The very old friendship and cooperative relationship between Ethiopia and Morocco is moving to new levels of practical cooperation, from the political to the economic sphere of partnership. The practical application of the new cooperative partnership between the two countries can be exemplified in many ways. Here, The Ethiopian Herald has met Ambassador of Morocco to Ethiopia Nezha Alaoui M’Hammdi to discuss on the ongoing bilateral relations and investment cooperation between the two countries. Excerpts:
How do you explain the relations between Ethiopia and Morocco in terms of business and people to people ties?
Regarding the partnership between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Republic of Ethiopia, I just think that we are going to a new dynamics that is very logical and normal taking to consideration the legacy that we have together. Of course, the relations between Morocco and Ethiopia are not new. We have old ties of cooperation, especially since the visit of his majesty [King of Morocco] to Ethiopia. Today, we witness a new impetus or a new momentum that we are sharing together in terms of partnership other than normal; it is South-South partnership. We believe in Morocco that South-South Cooperation is very important because today the two African countries are much better than before. They can help each other in various sectors of cooperation, especially those related to sustainable development like human resource, environment, health, education and infrastructures for the mutual benefit of our population and to create socio-economic growth in both countries.
Thus, we now signed a total of 12 agreements under the legal framework of Morocco and Ethiopia. With these agreements, the two countries are going to diversify their cooperation and partnership. They are sharing expertise by looking at interests of both countries to help each other.
What are the major activities that the two countries are doing to tap the most advantages of such trade and investment cooperation and partnership?
Yes, the two countries have so far signed many business and investment agreements. The two countries so far agreed up on the total of 12 agreements and Memorandums of Understanding in the areas of agriculture, water management, sustainable energies, fertilizers, and trade promotion. For example, one of the agreements is signed for the establishment of a fertilizer production unit in Ethiopia with a total capital of 2.5 billion USD in the first phase, and 3.7 billion USD in total. One of those agreements is related to the OCP fertilizer plant, which is going to be finalized in Dire-Dawa, in order to help secure fertilizer for the Ethiopian agriculture.
This reflects shared vision of South-South Cooperation rooted on both sides, that African natural resources should be harnessed to drive Africa’s development and shared prosperity. Apart from creating legal agreement frameworks, the two countries held business forums, the first in Addis Ababa, on November 2016, and the second one in Rabat on May 2017.
To unleash the potentials in both countries, we are now planning to have other two trade and investment events between next September and October here in Addis Ababa. Until today, the embassy is registering Moroccan investors with big interest to come to the Ethiopian markets including the OCP project. Because investors in morocco believed that Ethiopian markets is huge and it represents big potentials. We all agree to say that Ethiopia has a success story with double digit growth and we would like to participate and contribute to that dynamic.
What are the lessons that Ethiopia should take from Morocco in this regard?
My country has very vibrant private sector which is already known in West and central African regions. Morocco is the second African investor in the continent; the first one is in West Africa. Regarding Ethiopia, we would like to build a win-win partnership between the two governments and private sectors. We have common interests which would further to be nurtured.
In this case, agriculture is the strategic cooperation sector for both Ethiopia and Morocco. If we have to assure food security, we have to start boosting and improving our agriculture, improving fertilizers and enhancing the agro-processing plants in both sides. To make this happen, we need to share our humble knowledge with Ethiopia, and develop all the inputs required for bolstering the processing of agricultural products that can help to transform the economy.
Let me come back to the case of Morocco. How do you explain the role of Morocco in continent's development after the country rejoined the African Union?
Well, Morocco has been admitted again to its institutional family which is the African Union. We should not forget that Morocco was one of the founding father of OAU. The first pan-African conference held in the world was at Casablanca in Morocco in January 1961, in which we had the privilege to welcome African leaders. Although we were one of the founding fathers for that organization, we left that organization in the 1980’s and came back January 2017. But, we have never left Africa, we only left OAU, simply because we are African country by identity, geography, history. So, we have been always present in Africa and also working closely with African sisters and brothers at bilateral and regional levels.
Now, having said that, I would return to the African Union that gives us the opportunity to share what we have developed in terms of partnership at bilateral level and this time at the continental scale. This is the opportunity to all of us to see what we can do together and what we can achieve together in terms of sustainable development, national growth as well as addressing the real challenges of Africa which are mainly focused on socio-economic development, and peace and stability in Africa.
Our role as a member state is moving forward to share what we already have done with bilateral and regional levels, and to move forward the agenda of the African Union to achieve common goals. Thus, after more than 50 years of our independence, we should be able to achieve goals together, and contribute for African development.
Are there any other Moroccan business projects set to be launched in the future here in Ethiopia?
Yes, Ethiopia is our strategic partner in a region where we are not quite new; we are proposing to expand our cooperation to Ethiopia. As I already said, the OCP project is the biggest Moroccan investment out of Morocco. We have chosen it to our Ethiopian brothers and this is just the beginning. We have strong wish and ambition to move forward and to boost a win-win partnership, where we can work together especially in strategic economic fields to achieve something together. Thus, it would be possible through governmental cooperation as well as private sectors’ partnership between the two countries.
What about the volume of trade between the two countries?
