Dr. Teketel Forsido
Dr. Teketel Forsido has served as a politician and diplomat for many years. He was the Minister of Ministry of Agriculture from 1995 to 1996. And then, he served as an Ethiopian ambassador in India, Yemen and Thailand. He was also appointed as Ambassador of Ethiopia to Russia in 2006. Dr. Teketel had a short stay with The Ethiopian Herald. Excerpts:
How do you explain federalism? What does it mean to you?
Federalism, as I see it, is a shared system and a shared arrangement, in which authority or responsibility will be shared to a certain extent. Resources will also be shared. This sharing is, of course, based on a certain principle of understanding, and procedural qualification among all members of that federal system. To this effect, hence, they agree to agree to accommodate diversity and live on equal footings. The authority shared on equal bases and there is no hierarchy in this case. They all are equal in the set up as well as agree to institute an authority that they delegate certain responsibility. So, federalism for me is a sharing system in equal basis.
Was it the only option for Ethiopia at the time of unveiling?
Probably, it is not the only option; rather it is the best option. You wouldn't get the only one. Ethiopia used to be a unitary government. Central authority was there throughout the land, and that type of government was there. Centralism also may be of the monarchy type or non-monarchy type. We have seen both; and authoritarianism was exercised in both systems.
At that time, breaking out from that system and looking for new alternatives was indispensable. Each time you look back and forth, inspect the past and analyze the current realities. You introduce new system and go off from what you have already constituted. But at that time, federalism was considered as the best option.
I think you were one of the committee members while the ratification process of the constitution took place. What did the process look like?
The process was started throughout the country nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia democratically elected their representatives. Then, the draft document of the Ethiopian Constitution, which forces the country to be administered under federal system presented to us. The representatives, at that time, had organized themselves. They had appointed their Chairperson; Secretary and Vice Chairperson. Similarly, different committees were formed. I remembered, nearly 11 committees were formed.
The document was very important and detailed so that it had to be hammered out at different committee levels. Therefore, we, the delegates, had to go through it thoroughly. Each single article was very clearly scrutinized by members of the delegates. Whenever each word is read, it had to be very clearly made in a manner everybody there could easily understood it. When there was a point of contention, it would be send to committee to be further hammered. It had taken us over a month before the document was finally approved. The process was quite meticulous and time consuming. Committees had been working day in day out that there was no time to think of any other leisure activities
Did the platform open and comfortable to debate concerns?
Of course the discussion was conducted freely and without any restrictions. Before anyone raised hands to approve it, one has to understand the meaning of each single article. If there is any concern, it was discussed very profoundly and thoroughly. We had had hot deliberations and strong debate on certain items. For instance, items like Article 39 has taken us longer time than any other articles to be cleared with it. As far as I can remember it, the platform was quite democratic.
Indeed, the large members of the constitution, the assembly, were representatives from EPRDF. There were also opposition parties at that time. The opposition parties’ members were given ample time to pose whatever they wanted to raise. Any concern, no matter whether it was objection or not, was entertained freely and openly.
Truly, it was the time that we saw light in the tunnel. It was a beginning of democracy in this country. It was the first Constitution ever that people from all walks of life discussed it. People, from countryside, cities, universities and courts discussed the first ever and wonderful law.
There are people who view the federal system as if it could disintegrate Ethiopia. How do you see this?
I believe that people have the right to object or support any system and they can oppose it if they do not see its rewards. The point is administration and sharing resources. Unity is the other important issue; the unity of the country and the people. As I mentioned, they have the right to object but we have to look federalism from the context of Ethiopia. We have to look back to our past experiences and how we were governed in the past, the way we were considered and treated in this country.
In the earlier systems, some of the regions had been neglected and marginalized from any of social, economic and political advantages. They were not taken into account even in the educational system of this country. Whatsoever, the law did not recognize or include them. Thus, they were obliged to live behind in their levels of social and economic development.
Even the media did not give them due attention or took their issues into account. It was not their fault, rather it was the system. Here, it should be clear that anything that is said in the federal system is also an issue for the eastern, central, northern, southern or western part of the county, regardless of any disparities.
For instance, each and every part of a tree is part of that tree and must be considered as part of that tree. It is the same for the principle of federalism. So, if they want to object, they have the right to object. However, once the document is accepted, then they have no right to object it. Rather, they obliged to obey it. But, why do not you fully agree if it works?
It is clear that there is no perfect system. Go anywhere in this planet, there are so many federal countries. Depending on their own contexts, they follow different types of federal systems. But, this does not mean their systems are perfect. We have our own and we have tested it. However, like any of the other systems in the world, it can have its own limitations. Probably as we are at the beginning of testing, quarter of the century may not be enough to change the system.
