The construction of Ethiopia’s flagship project, Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is almost inches away from completion while the trilateral negotiations among Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt on technical issues once again failed to lead to agreement as Egypt continuously tried to politicize it.
Why is then Egypt trying to slow down the negotiation pace and what political gains is Cairo seeking to achieve are relevant questions to pose.
Also, Ethiopia and Sudan are positioning themselves into fair utilization of the river of Nile. Why is that Cairo backtracking from facing the undeniable reality and Ethiopia's irreversible commitment to utilize its resource after its years of monopoly over a common resource?
In fact, it was not new for Egypt to display problems on the issue of the Nile. It wants political dialogue on purely technical issues such as the dam filling. This is continuation of Cairo’s futile attempt to put hurdle on Ethiopia’s effort to tap its resource, says Fekahmed Negash, Executive Director of Eastern Nile Technical Regional Office (ENTRO).
Contrary to the terms of the Principle of Declaration, Egypt is engaged in injecting political interest over technical issues with which it may run against the interest of Ethiopia and Sudan and deemed to end up a wishful thinking. “It is completely inappropriate and unnecessary. It may result in procrastination of a genuine negotiation.”
He also underscores that in the face of the disagreements, it has become clear that it is only the Ethiopian people that have a say on the GERD. “It would be good for the three countries to reach in consensus diplomatically; otherwise it is an issue of sovereignty that should be left to the Ethiopian people.”
It is to be recalled that a meeting between the three countries' Heads of State urged their experts, intelligence and foreign ministers to resolve differences with regard to the dam’s filling. But the Egyptian side that participated in the recent discussion held in Khartoum that failed to produce agreement, ruled out the direction though the Ethiopian representatives complied with it.
It is not clear what Egyptian representatives are seeking to achieve by going against the direction given by the Heads of State including their President, Fekahmed questions.
Egypt tried to give political impression to the discussion with the presence of more political appointees in the meeting, yet the dam filling is purely technical matter.
According to Fekahmed, it is self evident that Egypt came to learn that Ethiopia cannot halt the construction of the dam. That is why Egypt needs the 1959 water agreement to serve as a basis of technical study on GERD. So that the Egyptian side could use this as if Ethiopia accepts the motion of the colonial era agreement.
Because they know that their concerns on the dam could be addressed through technical discussion, Egyptian sides try to use other mechanisms particularly politicizing technical issues. On the other hand, Cairo also wants to give the dam filling and other aspects GERD political impression. This may compromise technical aspect, lead to political negotiation and make something out of it. Political negotiation is complex and requires compromises. That is exactly what Egypt is looking for.
Similarly, Cairo wants to slowdown the pace of the discussion if not to procrastinate it so that it would be able to invite a third party to intervene and to shift the pendulum towards its advantage.
Regardless of Egypt’s intention, the construction is nearing completion and the dam filling would begin soon. The discussion is more beneficial for Cairo than the rest of the two countries. Misguided by the wrong interpretation of the Declaration of Principles, Egypt thinks that Ethiopia cannot unilaterally decide the dam filling.
“But as far as I know this is wrong. There is no an agreement that prevent Ethiopia from filling the dam. It would have diplomatic benefits for the three countries to agree on the issue. Otherwise, it is only the Ethiopian government and its people that decide on the fate of their iconic project.”
But Fekhamed is confident that the countries will gradually come to terms. However, for this to happen, Egypt must find a gray line among the very diametrical differences view entertained by its different interest groups.
It has been quite a while since the construction of the dam reached a point of no return. It is always perplexing that Egypt is only coming to the table after it is too late. Cairo still sticks to the lopsided colonial era agreement. This contradicts to the principle of fair utilization of a common resources and modern era thoughts, states Birhanu Belachew, lecturer at Kotebe University College.
It is not clear why Egypt is hindering the discussion while at the same understanding the fact that the construction will not come to halt. As far as it does not harm Egypt's interest significantly, Ethiopia will go ahead with constant and consistent timetable to finalize the dam’s construction.
Egypt will achieve nothing with its obsolete fashion of referring to monopoly use of the river. In fact, this sounds banal and falls of nothing other than buying time, Birhanu adds.