Well, the volume of trade between the two nations is very low as compared to the potentials that the two countries have. In 2014, Morocco has exported to Ethiopia 523 million Dirham, but our input from Ethiopia has increased in 2014 by 50 per cent. Our goal today is first to explore opportunities of foreign trade between the two countries, because, we have desires that we can supply for each other. Apart from boosting investment in both sides, Ethiopia has a vibrant growth and Morocco has also ambition to work together with Ethiopia. In the second half of September, we will have trade mission here in some fields such as power, logistics, transport, and water management. This aimed at to help Moroccan investors see their Ethiopian counter parts and to explore the opportunities of doing business together. Hopefully, we will have a good participation to the trade fair to be held next October.
Moroccan Embassy in Addis Ababa is now preparing to celebrate Moroccan National Day shortly. What is the meaning for you to celebrate the day?
Our national day is marking for the enthronement of our majesty the King. Eighteen years ago, His Majesty the King Mohammed VI has been enthroned as a king of Morocco. Consequently, we are going to celebrate his eighteenth anniversary of enthronement.
This year, we will have a special meaning here in Ethiopia as we are opening a new page that the two countries are m together. Of course, His Majesty first visited Ethiopia in November and again in January, but this time it was only for the purpose of the readmission of Morocco to AU. Therefore, this is a new page for Morocco to be partnering with Ethiopia both at bilateral and multilateral arena; so that we would like to share this celebration with our brothers and sisters here in Ethiopia. Because it has a special meaning, we are expecting Ethiopian officials and private sector representatives as well as Moroccan fellow citizens living here in Ethiopia, representatives of Addis Ababa University and AU officials. We have also the privilege to welcome a lot of people in order to celebrate this anniversary.
What are the core-values that Ethiopia and Morocco posses in common?
Of course, taking the geographical distance between Morocco and Ethiopia into consideration, anyone can assume lack of common values in both countries. But, there are core values in common. Yes, I came here when I was appointed as an Ambassador to Ethiopia last October. Since then, in the daily life situation, I realized that we have core values in common that are related to our identities, civilizations, history, tolerance between religions, coexistence, firm and strong determination to move forward, and success stories in development.
The other point I noticed also that we have in common is our cultures and traditions much similar with the Ethiopians. For instance, in Morocco we have a kind of music and dance very similar to the Ethiopian ones. We use the instrument that is very famous here which is Masinko, we also use it in Morocco. In addition, in both countries, food is served with similar instrument, which is clay pot; in Ethiopia it is called Shekla.
Hence, I hope the cultural events to be shared with competent Ethiopian authorities here in Addis Ababa will help them to know and discover each other better. I think it would also be significant to make the countries much closer than we think.
Previously, Morocco has provided over 30,500 scholarships for African students. How many of them are Ethiopians?
Well, we really care about this aspect of cooperation, because, the wealth of African countries is its youth. African countries need to first develop their human potential as its youth are source of wealth. If we educate our youth, we are going to teach them how to be useful for their country. This is why we have this large figure of students trained in Morocco.
Regarding Ethiopia, the figure is very modest, every year there is quota of 15 scholarships for Ethiopia, but up to 2016, we have only 18 students who have been trained in Morocco. Though we teach in French and Arabic in Universities, and most people in Ethiopia speak English and Amharic, there is a language barrier to accept more Ethiopian students in Morocco. Despite such problems observed, we would improve opportunities for competent Ethiopians and improve cooperation in vocational trainings, in order to better develop human resources potentials of the countries.
What is your observation in Ethiopian economic development?
I think, it is a strong, dynamic and vibrant economy with sound determination of the country to move forward and to achieve the goals that are already planned in the national strategy.
Which development endeavors are impressive for you here in Ethiopia?
The railway is very impressive which is stretched from Ethiopia to Djibouti; and it has also a special meaning for our OCP investment project operated in Dire Dawa. The railway is important for this project to import the required inputs through Djibouti port. I think it is a very good configuration for investors working either in Djibouti or Ethiopia, and a good opportunity to boost the trade and investment in Ethiopia.
Do you have anything to finally add?
This is my second time being Ambassador of His Majesty abroad, it is really challenging to make the two countries working closer, moving forward together, and knowing each other. But, it is a very exciting challenge. As a result, it will further be strengthened through our business and bilateral relations to be held in both countries.
By ZELALEM GIRMA
The Ethiopian Herald Art and Culture page had recently a stay with one of the renowned Ethiopian actresses named Makida Haile with a view to familiarizing her feelings, ideas and thoughts on the subject of the nuts and bolts of her personal and professional life. She has been taking part in a range of films and television dramas every so often. Excerpts:
Let us begin with introducing yourself to our esteemed readers.
At the outset, I was born and raised in Afar region at a place called Dufti town. My parents worked in Tendaho Agriculture Development Enterprise at that moment. We led a decent life by then. My childhood days were really etched in my mind. Education wise, I attended my primary education in my place of birth. As everything in life changes, my parents came to a decision to move to Kombolcha all of a sudden and thus I ended up attending high school there. I was studying day in and day out with the purpose of making my future bread buttered well and standing on my feet. When the right time got nearer, I sat for the inevitable Ethiopian school leaving certificate examination. I was dreaming of studying medicine all the time.
