His name is Wondu Bekele, a young guy who has a big brother suffering from tobacco addiction. Most often, he had bought cigarette to his brother and sometime he try to test what it feels like smoking tobacco. Eventually, he got into addiction and become a man who can’t live without smoking. However, Wondu strongly addicted while he was a university student under the influence of his peers.
“Sometimes, when I couldn’t get cigarette, I become aggressive and got pissed off easily even at matters of not my concern.” Wondu remembered his unnecessary quarrel with people around him due to the influence of his addiction. He said it is just a snap to get into addiction but the hardest thing on earth to free yourself from it.
Owing to the follow up support and reprimand of his wife, Wondu become free of his 17 years craving of smoking. He recalled that bad times, where he had no care for himself and no personal grooming. Due to this he was discriminated by friends and other people around him. What was more miserable is, he continuously suffered from non communicable disease.
Though the consequence is awful, with the strong support of his wife today Wondu has become free of tobacco addiction, who can be best model for anyone slumping in addiction. He called on the youth to be far from any kind of addiction. “They must be healthy, optimist and hopeful generation that could inherit their motherland,” he exclaims.
Drug abuse has three major problems that directly affect the welbeing of the user. First, it causes solitude except consuming mates. Friends and the society would segregate the user. Secondly the user tends to fail in managing finances which eventually leads to economic crisis. It is shameful to parents when their children plead for cigarette money. Especially in our society which is mostly norm sensitive and distant from inappropriate practices of amusement, it causes social disorder.
The third and the major problem related to drug abuse is it exposes the abuser for non-communicable diseases such as lung cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Patients infected by the aforementioned diseases are suffering a lot. It is easy to be attacked by the disease but very hard to be treated. Particularly, for a citizen living in the third world entertaining such problem is a question of life and death due to financial and material insufficiency.
It is known that tobacco kills about half of its users at the same time affecting passive smokers. In Ethiopia, over three million users are expected to be suffering from the drug. The country is working to alleviate the problem through implementing laws such as imposing double taxation, prohibiting illegal tax free importation, inspecting advertisements and introducing cautions. About seven percent of young males consume tobacco products, said Mussie Gebremichael, Ministry of Health Non Communicable Diseases Program Officer.
He noted that the ministry is playing its role in psychiatric support and pharmaco-therapy. It is also working to expand rehabilitation centers so as to reduce the impact of tobacco.
Today 30 percent of world youngsters are suffering from tobacco. Among the users 70 percent want to stop smoking but most of them are unable to achieve this. Addis Ababa Youth Federation Head Hulun Temesgen said that to reduce the problem especially to save the youth which is the important engine of nation’s development, judiciaries and other stakeholders ought to play their role in implementing laws and limiting the spread of the drug.
Working for the realization of the regulation that prohibits public smoking must be the major concern to reduce the impact of tobacco on non smokers. He stated that FMHACA and similar organizations need to tap the social tradition that labeled tobacco as social malice to alleviate its impact and to create addiction free generation.
A research conducted by WHO indicates that annually more than seven million people die due to tobacco use and more than six million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 890, 000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smokers worldwide.
Sadly, of nearly 80 percent of the world's more than one billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries. How could these low income countries possibly fight this hazardous social malice? Here, WHO needs to give high attention to support countries that are highly affected by tobacco, lingering under poverty line. WHO Health Promotion and Tobacco Control Professional Wassihun Melaku Believed that the organization has been assisting Ethiopia’s effort in reducing the impact of tobacco through capacity building and financial support. Raising public awareness towards health related, social and economic crisis of consuming tobacco is critical to curb this social malice.
He noted that, as a country that ratified Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a lot has remained to be done in terms of prohibiting public area smoking. Wassihun also pledged that the support of WHO in this sphere would be continued through offering training to health professionals and financing tobacco controlling organizations.
Today, Wondu Bekele has become healthy and free from drug addiction. He dreams of establishing an association known as Mathios Wondu-YeEthiopia Cancer Society/MWECS/ that work on supporting children and elders.
Invited by various organizations, he shares his experience at home and abroad. He also gives lesson at the Addis Ababa University. He observed that most of the departments in the universities of the country have no program that discuss and aware students about the ill impacts of tobacco. Therefore, he said the universities and other schools need to take quick measure in this regard.
BY YOHANES JEMANEH
The rainy season in Ethiopia has always been a turning point to a new chapter of life weather it brings a good or bad sign for the coming time. That's the time when we start using the soil for a new farming. That's when we know if we are going to have a productive or a long miserable year of drought. That's the time when schools are closed and students find out whether they passed to the next grade or they have to repeat the same lesson in the same grade like a pill. There are so many fascinating things about summer. I remember when I was a child, me and my friends watching a western kid snow skating on a movie and we started mud skating on our bare feet. We used to make the ground smooth with the sole of our feet and we run and slide on it for few distance. That was fascinating.
One thing fascinating about summer is that to see many happy families and graduates, from all the universities throughout the country.
As we know it, the intake capacity of higher education institutes is increasing year after year. Only this year 700,000 freshman students were enrolled in 33 universities and more than 100,000 are expected to graduate this summer. The graduation of this massive number of professionals is a great achievement for the nation's multifaceted developmental activities. This means summer is the rebirth of our nation and a testimony for success or failure of our universities.
A college students success depends on the lifestyle he/she has chosen the moment she/he joined it. From my experience there's nothing exciting like the first days or weeks or months of a college life. There are lots of expectations related to the new life away from family and joining a community full of strangers, gathered from diversified ethno-linguistic, religious and cultural groups of community.
During those days, students meet to form their own groups of a different lifestyle and philosophy. Some would happen to be party freaks while some become church goers. Some would spend the nights socializing with opposite sex groups trying to find the one. I remember how much deodorant or perfume was sprayed when there was a special appointment. The freedom is so loose that some students go to the liqueur stores and kiss their good future or dreams good by. Some try to test every adventure, good or bad, while others stick only to their academic purposes like making the books and libraries their friends.
