Ethiopia has proved itself as a place for seasoned travellers. The country features beaches, stunning green valleys, as well as Fire Lake filled ravines. A peaceful tranquillity flows in Ethiopia, a country known for its historical sanctuaries, temples, palaces and stunning natural creations. Step into this paradise a natural extravaganza where you witness the country’s rare and breath-taking destinations and lavish amenities in some of the world class accommodations in the most elegant hotels in the country. Do not miss out on Ethiopia’s extreme locations as it takes adventure to the next level.
Erta Ale one of the five global extreme wonders with active bubbling volcano lies at the North-eastern part of Ethiopia famously known as Afar State. It existed since the beginning of the 20th century. The stunner fire sea floor bubbles 2,011-feet revealing a fire shore. The fire mountain is known as “the gateway to hell” due to the active fire floor. It’s the most amazing natural feature in the land of East African Rift Valley. Although there is active volcano bubbling to the top it is perfectly safe to visit and even take a closer look to the fire lake. The golden sparkling molten rock has an awe-inspiring view especially during the nights. The flow of lava from deep in the ground creating a river of liquid fire is truly an unrivalled view.
Erta Ale presents one of the hottest average temperature on earth topping 34 centigrade each day and climbing to 55 and above centigrade. It’s good to avoid visit from May to August as the place heat might be overwhelming Travel Destination experts say. On the other months it’s advisable to visit when the sun is down in order to avoid overheating. However, the three hour walk from the nearby village to the top of the volcano is not challenging and allows a close-up view of the magnificent landscape.
The best part of visiting this place does not end there; Afar people are hospitable and traditional. It is their culture to carry rifles and protect their guest who is considered as family from any danger. They are respectful and quite accustomed to hosting visitors treating you as very important person despite your background or where you come from. Everything about the place and the people way of life is so exclusive that it will inspire any seasoned traveller.
Stay in this region for one more daring adventure at Dallol for a fascinating colourful adventure. It lies over 400 feet below sea level receiving less than 200 millilitres of rainfall annually. The place is one of the hottest place on earth featuring from earthquakes, volcano fountains to colourful salt hills. Dallol crater is one of the lowest known volcanic vents in the world at 45 meter below sea level. The hot springs in Dallol depict bright colours, a palette of ferrous chloride and iron hydroxide emissions forming deep colours.
From the sun above, and bubbling sulphur from the ground below, Dallol the scorching colourful hot town in the Afar Depression holds the record for having the highest average annual temperature ever recorded at 96˚F heating all year around. Dallol is another gorgeous place that has led many by surprise taking visitors to extreme adventure admiring the stunning green, white and brown salt lake. You can safely visit the hottest paths interacting with locals taking a camel back rides. Visit has to be accompanied by armed guards who are accustomed with the place. There are no places to lodge or dine at the desert hence it is important to pack bottled water and foods that will last for four days along with sunscreen and hats.
BY EDEN SAHLE
oads are the most popularly used mode of transport. They have been catalysing human civilization and supporting economic and social development of the world since creation.
Roads also remain the predominant mode of transport across the globe despite technological advances. Besides, the current development approach views broad development as the integral part of the broader vision of sustainable development and poverty reduction.
According to a recent report by the International Road Federation (IRF), roads have a larger socio-economic benefits in Europe with trucks carrying nearly 80 per cent of all goods. And the road sector has contributed approximately 22 per cent of the GDP of the EU member countries’ economy and 5 per cent of the employment. In the member nations, vehicle related taxes accounted for 10.2 per cent of the total fiscal income.
As a developing yet ambitious nation to become a middle income country, has Ethiopia’s road development effort been fruitful? Is the current national road coverage enabling to facilitate the socio-economic and political development and ultimately help the nation meet its ambition of enjoying middle income economy?