As there was a health center in our area, I was hardened to watch scores of patients going in and out of the health center to receive medical treatment. The medical doctors were saving a number of lives. Hence, I was busy working towards making my dream come true despite I did not know what the future holds for me in store. As fate would have it, when the long awaited result became public, I did not know which way to turn for the reason that the result was heartbreaking. I did not really anticipate that all my efforts would go for nothing.
What was the next move?
As a child, I was actively partaking in a range of theater in addition to involving myself in cultural dance. In fact, I was working with Amhara Region Cultural Troupe in view of the fact that they were recruiting youths with different talents. Hence, I was going to dissimilar parts of the country with the team. I first got myself engaged in a one act play entitled Nigat (crack of dawn). If truth be told, I did not have the faintest idea pertaining to the inside out of theater except boldly involving myself in acting. When I played a part in the second play entitled Merzamawa Frea (the poisonous fruit), I had some concepts on the subject of the theater.
My role was acting as a bad girl. The reaction of the audience towards our play was amazing. In this play, I was able to win the hearts and minds of a number of audiences within the shortest time possible. Some of the audiences were throwing their shoes at me following my role in the theater. Slowly but surely, I kept on working permanently with Baden Culture team as an actress and dancer. After some time, I got married and started living under the same roof with my husband in Bahirdar.
Did your parents love your involvement in the theater?
My mother was not happy with my involvement in the theater. She hated to death my engagement. She was expressing her disappointment in an appropriate manner. Above and beyond, she did not consider acting as a job. Quite the opposite, my dad was encouraging me to get myself involved in the profession. He was always on my side. He accepted as true that acting would boost my confidence. The income we earned was not an adequate amount at that point in time. We were getting ourselves engaged in acting for the love of the art.
How and when did you come to Addis Ababa?
I was attending university education in the department of Amharic literature in Bahir Dar University. I was one of the prospective graduates. After I took council together with my husband, we came to a decision to come to Addis Ababa. This being the case, my husband headed straight to Addis Ababa. We did not have anyone that we could call our own at that specific juncture. If truth be told, the wife of the then “120” program boss was my husband’s neighbor. He was a very nice person. My husband was living with him until he found a job. When my husband set in motion working as a singer at crown hotel, I came to Addis Ababa in a little while given that I did not want to stay any longer.
While we are on the subject, my husband is excellent at composing lyrics as well as melody. Finding a job was easier said than done. I could not find a job with no trouble. I was nearly losing hope. When I was advised to talk to Artist Tewodros, I did not hesitate for a moment or two. I took all my work experiences. After he went through all my documents, he sent me to his Dad, Father Tesfaye. His dad was training the youth with different talents. I joined them almost immediately. When the Theatrical Art Department was opened at Addis Ababa University, I ended up joining the department almost immediately. I have been playing a part in a number of Amharic films. I was able to reach where I am in the present day though the challenges were not that easy.
What challenges did you face?
I was not able to make my dream come true in a little while. At the time when I was in Bahir Dar City, I did not have any problem as we were leading a good life. When we came to Addis Ababa, we started life from scratch. I have the nerve to say, I made a difficult decision to come to Addis Ababa interrupting my studies. At that point in time, I was working in Amhara region radio. As nothing lasts forever in life, I set in motion taking part in a number of Amharic films.
How did you join the Betoch Drama club?
I was partaking in a radio drama revolving around HIV/AIDS in Tilahun Gugessa’s production at that specific juncture. He did not know me in person as most of the casts were chosen by other individuals. They produced scores of things focusing on a number of social issues. Be that as it may, on one occasion, I learnt that Tilahun was going to launch a new family sitcom. I got registered almost immediately. As it was a long time, I had almost forgotten about the family sitcom registration. One fine day, while I was training students at Abyssinia Fine Arts and modeling school, somebody gave me a call. I could not believe my ears when Tilahun told me that I had been chosen for the family sitcoms. I turned out to be infinitely happy. I joined the crew within the shortest time possible. Just then, the director was Yitagesu. We kept on rehearsing our part over and over again with a view to achieving the desired goal. The Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation was giving us critical feedback at that time. From the beginning, Shashe and Bezabi were with the crew. I was the last to join the team.
What was the reaction of the people?
I was looking forward to hearing from people regarding my work. It is a new genre which has not been tried before. The reaction of the people was beyond my expectation. I did not expect the audience would comment positively on my work. The first comment was from my classmates while the program was on air. They gave me a call right away and told me that I performed beyond their imagination. Hence, I turned out to be in high spirits. Wherever I go, several people pour out their appreciation and respect. Above and beyond, the very first day a number of people grew to be happy for the most part those who were familiar with the nuts and bolts of my talents. I was not living my dreams. I did not have contact with artists.
What is your take on the character of Azalu?
She is an amazing person. She always smiles whatever comes to pass. She is unchangeable. Nothing surprises her. She smiles when she is angry even. In actual fact, when I stumble upon something touchy, I burst into tears in the blink of an eye. I am jocund but a little serious. By the way, the crews of Betoch family are wonderful. We carry out our duties and responsibilities productively working hand in glove from time to time. All the crews are free from addiction. Whenever I go out somewhere with my real children, passersby ask me for Yibekale and Mafi.
