“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” -Charles W. Elio-
It is a widely accepted fact that reading is a very important activity in one’s life. It is also proven that reading has so many benefits in facilitating our day to day life. It develops our mind, helps to discover new things, enables us to see things in new perspectives, increases creativity and self confidence and many more.
In this globalized era, where the world has been changing rapidly, to adapt with the changes, go along with and stay informed in every aspects, reading is not only necessary but it is much more mandatory.
Unfortunately, as it is repeatedly indicated in various incidents, our societies’ habit of reading is not at the desired level.
This was also reflected at the event organized recently by the National Cultural Center in concert with Women’s Authors and Zema Heber Women authoress Associations.
The event was held at the National Heritage Conservation Center with the aim of focusing on the role of societies in improving the habit of reading and the transition of children’s book.
In the occasion, two papers were presented by the first short story writer Yezena Worku and Authoress Abebech Direba with titles ‘The Role of Children’s Book for Cultural Development’ and ‘The Role of Societies in Improving the Habit of Reading,’ respectively.
Authoress Abebech, for the obvious reason, started her presentation by commenting on the reading habit of the society. She clearly tried to unveil why the reading culture of the public has not developed well.
Occupied by many day-to-day routine activities, having a minimum of five minutes for reading is becoming impossible, she commented.
Mentioning that parents in particular and societies in general are responsible for developing the culture of reading, the presenter indicated that every year nearly 1800 books are published in the nation. However, according to her, the number is not as such satisfactory when compared with the size of the population.
In order to have a citizen that would value the culture of reading; it is a must to work on it. Particularly, working on children in this regard is vital to inculcate the habit. Equally, to disentangle the young generation from the influence of technologies, such as social media and harmful practices as well as bad aspects of globalization, families, teachers and societies must join hands and act together, as it is stated,
Studies show that reading for pleasure makes a big difference to children’s educational performance. Children, who read for pleasure every day, develop a broader vocabulary, increased general knowledge and a better understanding of other cultures, evidences suggest.
Referring studies Abebech said; “Arabic people read maximum of 6 pages for about 6 minutes over a year while the western people read 11 books for 12,000 minutes within a year.” she remarked.
Regarding children’s book, Authoress Yezena said that most children’s books published these days within the country are not written by knowledge.
Most of them have similar story and content, use vague words, and do not reflect the culture and norms of the nation. Likewise, the books are market oriented and do not keep children in mind who are in middle age such as children at the range of 12-18. The covers of the books are also less attractive enough to entice children’s minds.
On the other hand, poor trends of parents in purchasing books for their children and absence of sufficient libraries are also the other challenges which limited children reading culture, she added.
To curb the challenges associated with writers, providing short term training on the techniques and skills of writing was suggested as a means. Furthermore, documents of important events and stories must be kept accordingly to enable authors use them as a reference in their writings.
Parents can also make a huge difference as they are the most important educators in a child’s life even more important than their teachers. They need to understand that it is never too early to start reading together with their children.
As to Yezena, expansion of libraries can also play an important role in helping children enjoy reading and helping them practice the skill. In fact, libraries are changing, and they are no longer providers of access to books but they are also the best in creating an active force for social change which promotes reading groups and author events.
If building a generation that values reading is very essential, everyone is responsible. Apart from shouldering responsibilities on others, every person and concerned institutions should play their role, Yezena stressed.
BY BETELHEM BEDLU
There has been a well established recognition in the valuable contributions of religious institutions in communities’ development. The main mission of those institutions though is delivering spiritual services to their respective followers, concurrently; they have been playing vital roles in communities’ development in terms of provision of humanitarian assistance, expansion of health and educational institutions.
In the same way, Ethiopian religious institutions have been participating in various community-based development activities. Ranging from expanding educational and health institutions to accessing potable water and provision of humanitarian assistance, as well as prompting volunteer works, the institutions have been supporting country’s development thereby reducing the levels of poverty.
Religion and community development have correlation and they are components that cannot be separated, said Mesud Adem Public Relations and Documentation Directorate Head with the Ethiopian Inter-Religious Council.