Dam filling is entirely a technical matter. But on the contrary, the Egyptians are trying their best to give it political impression so that they want a third party intervention in the discussion. This is absurd; no third party is required for a scientific explanation says to Birhanu seconding Fekhamed view.
Ethiopia is conscious that Egypt is taking the matter in to delay for a UN organ to intervene which was previously and formally requested but rejected by Ethiopia.
Egypt still refers back to the agreement which in practical is old fashioned. Cairo is not ready and well prepared when it comes to the trilateral negotiations. Creating inconveniences on negotiations is Egypt's widely demonstrated habit. It is trying to hold the talks back, according to Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Meles Alem.
However, Meles says sitting for discussion by itself is a good achievement as there were no such commitments previously. Egypt is not yet ready to put an end into the matter but discussions will continue and Ethiopia remains committed to it.
BY DESTA GEBREHIWOT
In his inaugural speech Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed boldly vowed that all doors will remain open to embolden active participation of Ethiopian diaspora across different spheres while calling on them to return to homeland with financial and expertise investments.
The Premier's invitation resonated to all Ethiopian Diasporas living across the world whose number is believed to stand more than two million with the majority slice residing in North America, Middle East and Europe.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs recognizing the immense untapped potentials of the diaspora to socio-economic development of their country, came up with various policies and institutional arrangements to create platforms where the Diasporas can engage in.
The Diaspora's economic Contribution usually comes as remittance, investment and other supports, says Meles Alem, Spokesperson of the Ministry. Explaining further, Meles states “The amount of remittance, which was only 141 million USD in 2003, has shown impressive increase in 2017, 4.6 billion dollar. Its GDP share also hits over 5 percent. Even in the last three years remittance revenue exceeds that of the export or foreign trade.”
Regarding investment, Meles underscores that despite slight improvements, Diasporas involvement falls short compared to their numbers.
“More than 4000 members of the diaspora have shown interest and been supported to be engaged in various investment sectors of which manufacturing and other sectors in the last three years.” the Spokesperson adds.
He also raises the heartfelt support of the Diasporas in flagship projects like that of The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The Ethiopian Diaspora so far purchased 1.3 billion Birr bond. The Middle East residing Diasporas have contributed the largest amount of money, 610 million birr followed by their fellow brothers in Africa and America, an amount of 224 and 196 million Ethiopian Birr respectively, as per the Spokesperson.
Meles also says that with financial support for the GERD, which necessarily does not only refer the bond issue, the contribution of the Ethiopian Diasporas transcends to public relation works advocating about the GERD’s transferring knowledge and skills. For instance, Meles adds: “Ethiopia Engineers, Economists, International Water Law experts and other professionals have established association called ‘Ethiopian International Support for Abay’ to provide knowledge based contribution for the dam.”
Abraham Seyoum is the Director of the Ethiopian Diaspora Association established in 2012. The association serves as bridge between the Diasporas and the Ethiopian government for the protection of their rights and interests. The Association also provides timely information regarding policies and strategies which Ethiopia pursues for the Ethiopians abroad.
He indicates that about 10 to 20 Diasporas visit his office daily to get help on issues like investment license and land which he considers it to be a promising figure. “Steps taken by the government to grant an ID card for the Diasporas, already have citizenship of country they are living in with few restrictions unlike other countries treatment of dual citizenship, was a big contribution. The government’s decision to dedicate a ‘National Diaspora Day’ is also another significant step in mobilizing Diasporas to domestic economic activities,” he adds.
But for the Director the issue is not about the increasing number of Diasporas coming to invest, it is a way the government treats them to exploit what is in their hand. “Let alone the Ethiopians Diaspora, eyes of investors from all corners of the world are fixed at Ethiopia. We have visiting Diasporas who want to invest in construction, hotel, tourism and others.” he stressed.
According to Abraham, the Ethiopian government goes a long way to make a policy. There are also several incentives to encourage the Diasporas to investment like that of credit and tax exempted entry of raw materials. But there are still problems in the implementation of the policies. Likewise the Ethiopians at home, the Diasporas also face bad governance and bureaucracies. These hurdles should be addressed so that the Diasporas realize their dream of supporting their countries.
The role of the Diaspora in boosting socio-economic development of their country of origin is invaluable. The efforts undertaken by the government are rewarding as the Diaspora involvement in the country’s development effort increases.
