethiopia has had a long history of religious tolerance in practice. However, there are some critical factors that are affecting this value, according to him. “First, there is the matter of geography. Ethiopia is situated in an increasingly volatile region of the world. It borders Eritrea, Somalia, and both Sudan and South Sudan. In both Somalia and Sudan, violent religious extremists pose a danger to Ethiopia. Second, within its own borders, Ethiopia remains concerned about the growth of Wahhabism as a potential threat to the country's stability and security.”
Zuhdi Jasser also mentioned some policy related issues and the limits on foreign funding for human rights, democracy promotion, and conflict mitigation as factors affecting religious tolerance in the nation. This implies that even though there are long-standing tolerance and the statement of secularism in the constitution which can simply be understood as they are guarantees for the continuity peace and stability in the country, there are indeed threats to this exemplary practice and they are foreign to the government's policy.
“Ethiopians are well known for living in unity with diversity, supporting one another economically; they have been using religions as solutions for various types of internal conflicts,” says Mesud Adem Ethiopian Inter Religious Council Public Relations and Documentation Directorate Head.
However, “such values of the nation have faced certain impacts from the ever changing ways or endeavours of extremist ideologies under the cover of religion. There have been some few situations caused by radicalization and extremism frequently in some parts of the country. And of course they have left some wounds on human life and damage on property. Such situations that have been observed in 2007EC necessitates the establishment of the Inter Religious Council in the nation,” added Mesud.
According to him, religious institutions promote similar values and tasks in the country. “Fore instance, peace is one of the values that any religion cannot overlook its significance. We all stand for peace. On the other hand, we have to sustain our peace with development.”
He added the council believes that all religious institutions and leaders should teach the faithful particularly the youth the right religious doctrines and the values of peace. But it also has the responsibility and take the first step in identifying the common principles that all religions can share.
Therefore, the council has prepared a teaching document that contributes for building the values of peace. The document is combined with various proverbs collected from the Holy Bible and Quran which could be used as common references of the teaching.
“It is a great step forward for the council and significant achievements have been made. We have confirmed this from the feed backs received after we engaged in trainings using the document.”
According to the Head, there are enabling conditions that can support the effort in building the values of peace and tackling the destructive impacts of extremists. For instance, the awareness raising tasks that have been held recently in collaboration with the Ministry of Federal and Pastoralist Development Affairs, religious institutes etc. have resulted in a great commitment among the religious leaders in different parts of the country. This means they are fully aware of the dangers of extremism and the individuals who could be operating from behind. As a result, they are able to alarm the faithful about the issue. “When the awareness expands, the faithful or the public itself will expose extremists and their destructive agenda,” he concluded.
BY HENOK TIBEBU
Regional economic integration is a key factor to create larger regional market for trade and investment and make use of the advantage of efficiency, productivity gain and competitiveness. In the African context, the small nature of the economies, and the presence of small domestic market and deficit investment climate also call for regional economic integration among the fragmented economies. Moreover, it is also seen by developing countries as a means of promoting development through greater efficiency.
It is clear that first there should be a common interest among nations to chase regional economic integration as a goal. Besides political interests, such as ensuring peace and stability, the indisputable common interest that initiates African countries to go for regional economic integration is economic development.
In recent times, there have been a lot of initiatives for regional integration among African countries. In fact, the idea of economic integration is not a new phenomenon. Earlier, the idea was pursued by African leaders after the decolonization of several countries in the 1970s and 80s. The countries tried to bring about practical economic integration since then. The initiative was not successful though, because the policy of import substitution in many African countries failed, and so did the then inward-looking economic integration strategy.
But since the 1980s, countries adopted open-door policies and the regional economic integration policies also characterized by open regional arrangements. In the last decade, the continent registered remarkable economic growth. However, the growth has not yet brought about structural change in the economies, making the ambition of regional economic integration a daunting task.
According to reports from continental organizations such as the African Union Commission (AUC), Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Development Bank (AfDB), despite the growth, the basic structures of most African economies has not changed. Most of the economies have not yet diversified their base, and hence they are highly reliant on raw material and unprocessed agricultural products for export. Hence, without diversifying their economic basis and bringing about structural change, it would be difficult for African economies to pursue regional economic integration and create a larger regional market and trade interaction.