How did you learn about the death of your friend?
I learnt the death of Sebele in different way. After she had spent in America for a short time, she returned home. Then, she almost immediately left for Dubai. That was the only thing I knew about the reality on the ground. One fine day, we celebrated my husband’s birthday together with our children. It was New Year ’s Day. In the afternoon, he went to work. From that moment on wards, something that I could not express in words was coming in and out of my mind. I did not know what was really wrong with me. The light went off all of a sudden and thus I went to sleep switching off my phone.
When I woke up from my sleep, one of my friends gave me a call through our residential telephone line and asked me about Tirfe. I notified her that she was in Dubai as that was the only thing I knew about her. Then, she hinted me that something was wrong with her car for the reason that she did not want to break the news. She was simply going around the bush. I did not know what to do for the best. I got shocked. When I switched on my cell phone, I came upon a number of messages revolving around Tirfe. I did not know which way to turn. The moment was difficult to express in words.
When I was at a loss what to do, I gave a call to Mafi. She was in a police station. I thought it was a simple car accident. I rushed to the police station in a little while. I was looking for a person who would say the news was wrong. It was really difficult to express the situation. I did not imagine she would depart this life in this way. She was sociable and loved making fun. May God give her family the courage and strength to bear the loss. May her soul rest in peace.
What is the most significant coincidence that has happened in your life?
The whole crews of Betoch family were once in Haile Resort. We were having fun there. Without prior notice, Bezabi headed to his room as he was dog tired. After half an hour, when we knocked on the door, he was not able to answer it. We tried all means but to no avail. We were very much worried. Many things kept on coming in and out of my mind. Everybody was worried. We did not know what to do. When we opened the door using master key, he was in a sound sleep. To my amazement, his mobile phone was beside his head. When I saw him the next day, I could not get calm easily.
What is your take on the Ethiopian film industry?
To the best of my knowledge, Ethiopia’s film industry is growing from time to time despite there are problems pouring cold water on the industry. More often than not, we come across recurrent ideas in a number of films. When our audiences stumble upon monotonous idea, they get bored and turn their back on the film. In point of fact, it is really difficult to achieve the intended target in the aforesaid way. To my mind, the body concerned should be able to give due weight and attention to the film industry before the situation go from the frying pan into the fire. What is more, if the desired goal is to take the industry to a new level of success, the tax we pay should be treated in different way from other business sectors as we promote the culture of the different nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia.
At this point in time, nobody wants to invest in the art in view of the fact that there is no benefit we secure out of the sector. As the situation is not favorable, nobody would like to invest in the art. There must be profit without a shred of doubt. The income you get is not a sufficient amount. As far as I am concerned to make the art payoff, the government should leave the tax obtained from tax. In this way, we can save the arts.
BY ADDISALEM MULAT
Universal Access to electricity is among the noteworthy burning issues that come at the forefront as it takes the lions’ share in determining the nation’s effort to realize its objectives both in short and long terms. So, all institutes which have something to do with power this or the other way are highly expected to revise and change their backward practices with a fitting and modernized one if they have to act with the above facts in mind.
The Ethiopian Electric Utility (EEU) is one of the public enterprises assigned both to widen and modernize universal access to electricity. As part of its responsibility of expanding the service with utmost suitability and simplicity, it has introduced the pre paid card billing system for electric power consumption.
Gebregziabiher Taffere, EEU communication directorate director says a prepaid card service is a service that works only in areas which have network coverage, thus users can access the service from any prepaid card service center with no need to come to the main offices of each district unlike in that of post paid.
It seems that the Ethiopian Electric Utility (EEU) is lagging behind introducing the new fruits of technological advancements to transform its old practices if it really is to discharge its duties .
According to the director, still there is another new recent technology called smart meter which is introduced subsequent to the prepaid card service which was not yet put into practice at a nationwide apart from a pilot project in the metropolis somewhere around Bole sub city.
As stated by Gebregziabiher, both parties- the EEU and its prepaid card service customers have experienced improved services since the introduction and implementation of prepaid card service.
According to him, there were complains and grievances by customers here and there with regard to reading meters and billing. Besides that, there was also power theft and cutting of customers electric lines when they fail to pay their bill at the right time. But, now, prepaid card service users are not only relieved from such headaches but also from prolonged procrastination. The institute could, in the meantime, collect its revenues in the right time in advance not like that of post paid.
In response to how the EEU evaluates its endeavors to widen prepaid card service centers so as to balance with the general public’s demand, the director says in addition to the above, the institute is working hard to let condominium residents have their own prepaid card service centers in their respective sites.
To date EEU has 63 prepaid card service centers across the nation 38 of which are located in the capital. Most prepaid card service centers are working even in weekends and holidays apart from the regular working days and, to this point, EEU has more than 370 thousand users of the improved service all over the nation.
Gebregziabiher says that the institute is working in collaboration with Ethio telecom to make prepaid card available in all shops just like mobile telephone cards. However, there are other priority areas and preconditions which should be solved and fulfilled respectively ahead of that if this really has to be realized practically on the ground. ‘We have to, before anything else, be able to provide all the flourishing new towns and\cities and self-contained residence areas here and there just like condominiums with power. Likewise, there are many households too, looking for our technical team with no access to electric power due to various problems, so we have to be backed up with quality manpower thereby resolve these problems,” said the director.