Two decades back, after the incumbent overthrown the Derg regime, took power and gained political stability, it began to ponder on extricating its people from the long-standing quagmire of poverty. Before a couple of decades and a half, the nation’s economy had been weakened due to war and total instability. And the social and economic infrastructures had been in very poor condition. The situation of road infrastructure prevailing at that time would undoubtedly impede the targets of the overall national developments of the nation.
Realizing its importance, the Ethiopian government started massive road development, giving priority among other national development agendas. Explaining the road situation, Ethiopian Roads Authority Communications Director Samson Wondimu said the sector was entangled with acute troubles that impede other development agenda.
“Before 26 years, the total length of road network nationwide was 18,081 km and only 17 per cent of the total figure was asphalt. About 20 per cent of the network was in good condition. As 80 per cent of the road network was quite dilapidated, vehicles could not use it unless obligatory,” the Director said.
This left most parts of the region socially and economically detached. The rural community had to trek an average of 30.4 km or 10.2 hours to reach their destination, he added. Because of the worst road situation, the rural population in particular was exposed to increased transport cost and travel time significantly affecting production and productivity, thereby hampering the nation’s economic growth.
Different reports on the issue indicate that farmers could not access profitable market options to sell their products. Nor could they access healthcare facilities to get treatment for even very minor illnesses which resulted in health complications and reduced production and economic gains. Increased rates of maternal and child mortality and morbidity were also common phenomenon among these communities.
Moreover, Ethiopian children couldn’t join school at all or at the proper age or go beyond primary classes because the expansion of schools, as to the health facilities, was hampered by the road factor. Besides, the absence of local contractors on the other hand forced nation to rely on foreign capacity that required costing the already scarce currency.
Therefore, in a bid to bridge this extreme incongruity between the nation’s comprehensive development endeavours and the very poor national road network situation of the time, as well as to perk up the war affected economy, government has progressively designed and implemented several road sector development programs.
The Road Sector Development Programmes (RSDP) under Programme for Accelerated and Sustained Development to End Poverty (PASDEP), Universal Rural Road Access Programme (URRAP), and Growth and Transformation Plans I and II (GTP I & II) are among the major programmes.
In 2010, by the end of PASDEP period and beginning of GTP-I, the government launched another programme named Universal Rural Road Access Programme (URRAP), which is fully financed by the government. It was designed to meet the target of networking all kebeles to the nearby all-weather roads. Putting these programmes on the ground has demanded the government to spend over 266 billion birr. Government’s earnest efforts and the huge capital expenditure have proved fruitful.
By the end of GTP I, the national road network reached 110,414 km, while strengthened efforts GTP-II lifted it up to 128,470 km, according to a report by Ethiopian Roads Authority (ERA). Between 1997 and 2016, the national network showed a 326 per cent growth, as road density grew from 24.1 per cent to 102.8 per cent, and road network showed an annual growth of 8.2 per cent.
Similarly, by the end of GTP-I, the proportion of road in good condition now reached 92 per cent from 20 per cent in 1991, while asphalt roads coverage also rose from 3,542 to 14,632kms.
Within 19 years time, the rural roads also showed parallel growth. The 5,573km rural road coverage in 1991 grew to 31,620km. Besides, the implementation of URRAP produced over 62,000km all weather roads that are connected to kebeles.
The report mentioned that the significantly higher road network growth has had a meaningful impact on the lives of the rural agrarian community.
“Rural kebeles now are interlinked each other and to all weather roads. In some areas, the 10.2 hours walk made to reach all weather roads in 26 years ago now dwindled to 1.5 hours,” Samson said.
Moreover, Government’s RSDP success has been extended to two other areas: Connecting the nation’s major routes to bordering countries and building modern speed road along the development corridors. These roads are expected to promote trade, further boost bilateral relations, and strengthen regional integration among countries as they provide Ethiopia with alternative ports.
Some of roads to this effect include the 100 km long Assosa–Kurmruk asphalt road opened for traffic two years ago allows the use of Port of Sudan. It further strengthens the mutual relationships between the two nations thereby accelerating export trade. Other roads to the same reason are the Gondar–Humera and Debre-Markos–Azezo–Metema asphalt roads.