There are also students who claim to have a special talent and they take the higher education as a favor they are doing for their family or as a forced job they are carrying on their shoulder for the sake of somebody. These groups of students take every chance to boost their talent. They always try to follow their heart but not realizing or denying that the world isn't a good place for such ideal freedom. Yet their passion is so strong that they try to express it on every occasion including their academic activities. (If following my heart was easy, I myself would have been a doctor in musical science.)
Those who study less of their regular education and read more of other fields of study like philosophy, psychology, politics or theology are complex characters of college life. These types of people are antagonistic to the principles they seem to stand for. I have seen the philosophers caring for nothing and going a little crazy. They never care about the way they look. They just philosophize everything even if it’s just a simple reality. Most of them are antagonistic to reality. Or reality is only what they said. Some of the philosophers act like they are good listeners. But they take advantage of others' thoughts and make it look like their own using well constructed and ironic words.
The politicians? They read too much of a corrupt history of politics and it seems like the idea of agreement on some common concepts has no appeal to them. It looks like if there is agreement and the argument goes to short, there is nothing to learn more. Or its more like, only by disagreeing one can keep the medium of learning open. But it's hard to call it learning. It's just a habit to keep the habit of talking alive and stay looking like a real intellectual. The real intellectual self comes out after graduation.
A college's life style apart from academic purpose and its outcome will affect not only their own future but also the environment in the college. For instance I remember a group of female students who were good looking and made some of our friends under their control. They used to spend all their money in bars and clubs and everything was luxury for some time. We used to call these girls 'the hot chicks'. The whole campus looked full of life with them in it. At the beginning of the second semester everything went called and the campus looked like a city under siege. All the hot chicks were dismissed because the steps on the dance floors couldn't be the answers for mid and final term exams of the first semester. One good thing about them leaving the camp was that our friends started focusing on their education and reduced the expense for deodorants.
Other fresh chicks would come the next year and all the adventure turns back to its place but senior students are more focused. Finally all, who made every effort to achieve their academic purposes, will be waiting for the exciting moment − graduation. That's the next phase to a new life.
However, Engineer Melaku Zewde, a college graduate who left school before three years told me that he wasn't excited at all on his graduation day. He said “They told me everything would be fun and I would feel ease. But no, the thoughts of new responsibility and the worries of getting a job only came in to my mind. I didn't even celebrate that night”.
How was the graduation days and nights of others? I will bring you the experiences of other graduates on future editions.
BY HENOK TIBEBU
Ermias Eshetu, CEO of ECX
Since its establishment as the first of its kind in Africa to ensure the development of an efficient modern trading system, the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) has achieved a lot in creating a new marketplace that serves all market actors, from farmers to traders to processors to exporters to consumers. During its establishment, the exchange was led by former World Bank economist Eleni Gabre-Madhin. Ermias Eshetu has been the CEO of Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) since January, 2015. Ermias has over 20 years of technical and leadership experience working for fortune 500 and multi-national companies including IBM, Alcatel, Orange and Micro Strategy. The Ethiopian Herald has held an interview with Ermais on the progress of the exchange so far and its contribution to the Ethiopian economy. Excerpts:
Herald: It has been a while since the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange came into the Ethiopian economic scene. What major impacts does it have on the Ethiopian economy, particularly on the agriculture sector? What are the major success stories?
Erimias: The exchange was established nine years ago with the vision to modernize the traditional bound trading practices of agricultural commodities. The traditional bound markets in Ethiopia severed for centuries. And it remained so that, within the value chains of each output, we have never been able to master the modernization process for a modern market place.
What is a modern market place is really the essence of this question. Modern market place is where buyers and sellers meet on a consistent basis to buy and sell on a reliable and trustworthy price range, where quality is guaranteed, there is integrity of buyers and sellers, and settlement of goods delivery, and so and so forth. These are very important modernization criteria to go on to modern industrialization and manufacturing.
Imagine if there was a very big bakery that produces bread on a daily basis. What do they need? They need a consistent supply of wheat and other inputs to continue baking and supplying bread to the market. That can very easily be interrupted if they do not find enough wheat supply. When there is enough supply, then it can be easy to build more and more bakeries, build the distribution network while calculating the transportation cost, and industrialize the bakery business by expanding regionally and nationally to supply bread with a fair and acceptable price. All these parameters could allow the bakery firm to manage its business prudently and to operate on the profit margin which it thinks is reasonable.
What do they do in the absence of that modern market place? Imagine this same modern business would have to go to the traditional market place for input supply and depend on whatever price that is given on that particular day. This is what is missing in our value chain system. We always go to the cattle market, whatever the brokers’ price that is being called, we pay. When it is a fasting season, the prices for vegetables, tomatoes and etc go up. In a cash economy, prices are quoted on the spot and it is up to you whether to buy or not. When you buy on the spot, you have no knowledge of what the price will be tomorrow. So you are more or less caged to make a decision at that particular time.
But in a modern market, you know exactly what the supply chain is, what is coming tomorrow, what will be the stock the day after, what is the reserve and what is in production. All that data helps you make a business wise decision. But on the spot market is a market for ‘winner takes all’. Whoever negotiates better and quotes a better price takes everything. Because the consumer is not in a negotiating position as he goes to the market when he needs the product. On the time of need, you have employees, you want to pay or consume it because there is a holyday or festival or else is coming. So you are not in a position to wait for another day. This is a big differentiator between the modern market and the traditional cash or spot market where price is set immediately up on delivery.