The most important point we should consider is that the system we have chosen was much appropriate, for our condition at that time. Probably, people who objected the system at the beginning may differ from those who oppose it today. See what has happened. At the beginning, people could not see what federalism may yield to us. Because it is a proposal, a document, people might suspect its applicability. In that case, if they object it, I think, they are right.
If you have visited some parts of the county, how do you express federalism and the changes observed in those areas?
What you see in person tells you more about the reality. Anyone who lives here in Addis Ababa could understand what federalism is rewarding the people. The Somali Region could be the typical example for this. I lived in Harar, Haromaya and worked on the way down to Jigjga. I have also visited the Region repeatedly in earlier years and recently.
In those days, one could easily observe the difficulty associated with the central system. Development activities, including education, were uneven and centralized. Due to this and other reasons, the Region was a sideliner from most of social, economic and political development activities; and the people had considered themselves as outsiders. There were also similar feelings in other parts of the country.
However, things are not the same as what they were decades ago. There are great deals of dramatic changes in all regions that they even jumped into a large scale of developmental projects. Concurrently, due to the emphasis given to expand and improve the educational system and institutions today the communities who were once sideliners have enabled to send their children to school. These changes are not expressed simply in terms of physical growths rather in terms of public feelings towards unity and strong sense of Ethiopianism.
As we all aware, in earlier times, the only higher education institute that was existed in the country was Addis Ababa University. Of course, not to forget the two Colleges: College of Agriculture at Alemaya and Health Collage of Gondar. But, nowadays, Ethiopia is developing itself in every ways. Education is accessible for all Ethiopians. Primary, secondary and higher educational institutions are opened in all regions. Today, there are universities in, Gambella, Benshangul, Somali, Tigray and other Regional States. This, undeniably, is one of the blessings that federalism has bestowed to this land.
Benishangul would be one of the centers of Ethiopian civilianization in the future. The reason is the fact that the system has given the opportunity to develop the Nile River. Nile always remains to be there, and the Renaissance Dam is going to remain there not only for Benshangul and for all Ethiopians, but also for the East Africa and the IGAD countries as an African monument. The main reason for this to happen is our federal system
Though these achievements are encouraging, a lot remains to be done. We are poor people .The first thing that we have to recognize is our poverty. So, we should strive hard to develop ourselves and detached from the vicious circle of poverty. To this effect, let everybody develop his own region, locality and country. Here, the issue of resource sharing is vital. It is clear that all regions are not blessed with resources equally. While some are blessed with abandoned resources, others may have in limited amount. Hence, as a country, we should share and develop our country. Principally, this is what the concept of sharing economy is and the option that we have chosen, implemented and we witnessed its fruits.
But this does not mean we have reached at the desired goal and accomplished our mission. Not yet. A lot remains to be done. People have to be convinced. There are some people fully convinced. On the contrary, there are others who still thinking as there is a better way. So convincing them and showing the right direction with the right manner is central.
Do you think that the federalism system is being implemented properly in Ethiopia?
This is a difficult question to answer. One has to do research to utter confidently weather it is properly implemented or not. We have already traveled 26 years. As a young federal system, there could be mistakes here and there. Those mistakes do not simply indicate what federalism meant in that document.
No matter how many people accept federalism or have strong determination to implement it properly, they can make mistakes unless they do not know the spirit of the document. The reason for the failure to translating the document into practice, obviously, is misunderstanding.
Due to this and other similar cases, the implementation in some places lags behind. According to the spirit of the Constitution, every Ethiopian has the right to live and make a living anywhere in this land without fearing for his/her safety. It does not matter whether he/she is from any corner of the country.
That is the spirit of the constitution. Not only generate income for living, but he/she can also build up wealth, invest, prosper, becomes important person, and politician irrespective of his/her origin and original place. This is though the spirit of the Constitution, in certain places, it has translated improperly due to a gap in understanding. Due to this reason, people could make mistakes; commit crimes that are entirely contrary to the spirit of the Constitution.
BY GIRMACHEW GASHAW
Hawassa Industrial park had attracted nearly 6 local and over 33 foreign companies to process commercial products
Currently, the government of Ethiopia has given priority for the development of industrial parks across the country, thereby to attracting both local and foreign investors. Last year alone the government completed the construction of a specialized apparel textile park, Hawassa Industrial Park, which is one of the largest in the continent, at a cost of 250 million USD in Hawassa town.