When development is expressed from the context of religion, it is broad, holistic and covers a wide range of issues. Simultaneous to spiritual development, it encompasses human, environmental, ecological, social, economic, technological and other similar development activities.
In view of this, hence, development should not only be material oriented but it should also embrace humanitarian aspects; and the outcome has to benefit the community positively. In this regard, the religious institutions of Ethiopia have been taking part in various development undertakings, in collaboration with stakeholders, the Head said.
Ethiopian religious institutions have their own development wings: spiritual and development. In the development wing, further than providing humanitarian assistance, they promote the moral obligation of work and insist their congregation to work and develop only through engaging in income generating activities. They also encourage on the value of hard work. Most importantly, they teach all citizens of the country to support every development program prevailing in the country either by the government or non-government organizations.
Even, there is a case which leads to conflict, the institutions teach to solve it in more peaceful manner rather than obstructing the ongoing development.
Ethiopian Orthodox Church Development and Inter-Church Aid Commission Deputy Head Gebresilassie Atsabaha also said that the Church has been playing an important role in the social, economic, cultural, educational and political life of the community.
The Church, establishing a development wing in 1972, is performing various community development undertakings. Primarily with the objective of helping disadvantaged communities, assist them to attain self reliance and tackle the root causes of poverty, drought and HIV and AIDS, the Church has been exerting multifaceted efforts in various times to respond to both emergency cases and meet long term needs of the population.
The Church has implemented more than thirty different projects in different parts of the country. Facilitating integrated rural development projects, such as expansion of education and health care institutions, water supply and sanitation, relief and rehabilitation, HIV and AIDS are among the many development programs that it has been taking part actively.
Like that of Orthodox Christian Church, the Ethiopian Islamic Relief, the Ethiopian Evangelical and Mekane Yesus Churches also participate in development of the country in enormous ways, the Head added.
Demelesh Dolla Public Relations Officer with the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus Development and Social Services Commission (EECMY-DASSC) also said that the Institution is offering various social services in the nine regional states and the two city administrations. In 2017 fiscal year the Commission has benefited over five million people in several ways,
With the intention of upgrading communities’ income, it has provided assistance for over 10,000 people who are affected by drought.
Likewise, benefiting the vulnerable group of the society is the goal of the Commission. In this regard, it assisted over 20,000 school children by donating educational materials and providing clinical services. In its gender mainstreaming program, the Commission has made endeavors to empower women through raising their awareness, increase their economic involvement and decision making capabilities, the Officer said.
As some evidences indicate, The Islamic Relief has also been delivering both emergency and long term development programs in some of the most remote pastoralists regions in the country by closely working with government bodies and stakeholders.
The institutions have delivered clean water supplies to rural people over the years and built dams and drilling and rehabilitating wells and bore holes to benefit a quarter of a million people.
BY TAMERU REGASA
Even though there is magnificent diversity and presence of wildlife with high endemism and expansion of protected areas, the income that the country obtains from wild life tourism and related potential is not enough due to various factors.
As shown in different documents in our country there are 320 mammalian species of which 36 are endemic. There are also 862 species of birds of which 18 are endemic to Ethiopia. And from the 240 species of reptiles 15 species are endemic. And out of the 71 amphibian species 30 are endemic. Moreover, there are 41 species of endemic fish out of 150 species.
Looking at the wild life protected areas of the country, there are 21 national parks, 3 wild life sanctuaries, 7 wild life reserves, three community conservation areas and 18 controlled hunting areas.
Public Relation Expert of the Ethiopian Wild Life Conservation Authority Solomon Worku, said that the country earned over 6 million Birr over the past six months from protected areas and parks. In Ethiopia the establishments of protected areas are increasing. For example, some 40 years back, the country had only two protected areas namely; Awash and Simien Mountains National Parks. Currently, it has more than 55 protected areas including 21 national parks which are essential to protect and conserve the natural ecosystems and wildlife heritage of the country. Conversely, those protected areas are exposed to severe pressure, which threatens their existence and sustainability due to different factors.
He said many protected areas in Ethiopia are threatened due to the ever increasing number of population, habitat loss and degradation. “Land use changes for agriculture purposes, rural and urban development activities have led to the decline and shift of wild life areas, resulting in the extinction of wildlife species and natural areas which serve as their home.”