The traditional or spot market is not a sustainable model both for the producer and the consumer because the producer also does not actually know what price he/she will get. It is often set by the brokers and it will depend on the delivery time. All kind of middlemen may go through this process to make profit from the weakness of physical delivery at that particular time. When a producer comes, he does not actually know whether he will go back home with X amount of money in his pocket. So he brings his produces to the market without the knowledge of the price/profit he would earn. So, there is huge uncertainty that can go 180 degree on the negative or positive side. The producer is also exposed to all kind of risk in relation to future decision making, price negotiation and transportation. Otherwise, one cannot plan his harvest, transportation, where to unload his produces etc. Thus, he would have the advantage of planning for risk mitigation in a modern market to manage predictable risks.
But in the absence of modern market, the producer loses because he is not smartly managing the risks. And the same is true for the buyer; he does not know the sustainability and the quality in the prices of the goods that he is consuming. So it is a lose-lose end. When both sides of the trade lose, the nation also loses. It is an unpredictable vicious circle which will always entice and drag you down so that you can never evolve to become a modern trader, attain better quality of life or have resources to fulfill your material needs. So as a nation, it is this vicious circle that keeps us in a limbo.
Therefore, the notion of ECX is really to take us away from those predicaments and launch us on the path of modern market where we can have a guarantee of payment, quality, an assurance on the settlement and the supply and buyer side. Buyers and sellers come to the market place day after day with the confidence that the market works well. We trade up to 300 million Birr a day on peak season while this goes down to a 100 million Birr on a low season. This is a very long journey. The goal is not going to be attained on a year or five years or ten years.
Exchanges like the Chicago Mercantile, have been there since 1820s and 30s. It has taken them some nearly two century to get to where they are right now. In Ethiopia we are only nine years old. We are just starting the concept of a modern market place. This modern market place, the conceptualization and understanding is not just at the exchange. It has to be filtered down to the buyers, sellers, farmers and the policy makers, as well as to all those who are affected in the value chain. Their understanding of modern market has to evolve with exchange in order to make it successful.
To bring about transformation and change in awareness takes time. Like I said, it is a long journey with a long way to go as we are on year number nine now. When you understand the system, you build upon it and the technologies that surround it. We are building it. We are reacting to the needs and it is not fast enough because it is a process. The moment we understand it, we do not activate it immediately. Why? Because we have to take it to the stakeholders and the policy makers and make sure everyone is on board before we make another change. The market does not react very well to changes that are not positive, changes come slow. But nonetheless, our internal capacity has been evolving. When we were starting, we had traders who have little education, as little as fourth grade or below. Now we have evolved from that point to having all traders who reached 12th grade or above. And all of them are certified to be electronic traders. We have over 1000 electronic traders that are certified at the exchange.
A modern market operates with what we call a standard contract. We have been building our contacts’ quality process, out storage facilities, our system, our staff and the policies that are needed to make it happen. The last nine years have been quite a process. So we are evolving and developing our contract at the end of the day.
Herald: Who are your members and what are the criteria for becoming a member of the ECX? And particularly how do farmers become members?
Ermias: Obviously, in Ethiopia we have over 60 million Ethiopians live on a farm or near the farm. So, whatever we do has to be upgradeable to the national agenda of modernizing the market place. In that process, it is absolutely not possible to physically involve the 15 million farmers through a modern system like this. It is impossible because it is physically not attainable. Thus, the mechanism is designed where farmers are represented through cooperatives and unions, which we call aggregators or suppliers. Some farmers are also represented directly in the exchange as long as they fulfill the criteria to have the sufficient liquidity and the skills needed for modern market. So on the exchange level; they are represented in a similar manner. If farmers have enough supply of commodity, they can come and trade it at the exchange. ‘Enough’ by this concept, means to get the contract we discussed. So they need to fulfill those criteria including the educational ones in order to not get disadvantaged in the system. They need to be qualified on the training mechanism and get the certification.
The unions and cooperatives are very widely representing their farmers. They also have membership seats on the exchange. Those who are not members of cooperatives or unions or cannot make direct trade; can trade through intermediaries or clients. The clients buy from the farmers, makes sure it complies with the exchange standard, to attain the scalability of the big farmers, so that they are able to come and sell on the exchange. This is how it is structured. We have approximately 348 members, about 30 of them are cooperatives, and the rest are intermediary members or direct buyers.
But the membership is not always available. When the exchange was established, there was a procedure and process to vet people who are actively participating in the agriculture process and business. Those members bought a permanent membership seat at the exchange. They are the permanent members and they have the right to buy and sell on behalf of the aggregators or themselves or they are representatives of the cooperatives. Through that process they come to the exchange and seat either on the buyers’ or on the sellers’ side. They have to choose which side they are in for they cannot operate on both sides. One cannot be a buyer and also a seller. So if one is buying, he/she is buying on behalf of a company or an institution. If one is selling, he/she is selling for themselves, cooperatives or unions. The legal contracts are committed on the exchange platform where we take responsibility of settlement of cash and goods. That is how it works.
Herald: So there are different seats for buyers and sellers. Are the seats like shares or something else?
Ermias: Share is defined as something that you legally own. You can tender it, or sell it and so on. The seats are not like shares. It has similarity with a share but it is just a legally owned membership seat. The seats do not have a financial share in the operation of the exchange. Rather, it is a membership seat to allow holders to permit transaction on the exchange business.
Herald: You have already touched my next question. How accessible is ECX to farmers across the country. And how does it minimize the risk on farmers considering the fact that there are middlemen or intermediaries. Perhaps, they might be able to influence the system and put the farmers at risk?