Besides, the route from Awash to Jigjiga–Togo-Chale started has long been connecting the nation to Somaliland and Port of Berbera, as a 500.3km asphalt road that links Addis Ababa to Mombasa- Kenya is nearing completion.
Moreover, Gambella–Etang–Jikawo and Mizan-Teferi–Boma asphalt roads connect Ethiopia to South Sudan, while Woyto–Turmi–Omorate–Namrapuse road connects communities along the Ethio-Kenya boarder.
The old and damaged Awash–Mile–Galafi road which serves as the major import export road through Port Djibouti has been rebuilt with asphalt concrete. Having built these modern import-export roads meeting high standards, government shifted to the construction of express ways. Addis–Adama Express Way is a chapter opener in this regard. The success and experience from this led to instant decision to build the same road to all development corridors where the rapid industrialization has been started. Consequently, construction of Mojo-Hawassa Express Way started months ago while the one to Adama-Awash is to be started soon.
Then what socio-economic benefits have the incumbent’s effort of putting all these roads brought to citizens and the nation in the past two decades? Has the 267.2 billion birr public expenditure worth the benefit so far?
(The writer answers these questions in the second part of this piece,
BY SINTAYEHU TAMIRAT
The Somali Region is located in the eastern part of Ethiopia, with an estimated population of six to eight million people. Prior to the current regional administration, the region was seen as an austerely underdeveloped, politically-unstable conflict zone. A decade ago, the focus was to have reliable and legitimate governance; today, with unprecedented progress and dedicated leadership, the aim is expunging poverty.
As described by the UN, “Poverty is more than the lack of income and resources to ensure a sustainable livelihood. Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion as well as the lack of participation in decision-making. Economic growth must be inclusive to provide sustainable jobs and promote equality.”
There are three priorities emphasized by the Somali Regional administration: mobilization of resources, education, environmental empowerment and gender equality.
There is a varied availability of resources in Ethiopia, and according to a recent World Bank report, Ethiopia’s economy has made remarkable expansion with the gross domestic product (GDP) growing by an average 10.9% in the past decade, compared to a 5.4% average throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.
Government budget, taxes that enable and sustain public services, direct and indirect financial support, investments in cooperatives and donations are some of the few approaches (that are used to mobilize resources) I have witnessed during my stay the Somali Region. To change the economic situation of a community, sustainable livelihood techniques and devices must be utilized. Identify the root cause of poverty/problem, which, by the way, is often lack of resources or capital. Then replace scarcity by assembling and impartially sharing resources, and by creating or planning for basic economic stability (where everyone benefits) and hoping for some sort of surplus.
The Somali Region state mobilized the annual government budget by investing in key departments, such as the education, women and youth bureau(s), so that resources converted trickle down to both the aspiring doctor and camel herder.
Education plays a massive role in sustainable development and the poverty eradication movement. When someone thinks of education, s/he/they picture institutional knowledge, which later results in employment or an employable populace. In reality, education comes from a variety of sources: skill or vocational training(s), experience or expertise, home, labor, etc. If and when applied and mobilized equitably, education translates into wealth – and this all manifests into efficient economic growth.
In the Somali Region, there are notable programs and initiatives in place to engage urban and rural populations to partake in educational activities based on their interests. There are technical schools for those who learn better with practice or their hands. There are health colleges for students who want to jump straight into the health profession. There are conventional universities, literacy courses, colleges and small organizations dedicated to equipping the population of the Region in proficiently partaking in the overall social, economic and political processes of Ethiopia.