Solomon further mentioned that the causes of the threats of protected areas as over population, deforestation, degradation of forest and poaching as other major causes of losing of biodiversity and wild life which directly impose wild life tourism and biodiversity conservation.
As to him, fight over natural resources between the communities living adjacent to protected areas and tourism development have increased in recent years and this resulted in decreased protected areas and loss of many animal species.
Varieties of large animals in Ethiopia are many and their distributions are dependent upon these protected areas. Currently, these areas are highly threatened by man-made effects, he further noted that the ever changing population growth is causing for more space and resource demand that affects wild animal’s home on these areas.
According to Solomon, land degradation is globally a threat to many wild animals as their natural habitat is damaged due to it. The forest coverage of Ethiopia has been reducing at an alarming rate mainly due to it. “The extensive deforestation would lead to the extinction of biodiversity. However, much of the forest land is now widely used for cultivation, grazing, fuel, wood and construction.”
The human population around most protected areas over the years has been changing in terms of its size, density and livelihood strategies. Uncontrolled logging, illegal charcoal production and fuel wood collection are some of the major causes of deforestation that directly influence large mammal’s habitat, where tourism is dependent. Moreover, such activities threat the protected area which also affects tourism and life style of wild animals and in turn decrease the revenue that the nation could generate from the area.
He further explained that killing and illegal wildlife trade activities in and around the parks, as well as uncontrolled use of natural resources have been the major problems various parks have faced and led to the extinction of some animal's species.
BY TAMERU REGASA
Ethiopia is richly endowed with abundant and wide-ranging natural resources. Apart from others, the country is blessed with plentiful aquatic resources, fossil fuels, vast water bodies and large hectares of cultivable land, which make it an ideal place for investment.
The government, giving due attention to develop nation's untapped potential thereby improve the living standard of the people, has been implementing various strategies to improve agricultural methods and increase product and productivity.
To this effect, it has been utilizing modern agricultural technologies such as new varieties and technologies, soil health enhancement approaches, irrigation and water supply management to increase product and productivity.
As a result, during the past decades, it has been enabled to register double digit growth for consecutive years. This progress is well portrayed in the West Gojam Zone of the Amhara State.
According to Goshu Endalamaw, Zone Administrator, the Zone has 2.7 million people of which 1.6 millions are between the age of 14 and 60.
It is one of the most fertile and high productivity Zones of the State and is known for its agricultural products.
Referring CSA’s report, the Administrator said in 2008/2009 Meher season crop production, the Zone has produced more than 16 million quintals of crops such as teff, maize, wheat and barley. In the current fiscal year, the Zone has set plan to develop 160 thousand hectares of land and harvest over 20 million quintals of produces through irrigation
“The efforts made by the government, along with research outputs of agricultural experts’ and provisions of technological inputs, have enabled the Zone to thrive and reach where it is today.”
However, the Zone has enormous agricultural potential and there are more possibilities to utilize the untapped resources and thereby increase product and productivity. “The Zone is immensely blessed with water bodies, including the Abay and Tana rivers. These would create additional possibilities to develop more farmlands through irrigation system,” he reiterated.
As part of these efforts and to utilize these rivers and springs and at the same time realize the Agricultural Growth Program (AGP II), the Zone is undertaking various activities in some seven potential woredas, Goshu marked.
Scaling up irrigation infrastructure is one of the efforts in this regard. And middle scale irrigation dams are being constructed.
According to him, in the past Ethiopian budget year, 13 projects which focus on river diversion works carried out. Moreover, the work of extending short irrigation canals which enable develop additional land was executed. Likewise, an irrigation dam which would develop over 300 hectares of land is under construction.
“Similar activities are also underway in the State. For example, in North and South Achefer woredas, the State government is constructing big irrigation dam by developing the Gilgel Abay River at the cost of over 300 million Birr. When the dam is finalized, it is expected to develop nearly 3000 hectares of land.”
At the same time, preparations and feasibility studies are already finalized in North Achefer to develop a wide area of land at a top of a plateau by diverting the water of Abay and Tana with motorized pump. This one is also undertaken by the state government to develop more than 300 hectares of land, he furthered.