Despite its significant value, there are two major constrains to create a larger regional market for African economies, according to Arekebe Equbay, special advisor to the Prime Minister. “One is infrastructure connectivity. Logistics and infrastructure costs are quite important in trade. So the big challenge among African countries is weak connectivity,” he said during a recently held African Transformation Forum organized by African Centre for Economic Transformation. “The second factor is, in many cases, the comparative advantages (primary agricultural commodities) of many African economies would be similar. So the net benefit [of trading with each other] may not be quite significant. Hence, we need to work on long term basis to improve the economic integration of the continent.”
Hence, the prerequisite for achieving successful economic integration among African countries include infrastructural connectivity, economic diversification, productive integration through trade and market integration and competitiveness to put in place regional and continental value chains.
Still, majority of African economies remain predominantly natural resource and primary commodity driven, where little value addition takes place, according to the Economic Commission for Africa Committee on Regional Cooperation and Integration (CRCI).
According to reports and studies by ECA and others to improve intra-African trade, the continent must address its overall weak productive capacities and lack of competitiveness and technological sophistication. The studies cite infrastructure as one of the key impediments to productive integration in Africa. An insufficient infrastructure has adverse effects on supply and value chain linkages, not only in the agriculture sector on which the majority of Africans depend, but also in manufacturing and other sectors of the economy, as to the studies. It also affects growth, the creation of jobs and eventual elimination of widespread poverty.
Hence, once infrastructural connectivity is set up between countries in the form of roads, telecommunication, electricity and the likes, intra-African trade and regional value chains can effectively facilitate Africa’s industrialization and eventual entry into global value chains. The value-chain linkage would then facilitate accelerated industrial development among African states.
Foreign and domestic investments are needed if Africa is to achieve product integration; and there is ample opportunities in this regard and a few countries have set the pace for others. First, economic changes taking place in Asia are creating a window of opportunity for late industrializers elsewhere to gain a toehold in world markets, according to The Pan-African Coalition for Transformation (PACT) Manufacturing Chapter Concept. Second, a growing share of global trade in industry is made up of tasks in global value chains, rather than finished products, which could mean lower capital and other requirements for entry. Third, rapidly growing trade in services and agro-industry broadens the range of products in which Africa compete. And fourth, Africa’s natural resource abundance offers another path towards industrial development, concludes the Chapter Concept. Countries such as Ethiopia, Mauritius, Rwanda and Tanzania are taking advantage of these opportunities and implementing significant measures to promote manufacturing.
“African countries are pursuing the policy of structural change and industrialization after successive achievements of rapid economic growth,” Edward Brown, Director, Policy Advisory Services at African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET) said. “Regional integration and trade is important and of course, industrial policies have to be aligned with that. So one of the elements of the conversation we are going to have now and then would be also to look at that dimension of it and to see how countries can begin to work together to enhance regional integration and trade.”
BY ABIY HAILU
About five years ago, someone who traveled to Tigray State, northern Ethiopia, would see men and women in different villages carrying blocks of stones to build terracing that improves the ecosystem. Of late, I traveled to the state and was thrilled by the magnificent changes I saw in the villages.
The previously eroded and devastated landscapes are now dramatically rehabilitating and basically turning into arable land. The plateaus turning green. The formerly deserted riverbanks now holding waters. The youth who used to be idle, now getting themselves into productive activities, like bee keeping, cattle breeding, vegetable farming and similar activities. The most important question here is how did all these really happen?
The answer lies in the State's well coordinated activities that rehabilitate the environment. Atsbi-Womberta Woreda Head Haftom Wureta told journalists that the residents in Gergera started watershed management activities with the purpose of restoring the devastated environment. At the outset, through a series of extensive discussions with the residents, it was agreed that all the villagers of Gergera would take part in several activities that would play considerable roles in improving the environment. Among these, they participated in natural resource conservation for 20 days since were convinced that environmental conservation is key in improving their livelihood. Hence, in a bid to take themselves out of poverty, they dedicated 20 days of free labour to build the terracing, plant trees and other watershed development activities, according to Haftom.
Farmers are now able to harvest through irrigation more than once a year. Hayelom Kebele is a model for other places in the state in terms of irrigation schemes. While doing all these, the support from the government through the Ministry of Agriculture and non-governmental organizations like Irish Aid and ICRAF have contributed significant share, said Haftom.