The park is considered as a pioneer park which could be a model for other industrial parks. It was expected to create 60,000 jobs in two shifts and generate one billion USD annually for the county. Within its short time, the park had attracted nearly 6 local and over 33 foreign companies to process commercial products. Of these, six of them have started exporting their goods to foreign markets, according to the Ethiopian Investment Commission.
The industrial parks in Ethiopia will surely become desirable vehicles to create a competitive environment for industries to take off. As Hawassa town would be an ideal investment destination for textile industries, its five million people would definitely benefit from the sector.
The commission has announced that the country will be able to earn foreign currency amounting to about 6 million USD from this park. An Investment Road-Map has been prepared to increase foreign currency earnings and to modernize the textile and garment sector.
The road-map is also important to facilitate a system that could help local and foreign investors to co-operate among each other, improve production facilities, reduce dangers on working places and maintain employees' security. Industrial parks including the one mentioned have also significant role to develop industries' competitiveness in international markets as the nation has begun exporting textile products from the park.
Making the largest global competitive companies in and through parks, the government has started developing parks that would further enable the manufacturing sector to play a crucial role in the economy. In this way, the contribution of the manufacturing sector to the Growth of Domestic Production is excellent beside the agriculture and service sectors.
Industrial parks indeed drove economies of countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines; and these nations were regarded as manufacturing hubs due to that. The government of Ethiopia has been developing industrial parks that can contribute to nation’s infrastructure development and modernization taking experiences of these countries into account. The development of such industrial parks would assist in creating ample employment opportunities and to contributing to the wise use or consumption of natural resources.
As the commitment of the government is too much, the nation with no doubt is moving forward to achieve the goal of ensuring effective industrial development and become Africa’s light industries hub by 2025. Many professionals agreed that industrial parks could play a crucial role for countries that are transitioning from an agricultural-led economy to an industrial-led transformation.
Apart from generating foreign currency, Hawassa Industrial Park would further increase its employment capacity side by side with becoming exemplary to wide-ranges of industrial parks in the country.
Industries, with special attention to manufacturing sector, are then expected to register fast growth in the future in the nation. To unleash the potentials of industrial parks, the private sector is engine for the development of industries, and the growth of competitive market.
BY ZELALEM GIRMA
Economic growth and transformational development ultimately needs reliable energy production
With its mountainous topography, Ethiopia could hold water as an instrumental source of energy. Thus, the government prioritized the construction of huge projects from solar, wind, geothermal and water sources. In fact, renewable energy can play a key role in propelling economic growth and as a means of earning foreign currency. As many hydro power generating dams are found in various parts of the country, they are serving the nation by providing energy to various sectors and sub-sectors.
Recently, The Ethiopian Herald approached Bizuneh Tolcha, Public Relations Director to the Ministry of water, Irrigation and Electricity to discuss on the current performance over the energy sector.
Bizuneh explained that Ethiopia began exporting electric power to neighboring countries to generate large amount of foreign currency as part of the significant change awaited in the country. “Currently, the nation is exporting electric power of over 190 MW, principally 100 MW to Sudan, 80 MW to Djibouti, and 10 MW to Kenya. With this power sale, it is currently earning about 80 million USD annually. Feasibility studies have so far been conducted to entrench additional power lines to neighboring countries including Egypt, South Sudan, Somalia, and Tanzania,” he said.
With regard to total energy production capacity of the country, Bizuneh said that Ethiopia has abundant renewable energy potential of producing some 45,000 MW from hydro power, 1,350,000 from wind and 10,000 MW from geothermal.
Currently, Ethiopia has the potential to generate 4,200 MW from hydro, geothermal, wind and solar power plants. Some 26 years ago, the total generating capacity of the nation was close to 370 MW alone, including those of diesel and other sources.
Compared with the present time, the number of energy generating plants and their production capacity were very small during the Derg regime. At that time, the largest power plant, Melka Kuntira, was producing only about 153 MW; whereas other plants such as Fincha, Koka, Awash
II, Awash III, and Tis Abay were producing 134, 43.2, 32, 31, and 12 MWs respectively, the Director added.
Over the last 26 years, the incumbent has built and developed over 11 power generating plants. Of these, about 3,800 MWs were produced from hydropower sources, and 324 MW from wind; and the remaining 7.3 MW produced from a single geothermal plant, According to Bizuneh.
He also said that other power plants are currently under construction. When the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) gets operational, it will generate 6,450 MW; Whereas Genale Dawa III, Repi Dry Waste, Koisha, and Aisha will also generate 245, 50, 2100, and 120 MWs respectively.
Additionally other power projects will soon be launched for to commence construction. Among these, Gerba, Allele, Werabisa hydropower plants as well as Debrebirhan and Asela wind farms are already on the pipeline for construction, the director said.