Ermias: When we think about the exchange, it is not just one institution. The exchange system itself is made up of different authorities. There is the actual market platform that we call exchange or a modern market place where buyers and sellers come and meet. We have another institution that is mandated to regulate the trade and the exchange authority. We also have associations that represent all the members’ interest. The interest of the exchange members is to be able to transact on the exchange business. So they have an institutional mandate given to them. We have what we call exporters’ association. The association is also another pillar that makes up the ecosystem of the exchange or as I said the institutional pillars of the modern market place. The export association looks at their interest to be able to export quickly, to buy quickly from the market, to attain the quality and so and so forth. The exchange is made up of different institutions, so does the role that they play in the exchange. In terms of cooperatives’, unions’ and small farmers’ interest, all these institutions come together to make sure that the market is regulated and functions as it is supposed to. If there are disputes, there is a system for dispute handling. If there are loses, there are methods to compensate for those loses and so and so forth. But as I said it is a journey. We are just understanding and building the institutional capacity of the exchange, the associations and the regulators. Everything is going in a trajectory of growth where every day we learn something new as to how to manage a modern market place.
Herald: The Ethiopian agriculture has not yet been transformed and the government has a big plan to transform the sector and one of the strategies in this regard is the commercialization of agriculture. What role has ECX been playing to commercialize the agricultural sector and boost agricultural export?
Ermias: When we talk about modernization or transformation of Ethiopian agriculture, it is very important to understand, who we are talking about. We are talking about the 60 million people who have not had for generation educational exposure to improve literacy, who never had access to health facilities, roads, clean water, and electricity at home. So transformation of agriculture comes with the transformation of the lives of 60 million Ethiopians. Because, you don’t want to affect their way of life at once. They have a normal social life. They have traditions and values that they very much enjoy. So when you transform agriculture, you have to transform their life. That process takes a life time or even more. It takes many decades and generations. There is an easy way for doing it, takeover their land and start commercial farming. But it is not going to be very popular because you are going to affect the life style that they cherish. So you can’t do it over night through introducing commercial farming.
Thus, transformation has to be very systemic. It has to embrace the residents who live on the farms. You have to take into consideration the literacy level and their ability to adapt to change. You have to think about the overall journey of modernizing in generations. When you bring the issue of transformation, it is essential that you also bring literacy, mobile connectivity, health centers, and schools to the farmers. You have to build their lives around them so that they are also transformed.
It is when their life is transformed that they start to consume what we produce as a nation. When they consume electricity, roads, mobile phone, they become more efficient. So you create an ecosystem that is sustainable to all those who live around the farm. In that process, they work harder, because whenever they consume something new in terms of infrastructure, they have to pay for it. In order to pay for it, you have to work hard and the more you work hard, you become innovative and earn more money. When you become innovative, efficiency starts to kick in. When you have more efficiency, you become internationally competitive. You will produce more good in acceptable price on a better quality for the international market. That is the process of transforming agriculture. It is journey.
Herald: What are the major challenges you face in achieving your objectives?
Ermias: The greatest challenge is change management. In a family, you find different views between a wife and husband. The husband might say something and the wife might say something else. How do they compromise their different views is a very difficult decision they have to make. For instance, if they want to buy a house, the husband might say ‘I want to buy this house’, and the wife might oppose it saying it is too expensive. What is the process of compromise? It is the same for everything that we do. Change management is compromising between the new change we are bringing about and the old ways of doing things. There is one section of society who enjoys the old way of doing business. And there is another section of society or group that says we need to change. What is the compromise between going forward and remaining the same as change management? How do you manage those changes? So we need to make sure that we take both groups with us. We need to educate the group that does not understand compromise from the group that understand very well to come to a level that is lower but that accommodates that other one. There is always that balancing act that you have to play to go forward. And this change management is quite a challenge.
Herald: What are you future plans? Are there any new models that you want to introduce that upgrade the trading system of ECX?
Ermias: We have many ambitions. We want to introduce the identity preserve trade that is particular to coffee. We have ambitions to modernize all the trading mechanisms, bring about more efficiency and make our country more competitive in the international market. So we are looking at how more farmers can come and sale on the exchange directly. We are talking about mobile phones as trading mechanisms. That also helps us because it elevates the literacy level of our people to a new height. The same literacy level allows us to also take them to one level higher where they can also transact on their mobile platform.
We are thinking about risk mitigation strategies. What if a farmer can start to farm today, the crop will be ready in six month time but locks the contract today. So he knows the amount of money he gets after six months. Another risk mitigation strategy, what if a buyer buys wheat today but the wheat cannot be delivered after three months. So the contract in the agreement takes place today. But the delivery takes on the future date. These are very complex risk instruments that have taken the world into a modern and more sophisticated market level.
So we are also trying to follow that root where we can start to introduce future contracts and other products. We are trying to persuade banks and insurance companies to come up with innovative insurance products so that they can insure the farmer saying ‘if you do this and if you do that, we will sell you an insurance product to cover your risks with.’ Banks and insurance companies can also start to talk about this risk mitigating strategies and products.
We are thinking about accessibility. So we are building regional trading centers in Hawassa, Nekemepte, Humera. We have finished hundred per cent construction. We are also building in Jimma, Adama and GondAr. And we are going to start to reach out to be closer to the agro hubs. We are going to allow potentially more trading to happen across the country. And that will allow us to build the literacy level of those locals. So step by step, there are a lot of things in action.
Herald: What is the value of a single seat in the ECX and what is the current value of ECX itself?
Ermias: The ECX's transaction is not money that ECX owns. It is the amount of money and products that comes though the exchange. This is buyers buying with their own money and sellers selling their own goods. This is the transaction that takes place in the exchange; it is called the transaction value of the exchange. We transact over 27 billion Ethiopian birr per year. It is not profit or income; it is the transaction value of what the exchange does. This is about 8 per cent of the national GDP. Thus a lot of money goes though the exchange.
Second, we sold all the seats in the ECX for 50 thousand Birr each. Some who bought the seats sold it to other people for one reason or another. They sell it though the auction system at the exchange because they cannot sell it anywhere else. So they sell it on the exchange system. At the moment, the exchange seats’ prices go up to 3 million Birr.