“Now, in accordance with the targets incorporated in the Second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II), we are working to bring transformation beyond the growth we have attained so far. In doing so, we are required to concentrate on bringing in best experiences and state-of-the-art technologies in the sector of agriculture,” he added.
In GTP II, agriculture remains the main drive to economic development of the country. Besides, increasing agricultural productivity and building a climate resilient green economy are among the few strategic pillars in the grand plan.
One of the farmers in Gergera told The Ethiopian Herald that the area was highly devastated and non-cultivable. “However, the people, the government and NGO's have worked together to restore the ecology of the area and now the result is improving our lives,” he stated.
As a result of the changes in the environment, the youth no longer move to cities and middle east countries in search for jobs as they can participate in productive activities in their hometowns, according to the farmer. “The livelihood of the farmers continued improving. They now live in better houses, own televisions and cows.”
Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources Dr. Eyasu Abraha said, “One of the nation's agricultural transformation policy target is attaining food security. Moreover, there are transformational agendas like ensuring employment opportunities for the youth, raising export trade and supplanting majority of the imported goods. Our agricultural activities need to be climate resilient. Hence, to bring real and sustainable impacts and it is quite important to focus on natural resource conservation and environmental protection. Agriculture is a profitable sector, only if it is run through a business model. In order to do so, we need to transform agriculture through establishing market oriented production. A technological shift is also quite important to ensure advancement in the sector.”
According to him, since the technology is the major area where the sector struggles with, the government planned to tackle the problem through creating links with non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders. Agricultural mechanization efforts that have been optimized to the situation and needs of the farmers would also help to upscale agricultural productivity, he added.
Ethiopia needs technological and experience inputs; and organizations like ICRAF have the much needed experience in agroforestry. They have experiences regarding how to reduce carbon sequestration. Moreover, they would be good assets for capacity building through experience sharing.
Dr. Eyasu further said, “The recently signed memorandum of understanding between the ministry and World Agroforestry Centre shall help us share the technological and other technical support.”
Kahsay Gebretsadik, a repatriate who was expelled from Saudi Arabia due to his illegal status, now heads a nursery centre at Gergera that arranged by the government for jobless youths and supported by aid institutions.
“The youth who were jobless, after taking training from Irish Aid, are now participating in agricultural activities, nursing plants at the centre and cultivating fruits. We no longer risk our lives to cross overseas in search of employment,” added Kahsay. They are developing their capital and it is their utmost wish to expand their farming to bee keeping and livestock fattening activities which are more profitable areas, he added.
Dr. Eyasu said, “As nation's economy and the well being of the people are closely linked, the government is dedicated to Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) and GTP II among others. Hence, we are relentlessly working for the restoration of 15 million hectares of agricultural land by 2030.”
Dr. Eyasu also said that the government has allocated 16 per cent of its annual budget for programmes designed to advance agriculture productivity and the sustainable use of natural resources. However, the government needs to sort out on how it can join hands with the pertinent partners in the sector to sustainably achieve the development goals, according to the Minister.
ICRAF Director General Dr. Tony Simons told The Ethiopian Herald that the international organization would like to help out Ethiopia tackle its problems. He added that the prioritized area is the CRGE plan of which, according to him, is a “fantastic plan to achieve green development”.
“Since land degradation and soil erosion is a grave problem in Ethiopia, we would like to provide support in transforming the agricultural sector, natural resources, forest and livestock. With joint efforts in these areas, we expect improvement in land productivity, better land use, raise in agriculture GDP from four per cent to eight per cent and better landscapes covered with trees probably to one-third of the general land-where it was a century ago,” Simons added.
For Professor Mitiku Haile of the Makalle University, it is rewarding to see the dedicated efforts of villagers in changing their environment. He said that through continued agroforestry and watershed management efforts in the area, diversity of the ecosystem has been transformed from a degraded and devastated landscapes to a rehabilitated cultivable environment. Moreover, he added, “Downstream water resource has dramatically increased which is enabling the community to cultivate agricultural land up to 1000 hectares through irrigation.”