Therefore, as to Abraham, addressing the bureaucratic bottlenecks the Diasporas face would further allow them to make greater contribution.
BY MISAEL LEMMA
ADDIS ABABA-HR-128, a resolution passed by the American Congress on human right handling of Ethiopia on Wednesday, will not fracture the Ethio-US diplomatic ties, says the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Briefing journalists yesterday, Ministry Spokesperson Meles Alem said that the two countries have maintained a longstanding strong relationship. And the HR-128 will not have any impact on Ethio-US ties. Meles “HR-128 is what the Congressmen passed just using their freedom of speech without any enforcement mechanism. We welcome constructive suggestion our friends have for us. But what the Ethiopian government demands is to respect the sovereignty of the country.”
As per the Spokesperson, the Congressmen adoption of HR-128 does not stand for the United States of American government.
USA is the collection of several big institutions like that of State Department, the Executive Branch, Senate etc.. its international relations is conducted through State Department. This institution through its Head-Secretary of State- recognized reforms we are trying to introduce.
According to the Spokesperson, Ethiopian government has never expressed the existence of a fully matured democracy where rights are perfectly respected and good governance has prevailed everywhere in the country. “from its alien status, democracy has now become something every body is striving for.
Conditions in the last three years show that Ethiopians are desirous matured democracy and good governance. Ethiopian government understands the question of the people much better than the Congressmen do,” He adds.
BY MISAEL LEMMA
ADDIS ABABA - Ethiopian Metals Industry Development Institute said it is making attempts to substitute import despite the country’s heavy reliance on international market and lack of raw material and hard currency.
Part of these efforts are conducting extensive study and research on the sector and trying to create conducive environment for local and foreign investors engaged in the sector, Institute Communications Director Fite Bekele told The Ethiopian Herald.
On the other hand, the Institute is also working in the areas of building local industries' capacity, creating connections and market opportunity at international level.
The Institute has supported some 123 industries producing construction materials like aluminum profile, mobile device, office equipment, television and various electrical and electronics product.
In basic metals and engineering 361,213 ton of metals and 6,086,795 million manufacturing products which costs a total of more than three billion Birr were produced over the past eight months, he said adding more than 30 million US dollars also generated by exporting electronic products to south Sudan, Burkina Faso, Israel and India.
Compared to the last year’s similar season performance, this year accomplishment has said to be low due to lack of raw materials and shortage of foreign currency, he noted.
Although there are various constraints, the country is still producing various constructions and electronic raw materials including road and railway construction inputs, mobile devices, car, television and refrigerator, he adds.
According to the Director, electric wire devices also manufactured in local and in the last fiscal year more than 8 billion kilo gram tin product was imported at a cost of 5.6 million USD, he stated.
To curb the problems, the Institute is working with stakeholders in improving import substitution strategy by supporting the local industry to build their capacity, the Director stated.
BY MISGANAW ASNAKE
Addis Ababa- Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Development and Marketing Authority said coffee export showed an increment of 21.78 percent , which is up from the past fiscal year.
Shafi Umer, Deputy Director of the Authority and Marketing Head, told The Ethiopian Herald that 137417.28 tons of cereal coffee was exported from July to Feb of 2017/18 and the Nation has been able to generate 481.86 million USD. The difference in size has reached 24,583.43 tons and 47.57 million USD in terms of income, noted Shafi. According to him, several measures that has been taken by the Authority following the reform of 2016 were the key behind this export performance. The Authority has been creating different opportunities for farmers, suppliers, exporters and industries to benefit from direct market chain. “We have been able to avoid the usual farmer to broker market chain and the farmers would get the fair price for their products,” he added.
This also reduced unnecessary expenditure during the long transaction process. The farmers are provided with better options to sell the products directly to the industries, suppliers and even they can export by their own selves as long as they fulfill the criteria.
However, the export has been facing challenges due to the price reduction of coffee in the international market. As a result, the Authority has to come up with some strategic actions. Shafi said In order to alleviate such problems three major strategic plans are underway.
“These are exporting ample size tons of coffee, creating strong relationship with companies who are able to buy with better price and identifying and taking serious measures on illegal exporters who sell the coffee with less than a price it deserves,” he underscored.