BY ABIY HAILU
Negotiations in any society presuppose the existence of any polarized or even antagonistic and contradictory views, ideas, strategies and philosophies or political views of any kind. Having negotiation on issues or conflicting ideas and views or making attempts to redress faults or compensations have always been a major component of Ethiopia’s culture.
The establishment of political parties in Ethiopia coincides with a protracted struggle for democracy and justice. Although a number of political parties are registered both at the federal and state level, it is difficult to conclude that all of them have the same level of engagement in the political life of the country.
Since 1991 and even before, a number of political parties have proliferated in the country. The level of oppression and suppression that prevailed in the country over decades has also become a raison d'etre for the establishment political parties that were based on ethnic affiliations. However, quite a number of national political parties were also established.
Prior to the ongoing dialogue and negotiations, a number of negotiations have been conducted between EPRDF and opposition political parties on specific issues like elections. Bilateral discussions between the incumbent and individual parties have also been conducted, mostly without having meaningful results and impact.
The current political dialogues and negotiations were initiated by EPRDF as a means of widening and deepening the scope of the political atmosphere in the country. This is a step in the right direction and what the peoples of Ethiopia expect from a party that has been in power in this country for almost three decades.
Negotiations on issues of national agenda are important because all parties, including opposition parties are legal entities that supposedly operate for the common good of the peoples of Ethiopia and to accelerate development of this country. These parties had already fixed important agenda items on which they can discuss while they retain legitimate rights to retain their differences.
While they negotiate on issues of national agenda, the political parties in this country hold double responsibilities as citizens and leaders of their respective parties.
The ruling party and the parties in the negotiations process need to not only adhere to the standards they have collectively set for conducting their negotiations but they have to approach their negotiations in good faith and with no strings attached.
These parties are negotiating on over arching issues of national importance that seriously affect the present and future political history of Ethiopia. The parties are therefore expected to have a much deeper knowledge on the content, direction and purpose of the agenda on which they discuss.
The other aspect of such negotiations is that the peoples of Ethiopia are watching the representatives of all parties regarding the recommendations and suggestions they give for the strategic political prerogatives that are critical for the peaceful development of the country.
One important aspect is that the parties are conducting their dialogues and negotiations on the mandates vested upon them by the Constitution. It is of vital importance to avoid unnecessary mix up between the duties and responsibilities of the government, the House of Peoples' Representatives, the House of Federation and the institutions of democracy. It would be appropriate to identify the legal competence of the negotiating parties against the competence of the above mentioned elements of the political system.
The ruling party and opposition that signed the modality could take the entire process as an excellent opportunity to deliver their best for the country. New ideas and views that are generated in such negotiations would enable the negotiators to keep in pace with modern systems and patterns of political negotiations.
It is also equally imperative to encourage discussions and negotiations between parties that operate either in one state or several r states. This could help to further create forums for comprehensive dialogue between the parties.
A spirit of rapprochement, understanding, accommodating ideas that are raised during discussions will help to promote democratic negotiations that are conducted in a win – win strategy.
There are thousands of unifying factors that make all Ethiopians to act in unison on the well being of their country, all the more, there are hundreds of issues on which the Ethiopian parties can negotiate and act together.
Political parties in Ethiopia do not need to negotiate only for short lived agreements but focus on the larger picture. They need not go into polemics on nitty-gritty issues that have no national significance for the development of this country.
The parties are already engaged in laying the cornerstone for a new democratic political culture for the future of this country. They shoulder a collective national responsibility and even if they are legal parties of their own accord, they are duly accountable to the peoples of Ethiopia.
The significance of the current dialogue between the ruling and opposition parties is obviously not limited to Ethiopia. It has a greater bearing for the Horn of Africa and the entire African continent. The political capital of Africa is located in Ethiopia. What happens in Addis Ababa will affect the rest of Africa, directly or indirectly. Ethiopia has already become a pace setter in African infrastructure development aimed at connecting Africa. Likewise, the political maturity and the willingness of Ethiopian parties to sit and talk together will definitely set an example for African political parties that are entangled in unnecessary squabbles.
Ethiopian political parties are expected to be independent in every aspect. They should not expect any blue print from any other party of country from abroad. It is one thing to establish partnership with parties in another country or to consult them but they cannot serve as grievance or appeal courts for them. Self reliance and independence is of critical importance for any party including parties in Ethiopia.
Before he drunk the cup of poison that was given to him Aristotle told his pupils “the truth shall be your master when I am gone!” The dialogue between the ruling and opposition parties of Ethiopia should have started much earlier, however, better late than never.
BY SOLOMON DIBABA
In the course of the all-embracing efforts to pursue regional integration in the Horn, the Eritrean regime’s belligerent behaviour towards it neighbours and its unholy marriage with insurgents is posing threats to regional stability and peace. The Asmara regime’s recent incursion in the disputed area along the Djibouti border is raising a red flag.
And African leaders in general seem to reach in agreement when it comes to cooperation and fostering integration. It seems that they are coming to understand the need to swim together than drowning together. Countries in the Horn also seem to be on the same page on the subject of development. In fact, regional integration and cooperation have to become the order of the day, as countries face similar development and security challenges.
At the heart of this discourse, Ethiopia has been showing practical commitment to forge regional integration. The country separately and collectively has already come up with various developmental projects that foster regional integration in the volatile Horn. And good news from the region are making headlines in international mainstream media owing to Addis Ababa’s unreserved determination.
In total contrast, the isolated regime in Asmara is reportedly engaged in arming insurgents and escalating violence unfolding here and there. Djibouti accused the aggressive Eritrean regime of invading and occupying disputed territory along their border.