Gebregziabiher highlighted that recently the institute is focusing only on the main part of the business by outsourcing other tasks to various enterprises. As to him, previously, such activities apart from the core business had been outsourced to contractors. However, nowadays, such tasks are being given to various enterprises formed with this intention. As said by the director, tasks like expanding of universal access to electricity and preparation of concrete poles were being carried out by these enterprises. ‘We, along with other concerned stakeholders, have already formed 80 small enterprises comprised of jobless graduates of higher institutions as part of our efforts to ease that. And all these enterprises were given the necessary technical and\tactical training to eventually outsource the tasks of expanding the prepaid card service centers thereby create job opportunities to unemployed graduates as well,” the he expressed.
Reflecting on the question raised by this reporter on whether EEU, as an institute, has a nationwide plan to change the old system by the new one or not, Gebregziabiher responded that though there is no doubt that the institute would and should substitute all its services with the new one through time, there are, as mentioned earlier, areas which need urgent solution prior to that. It would not even, as to him, be fair and logical to go for that while all these and other problems which are not mentioned here are not yet given due solution, he added.
Commenting the institutions performance as per the second Growth and Transformation Plan, Gebregziabiher says the strategic plan of EEU is to raise the nation’s electric power coverage from 58% (presently) to 90 % at the end of GTP two tolerating all possible budget and other related confrontations.
So, how is the institute evaluate the attainability of its strategic plan within the rest three years of GTP two in the presence of such challenges is a question that everyone would inevitably ask. In other words, one may be eager to know the green light the EEU might have seen from its performance so far that enabled it say so.
In this regard, Gebregziabiher says that the institution in its part is capable of realizing its dreams within the indicated timetable! He said, “We hope that we can achieve all these not only because we have well organized enterprises and fitting management both in terms of capacity and commitment but also we are experiencing promising progresses in our efforts yet”.
With regard to the existing recurrent power interruption, the institution asserted that it is working to lower both the duration and repetition with a timetable. And it is working with due priority to Addis Ababa as it consumes the largest portion of its overall power supply.
EEU has already started to take action on that with 2 projects of 200 million dollar given to two Chinese companies since last October. According to its action plan, EEU would continue to big cities of regional states such as Mekelle, Bahir dar, Hawassa, Jimma, Adama, Diredawa next to Addis Aabab then come zonal cities like Gondar, Shashemene, Adi girat, Markos, Wolayta sodo.
By SHUSHAY ADANE
Recently, I had a chance to have a short political discourse with few of my colleagues. Discussions on national politics are often not common amongst my colleagues. Yet, these days it is almost impossible to steer clear of the intense debate that ensued the contentious issues such as elections and part politics etc. Our rather impromptu conversation of this fateful day centered largely on previous scoops on election, political maneuvering and counter-maneuvering of the opposition and the ruling party and sensational gossips circulating within the popular grapevine avenues. A desultory but interesting exchange of information often interjected with occasional descriptive accounts of a subject under discussion expounded by one of the participants of this informal discourse.
The conversation slowly shifted towards the troubling polarization of national politics and its possible ramifications on ethnic rapport. The astonishing rapid inroads made by the emergent opposition parties into national politics and their potential bearings on the future direction of the country were also dealt with in detail. The salient political differences between the opposition and the ruling party were earnestly explained to the rest of us by a well-versed fellow colleague; an avid supporter of the opposition party. His explanations were quite opinionated, though. The colleague blamed the EPRDF for sowing the seeds of disintegration of this ancient country through the introduction of ethnic-based federal system of government. Trivializing the importance of the EPRDF introduced constitution safeguarding the equal rights of all the ethnic groups within the country, the colleague accused the ruling party of increasingly devolving authority to the regions at the expense of the Centre. The colleague contended that by “inflaming the latent passion of certain ethnic groups” that the EPRDF is encouraging the regions to brazenly defy the Center, at will. In reply to my query on his views on the opposition that he supports, my colleague elatedly elaborated the rather controversial political program of the opposition. He wants to scrap the current constitution, abolish the system of federation, strengthen the authority of the Central Government and bring back Eritrea to the fold. He also stated that the opposition will reintroduce Amharic as the sole official language of the country. Lastly, my colleague emphatically depicted the opposition party that he supports as the “embodiment of the traditional ruling class” that allegedly enjoyed the “God-given mandate to rule”.
Until that day, I have never contemplated the possibility of coming across anyone, or any group for that matter, that staunchly espouse to or accept as a well-founded truth the notion of a certain ethnic group with divine mandate to govern the numerous Nations, Nationalities and Peoples that call themselves as bona fide citizens of this august country: Ethiopia. These stated objectives of the opposition seemed to me as a mere nostalgic yearning than plausible political program. Despite all of its flaws and shortcomings, any attempt geared towards the revocation of the current Federal System in Ethiopia is bound to fail. The opposition or any other Centralist political group that intends to push forward an anti-federalist agenda would face stiff resistance from erstwhile neglected regional states that are determined to defend the gains of their decade-old self-governance. In view of that, I asked myself why the opposition should gamble on such a sensitive and highly controversial issue.