Cathy Watson, Chief of Programme Development at world Agroforestry Centre, who traveled through the villages of Tigray wrote an article on The Guardian about the astonishing developments in the state with regard to environmental protection. In her article, Cathy citing the Equator prize said, “Abrha weatsbha has reclaimed over 224,000 hectares of land. Tree planting [has] resulted in improved soil quality, higher crop yields, greater biomass production, groundwater functioning, and flood prevention.”
Similarly, in her brand new excursion with us to those places, she was thrilled with the manner the ecology is dramatically changing. The progress is astounding, says Cathy who gives Gergera technical support. Over half the youth in the kebele are either involved in restoring the land or earning from the restored land.
“I was there a year ago. This year I saw water running in the gully which is being rehabilitated. People are irrigating tomatoes and using it to wash and water their cattle. And the well developed in self-confidence of the young people working in the tree nursery was marvelous to see. Landscape restoration is working,” added Cathy.
The practical changes observed in many parts of Tigray with regard to blending agriculture and forestry is a living showcase that productivity in agriculture could be increased and sustained with integrated environment conservation efforts.
BY HOMA MULISA
It might be unfair for a country endowed with copious water resources suffering of thirst and hungr for years but that was a reality. Sadly, although Ethiopia is endowed with abundant water resources, it has only utilized an insignificant amount, nearly 3 per cent.
However, there is government and public mobilization to build mega dams including the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which is expected to play a significant role in the country’s poverty alleviation and in regional economic integration. This historic Dam, designed to generate more than 6000 Megawatts of electricity with artificial lake covering 187,400 hectares, is entirely financed by the government and people of Ethiopia.
It is one of the projects that brought all nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia together. All citizens residing both at home and abroad have been participating in the building of the historic dam either through money contribution or bond purchase.
Under its completion, the Dam will contribute a significant role not only to speed up poverty alleviation schemes of Ethiopia but also to enhance regional economic integration.
It is also believed to elongate the ages of downstream dams including the Aswan Dam. According to a study made under the title of "Sedimentation and Erosion issues at the High Aswan Dam," by Kazuhiro Yamauchi, the Dam has encountered with sedimentation problems every year that could diminish its service years.
It is known that the Aswan Dam is built in 1970. It served the country for about half a century and generating 23 per cent of the total power in Egypt. But it is usually challenged by sedimentation of about 70 cubic meters annually. Currently, the estimated service time of the Dam is 500 years; even some studies predicted it to be about 310 years.
“The estimated load of sediment at El Diem, the entrance of the river to Sudan, and at the Aswan Dam is 140 and 160 million tons per years. Nearly 90 per cent of the sediments is from the Blue Nile,” El Monshid et al (1997).
However, there is good news from the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam. There is a ray of hope that GERD will rejuvenate the Aswan Dam. According to recent research findings, the completion of GERD will enhance the age of the Aswan Dam for some hundred years through sediment control.
GERD is to invigorate the 50 years’ old Aswan Dam. But there is misconception about its emergence that Egypt repeatedly expressed its refutation since the launching of the Dam. However, the Sudanese government understood soon the importance of the Dam to all countries in the region.
Many political analysts argue that Egypt will realize all the misunderstandings it has perceived today when it began to enjoy the fruits of the Dam. In addition to the aforementioned benefits, downstream countries could enhance their irrigation system so as to maximize their productivity; thereby, developing their industries using power from Ethiopia with the minimum possible cost. Therefore, the construction of GERD will be an opportunity for downstream countries to decree their industrial revolution so as to facilitate their overall development.
Many times said but it is so important to mention again and again that downstream countries will get constant amount of water throughout the year. Besides, they will get much more water than they used to get before as the Dam, situated in a deep gorge will reduce water evaporation. One more important benefit is minimizing flood disaster. The two downstream countries, Egypt and the Sudan, were liable to flood disasters every rainy season.
It is undeniable that GERD will intertwine all countries in the basin. This interconnection will lead countries in the basin to further strengthen their trade and investment relations; diversify export-import exchanges and maximize their trade volumes.
The aforesaid are just a few justifications about the significance of the Dam. However, it could offer a number of additional benefits to both upstream and downstream countries particularly Egypt, the Sudan and Ethiopia.
It is aimed to facilitate poverty alleviation schemes; thereby, sustaining the fast economic growth the country has registered for the past two and half decades. Poverty alleviation schemes could be meaningfully executed if there is inclusive sector integration say the integration of the agricultural and the industrial sectors.