By the end of GTP II, the country’s energy production potential will reach to 17,000 MWs. Above all, Ethiopia has abundant renewable energy potential of producing over 45,000 MW from hydro power, 1,350,000 from wind and 10,000 MW from geothermal.
In this sense, one can consider that the country has huge potential in producing modern forms of energy, which is compatible to the environment and human life. Apart from this, the vast amount of energy from geothermal, hydro power, solar and wind farms would surely assist the nation to harness its national economic growth.
Regarding the electricity service delivery, the Ethiopian Electricity Utility Communication Director Gebreziabher Tafere said that the government is aggressively working to deliver electric power equitably across the nation taking the remote areas of the country into a good account.
Gebreziabher said the service coverage has shown enormous increment from 8 percent in 1990 to 55 percent currently. The number of cities and towns benefited from electric power service has also increased from 300 to 5,795 during the same period.
Due to the proliferation of such progressive electric power potentials, remarkable growth has been registered in the rural parts of the country over the last decade in terms of attaining rapid urban development, an increase in numbers of small scale enterprises, reducing burdens of women, and becoming basis for the expansion of other service provider institutions as well.
Hence, utilizing renewable energy is significant to attain rapid economic growth and support nation's transformation. As the production and service sectors are at the fore-front, energy has been playing a pivotal role for the momentum kept in building the industry sector so far.
Thus, manufacturing industries, agriculture, and housing development sectors have witnessed calling for an ever increasing demand for power. So, the growth of the energy sector is considered as a good opportunity for the power demanding sector.
On the other hand, the massive utilization of renewable energy has crucial significance in preserving the environment for human and animal life. There has been a need to collaborate with countries facing similar challenges on environmental issues and in meeting energy demands. Public and private stakeholders must establish basis for all development cooperation including the energy sector, as envisioned in Africa’s Agenda 2063 and SDG 2030 that expected the realization of powering Africa with renewable energy sources.
Apart from currency earning and environmental issues, the issue of boosting renewable energy is a determining factor to the productivity of food crops. Access to energy is a key to succeed in the irrigation development as well. Without energy, no development efforts could effectively been undertaken.
The issue of power and energy is a necessity in relation to the rapidly growing population, inadequate infrastructure and highly variable climate. Therefore, the availability and development of renewable energy is vital not only to undertake infrastructures and secure production, but also to increase productivity and serve as one of the engines of economic development.
In sum, steadily economic growth and transformational development ultimately needs reliable energy production with adequate supply and efficiency. Otherwise, the targets set in industrialization, agricultural value additions, job creation, economic and sustainable growth would not be achievable.
In order to ensure the realization of the various national development policies and strategies, all concerned bodies need to cooperate to transform the energy sector, particularly in mobilizing internal capacity and resources as well as human resources and technological tools.
BY ZELALEM GIRMA
June 20 is internationally commemorated as ‘Refugee Day’, and Ethiopia is chosen to congregate to mark the 2017 edition. Thus, the United Nations High Commission for Refugee UNHCR has finalized its programs to celebrate the date in Ethiopia.
Accordingly, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr. Fillipo Grandi together with his senior officials of UNHCR will arrive in June 19 to mark the day, which will be held in the Regional State of Gambella where more than 400,000 South Sudanese Refugee are currently sheltered. Together with him, renowned musicians, internationally recognized correspondents that hail from CNN, AP, are expected to give media coverage to the event which is expected to be colorfully celebrated.
The UNHCR country program is also preparing to receive its international staffs and invited guests who are scheduled to participate. Hence, local and international Medias, besides the Media corps - invited by head quarters of UNHCR in Geneva - are invited to cover the events to be held in Gambella Regional State’s refugee camp. High Commissioner Grandi is also scheduled to meet Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn regarding to talk over regarding the issue of refugees, and with Addis Ababa Mayor Diriba Kuma with regards to the 8000 Square Meters land that will be allotted for the construction of UNHCR office and Ethiopian Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs aka ARRA.
During the event, representatives from Ethiopian Foreign Affairs will make detailed speeches on the issue of sheltering refugees, the cooperation between the Ethiopian government and the UNHCR, directives on the future cooperation, and how to handle and accommodate refugees in the manner of the UN principles. The High Commissioner will also give details about the ever influx of refugees and dwindling resources to provide refugee needs. Ethiopia hosting this big event is a confirmation and recognition to the exemplary, brave and innovative approach to providing shelter the country has displayed throughout its history. And the Ethiopian Foreign Security Policy and Strategy continues to promote peace and cooperation between Ethiopian and incoming refugees.