I have lent receptive ears to the comments and arguments of my fellow colleagues and had remained reticent throughout the course of this informal discourse. As a matter of fact, I have eagerly attended the entire discourse, largely to enrich my knowledge of the political developments in the country, particularly events taking place at the nation’s Capital City. However, the very last remark of my outspoken colleague simply roused my curiosity. The message of my colleague, the zealous supporter of the opposition was ominously laud and clear. The noble aristocratic class is back with a vengeance. That Ethiopian Nations, Nationalities and Peoples that are currently enjoying their hard-won democracy, economic and political stability will be reduced to downtrodden subservient populations. That the traditional oppressing class with “God-given mandate to rule” is back to unleash bloody wars of conquest ‘towards the warm waters of the seas) and stifle, bully and terrorize ethnic minorities.
In the aftermath of that discussion, I started to have a close look at the opposition; intently observing its inherent characteristics, monitoring its official pronouncements and carefully studying the political disposition of its leadership. I have also looked at opposition’s efficient utilization of the rumor mill in spreading defamatory messages or distortions and its liaison with the “free press”. However, I have only been able to observe and assess the overt aspects of the party, since much of its body politics remain shrouded in mystery. Notwithstanding the efforts of many political pundits in this country who are earnestly trying to unearth the true self of the party, the enigma surrounding the opposition would be hard to fathom, at least in the near future, due to the secretive nature of its political business. By the same token, it will be difficult to understand the political mission of the opposition without understanding both the personality traits and psychological motivations of the ideologues who engineered it as a political outfit. In view of the ambiguity surrounding the subject, I have intentionally restricted myself to mere empirical observations.
Inside most of the opposition’s machinery
The Coalition of most of the oppositions a subtle and masked ethnic movement, mysteriously shrouded in secrecy, took Ethiopia by surprise in the aftermath of the May 15 elections. Within a period of less than two years, for example, the CUD made swift inroads into the national political arena, enlisting supporters mainly from residents of the City of Addis Ababa, including both the moneyed classes and the lumpen-proletariat. What are the long-term objectives of the CUD? Who is its funding father? Is the movement an indigenous one or the machinations of foreign hand? These are pertinent but unanswered questions haunting those observing the current political developments in Ethiopia.
Much has been said or written about the CUD in the recent past. However, the movement still remains intricately shrouded and exclusive. It is intimately veiled with a thick cloak of secrecy. As the CUD phenomenon continues to baffle political analysts, we - the curious - would certainly continue the search for answers that might not be forthcoming. For those of us destined to witness the unfolding mysterious movement, what do we have to know about the oppositions?
Most of the oppositions have all the inherent characteristic of a shadowy coalition founded on narrow chauvinistic political program. Their political programs are replete with misleading chauvinistic manifestations. In actual fact, most of the oppositions’ movements are the back-to-the-past - a mere reincarnation of the despotic regimes of the past. Their cardinal objectives are to reverse the wheels of history and roll back the calendar to Ethiopia of yesteryear.
Contamination of objective journalism
The real strength of the opposition lies in their leadership’s skillful articulation of disinformation and application of the fine arts of demagoguery. Taking advantage of the largely unethical and unprofessional opposition media outlets elsewhere, the propaganda unit of the opposition has demonstrated elements of both ingenuity and intrigue in feeding the public with selective, overstated, misleading and distorted information. Unbounded by any restrictive government action and completely relieved of censorship checks, the opposition tabloid media outlets frequently bombard the public with unfounded, inaccurate, tasteless and quite disgusting reports. Many of the so-called independent media outlets that stream into the major streets of Addis Ababa are in essence rumor-mongering substandard tabloids than serious journalistic work. Their editorials impart biased political messages and extreme views that reflect the opinions of few vested interests. Bereft of objectivity, they are neither informative nor engaging. As far as one can tell, they are disgrace to the ethics and ethos identified with the fine arts of journalism. The poor content of these media outlets and their inadequacy on substantive facts, lack of accountability and breach of established journalistic standards merely reflect the personality traits and psychological motivations of the editors and their proprietors.
It is indeed perplexing to understand or speculate about the political agenda served by the malicious propaganda spewed out by opposition press, day after day. The distorted, unsubstantiated and often misleading reports, articles and editorials of the ubiquitous opposition media outlets are evidently intended to serve as a lethal catalyst for the revival of old tensions and the incubation of new ones. The fragile ethnic bond that had been painstakingly cultivated during the course of the past years is threatened by the venom of ethnocentric politicians and unregulated opposition media outlets. The prognosis is not promising. The political manifestations of the opposition and their rabble-rousing and seditious propaganda presage a future of uncertainties for the people of Ethiopia. The political demagogues of the opposition have the tendency to exploit public vulnerabilities to ethnic or religious sentiments. Exploiting the latent ethnic passions of their constituencies, political opportunists at the helm of the opposition are ruthlessly sowing the ominous seeds of discord and disintegration - driving a wedge between ethnic groups. Indeed, trouble is brewing on the horizon.