Meanwhile, the governor expressed that there is also another mega irrigation dam project already studied by the federal government at Jema River. This would, as to him develop from 12 to 15 thousand hectares of land.
Mentioning that those are just few of the efforts, and insignificant when compare to the Zone’s potential, the Administrator urged investors to come and take part in the Zone's development program for mutual benefits. His administration is quite ready to welcome such investors with due respect and civility.
As to him, more than 553,817 hectares of land of the Zone is arable land and 184 thousand of which is covered with maize in cluster that eases the tasks of agricultural experts and market linkage. Investors who can add value through processing the maize produce would have excess raw materials supply.
According to Goshu, so far there are nearly 70 investors who are already engaged in the agriculture sector; and many others are making preparations on a number of assets and projects in the Zone.
Tibebu Amare, Mayor of Finote Selam City Administration on his part noted that agriculture has been showing encouraging growth in the last 25 years, both in production and productivity by adopting modern practices. And this, as to him, has a big role in laying the ground works to transform the country’s economy.
Mulugeta Berhan, a farmer and a resident of Bure woreda also said that he is applying all technologies and practices recommended by agricultural extension experts. In turn, his agricultural yields have shown a massive rise in both production and rural incomes. He said that he is producing various yields including vegetables, fruits and coffee throughout the year through irrigated water.
According to him, government's irrigation scheme along with improved seed, fertilizer and pest control technologies are the major contributers to increase farmers' product and productivity.
BY SHUSHAY ADANE
Many across the world were eagerly eyeing the unusual leadership succession of Ethiopia which has happened on last Monday. The move is a new one in Ethiopia and to Africa as such a democratic succession is unaccustomed incident.
The driving force for such a succession being the need for new and energetic leadership which people were asking for years in the nation, many still claim that such a commitment should also be taken in the lower government structures.
There are arguments on whether a change of one person would or would not help to realize nation’s aspirations promised by this newly coming Premier as most of his claims were things unanswered for many years.
The new Prime Minister has vowed to bring about economic, social and political transformations by restoring the country's past glory and spurring regional integration.
The statement made by Premier Dr. Abiy Ahmed was more different than the usual ones and has aroused the emotions and hopes of many Ethiopians. Many of those who followed his speech feel that the progress registered in the nation over the last two decades will hopefully continue as they see a glimpse of hopes in his speech on areas such as unity, pubic benefit and the fight against corruption, peaceful coexistence with neighboring countries.
What was more astonishing is that of his call to collaborate with the government of Eritrea. In his speech, he said that the people of the two nations have blood ties and share similar cultures and history.
Some of his concrete points in his speech include an apology for the death of civilians and security forces during the recent crisis occurred in different parts of the nation, praising the past victory of the country, keeping the freedom and liberty of the country, human right protection and dignity.
Furthermore, he stated the need for respecting diverse views with readiness to have attitude change on various aspects by opening up space for dialogue with opposition parties.
The other point is that the Primer welcomed Ethiopian Diasporas to highly engage on the nations’ overall development. He also extend unreserved support to the ongoing political change and development in the homeland.
He also reiterated that his government would do everything in its capacity to bring about tangible changes on education quality; economy, democratic and human rights, youth and women affairs just to mention few among others.
In the middle of his statement were the recurring concepts of unity and solidarity.
Nothing the fact that the nation is the origin of Pan-Africanism, the Headquarters of the African Union and several international organizations, he reaffirmed that it will continue to play its irreplaceable role in upholding peace and stability as well as realizing sustainable development in the East Africa and the continent.
Pledged to narrow down the existing gap between import and export trade in the country by stabilizing the current high cost of living triggered by political instability, devaluation of Birr and other triggering factors in the country.
He also called on all Ethiopians to repeat the success story of building the Grand _Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in other development spheres working in harmony more than ever before.
The Premier pledged all fellow citizens of the country to actively participate in the political and economic affairs of the country in a democratic manner.
The dramatic and the amazing leadership succession televised while the outgoing Former Hailemariam Desalegn and the coming Dr. Abiy Ahmed was walking together to exchange authority in the office of the Prime Minister was amazing and exemplary to various nations in the continent. This is also a showcase of peaceful transition of power in Ethiopia could be taken as also benchmark for the continent.