The initiation to build the Grand Dam has emanated from the intention to alleviate poverty that the energy sector has to develop parallel to the emerging economy. According to documents from the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation, the country plans to develop its power to 17 thousand megawatts in 2020 and 35 thousand in 2037.
It would be unthinkable to uphold the development without developing the power that could shoulder the rising economy. That is why Ethiopia has been investing a huge capital on developing the energy sector. As a result, there is progress. If we compare what it was some twenty six years ago with the present time, the change is so massive, from 370 in 1991 to more than 4,200 megawatts at present.
The completion of GERD will add much to the power development of the country. It has also a number of benefits to downstream countries. But Egypt has still some reservations. There are also groups, who still failed to accept the current reality in Ethiopia, in Africa and in the world, agitating against the construction of the Dam.
Although the Dam has an affirmative impact on both upstream and downstream countries, these groups allied with some Ethiopian Diaspora as well as a few at home have been attempting to picture as if the Dam inflicts harm to the downstream countries.
As the country utilizes its fair water share to alleviate poverty and ensure sustainable economic development, harnessing its natural resources could be mandatory. Its determination to build GERD and its devotion to convince other concerned countries has emanated from this fact. The Sudan recognized the significant contribution of the Dam and it is cooperating with Ethiopia for the past four years.
In fact, that is what scholars and researchers have been witnessing. They confirmed that GERD, upon its completion, will contribute a lot to all countries in the region. It has both political and economic importance. On one hand, it broke the colonial legacy in utilizing natural resources among the Nile basin countries. On the other hand, it shared a number of benefits for all the riparian states.
In summing up, GERD will offer a number of rewards to downstream countries. It regulates the amount of water flowing to downstream countries, reduces the impact of flood damage during the rainy season, receives much more water than what they used to get and reduces water evaporation. Above all, it will offer a special reward to the Aswan Dam and other dams. GERD help to elongate the functioning periods of downstream hydro-power and irrigation dams through sedimentation control.
BY MOLLA MITIKU
Eight years ago, an interesting Development Policy Review Debate on ‘Should Industrial Policy in Developing Countries Conform to Comparative Advantage or Defy it?’ was held between Justin Yifu Lin and Ha-Joon Chang, two highly prominent economists, the former, being Chief Economist and Senior Vice-President of the World Bank at the time.
Yifu Lin, gave emphasis to a state that facilitates the private sector’s ability to exploit the country’s areas of comparative advantage to achieve industrialization. On the other hand, Ha-Joon Chang believed that comparative advantage, while important, is no more than the baseline, and that a country needs to defy its comparative advantage in order to upgrade its industry. Though, they held a different stance on the debate, both favour government intervention to foster the development of the manufacturing sector.
The experiences of South-East Asian countries demonstrated that effective government intervention as catalyst to encourage the emergence of the private manufacturing sector. Adopting a developmental state model and by allowing domestic and foreign private manufacturing sector to be the main actors in making use of nation’s comparative advantage, the Ethiopian government has been striving to prompt structural change, more or less the view of Yifu Lin.
Despite the successive growth for almost 15 years, the contribution of Ethiopia’s industrial sector to the economy remains insignificant. In 2014-15, while the service sector accounted for 46 per cent of the GDP, agriculture contributed for about 38.8 per cent to the GDP, 90 per cent of the foreign currency earnings and 85 per cent of employment. Yet, industry contributed only 15.2 per cent to the GDP. Not as good as the manufacturing industry contributed only around 5 per cent.
With a view to fostering light manufacturing industries and make use of its comparative advantages (cheap labour and electricity, market access and raw material), Ethiopia has adopted an ambitious plan of developing state-of-the-art industrial parks.
Between 2016 and 2025, Industrial Parks Development Corporation (IPDC) will develop 100,000 hectares of land, for a total factory floor area of 20 million meter square.
The industrial parks are sector specific and made to be suitable for textile and apparel, leather and leather products, pharmaceuticals, agro-processing and the likes with the aim of coordinating production alone value chains. Three major outcomes are expected from the parks: Job creation, export increment and technology transfer.
Generally, the industrial parks are of two kinds. In the first category are large, medium and light scale industrial parks which are set up to facilitate transition to the industry-led economy. In the second category, there is Integrated Agro-Industrial Park (IAIP), which aims to transform the agriculture sector.