BY YOHANNES GEBRESELLASIE (Ph.D)
Four days ago, the Communication Affairs Office of the Ethiopian government announced that 34 senior government officials and business persons suspected of corrupt practices were arrested. Furthermore, vowing to intensify the ongoing crackdown on the corrupted individuals, the attorney general stated yesterday that the number of detainees suspected of corruption has risen to 42. The crackdown on these individuals is part of the overall government commitment to fight corruption that has become rampant in the country. It is also the continuation of the deep renewal the government started nearly a year ago.
For more than a couple of decades, Ethiopia has become one of the fastest growing economies around the globe that the world has been witnessing. The growth can be attributed to nation's fastest growing airline, high investment inflow, ensuring sustainable peace in the Horn, serving as Africa’s aviation hub, great infrastructural revolution such as the Great Renaissance Dam, the Addis Ababa Light Rail project, Addis-Djibouti rail line and the like.
In spite of the fact that the nation is experiencing sustainable development, it is struggling with threats like rent-seeking, narrow-mindedness, chauvinism and corruption that manifest themselves due to wrong perception of power. As an expert said “When purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable”, some government officials abused their leadership position for their selfish gains or interest because of inadequate knowledge. As a result, corruption which is a threat and challenge to the expected justice, freedom and fair distribution of wealth became very evident in the nation. And this caused public discontent and grievances which necessitated deep renewal.
In response to public grievances and complaints, the government has undertaken deep renewal activities to ensure good governance in the country. In the course of the renewal, the nation identified questions of the society and continued solving them. And its recent measure on corruption is very evident that the nation is still under deep renewal process. This renewal, as a continuous process, still requires the massive participation of the public.
Unlike the views of some individuals, the deep renewal has brought considerable achievement for the citizens to exercise their constitutional rights without any interference. For instance, they have continued expressing their dissatisfaction in overall public services and other administrative issues. Following the deep renewal, the government's conscious decision to carry out the deep renewal demonstrates its commitment for transparency and accountability.
We believe the recent crackdown which is the continuation of the deep renewal can be considered to be the perfect decision of the government to curb the staggering wicked deeds of the irresponsible officials. The decision is also exact indication of government's commitment to ensure good governance, justice and fair distribution of wealth for the citizens.
More importantly, the government promised the citizens to intensify the crackdown on the various governmental organizations to end the problem. Consistent with the promise, we argue that citizens ought to scrutinize the government's activities and debate on the merits of various public policies. The government has to create transparency in various public resources such as subsidies, tax exemptions, public procurement of goods and services, soft credits and extra-budgetary funds under the control of politicians. The distorted communication between government officials and citizens can open the way for illicit transactions and provide many opportunities for corruption; and in order to address this problem effectively, implementing useful technologies is so crucial so that the public can actively participate in the campaign. For instance, in some countries, research indicates the use of online platforms to facilitate the government’s interactions with civil society and the business community has been particularly successful in the areas of tax collection, public procurement, and red tape. Thus, in connection to realizing its promise to intensify the crackdown, it ought to introduce complementary approaches to efficiently curb corruption.
Ethiopia has hosted over 40 business to business meetings with companies arriving from about 35 countries during the last two years, according to Addis Ababa Chamer of Commerece and Sectoral Associations.
More than 1900 local businesses have been able to participate in such bilateral exchanges with other countries.
Communication Director with the Chamber Kassahun Mamo told The Ethiopian Herald that Companies from the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Italy, United Kingdom, Belgium, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Turkey, India, UAE (Dubai), China, South Africa, France, Canada, Greece, Luxemburg, Slovenia, USA, Kenya ,Hungary and Sweden are among the visitors from the all corners of the world.
Inflow of Foreign Direct Investment from the European countries is less than expected and of course, from those countries in Asia. However, incoming business delegations from Europe is now increasing recently. There are reasons why European countries consider organizing an economic mission in this country, in the context the African continent is a priority for the European companies in the years to come via Ethiopia, according to Kassahun.
“For our European partners, Addis Ababa is considered as reaching point for more than 53 lumps (countries) of African market. That is why Ethiopia has long been an appealing destination for foreign firms looking to operate recently. More than 1900 local businesses have been able to participate in such bilateral exchanges with other countries.”
One of the factors that limit the countries export to the more sophisticated EU markets is the stringent quality standards of the market and the underdeveloped business linkages between Ethiopian and European companies, he reiterated.
The chamber believes that this kind of business to business meetings and networking are depicting the true picture of Ethiopia and its massive investment opportunities. These events can also initiate and build joint business and investment relations and help to change the hither to low level of EU companies’ involvement in business and investment in Ethiopia.
The Chamber has also called on foreign companies to taste the opportunities in the ever growing Ethiopian market.
BY ZEKARIAS WOLDEMARIAM
For a country that is rich in various types of tourist attractions like ethnic and religious diversity, tangible and intangible heritages as well as natural sceneries tourism plays a significant role in the economy. Apart from these factors conference tourism also contributes a great deal in attracting more visitors both to the conferences as well as to the rest of the attractions.
Mainly precipitated by the existence of continental and regional organizations like African Union, UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) ... conference tourism is showing a remarkable growth as a kernel of tourism industry. Especially Addis Ababa very often becomes very busy hosting various international conferences every year which is adding its growth as well as importance as an ideal venue for such events.