To put it in a nutshell, the leadership succession and the statements made by Dr. Abiy are hope rising and motivational which further demands ‘walking the talk’ through reforming lower leadership levels too as the saying goes ‘one hand could not clap’.
Some may think that Ethiopia had very famous leaders of global caliber. This is true in the sense that most of them have been able to maintain the territorial integrity and independence of this historical country. Despite their global feats, Ethiopian leaders, as charismatic as they are have hardly benefited from the patrimonial leaders of the country.
The leader of the imperial regime, the late emperor Haile Selassie who claimed to be a descendant of the Solomonic Dynasty and elect of God remained indifferent to the most unprecedented period of famine in the history of the country in 1976 while the Derge was celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Ethiopian Workers Party in 1984. In a relatively traditional society like Ethiopia where a leader is adored only next to God, the caliber and style of leadership is critically decisive for the development of the country.
Since 1991, democracy has at least been instituted in this country through the promulgation of one of the best constitutions in Africa. The Ethiopian federal system of which a lot has been written and professed has been implemented but with a lot of challenges in and out of the country. It is also quite obvious that a demanding society has been created to ascertain its constitutionally guaranteed rights that would take the people of the nation to better livelihood and peace.
Circumstances behind the unrest over the last three years have put the government and the country into a cross roads with an irreversible shift towards more meaningful democratic order. The decision by the ruling party to rectify its rank and file has enabled it to use new strategies to swiftly respond to public needs and demands that need to be addressed immediately, in mid terms and through a longer period of time. This certainly is not easy at all.
The resignation of the former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has led to the peaceful transition of power which in most cases in not common in Africa. This had resulted in several repercussions. Far beyond the hitherto unaddressed demands of the public, more demands are already being felt.
In his speech during the inaugural ceremony of his premiership at the House of Peoples Representatives (HROs), Prime Minister Dr Abiye Ahmed ignited a spirit of hope and optimism in the mind of the public. This has been fair and fine but there is a lot to be desired and avalanches of challenges are to be crossed.
What then is expected from the new prime minister in cleaning up the multi-faceted mess created over the last three years? Among other things, the restoration of sustained peace is one of the top priority issues the prime minister and his cabinet should address.
Furthermore and in conjunction with the assurance of sustained peace, the prime minister and the government at large need to enforce the rule of law to curtail any level of hooliganism. The law and regulation needs to be enforced particularly in the areas of public peace and trade transactions on commodities and services that are daily required by the public.
The new prime minister and his cabinet are also expected to effectively blend the principle of public accountability in all sectors of public duties and responsibilities.
Lack of transparency and accountability in the utilization of public funds has been a chronic problem in this country. During the session allotted to the approval of public budget at the HPR, the Ministry of Finance has warned that public sectors that are not properly using their allocated budget will be accountable before the court of law but to date public fund is being misused even in the higher institutes of learning in this country. The utilization of public fund for the intended activities is one of the focal area in which swift corrective measures are to be taken.
Programs that have been instituted to provide employment opportunities for the youth are exceptionally critical. Any level of foot dragging or sluggish operation in youth empowerment programs could result in a wave of unrests.
The prevailing ethnocentric mentality in the public particularly among the youth is a huge cause of concern for the unity of the entire country. A sprit of democratic nationalism needs to be promoted in the context of commitment to national values to be cherished among citizens in their commitment to the unity of their country.
Our new prime minister and his cabinet need to work in promoting good governance and strict accountability in the educational sector, particularly in promoting education quality. “We speak of quality education because a highly qualified work force is urgently required at all levels.”
Leading the decisive battle against corruption, contraband, rent seeking, nepotism, parochialism are all areas of public dissatisfaction that need to be addressed through institutional capacity building programs to ensure good governance at all levels.
One of the most important aspects of any political system is the separation of party and government duties and responsibilities. The jurisprudence of party and state relations need to be governed by the legal technical separation of powers and mutual and reciprocal relations between part and government functions. Some of the duties and responsibilities of a party and government are already mixed up in a haphazard manner requiring urgent corrective measures in the nation.