Refugees flee to Ethiopia to avoid war, forced military conscription and famine in their native countries. As a consequence, Ethiopia has been receiving refugees fleeing from Eritrea, South Sudan, Yemen, Somalia etc ...
Ethiopia, historically, begun receiving refugees during the 7th century when the Ethiopian Christian King received and protected prophet Mohamed followers from Saudi Arabia. Since then, this ancient state has received refugees from African countries during the war against colonialists, their struggle for independence and the civil wars which followed in some African states later.
Currently, Ethiopia hosts more than 830,000 refugees that fled their homes from 20 countries making it the leading largest refugee hosting country in Africa. Uganda also shelters equivalent number of refugees to Ethiopia nowadays. Our country, derived from its culture to shelter guests (one of which Ethiopia’s best culture) houses refugees in its 25 refugee sheltering camps, and the refugees settling in the country are often overwhelmed by the welcome they receive from Ethiopian people. The UNHCR and other donor partners are also doing anything humanly possible to assist the refugees side by side with the Ethiopian government.
Ethiopia has promised on nine directions to improve ways of handling refugees during the Leaders’ Summit held in New York on September 20, 2016. The nine directives focus on improving the socio-economic conditions of refugees, providing quality and fast solutions to what they demand, to provide job opportunities so that they can use their skill & knowledge to live comfortably. The efforts is expected to be achieved with the cooperation of World Bank and other concerned governments of the world. Hence, Ethiopia is adapting new strategies and proclamations to incorporate the new nine directives that were agreed during the Leaders’ Summit.
The top five countries of origin for refugees in Ethiopia are Somalia 41%, South Sudan 35%, Eritrea 15%, Sudan 2%, Djibouti 0.4% while the rest account for 7%. In addition to this, there are close to 4000 Djiboutians in Ethiopia, constituting 26% of the all Djiboutians abroad making it the second largest destination for Djiboutians after France.
Ethiopia shelters 33% of the total number of refugees in the IGAD region and 2.3% of the total number of refugees world-wide, while producing 0.5% of the world’s total number of refugees, thus caring for more than its share of the global refugee burdens. In addition to this, a total of refugees 20,000 such refugees reside in Addis Ababa comprising refugees in need of special medical attention unavailable in camps, migrants with serious protection concerns or inability to stay in camps for humanitarian reasons; and Eritrean Refugees enrolled in the Out of Camp Policy (OCP).
Ethiopia prioritizes education for school-aged refugees, and as a consequence, the current 2016/17 year has seen 35,563 new students enrolled in early Childhood Care and Education, elementary and secondary schools, bringing the total number of refugees enrolled in general education in Ethiopia to 179,022 including 75, 359 female students.
Thanks to the generosity of the Ethiopian people and the open door policy of the government, Ethiopia has been recognized and praised globally for its benignity to house such huge number of refugees that fled from more than 20 countries. And I hope many of the promising issues which will make refugees happier will be implemented in the near future.
BY ZERAY HAILEMARIAM
Ethiopia is one of the steady economic performing countries. It achieved double digit positive economic growth over the last decade and plus years. This could be viewed through the annual budget progress of the nation approved by the House of Peoples Representatives as it is one of the economic performance indicators.
It is known that Ethiopia has grown at a rate of 11 percent annually for more than a decade. In fact, in 2016/17 it maintained 8 percent growth despite the worst drought it faced due to El Nino. Changes in rainfall associated with worldwide weather patterns resulted in the worst drought in 50 years in 2015/2016 in the nation, creating food insecurity for millions of Ethiopians.
The nation has been exerting a consolidated effort to alleviate poverty and ensure sustainable economic development so as to accomplish its vision of becoming one of the middle income countries by 2025.
The country's growth has so far mainly emanated from the sustainable progress in the agricultural and service sectors. Over 80 percent of Ethiopia’s population is still employed in the agricultural sector.
While coffee remains the largest foreign exchange earner, Ethiopia is diversifying exports and commodities such as gold, sesame, livestock, horticulture and other diversified products.
Manufacturing is coming up to supplement the total export sector with development of the banking, insurance, telecommunications and micro-credit industries, the country has attracted significant foreign investment in textiles, leather, commercial agriculture, light manufacturing and other economic sectors.
In the fall of 2015, the government finalized and published the current 2016-2020 five year plan, known as the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II), which emphasizes developing manufactures in sectors where Ethiopia has a comparative advantage in exporting products such as textiles and garments, leather goods and processed agricultural products.