But the nation has still a long way to go to bring more cities to the conference tourism industry. Though some cities like Bahir dar, Adama, Bishoftu and Mekelle have started hosting conferences, they need further assistance in handling the events with better efficiency and standard so that they can continue hosting more such events and raise their benefits.
According to Gezahegne Abate, Public and International Relations Director with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Ministry is working on expanding hotels and museums in order to create an opportunity for different cities outside Addis to host conference tourism. Collaborating with concerned bodies, governmental and non- governmental organizations and business owners, the ministry is supervising hotels to ensure the existence of suitable conference facilities. For this end the Ministry is implementing a standard which requires hotels to fulfill state of the art hotel facilities like restaurant, bar, security, and parking lots , among others.
To further raise the tourist flow and revenue from the sector there is a need to enhance the quality and efficiency of the hospitality industry, the Director stressed. In order to build the capacity of Hotels, Resorts, Tour and Travel Agencies and Tour operators, who tend to work with common sense the Ministry is striving to cultivate educated and competent professionals in the field. Accordingly 12 universities, more than 100 Technical and Vocational Education and Training Colleges (TVETs) across the nation as well as Ethiopian Hotel and Tourism Institute are training people in hotel and tourism at degree and diploma levels , Gezahegne explained.
According to the Director due attention should be given to the development of infrastructure as it plays a vital role in promoting tourism. “The other crucial thing is the development of infrastructure. Growth is natural. The needs of human beings grows up through time. The more income generates, the more the needs increase. Existing tourist destinations should be developed along with creating new ones. Working on the natural resources that are not yet recognized due to different reasons like war and drought, the nation should promote the traditional costumes, architecture, and cultural troupe.”
Gezahegne says the tourism sector is registering double digit growth for the past years. The tourists flow is showing that the growth is now 10 per cent.
Tourists through out the world are sensitive about peace and security of their destinations. Commenting on the impact of the state of emergency which was declared since the first quarter of the just ended Ethiopian fiscal year he indicated that 886,897 tourists visited the nation generating around 3.3 billion USD revenue which is, compared with last year’s performance a 2.5 per cent drop. Hence the decline was not as bad as it was feared, he reiterated.
There was no cancellation or disruption of conferences that used to take place in the country, the Director noted. For instance the 11th UNESCO conference, attended by about 1000 people, was held effectively here in Addis Ababa a month after declaration of the state of emergency. Similarly, the 59th CAF conference was also held in Addis Ababa.
BY BETELHEM BEDLU
The number of detainees suspected of corruption has risen to 42 as attorney general vowed to intensify ongoing crackdown on the various governmental organizations.
Four suspects linked to corruption cases in housing development projects were added to the list Friday.
The suspects are from Addis Ababa Roads Authority, Addis Ababa Housing Development Agency, Federal Roads Authority , Ethiopian Sugar Corporation as well as Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation. Most of the cases are linked with breach of public procurement procedures and graft.
The ongoing crackdown is part of the year long deep reform measures, and reports of the federal auditor general , public complaints and tips from whistle blowers were the basis to conduct investigations on selected organizations, Federal Attorney General Getachew Ambaye told journalists here yesterday. “ The ongoing operation is far from over, it is just the beginning”.
Getachew also hints the operation would be extended to higher and lower governmental structures and officials based on the scale and magnitude of the evidences. This is not a one time action, it rather requires collective efforts both from the government and the public, he reiterated.
While the suspects would be tried in accordance with the law, those responsible for administraion of the organizations at the time of perpetration of the crimes would face administrative measures.
Asked whether the actions are too late, Getachew said that the prosecutor can apprehend and file charge against any suspect only after gathering adequate evidences. That is why the government took its time to garner the evidences and apprehend the individuals. In this regard the operation could not be said too late, he noted.
The suspects included government officials serving in various capacities, businesspersons and brokers.
So far, 32 government officials, three brokers and seven businesspersons have been put in to custody.
Upon arrest, the suspects were caught with millions of cash in birr, USD, pound, euro and house title deed certificates, he noted adding that the public should collaborate with the law enforcement bodies in exposing other wrongdoers.
According to the attorney general, the suspects have caused damages worth over one billion birr in cash and type.
BY DESTA GEBREHIWOT AND HENOK TIBEBU
Selam technical and vocational college graduates the 23 round of 189 trainees in various levels of training.
The graduates attended training in Heavy duty vehicles maintenance, Food preparation, Electricity and electronics , manufacturing, furniture and secretarial science.
“By the support of the Swiss government through international humanitarian organization called Woreden Dand more than 300 youth from various Wereda and sub cities are attending training in 7 fields ” said Christoph Zinstag from Sweden Embassy.
The Board chairman Iwan Wust on his part noted that the Federal TVET agency periodically conducts supervision on the quality of the training in the college. He vowed to further work on improving shortage of middle level trained human resource in the country.
Mr Iwan told for graduates that they are leaving Selam College and they are going to reach out into their country, well equipped with skills and knowledge which will enable them to earn a living. This is a chance, only few are getting in Ethiopia. They will encounter many situations in their life that will not be easy, which will create troubles to them where they will get stuck.
State Minister, Ministry of Education, Teshome Lemma on the occasion urged graduates to carry out their work honestly, truthfully by updating their skills day to day and actively participate in the country's development.
BY TSEGAYE TILAHUN