According to recent government reports and local testimonies, in the last five to seven years, there has been a tremendous increase in enrollment of students in public and private institutions, and construction of all-purpose education-providing establishments. Abdi Omar, the Somali Regional President, has been at the forefront of expanding educational services through the region by being present at almost every school inauguration event, every foundation-stone setting ceremony and graduation. Why? to essentially offer support to the youth and regional community, and to ensure that an improved and thriving economy awaits. Students might have the vision to eradicate poverty, whether on a personal or family level, but with unswerving support from the president of the region, they recognize the significance of collectivity and community.
Majority of the Somali regional community are agro-pastoralists. Their livelihoods—along with those in main cities—rely heavily on crop and livestock productions. In Ethiopia’s Phase Two of the national Growth and Transformation Plan (GTPII), it is highlighted that to reduce and eradicate poverty in rural areas, there needs to be an “1) increased and market oriented crop production and productivity; 2) increased livestock production and productivity; 3) reduced degradation and improved productivity of natural resources; and 4) enhanced food security.”
The regional state has distributed devices and prioritized agricultural strategies to reduce rural poverty and protect the environment. For example, there are over a hundred irrigation and drainage projects currently ongoing in the region. Also, tractors are being dispensed to local farmers so that they may successfully farm and produce. Furthermore, animal health and livestock markets are becoming normalized concepts, indicating urbanization and rural development can occur at the same time whilst supporting each other rather than conflicting.
Poverty can only be abolished through a collective of initiatives, resources, and people. No one method can actively work in uplifting socio-economic statuses of poverty-stricken communities. Gender equality is vital in wealth creation and economic development, security, production and the universal well-being of humans.
Women in the Somali Region are the backbone of the labor force and, in recent years, have taken on powerful leadership and commerce roles. For example, almost all the district finance heads in the Somali Region are women. The President's office earnestly and overtly encourages girls and women by facilitating opportunities and grants for them to transform their lives and positions in society.
The Vice President of the Somali Region, Suad Ahmed, who is one of the key decision makers, is an example of how gender empowerment is evident in the regional administration echelons. Still, even with women in government, business and in the labor force, gender equality is an ongoing [global] battle front that is proactively and correspondingly being fought in the war against poverty. Poverty eradication requires public and women participation.
Similar to the efforts being exerted towards poverty eradication, obstacles are also apparent here. As astounding and irrefutable the hard work of the regional administration, other stakeholders should step up and build capacity of smaller entities of their reputable or related fields. For example, international humanitarian offices must provide support to local NGOs, larger government bureaus should be transparent in dealing with smaller governmental agencies and big businesses should be legally required to give space for small companies to excel. After all, the war against poverty necessitates multitasking and multidimensional [collective] actions.
BY HAFSA MOHAMED
The tax being collected in Ethiopia pales in to insignificance viewed in light of the aggregate outlay of the country and what other countries collect. There are also countries that manage to cover 20 per cent of their expenditure with the tax they collect. Even Subsharan countries that collect minimal taxes are ones that cover at least 17 per cent of their outlays from taxes .The tax Ethiopia collects is around 12.5 per cent. In terms of quantity, the tax has increased. But according to the information released by Finance and Economic Cooperation Ministry, seen in the lens of the total outlay, the amount being collected is overshadowed by the combined effect of the inflation created and the increment of the budget the country apportion for various activities. Specially, during the past two decades, the country has been displaying a double-digit economic growth. Investment is expanding and the lifestyle of people is taking a turn for the better. New sectors are emerging and investments are mushrooming here and there. Nevertheless, all the success stories have not helped buoy up the tax revenue to the required level.
To collect the required volume of tax the government has tried to build the capacity of the Ethiopian Revenue and custom authority. In 2016, it had promulgated Federal income tax proclamation and Federal Revenue management.
Lately, Federal tax administration procedure is due to be publicized,according to Finance and Economic Cooperation Ministry. Yet experts in the field harbor fear that the tax being collected from the economy could not increase.
The overarching reason resides in lack of awareness on the part of the public on the significance of tax.