Lack of specialized industrial parks had failed Ethiopia to reach the targeted 15-fold increase in textile and leather exports to USD 1.5 billion during the First Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP I), according to Arekebe Equbay, special advisor to the Prime Minister.
During GTP II, the manufacturing sector must achieve annual growth of 24 per cent and increase its contribution to export revenues from the current 10 per cent to 25 per cent. Hence, while the industrial parks become operational, the country is targeting USD one billion of annual investment in industrial parks over the next decade to boost exports and make it Africa’s top manufacturer.
After all, what matters most is not the construction of the industrial parks but that they become operational at the right time. And their success would be highly determined by the easy accessibility of infrastructure and logistics such as quality power supply, telecommunication and efficient transportation, removal of bureaucratic red-tape and supply of skilled manpower and the likes.
Hence, maximum level of coordination between the responsible government bodies is required to deliver what the firms or companies need inside the industrial parks. This is not only crucial for the success of both domestic and foreign companies, but also critically central to the overall ambition of industrializing Ethiopia.
The Addis Ababa Construction Bureau has finalized the preparation of Construction Professionals' Code of Ethics Regulation in what it said would partially help address the irregularities and malpractices facing the construction sector.
The regulation is due to be referred to the Council of Ministers for inspection and endorsement shortly.
While the construction sector is growing in leaps and bounds, there appears to be different challenges particularly in terms of the quality that arises from malpractices both committed from the government and private contractors sides said Eng. Yonas Ayalew, Addis Ababa Construction Bureau Head, speaking to The Ethiopian Herald.
Professional associations have their own code of ethics bound only to their members; however, they have not been fully implemented and effective. But this regulation would be mandatory to each and every professional involved in the sector.
The regulation has gone through exhaustive discussion for three years involving various stakeholders before taking its final shape.
The regulation puts an obligation on contractors, architects, engineers and other professionals to stick to the legal and professional standards while taking part in any construction process.
“We have seen informal contractors extensively engaged in the construction sector. The commercial law does not prohibit informal contractors from engaging in the construction sector but this regulation would force them meet professional standards in any construction process,” he added.
The problem is that the contractors operate under the required number of manpower and use leased license from other professionals.” he said adding that in this respect, the regulation would be instrumental to address such irregularities.
If contractors fail to hire professionals and operate to the standard, the regulation will put severe punishment on them.
Eng. Yonas further noted that it is the rent seeking mentality and other malpractices that are contributing to the poor quality of construction, in this regard, besides putting in place strict regulation and control the code of ethics would also ensure better management of the construction sector.
BY DESTA GEBREHIWOT
Ethiopia can induce huge benefits from the Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Exhibitions (MICE) tourism industry because of its strategic importance in terms of relative stability and booming economy, claim stakeholders.
The MICE tourism industry which is more of a business form of tourism than leisure has recently become increasingly important in global economy, said Tourism and Hotel consultant Kumneger Teketel speaking to The Ethiopian Herald.
There are a number of reasons for the global boom of MICE industry according to Kumneger, most importantly, the participants in such business affiliated travels are sponsored by companies and organizations as opposed to leisure travels who pay for themselves.
Hence, added Kumneger, MICE tourism always has the opportunity to flourish since people need to travel around for business meetings and conferences with high spending power that is estimated to exceed leisure tourism spending power by 400 per cent.
“Besides, as a nation become more suitable for MICE tourism, there would be a high tendency to enhancing the conventional tourism sector as it open doors for the exploration of attractions”, said Kumneger.
The development of this sector depends on infrastructural developments which are now booming in Ethiopia with top hotels, conferences venues, and transportation expanding, in addition to sector platform that promotes its development. “That's why we established MICE East Africa – to promote the sector”, exclaims Kumneger.
For Kumneger, the availability of infrastructure alone doesn't guarantee development, whereas there exists a need for a comprehensive understanding from all stakeholders regarding its benefits and techniques to sell it.
Diego Malvarez, a consultant in the sector for his part told The Ethiopian Herald, “Ethiopia needs to capitalize on the quality and price of the services it provides in the sector to harness the huge potential the Nation is endowed with”.