Promotion in public service and the reward system in this country seem to be conducted through clandestine internal networking among public officials who also occupy key positions in party nomenclature. A meritocratic promotion and reward system needs to be in place to encourage scrupulous workers to strive for more outputs in their areas of service.
Although decades have elapsed since the establishment of Ethiopia’s media outlets, their outputs and organizational structures are still far below public expectations. Of course we have witnessed some level of capacity enhancement both in terms of the number of media outlets and their audiences. However, public and private media outlets are still far from being proactive. They have still not reached the levels in which they could be able to shape up positive public outlook on the overall development of the country. We all hope our new prime minister would consider such critical issues.
Ethiopia’s export sector is still entangled with a lot of problems that need to be addressed. Increase in quantity and quality of exports was one of the assumptions that were considered during the fiscal measures taken to devaluate the Birr. Despite the opening of various infrastructural facilities like trans-boundary rail services, then, the country’s export sector performance is still far below expectations. The new government is also expected to address such Marco Economic deficiencies.
The resurgence of the HIV and AIDS in Ethiopia has already become not only a health issue but a socio-economic challenge that the country is currently facing. Diseases that was not common in Ethiopia including diabetes, complications in kidneys, all forms of cancer diseases, upper respiratory infections, TB and other communicable diseases need the attention of the new prime minister and his cabinet.
Despite the efforts currently made to increase public awareness on the issues of gender violence, drug addiction, illegal migration there is still far more to be done to curb these social problems. The new PM and his cabinet need to pay attention to these and related problems.
Although the new prime minister and his cabinet are expected to carry out their duties entrusted to them by the peoples of Ethiopia, this does not however mean that the government alone could accomplish these duties. The entire public, government and private institutions, civil society organizations need to rally behind and world in close collaboration with the new prime minster.
BY Solomon Dibaba
While religious leaders have special place in the social life of Ethiopians, scholars in the field of Theology stress on the fact that they should up their strategic role to work for peace and consensus in times of crisis.
In the past, Ethiopia’s religious leaders such as Abune Petros, who took part in refusing colonialism and the killing of innocent Ethiopians by fascist Italy and Abune Basilios, who refused to recognize the 1960 coup that would lead the country into chaos and crisis are exemplary leaders that played a key role for justice and peace.
The scholars claim that at the present time also religious leaders have an irreplaceable role in ensuring national peace.
Lecturer at the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology Andrew DeCort tells The Ethiopian Herald that Ethiopia unfortunately seems to lack religious leadership that, in other contexts, has played strategic roles during times of public crisis.
Exemplifying the contributions of both Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Archbishop Desmund Tutu who won Noble Peace Prizes for their extraordinary leadership in helping to resolve entrenched inequality, hatred, and violence in their societies, the Scholar father mentions that Ethiopia needs to have strong religious institutions and leaders to this same effect.
He also says that the role of religious leaders and institutions in securing national peace is often reflected in terms of ‘tolerance.’
Andrew further elaborates the point saying that love in every religion is deeper, more personal, sacrificial having vision of living with others and loving them until a beloved community is created.
“The doctrine requires actively working towards others’ well-being, even to so called enemies”.
For Andrew the pattern seen in the Ethiopian society today, especially on social media, are causes or doorways to mass violence which is against the teaching ‘Love your neighbor - all neighbors, across gender, religion, ethnicity, or any other marker of identity.’
Hence, there is an urgent need on the side of religious leaders and institutions to articulate, practice, and advocate this vision for the common good across all boundaries for all people.
“Religious leaders and institutions often remain silent or content to care for their own people in the safety of their own walls. But God’s love requires that we go beyond our own limited communities for the well-being of all.”
He further points out that the dream of national peace and reconciliation becomes a real hope with such religious leadership and highly engaging religious institutions working in the area.
Hence, he says “I fear that we are in grave danger of indifference, antagonism, division, and death. And we urgently need the vision of ‘neighbor-love’ to create a common good of peace, justice, and reconciliation.”
He mentions that such a move by religious institutions and leaders needs skills to unify and mobilize ordinary people for nonviolent call for justice and reconciliation. “This demands effective religious leadership through speech, action, and organization.”