Poor performance,rent seeking and gaps in expanding the domain of tax payers are also major hurdles ascribable to the problem. Though investment is flourishing those who evade tax under various pretexts are many. As the initiation of citizens to pay tax is minimal ,obviously,there are many that backpedal from paying taxes. Sectors that collect high revenue are not entailed in the tax net. In areas where tax collecting offices are in short supply, those who fight shy from paying taxes are not few. At times due to loopholes in rules and regulations and problems of tax collectors the tax collection process turns out to be far from fair.
For instance, most businessmen and investors do not pay as much tax as civil servants do. For instance, though an owner of a vehicle gets 20 times as much as a public servant s/he pay only one twenty fifth of the tax a public servant pays. There is hope that the new rule and regulation that will be made official soon will rectify it. But the process so far was not that viable.
On the other hand complaints are being lodged against tax collectors. In order to make them shun a rent-seeking mind bent their salary scale is made a bit higher than other public servants on top of other incentives. Yet the task could not come anywhere near success. There are who openly and proudly speak “We don't pay taxes let alone fair taxes”.There are also people who condone such acts. Citizens must rally behind the government in the execution of the rules and regulations. Among citizens,the fact that collected taxes irrigate development-oriented activities must sink in. The government must also further ensure transparency and accountability. Instead of wholly relaying on coercing citizens pay tax, it as well must learn convincing them into paying taxes. Every one must see paying tax a gesture of responsibility. Regarding rules, regulations and procedures , discussion forums must be organized. There is a call for inviting,tax payers,experts and elites. Doing research and taking facts on the ground is necessary.
Federation of Ethiopian National Associations of Persons with Disabilities (FENAPD) called on stakeholders to intensify public awareness campaign towards economic inclusion of Persons with disabilities (PWDs).
Speaking at the 4th Art exhibition organized to promote artistic works of PWDs Wednesday, Federation President Kalkidan Shimels said though the country has made some progress in terms of adopting international convention on rights of PWDs and creating equal opportunity for them, they are yet vulnerable to economic and social marginalization.
She further said the Federation has been working in partnership with various institutions to curb the wrong perception towards PWDs. As a result, it has managed to narrow disability information gaps on service provision across the country.
House of Peoples’ Representatives Social Affairs Standing Committee member Meseret Jemaneh for her part said that the House has been inspecting the progress and challenges towards PWDs.
“The PWDs have to benefit from so far registered economic growth and intensified awareness creation towards their economic and social inclusion needs to be carried out in a timely manner,” he added.
As Ethiopia has adopted and incorporated United Nations PDWs declaration in its constitution, he said a number of institutes are now promoting PDWs equal rights
Presenting a paper entitled: “Culture and its Relevance for Society” Ethiopian Centre for Disability and Development Co-Founder Yetneberish Nigussie said : “ We often intend to stereotype people based on physical appearance and sex. PWDs are also victims of such stereotypes as a large number people see them as public dependent.”
According to her, Afar and Somalia peoples outlook towards PDWs is the exemplary one, all need to follow their footsteps in this regard.
BY MENGISTEAB TESHOME
Addis Ababa City Government Environment Protection Authority announced Tuesday that it is undertaking various projects which would free the city from environmental pollution.
Speaking at the marking of World Environment Day themed: ‘Connecting People to Nature,’ Authority General Manager Tsegaye Gebremariam said the projects are aimed at positioning Addis Ababa among the fifteen best tourist destinations in Africa by 2020.
For green economic development is the city's priority, it is developing the Reppe Waste-to Energy Project and other greenery parks at the major riversides, he added. The riversides' development received 176-million Birr this Ethiopian fiscal year, he added.
He also said since Addis is Africa's diplomatic hub, environmental protection and greenery development would further make the city safe and livable, while helping tourists to spend more nights.
Growth in population, industrialization and science and technology is adversely impacting the environment, he said, urging every stakeholder to support and promote the green economic development endeavors.