New infrastructure projects are to include power production and distribution, roads, rails, airports and industrial parks. To support industrialization, Ethiopia plans to increase power generation capacity by a significant amount. And for this the building of dams including the Ethiopian Great Renaissance Dam (GERD) are going on well.
The construction of an electric railway network that will connect Ethiopia to all its neighbors, with a link to the Port Djibouti already finished and partially functioning is also in a good development stage. Infrastructure developments, social and economic progresses of various aspects are dynamically moving well due to the healthy economic and budget allocation progress of the nation.
The country's economy is increasing with over 13 percent GDP revenue every year that its total economy has reached 1.5 trillion Birr, which raised the income per capita to 764 USD.
The progress in the annual budget is due to the increase in the revenue collection performance as well. The nation is collecting over 13 percent of the total GDP revenue annually with the possibility of progressing more.
The country's annually approved budget is showing a notable growth every year. The nation has planned 320 billion Birr budget for the 2017/8 Fiscal year. Last year alone the House has approved over 274 billion Birr budget for poverty reduction capital programs.
The budget of the nation will be used directly to the primary demands of the public such as infrastructure development, health expansion, education, water, road and other capital projects, road networks and to the steady progress of various mega projects. That is why currently there are over 40 universities constructed across the nation to have an easy access to higher education to citizens.
The budget increase is a natural process which is moving towards meeting the increasing demand of the public. This progress is the result of the revenues collected from local and international sources. In this regard, the country has secured much of its budget from local sources indicating a healthy economic development. The annual allocated budget has shown a double increase over the last ten years. Some ten years ago, the country's budget allocation was less than 140 billion Birr which is now doubled.
The healthy economic development of the nation is in a continuous progress. And this numerical progress is not just a figure rather a practically witnessed development showing concrete achievements in various streams.
The railway network is connecting Ethiopia with Djibouti, Kenya and beyond at the moment. Moreover, the nation is witnessing amazing development performances in the areas of agriculture, health, education and other sectors due to the steady fast economic development and the projecting budget allocated by the country.
It is crucial to work in collaboration among stakeholders to sustain the healthy economic growth of the country. If there is a strong cooperation among all development partners with consolidated efforts the healthy progress will obviously maintained.
Ethiopia contributes the world's largest number of troops to the UN peacekeeping Operations
Japan commends Ethiopia’s active role in the area of peace building and security in Africa and the world, Embassy of Japan to Ethiopia released.
The Government of Japan have co-organized a post conflict recovery course at the Peace Support Training Center (FDRE-PSTC) from 5-16 June beginning from this Monday.
In the Opening session of the training which is provided by the FDRE-PSTC in collaboration with the government of Japan, Ambassador of Japan to Ethiopia Mr. Shinichi Saida expressed his belief that the Center will play a crucial role in the realization of peace and security in the continent.
High ranking military officials from 7 countries, namely Burundi, Central African Republic, Comoros, Liberia, Mali, South Sudan and Tanzania are taking part in this course, he said. “Let me renew my sincere appreciation for Ethiopia’s engagement in African Peace and Security while being surrounded by conflicts and troubles, with the world’s largest number of troops contribution to UN Peacekeeping Operations”, Ambassador Saida further noted.The ambassador also reiterated Japan’s commitment to African development, which includes maintaining peace and security, especially in countries like South Sudan. He said adding “We are determined to further support the nation-building of South Sudan, not only economically, but by further engaging in the political as pects of that young nation.”The training which is the 6th of its kind will last for 12-days covering topics such as Protection of Civilians, International Humanitarian Law, Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration, and Economic Development among others.
Since 2012, Japan has supported the FDRE PSTC by providing USD 1,320,000 for the construction of the Center's theater building, the development of curriculum for courses, and for technical cooperation through the assignment of a Japan Self-Defense Force official to the center.
The nation is aggressively working on maximizing prevalent and sustainable benefits from renewable energy sources such as geothermal, hydro-power, solar and wind, in the pursuit of sustainable development as well as progressive economic growth and prosperity, according to Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity
Ministry’s Public Relations Director Bizuneh Tolcha recently told The Ethiopian Herald that the country is on the right track towards developing its energy potential to generate huge amount of foreign currency and bring significant change in the country.
Bizuneh explained that Ethiopia began exporting over 190 MW to neighboring countries, principally 100 MW to Sudan, 80 MW to Djibouti, and 10 MW to Kenya. With this power sale, it is currently earning about 80 million USD annually, he added.
According to Bizuneh, Ethiopia’s potential to generate electric power before 26 years ago was only 370 MW, including those generating from diesel and other sources. Currently, its potential goes higher to 4,200 MW from hydro, geothermal, wind and solar energies.