This occurs at the time when the economic integration Ethiopia has created with Djibouti has reached a point of climax. Djibouti is in fact a lifeline for Ethiopia’s exports and imports. Its economy is very much dependent on the performance of the Ethiopian economy, while its security really matters for the sustainability of the growing foreign direct investment coming into Ethiopia. Besides the huge sum of income the country gains from renting its port to Ethiopia, so much is to tell that Djibouti has already benefited much from Ethiopia.
The Horn of Africa is a hotbed for extremist and terrorist groups. And reports of Eritrea's continuous support to such groups may send the region into bottomless pit if it is not met with proportional response. Eritrea's recent aggression is not only a source of worry for Djibouti but for all in the horn, particularly Ethiopia. The Asmara regime is trying to exploit every available opportunity to destabilize the region since long and its actions have already appeared to be its unique character.
Following Eritrea’s aggression against Djibouti, the AU has sent a fact finding mission to the disputed area. And countries are calling for calm and restrain from further escalation. But, this is high time to be tough on the Eritrean regime and to put pressure to stop its provocative acts and destabilizing role.
Until now, the sanctions imposed on Eritrea by the international community have been less effective and the crisis among the Gulf countries is becoming an opportunity for Eritrea in different ways. That is why many scholars say it is an urgent time to react aggressively against the Eritrean regime. The international community should put a brave face against such acts of provocation. Especially it is up to the regional and Continental bloc to react timely and in the way that brings real change.
Ethiopia should also use its leverage as a non-permanent member and its soft power to embolden the UN Security Council to be tough on Eritrea; not only for its aggression against Djibouti but also to its years of destabilizing role in the region
In fact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it is closely following the matter and will come up with any further measure or stand depending on the reports the AU deployed Fact Finding Group would come up. Though Eritrea refused to let the group in and do its job. This clearly implies that the regime in Asmara is ignorant of the 50 plus African nations, hence this is indeed the right time to change gears and put much pressure on it to stop its belligerent acts.
Nation has been supporting people affected by El-Nino caused drought in the country using internal capacity with a budget of about 200 million USD, to provide food and non-food assistance. The government, in order to raise enough finance, has to even transfer fund from the budget initially proposed to development projects.
However, currently, it seems inevitable to look support from international allies as the number of drought victims has increased from six to eight million in April, due to flash flooding and worsening drought, National Disaster Risk Management Commission Commissioner Mitiku Kassa told The Ethiopian Herald.
Of which, the government would support about five million, while NGOs and World Food Program would assist one million and two million drought affected people respectively. Currently, Ethiopia needs some 1.13 billion USD to facilitate the food and non food assistance.
Only 262 million dollar was contributed by international organizations so far. EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) and UK government have spent six million euro and 30 million pound respectively. The government of USA has also pledged support.
Ethiopia’s government has been working to strengthen its support while respective regional governments are also playing their utmost role in countering the effect.
According to Mitiku, the commission plans to make use of the Belg (autumn) season’s production to be harvested in the next two months.
It is expected that the country would harvest about 345 million quintal agricultural products from over 13 million hectare of land in the belg season, said Bahiru Setegn Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resource Public Relation Expert.
Prior to the onset of the season, the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources has distributed about 13.8 and 1.4 Million quintals of fertilizer and selected seed of maize and wheat at reasonable price, he said.
As to Bahiru, the ministry has also distributed various machineries including combiners to farmers so as to carry out the harvesting process as fast as possible.
BY YOHANES JEMANEH
• To erect memorial statues to Emperor Haileselassie, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi
The decisions passed by 29th AU ordinary summit to intensify its efforts of reforming the union and realizing some of the continent’s pending agendas including youth benefit and economic integration, and silencing the guns signaled the growing aspirations of continental bloc to bring tangible changes.
The week long convention has also seen notable decisions to ensuring the financial independence of the union, forming youth corps at continental level and facilitating cultural exchange among Member States were among the key decisions.
Meanwhile, the 29th session decided to erect memorial statues for Emperor Haileselassie and former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi inrecognition of the leaders’ commitment in forming and reforming the union and supporting fellow Africans during hard times. It is also an appreciation for advocating Africa’s interests at international level.
Similarly, the session also passed decision on the union’s financial independence. Accordingly, member countries would cover the budget by contributing 0.2 percent of their respective taxes imposed on eligible imports, with some countries already contributing.
In relation to peace and security, the bloc discussed and endorsed the implementation Master Roadmap to Silence Guns in Africa by 2020. It has also discussed the current instability among Djibouti-Eritrea boarder. The summit also considered peacekeeping deployment in the area.
The union has decided to hold one Ordinary Summit per year, and extraordinary sessions if needed.
Various bilateral discussions have also taken place on the sideline of the summit. Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn has talked with Adel al-Jubeir, Foreign Minister Saudi Arabia, in the areas of investment, trade and people to people relations. Hailemariam expressed his gratitude to the government of Saudi Arabia for extending its amnesty to thirty days. Both agreed to ensure fair treatment of Ethiopian legal immigrants in Saudi.
BY YOHANES JEMANEH
Ethiopian textile sector is attracting top international firms amid nation’s bid to industrialize. The incumbent believes, textile would benefit large number of people and paves the way for nation to join middle income status in the very near future.
Textile is a preferable gateway for developing countries in their quest to step into industrialization because of the ease in entry. The industry was apparently one of the few key drivers of the industrial revolution in Britain and Germany. The textile industries in these countires not only were the driving forces behind the Industrial Revolution, but also revolutionized the world economy in the 18th century.
The country has launched a strategy to make the most of its potential in the textile sector. On top of the industry's innate behavior of marketability that would suffice to ensure speedy growth, electric power abundance and a growing human and material capital are seen as advantages to reinforce textile industry in Ethiopia, Bantihun Gesese, Corporate Communications Director at Textile Industry Development Institute told The Ethiopian Herald.