MICE East Africa Forum and Expo 2017 was recently held in Addis Ababa, which is expected to generate about eight million US dollars in revenue for Ethiopia.
BY HOMA MULISA
Gandhi Hospital has opened the first Maternal Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in the country.
Hospital Medical Director Dr. Leulseged Tessema told The Ethiopian Herald that the new ICU would help the hospital to play its due role in supporting country’s endeavour to improving maternal health.
He said that, till now, the hospital has been treating mothers alongside other patients whereas the opening of the ICU enables the hospital to give special maternal treatment follow up and reduce post-natal complications.
In the process of opening the ICU, the hospital has got material and professional support from Ministry of Health, health bureau of the city, Black Lion and St. Paul's hospitals, he added.
As a first maternal ICU, the hospital begun the service with three bedrooms and mechanical ventilators, he said adding, more facilities are expected to be provided soon.
Aiming at becoming a center of excellence in maternal ICU treatment, the hospital is working to add more services including internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics and fertility treatment among others, Dr. Leulseged said.
Accordingly, he stated that the hospital is ready to install semen and hormone analysis laboratory equipments.
The hospital would increase the number of physicians as it increases variety of treatments, he noted. He believed that the hospital is making its level best in the country’s maternal health improvement.
Currently nine physicians specialized in obstetrics and gynecology are working in the new Maternal ICU.
Dr. Leulseged also called on the public to contact the hospital and get the service.
Hospital Maternal ICU Case Team Head Nurse Kidist Sibaga for her part said that the opening of the ICU would help the hospital to improve maternal treatment and reduce the number of referred patients to other hospitals.
The country is improving maternal health and maternal mortality also declining through time she said adding, the hospital is also working its level best in the sphere.
Mentioning about the hospital cooperation with other medical institution, Kidist noted that integration is very fundamental to assist the national goal in improving maternal health through sharing knowledge and technology.
BY YOHANES JEMANEH
Republic of the Philippines aims at a series of bilateral political talks with Ethiopia in a bid to intensify the four decade long diplomatic ties between the two countries, Ambassador of Philippines to Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea and Djibouti Leslie Baja told The Ethiopian Herald.
“We currently have a bilateral trade exchange estimated to be around twenty million US dollars per annum”, said Baja, adding that Philippines would like to boost this economic relations to heightened cooperation through permanent presence in Ethiopia in the form of Consulate or Embassy in the near future.
By doing so, he added, “we intend to strengthen the two countries' business ties by having increased number of businessmen in each others' country”. The Ambassador also explained the desire to boosting tourism flow between Ethiopia and Philippines amid the existing operation of Ethiopian Airlines to the Asian nation.
The first Filipinos to come to Ethiopia were teachers arriving in as soon as Ethiopian Airlines started flying to the archipelago 40 years ago. Baja said, “Now, there is a remarkable amount of Filipino presence here engaged in all sectors including TVET, Universities, factories, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, religious institutions and some voluntary activities as well”.
The Ambassador also revealed that Ethiopia's agricultural production could benefit a lot from the wider Filipino market. “The tourism sector especially medical tourism is where the two countries can exchange a lot once the two countries formally sit down to discuss investment opportunities,” he further added.
Baja said, “We have recently signed a bilateral consultation mechanism with Ethiopia, and we hope to setup a road map to strengthen our political, economic and cultural ties in the near future”. As Ethiopia is the seat of the African Union and other international organizations, the country offers political and historical significance to the continent ensuring Philippines’ increased interest to the Nation, he added.
Africa and Asia established strong relations since the first Bandung Conference held in 1955, whereas Ethiopia recently opened a heightened alliance with East Asian nations which the Ambassador believes is a “step forward towards solidifying ties between the two continents”.
In an exclusive interview with The Ethiopian Herald, Asia and Oceania affairs Director General at the Minstry of Foreign Affairs Tsegab Kebebw said, “Philippines, as a newly industrialized nation, could share its knowledge and experiences in the areas of ICT and Medicine where we expect Filipino businessmen to invest in Ethiopia.”
He further mentioned the market potentials available for Ethiopia's agricultural products that could be exploited in Philippines as they are emerging economies dubbed “the tiger cub economy”. Ethiopia can learn a lot regarding eliciting economic benefit from remittances, Tsegab further added.
BY HOMA MULISA