Compared with the present situation, the number of energy producing plants and their productivity capacity were very small during the Derg dictatorial regime. At that time, the largest power plant, Melka Kuntira, was producing 153 MW alone; Whereas the other plants such as Fincha, Koka, Awash II, Awash III, and Tis Abay were producing 134, 43.2, 32, 31, and 12 MWs respectively, the Director said.
In the last 26 years, Ethiopia has built and developed over 11 power generating plants. Of these, about 3,800 MWs is produced from hydropower sources, and 324 MW from wind; and the remaining 7.3 MW are produced from a single geothermal plant, according to the director.
He also said that currently under construction projects like the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which will generate 6,450 MW, will add significant values to the country's electricity generating capacity. Besides, Genale Dawa III, Repi Dry Waste, Koisha, and Aisha will also generate 245, 50, 2100, and 120 Mws respectively.
Gerba, Allele and Werabisa hydropower plants as well as Debrebirhan and Asela wind farms are already on the pipeline to be propelled, he said.
By the end of GTP II, the country has planned to produce 17,000 MWs as the country has abundant renewable energy potential of 45,000 MW hydropower, 1.3 million MWs wind and 10,000 MW geothermal.
The country’s energy potential is compatible to the environment and human life, he said, adding that the vast amount ofenergy from geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind farms could surely assist the nation to harness its national economic growth for the last ten years, Bizuneh commented.
The Ethiopian Electricity Utility Communication Director Gebreziabher Tafere on his behalf said that the government is aggressively working to deliver electric power equitably across the remote parts of the country. Gebreziabher also said the service coverage has showed enormous increment from 8 percent in 1990 to 55 percent at present. The number of cities and towns benefited from electric power service has increased from 300 to 5,795 during the same period.
Over the last two decades, Ethiopia has been investing on the energy and it has registered an encouraging development both in the rural and urban parts of the country. That contributed to hasten rapid urbanization, increased the numbers of small enterprises, reduced burdens of women, and becoming the foundation for the expansion of other service provider institutions.
Having maintaining this pace, the country could manage to address its energy problems so as to run its industrial development efficiently.
BY ZELALEM GIRMA
The Ethiopian Meat and Dairy Industry Development Institute (EM- DIDI) said it has been working to secure over 12 million USD from meat exports to United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia during this Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.
Cognizant the demand for meat has shown a significant increase during Ramadan, the institute is striving to secure additional foreign currency by increasing volume of exports, Khalifa Hussein EMDIDI Deputy Director- General told The Ethiopian Herald.
He said, "We are increasing our normal operation of 1,500 tons of monthly meat export to Dubai and Saudi Arabian market to over 2,600 tons and set to obtain over 12 million USD in this fasting month. Ramadan’s revenue is surpassed the non-fasting months amount by over three million USD."
Due consideration has been given to abattoir’s capacity, livestock and transport availability while setting the target, said the Deputy Director General.
It was stated that agreements have been reached with Ethiopian Airlines and Fly Emirates to arrange additional flights to fresh meat exports during Ramadan.
The institute is working in concert with various stakeholders to maintain Ethiopia’s leading position in delivering fresh goat and sheep meat to UAE and Saudi Arabian markets in improved quality and supply of slaughtered cattle as well as waging promotional activities in meat importing countries, Khalifa noted .
Stating a higher demand for goat meat in Ramadan could create shortages in the market, Khalifa noted that due attention has been given to ensure uninterrupted supply to Middle East.
‘’ While investors have been supported and encouraged to involve in meat exporting sector, some abattoirs began owning their own animal fattening houses. Besides, attention has been given to enhance the link between animal suppliers and export abattoirs to supplement the possible shortage,’’ he said.
Ethiopia secured 84.1 million USD during the last ten months of the current fiscal year from meat exports.
While UAE is the leading destination for Ethiopia’s meat export with 60 percent share, Saudi Arabia has a share of 38 percent and the rest is exported to other Middle East countries, Herald learnt.
BY BILAL DERSO
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has an immense contributions to the downstream countries: Egypt and the Sudan, researchers indicated.
Dr. Yilma Sleshi, a researcher, stated that GERD will contribute to the elongation of the time span of the Egyptian Aswan High Dam for some hundred years through controlling sedimentation.
The researcher also noted that GERD could benefit both Sudan and Egypt as it would bring controlled and uniformed flow of water throughout the year that diminishes flood disasters and maintaining constant amount of water flow even in dry season.
The Dam does not affect the amount of water that flows to downstream countries as it continue marching having generating power, the research finding highlighted.
According to the researcher, other basin countries, downstream and neighboring countries will get an access to electric power at a relatively lower cost.