Accordingly, the industry is witnessing rapid growth, as a number of domestic and multinational firms are being engaged in productions of textile, garments and apparel for domestic and global markets, added Bantihun.
The sector would facilitate technology transfer and capacity development through training, and experience sharing. It is also considered as a springboard to boost the manufacturing sector and export trade.
In the path to industrialize Ethiopia, the textile is considered to be prominent in boosting export, creating job opportunities, and accruing great deal of knowledge and experience as a model to other sectors as well, Industrial Parks Corporation CEO Sisay Gemechu stated during a press briefing for launching Hawassa Industrial Park.
For instance, he added, Africa's largest industrial park set up in Hawassa, which is exclusively reserved for textile and apparel manufacturing is expected to remarkably boost hard currency earnings and employment.
This flagship industrial park is designed to make it capable of hosting gigantic multinational firms. The experiences gained from its operation would be used as baseline for the nation's ongoing industrial efforts, asserted Sisay.
The Hawassa industrial park is a testimony that textile has been given due attention by the government. “The other impressive matter in this industrial park is the zero-liquid-discharge policy employed in line with the nation's Climate Resilient Green Economy strategy. The state-of-the-art waste treatment plant, which is the first of its kind in Africa, is installed in the textile industries at Hawassa and will be expanded to other industrial zones too”, according to Sisay.
At the moment a number of other industrial parks are nearing completion, and the successes gained in the textile industry in terms of attracting anchor investors would be important for other manufacturing industries as well, not only in reinforcing nation’s industrialization but also ensuring climate resilience.
For Ethiopian Investment Commission Commissioner Fitsum Arega penetrating into the “insanely competitive” global market requires the availability of strong domestic and international manufacturers. “Hence, to successfully make our way to the international market, it is crucial to attract multinational companies. Especially companies that have established their profile in the global market are vital, as the move marked a special status for the country creating wonder among the business community” underscored Fitsum.
With the favorable conditions created at Hawassa for textile and apparel production about 18 high profile companies have entered the hub, and six has already begun exporting. The rest are also gearing up to kick off either production or export.
The other striking thing in this industrial park, according to Fitsum is the integration of the products in a complementary manner. For instance, there are companies like PVH that manufacture readymade apparels and its firms get their textile inputs from a gigantic Chinese textile manufacturer in the same premises.
As these companies are providing training to their newly recruited staff at different levels inside the country and abroad, a huge deal of knowledge and experience could be drawn from the operation that eventually guarantees an accumulated know-how for the infant industrialization.
In support of Ethiopia's ongoing industrialization, German Development Agency, GIZ has launched a program that focuses on safeguarding better and fair conditions for industrial parks’ employees while at the same time introducing new and forward looking perspectives for nation's industrialization process, GIZ Country Director Matthias Rompel told The Ethiopian Herald.
“The program will launch a number of capacity building training for workers in the textile industry mainly in industrial parks as well as the host communities where the projects reside, creating awareness regarding environmental and social protections”, said Rompel, ensuring GIZ's commitment to strive in sustaining nation's industrialization efforts through technical support.
The contribution of the manufacturing sector to the economy has been lagging behind, barely creating job opportunities contrary to its potential in overhauling the agricultural sector, said Arkebe Oqubay, speaking at the same press briefing.
This, according to him, highlights the importance of focusing on transforming the manufacturing sector. “Maintaining the economic growth that has been attested requires structural change on key areas of the economy in a way it secures value addition, boost export and create adequate jobs”, said Arkebe.
Arkebe added, letting the sector of textile lead the way to the much needed industrialization is the best way as the sector is labor intensive with excellent market value products and ample raw materials in the country.
With about 194 medium and high level textile and apparel manufacturers gone operational so far in the country, the sector has created job opportunities to nearly 90,000 citizens and secured hard currency revenue of 81 million USD in the last eleven months only.
BY HOMA MULISA
The Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) has been building regional trading centers to improving its accessibility across the country, particularly around major regional agricultural hubs.
The exchange has been building regional trading centers in Hawassa, Nekemete, and Humera whose constructions are fully completed. “We are also building in Jimma, Adama and Gonder,” ECX CEO, Ermias Eshetu told The Ethiopian Herald that. “And we are going to reach out to be closer to the agro hubs across the country.”
“We are going to allow potentially more trading to happen across the country. So step by step, there are a lot of things in action,” he added.
ECX transacts over 27 billion Ethiopian birr per year. “We trade up to 300 million birr a day on peak seasons, while this goes down to a 100 million on low seasons,” he said. “This is not profit or income. It is the transaction value of what the exchange does, which accounts for eight percent of the national GDP,” Ermias noted.
Up on its establishment, the value of one trading seat at the exchange was 50,000 birr. At the moment, the value has gone up to 3 million.
The exchange is also planning to introduce the identity preserve trade that is particular to coffee, a major export commodity of Ethiopia. As a system, identity preservation preserves the identity of the source or nature of the crop or materials.
“We have ambitions to modernize all the trading mechanisms, bring about more efficiency and make our country more competitive in the international market,” the CEO said. “So we are looking at how more farmers can come and sale on the exchange directly.”
The exchange is also thinking about risk mitigation strategies. It is also planning to introduce complex risk instruments that have taken the world into a modern and more sophisticated market level, according to him.
“We are also trying to introduce future contracts and other products. We are trying to persuade banks and insurance companies to come up with innovative insurance products so that they can insure the farmers,” he said.
“Exchanges like the Chicago Mercantile, have been there since 1820s and 30s. It has taken them some nearly two centuries to get to where they are right now,” he said. We are just starting the concept of a modern market place and it has to be filtered down to the buyers, sellers, farmers and policy makers, as well as to all those who are affected in the value chain. Their understanding of modern market has to evolve with exchange in order to make it successful.”