For his part, Dry Waste Recycle and Disposal Project Office Head Mengistu Tsegaye said the project office has recycled over 32,600 tons of waste during the past nine months. It is also working to forge linkage between waste suppliers and recycling firms found in Addis Ababa and Oromia Special Zone Surrounding Addis Ababa, he added.
The Day was marked for the 45th and 24th times in the world and Ethiopia respectively.
BY TEWODROS KASSA
The first ever ' Chinese Trade Week' will be held in Addis Ababa from 4th-6th of July 2107 at the Intercontinental Hotel.
International Events Director, Michelle Meyrick said on the event construction materials, machinery, smart electronics, clothing and textiles, power and energy, print, packaging and plastic, home interiors, health and beauty, kitchen and bathroom and agricultural machinery will be exhibited.
She said the three-day event is designed to offer a perfect platform for the local business community to meet Chinese manufacturers; visitors can take advantage of the event’s high quality, competitively priced products.
“The event is a unique opportunity for the local business community to develop trade relations and potentially negotiate commercial cooperation.”
The event will also bring Ethiopia’s business people face-to-face with Chinese companies creating a unique opportunity to meet, talk and develop the foundations of trading and business relationships, Meyrick said.
Ethiopian Investment Commission Communication Directorate Director Mekonen Hailu for his part said Ethiopia has attracted companies with projects worth 14.5 billion Birr. And Chinese companies are on the leading position in terms of capital and in manufacturing industry engagement followed by India and Turkey.
BY LEULSEGED WORKU
Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation (MoFEC) announced that the coming Ethiopian fiscal year budget has been prepared taking into consideration GTP II, SDGs and Youth Revolving Fund, among others.
Explaining a 320.8 billion Birr cost of budget proposal for the House of Peoples' Representatives yesterday, Minister Dr. Abreham Tekeste said: “The budgeting has been done giving due attention to industrial development, export expansion and job creation.”
Out of the total budget, 114.7 billion Birr has been allotted to road construction , education and health care services, rural electrification, agriculture and water development, the minister said ,adding that a large amount of the budget has also been allocated to industrial parks development and manufacturing industries.
According to him, the allocated budget will play vital role in reducing poverty as it supports the ongoing efforts to ensure sustainable development.
The minister said industrial parks that are operational and under construction, would create favorable situation for the manufacturing industry and export goods.
Having discussed the proposed draft budget, the MPs refereed the budget to the Finance Affairs Standing Committee for further scrutiny.
BY SINTAYEHU TAMIRAT
Ethiopian Airlines announced that it will host the ICAO Global Air Cargo Development Forum with the theme: "Action for the Sustainable Development of Air Cargo in Africa", to be held at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) conference hall from 27th to 29th of June 2017.
According to Ethiopian press release issued recently, the forum is anticipated to allow policy-makers, air transport regulators, representatives from the aviation industry and other stakeholders, to review progress towards implementation of the Lomé Declaration, identify challenges and opportunities and building on the decisions of the 39th ICAO Assembly.
"As the largest cargo operator in Africa, we are pleased to host this vital communication platform, which builds upon the Declaration on the development of Air Cargo in Africa and commit a roadmap for priority actions," said Tewolde GebreMariam, Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO.
"I believe, this forum will create an ample opportunity for participants to see the immense potential Ethiopian Cargo and Logistics Services has developed to ensure easy cargo movement across the continent and beyond, while enjoying side visits to the beautiful natural and historic attractions at the Land of Origins".
The forum is also expected to contribute to the cooperative activities between ICAO, the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the International Air Cargo Association (TIACA).
Ethiopian Airlines has availed 15 percent discount on business class and 12 per cent discount on economy class fares to all participants departing from all Ethiopian on line cities to Addis Ababa travelling to attend the 2nd ICAO Meeting on Air Cargo Development.
Ethiopian Airlines earlier this year hosted ICAO Global Aviation Training and TRAINAIR PLUS Symposium with the theme: "Together, Enhancing Training to Build Capacity".