Zerihun Abebe, another researcher, said that as the Dam is constructed based on international standards, it will benefit to all the riparian states.
While presenting a paper concerning GERD entitled, The international relations, the negotiations and diplomatic situation, from speeding up the regional integration process up to linking the region with electricity access, Zerihun emphasized that the Dam has a lot of benefits even for Africa due to its political and economic importance.
"The Dam breaks the colonial legacy in the utilization of natural resources among the Nile basin countries," he emphasized. Addis Ababa University, Professor of Hydropolitics Dr. Yacob Arsano for his part said the regional significance of the Dam is so high that it has shared benefits for all the parian
states as Ethiopia considered shared principles while building the Dam.
Regional economic integration, power pool and flexibility, energy supply as well as basin based economic and political stabilization are among the benefits of GERD, as many argued.
BY HAFTU GEBREZGABIHER
Religious observations like Iftar have pivotal roles not only in strengthening mutual respect but also in promoting tolerance, accommodate diversity and uphold harmony among the people, according to religious fathers.
A member of the Ethiopian Ulema, Fatwa and Da’awa Council, Sheikh Mustapha Mohammed told The Ethiopian Herald that the practice creating platforms for peoples of different faiths create better understanding of religions and values they attached to peaceful coexistence.
Sheikh Mustapha stated that the widespread communal religious observations between peoples of different religions is among the contributing factors Ethiopia being a place of religious tolerance in the contrast to religious conflicts that persists around the globe.
He said, ‘’the presence of followers of other religions at the Iftar ceremony shows the huge importance the event has for sustaining the long cherished value of tolerance and mutual coexistence in the society.’’
Suleiman Mohammed, 43, was born in Dessie, a town where the followers of both Muslims and non-Muslims live peacefully for ages.
Suleiman said that Iftar is one of the religious festivals that non-Muslim friends and neighbors have been invited by their Muslim brothers.
The fact that people with different faiths taking part in Iftar have significant roles for paving ways for them to exchange views about their livelihoods and maintaining the long lasting culture of accommodating differences, he added.
According to Suleiman, ‘’such religious observations serve as bases to enable people with different religions working together to common agenda of peace and development as well as nation building. They are also platforms to recognize and respect differences and shun radicalized viewpoints.’’
Seifu Solomon, a Christian, on his part said that he has been taking part in numerous Iftar ceremonies with his neighbors and friends over many years.
He indicated that such events enable people to realize all religions taught, the need to live in harmony and evils of radicalism. ‘’ Involving in religious observation as of Iftar would help people with different faiths to respect differences. It also have considerable vantages to maintain Ethiopia’s age-old culture of religious tolerance.’’
He added that religious observations, besides their religious values, have laid the foundations for peace and coexistence in the country,
Ethiopian Muslims highly valued the peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims. The growing movement by Wahhabists; ultra-conservative Islamic group; however, attempted to disrupt this peaceful relation.
Sheikh Mustapha said, ''religious leaders should use the Ramadan month in activities to boost inter-religious harmony and preach the congregation for peace and unity among Muslims and non-Muslims to mobilize their participation for building the democratic system and enhancing the economic growth. ’’
The Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council should play a leading role to preserve the tolerance and avoidance of religious-based conflicts by advising the laity to shun radicalized view of the religion, he added.
Hailemichael Woldesenbet, a priest in St. Mary Church, agrees on this fact saying the destructive act of these forces are not only at- tempting to impose their will on the public violently and obstruct the peaceful spread of religion but also disturb the peace of the country, which is an unacceptable deed.
He said, ‘‘Greater emphasis needs to be placed on educating the new generation towards religious tolerance and building a tolerant society at large.’’
Religious intolerance becomes more dangerous when it is exploited to attain political ambition of an individual or interest group in that they often try to manipulate public opinion with misinformation and prejudice on a certain religious affiliation, he added.
He also emphasized that all stakeholders should strive to retire the influence of those interest groups by paving a way access to pluralistic information that would allow them to differentiate between facts and stereotypical opinions as well as discredit hateful propaganda.
Unless stakeholders work in concert to repulse the destructive efforts of some interest groups, Ethiopia’s age-long history of accommodating people of various religions could be endangered.
Vigilant protection of such cultures do not be destroyed by fundamentalists and extremists who have other agendas rather than religion has become the order of the day since recent years.
Religious observations are central to maintain the tradition of peaceful co-existence among different faiths that has been existed for centuries. If religious stakeholders manage to maintain the peaceful coexistence of the Ethiopian people, the country' vision to ensure its renaissance would be a reality.
BY BILAL DERSO