When it starts, the exchanges traders’ educational level was as little as fourth grade or below. Currently, ECX’s traders’ educational background is 12th grade or above and they are certified electronic traders. “We have over 1000 electronic traders,” he added.
As to him, it is physically impossible for the exchange to directly reach out the millions of farmers across the country. Hence farmers are represented through cooperatives and unions. “Some farmers are also represented directly in the exchange as long as they fulfill the criteria to have sufficient liquidity and the skills needed for modern market,” Erimias noted.
“Those who are not members of cooperatives or unions or cannot make direct trade can trade through intermediaries or clients.”
ECX has approximately 348 members, about 30 of them are cooperatives, and the rest are intermediary members or direct buyers. Its major commodities include coffee, sesame, haricot, maize and wheat.
See The full interview page 5
BY ABIY HAILU
As it has already been engaged in constant feuds with almost all neighboring countries, Eritrea's recent aggression against Djibouti, a country that amounts to Ethiopia’s national interest, did not come as surprise. But what is at stake is how would it impact the region and what measures could be put in place?
The Horn of Africa has been under a cloud of uncertainty on account of what the Eritrea’s regime might do next. Following the sudden withdrawal of Qatari military personnel from the disputed area along the Eritrean-Djibouti border, Eritrea was quick to move its troops raising tensions in the region once again.
The Horn of Africa is featured with paradoxical development with Ethiopia trying to push for regional integration while Eritrea appears 'worrying factor' to disintegrating the region as it once again demonstrated its provocative act by moving troops to the disputed territory with Djibouti.
Eritrea is adding fuel to the ongoing crisis in the region by arming insurgents while Ethiopia is trying to restore peace and stability by deploying peacekeeping force, a clear manifestation that the region is going through contradictory features, tells The Ethiopian Herald Jima University Governance and Development Studies Head Fekadu Tolcha.
The Asmara regime for long has been trying to exploit every available opportunity to destabilize the region and its actions have already appeared to be its unique character though they have mostly not been met with strong responses.
But, the recent Eritrea's aggression against Djibouti may draw various actors into the scene particularly Ethiopia whose bilateral relation with Djibouti has reached a point of climax. Anything related with Djibouti is a source of concern to Ethiopia, says Political Analyst at Ethiopian Foreign Relations Strategic Studies Institute Abebe Ayenete.
Eritrea's any kind of aggression against Djibouti is a worry to Ethiopia. Djibouti is nothing less than a national interest for Ethiopia due to its economically preferable port.
With Ethiopia's 95 percent import-export passing through the port of Djibouti, the incursion is a direct attack to Ethiopia’s economic interests.
Ethiopia should then be cautious and vigilant in following every development around the Eritrea -Djibouti border, in fact the whole region, says Kahsay Gebreyesus, a Regional Analyst and Researcher.
Djibouti is a pipeline for importing consumption commodities to Ethiopia. Any move to damage or compromise the sovereignty of Djibouti should be treated as damage to Ethiopia, corroborated the fact Former FDRE President Negaso Gidada.
On the other hand, Djibouti’s economy is very much dependent on Ethiopia’s GDP performance, while the former’s security really matters for the foreign direct investment coming into Ethiopia. In this regard, Ethiopia needs to push for political integration with Djibouti in addition to the growing economic ties, Fekadu suggests.
While Ethiopia has issued statement calling for calm and restraint, Foreign Affairs through its spokesman Melese Alem announced recently that it is closely following the matter and will come up with any further measure or stand depending on the reports the AU deployed Fact Finding Group would come up. With Eritrea denying access to the group, it is not clear what the lax continental bloc would do next.
Some consider Eritrea's belligerent behavior as nothing but attention diversion mechanism to settle its internal matters as good news is in a short supply in the country.
“As the political term, particular regional security complex demonstrates, regimes with no strong base find themselves in unsecured position to create a stable country. That is why they try to instigate violence and get into conflict with neighboring countries, which typifies the Eritrean regime,” notes Fekadu.
Eritrea has had skirmishes and fractured its relations with almost all neighboring countries. Its recent aggression is nothing but a [desperate attempt] to heal the rifts among its people and unite the country, added Fekadu.
A mediation effort by the Qatari government in 2010 led to the deployment of its peacekeeping force in the disputed area.
Mediating and monitoring border crisis should have been the role of regional and continental blocs, as unilateral effort has not brought about lasting solution. In fact it was up to the African Union to deploy peacekeeping force in disputed borders at the first place. Unilateral solution is less effective and could not last long as the case of Qatar, says Abebe.
Any peacekeeping mission should meet international standards and be carried out under the umbrella of regional blocs.
True that, ongoing efforts have been successful to prevent any practical war or exchange of fires between Eritrea and Djibouti but there must be other timely and effective measures. On the sideline of the 29th AU summit, Djibouti officially requested union to fill the vacuum left by Qatari’s withdrawal. But it is not clear what the continental bloc would do next.
While waiting for the union’s measure, Ethiopia needs to work closely with international and continental blocs to find diplomatic solution. The country should also use its leverage as a non-permanent member at the UN Security council to embolden member of the council to be tough on Eritrea; not only for its aggression against Djibouti but also to its years of destabilizing role in the region, underlined Abebe.
Deploying peacekeeping force could still be a solution but this might not be the case, says Kahsay who also believes that Eritrea is not leaving the disputed border any time soon as the Asmara's regime proved the other way in its previous actions, added Kahsay.
The 'No Peace and No War' scenario is also no longer profitable for Ethiopia which is trying to foster its economic development. “Arming and monitoring the military personnel guarding the disputed territory along the Ethio-Eritrea border could be costly. So, Ethiopia should make a policy change. Particularly the government needs to reconsider the current policy with something new that at a time stops the provocative actions of the Eritrea regime but promotes smooth relation with the people of Eritrea.” Kahesay said.
BY DESTA GEBREHIWOT