The Authority is also aspiring to maximize product and productivity working in cooperation with the government by assigning extension services in to kebele level, increasing size of coffee tons and making Ethiopian coffee to sold in a better price,.
BY SEID MEHAMMED
ADDIS ABABA – The government must give due attention to better involve stakeholders in forestry to substitute the huge sum of wood products import, expert in the field stressed.
Ethiopia imports wood products from countries like China and the United Arab Emirates which amounts to 200 million USD annually, Dr. Mulugeta Lemenih, an expert in forestry told The Ethiopian Herald.
He said that participatory forest management in Ethiopia is works strongly with stakeholders that are found at environs of forest places by identifying the people who have right on using, developing and treating forest and then by having forest management agreement with government after that they will outline plan and could work in cooperation.
He further noted that Ethiopia has not benefited adequately from forest sector, and indicated that to alleviate the problem the government has to involve investors and farmer in policy making and avail finance access and technical supports. He elaborated that the government should also prepare adequate resource, human power as the forest sector takes too much time to engage investors in to the sector. Hence the government should expand forest industries to ensure smooth transfer.
To deliberate on harnessing the nations forestry resources Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has launched a two-day panel discussion yesterday with stakeholders. Participants of the panel discussed the opportunities of the emerging community forest resource management and area closures to realize climate resilient green development path.
During a panel discussion issues like agro forestry and natural resource management, area closure and further climate change and forest product utilization.
Dr. Yigardu Mulatu Director of Tree and Seed Technology Coordination Unit with the Ethiopian Environment and Forest Research Institute said that on this 5th conference of the Ethiopian Forestry Society selected research papers would be presented so as to identify problems on the forest sector and to set sustainable remedy.
BY SEID MEHAMMED
There is no doubt that the Ethiopian Diasporas are proud of the internationally approved double digit economic growth. They have also been taking part in the nation’s fight against poverty in one way or the other.
The five percent share few of them have in the GDP and their participation in the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam(GERD) are invaluable contributions.
However, many of them are not partakers in the socioeconomic growth exhaustively due to some shortcomings in the bureaucracy. That is why new Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed vowed to work on good governance and called on them to fully engage themselves in the renaissance of the nation.
Therefore, there are some tasks in the to do list based on the economic scholars’ advises to be considered in attracting the full potentials of the Diasporas.
The government needs to adopt best practices such as private-public partnership from countries like Korea, China, India, Pakistan, Bahama, Israel, Mexico and Philippine.
It must identify and define in clear terms the objectives to achieve in engaging the Diaspora. And use them in guiding principles and help build commitment towards engagement through a continuous process. The setting of goals for engaging the diaspora must involve their members and make them part of the overall development frameworks.
The other is restructuring the Diaspora related offices. For example it is important to consider the upgrading of Diaspora Affairs Directorate in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to a ministerial level with line bureaus in states.
Likewise, the framework of the sector needs to be revisited to include details that the various actors and the specific roles each is expected to play to enhance the dialogue and the engagement.Government must continue reorganizing the various missions abroad and reorient consular officers to consult Ethiopians abroad as part of their responsibility.
After this, the government has to know who is and who constitutes the Diaspora. This involves collecting data of the Diaspora taking into account the skills, experience and expertise.
Locating them helps to provide the avenue and understand their needs, interests and diverse agendas. It also enables to know the resources that the Diasporas can provide and what will be state’s responsibility in the engagement process.
The next has to be putting up trust amidst the Diasporas themselves and the state though not necessarily the government. This trust must be built through obedience to principles of sovereignty, respect for the constitution, effective legal frames and systems that ensure safety, and honoring of promises made by people of the nation.
The relationship should also lead to the establishment of joint decision-making bodies that will be representative and inclusive to reflect the diversity. Disagreements must be seen as part of the consensus building process but not obstacle to the development of the country.
And the trust should be followed by persuading towards the development of the homeland. Government must endeavor to streamline and effectively coordinate various initiatives of the diaspora and link them to the main development plans of the country.
Similarly, there is also a need for civil society participation and independent private agencies to complement the effort of government. This helps to reduce the confusions often created by some elements that spread unfounded fabrications of information.
As well, coordinators of various Diaspora Associations must take part in planning visits of high profile government officials to mobilize them. This prevents selectivity and gives national character to the gathering and will ensure social cohesion of the members regardless of political views and ethnic background.
Equally, all the socio economic developments’ plans must include themto strengthen the confidence of Ethiopians abroad and motivate them invest back home. Including the best experiences of other countries in engaging the Diaspora in the plans also needs attention.
In the same way, the experiences achieved in The Diaspora Bond on the GERD construction must be scaled up. It should be continued attractively and inexpensively as a means of raising external finance for development projects. Dedicating a financial instrument will build trust and succeed due to their priceless commitments.
Moreover, the Diaspora Tourism should be prioritized and scaled up throughout the country to enhance their trust and strategic participation.
If all these improvements are added to the existing good platforms, the Diasporas would fully become active participants in the nation’s renaissance.
Many countries in Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Middle-East have benefited from their Diasporas. For example, the Koreans, Chinese, Indians, Pakistanis, Vietnamese, the Jamaicans, Trinidadians, Bahamas, the Israelis, Palestinians; Somalis among many others have done a very admirable job in a variety of aspects in order to help the economy of their respective country of origin move forward.
Even though, the Ethiopian Diaspora have done a good job in that regard, considering the number and the potential of the Ethiopian Diaspora, more can be done to help the economy of Ethiopia. Despite political differences, I believe Ethiopians in the Diaspora can have one and same agenda on development. Ethiopians in the Diaspora can agree to disagree on political differences; however, they can always agree on helping their country on economic issue. They should separate political differences with economic and developmental assistance to their country of origin. Economic assistance can among other things be done in either or the entire following manner:
First, they can increase the amount of remittance they send to help their family and friends through official financial channels.
Second, they can invest in their country of origin in areas of their preference and expertise and that can be done even from where they are. They can do this by pooling together their resources and establish share companies.
They can, if they wish, also come back to their country of origin and settle for good, invest in their homeland temporarily or permanently and for that they can rest assured that there is a conducive and enabling environment for them here back home.
It is when Africans help each other, cared for each other and their homeland that industrialized countries such as the G-8 come to their door step to help. It is imperative therefore, that the North-South cooperation continues to grow on a concrete and practical plan for partnership and for doing business.
Since Africa has different levels of development and some have better leverage than others, the North-South Development Plan must consider among others, diversity of levels of development and different leverage for better implementation purposes.
Although $50 billion a year is only 1/5th of 1% of the combined entire earning of the developed nations and thus may not go nearly far enough, the intention of the G-8 to make the African issue their number one agenda in their summit is indeed commendable. It is a very good start that one can say: way to go G-8!
However, the implementation of this very good intention is yet to be seen. Even though, the donors have to follow strictly whether the aid is benefiting the poor or not, the G-8 should not impose cumbersome conditional ties on poor countries.
On the other hand, the African nations have a lot to do in order for this good intention to have good implementation because they have to act as partners and not simply as receivers from the other side.
They have to direct along with the G-8 partners the right economic approach to their respective development strategic plan and display the highest degree of unity and solidarity in global issues towards a greater articulation of their concerns and interests.
Further, African countries must strive for better representation of their national interests in the international trading system and must maintain great solidarity among them (South-South cooperation) in order to achieve these goals.
South-South trade should be enhanced and further market access from developing countries must continue to stimulate South-South trade, including through negotiations within the Global System of Preferences among Developing Countries.
A lesson can be drawn from doing business with China in that regard. China is a big investor in many African countries and result oriented strategy transform between China and Africa has been working just fine.
Africans must work hard to build their market economy and have a fair and equitable access within the western market.
Whereas the G-8 nations, way far from the continent have been concerned about poverty in Ethiopia, some disgruntled Ethiopian intellectuals in the US and Europe have publicly opposed the G-8 debt relief and additional aid to their own country: Ethiopia.
Whereas millions around the world are campaigning for debt relief and additional aid to Ethiopia, few toxic Diasporas and self appointed opposition political parties have been advocating just the opposite. What an irony and what a paradox. Isn’t that a crime against humanity?
BY YOHANNES GEBRESELLASIE (Ph.d)