Gospel Teacher in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church at St. Michael Cathedral at Mekanisa Akalewold Tessema on his part says that religious institutions need to stand for the good of their congregation.
Akalewold, who is also a PhD candidate of Philology at AAU, believes that religious institutions and leaders need to be neutral and develop trust within the hearts and minds of their followers as they are more accepted, heard and obeyed by their followers than politicians.
But due to political bias many religious fathers are not effectively discharging their spiritual responsibility-- in bringing about peace and stability in the nation which calls for neutrality.
He further says that as majority of Ethiopians are very religious, religious institutions on the service should actively engage in teaching, preaching and directing their public towards peaceful coexistence.
“Due to lack of neutrality on the side of some religious leaders, they are losing trust which is becoming difficult to secure peace in the nation,” he underlines.
The other challenge of religious institutions in securing peace is lack of a well-established communication structure and transparency at all levels.
Furthermore, he says the church and religious institutions should not be silent on the areas of peace and governance gaps in the nation. They have to have take part in consulting and presenting alternative solutions on different national matters that the government and the people are arguing on.
They have to teach their followers when they are taking wrong steps while questing for good governance demands, he underlines.
He exemplifies that Abune Basilios is an exemplary religious leader in resolving public chaos and undemocratic regime change movements in 1950's and 60's, he stresses.
Haji Omer Idris, a Muslim Scholar, also says even if Ethiopia has been entertaining religious freedom since the adoption of the FDRE constitution, there are gaps on religious institutions towards working together in the ongoing effort of ensuring peace in the nation.
Religious institutions have spiritual responsibility to keep peace and teach about it. He adds “They are responsible to teach what is good and denounce what is destructive to the good of humanity.”
Islam teaches to respect others’ belief and to create legal and compassionate relationship among different religions so as to solve problems in a peaceful manner, Haji Omer says.
Furthermore, he states that the institutions need to work on unity, peace, development and eradicating poverty which are interwoven together. “The institutions need to teach their congregation towards the rewarding benefit of peace.”
Religious institutions should give priority to public interests and play a mediating role between the public and the government to sustain peace. They should also present alternative problem solving approaches and creating discussion forums, he remarks.
The Scholar further points out that religious institutions should exert an utmost effort to ensure peace in the nation as they have missions to avoid causalities.
They have to work both on advising the government to correct wrong actions and to directing people to see things reasonably based on the reality on the ground instead of hoping or desiring things which are beyond the government's capacity, Haji Omer further says.
All the Scholars believe that these institutions need to play a middle ground role between the government and the public on important national agendas including in ensuring peace.
BY YARED GEBREMEDEN
Ethiopia’s electronic banking system needs suitable legal and regulatory frameworks to make the sector internationally competitive, economic experts say.
The experts also contended that despite the industry’s rapid progress, it is still at premature stage.
E-banking is comparatively new to Ethiopia's banking industry and the country's largest commercial bank, Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) pioneered the introduction of Automated Teller Machine (ATM) in 2001.
Electronic banking has brought about commendable results in easing transactions and building institutional and financial capabilities of banks in its short history in Ethiopia’s banking industry, Economics Expert Dr. Teshome Adugna tells The Ethiopian Herald.
Dr. Teshome, who is also Oromia’s Planning and Economic Development Commissioner, notes that the banks aggressive move to introduce and expand electronic banking service is paying them off in enhancing organizational efficiency and profitability.
According to the Expert, the e-banking practice in the country is growing at a significant level and the government, through National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE), has been playing a pivotal role in supporting the activity by introducing and implementing different electronic payment infrastructures.
Dr. Teshome says: “Capitalizing on the existing e-banking platforms, the state-owned CBE and private banks have continued their high competition in providing services, including ATM, Point- of -Sale (POS), Internet Banking, and Mobile Banking, among others.’’
Economics Associate Professor at Jimma University, Dr. Wondaferahu Mulugeta shares Dr. Adugan’s view.
He says e-banking has been providing for customers time and cost advantage over their experience in the traditional banking system.
According to Dr. Wondaferahu, the technology is effective way of executing transaction and reducing the huge cost the banks have been facing in expanding branches and recruiting new staff.
“Though at infant stage, Ethiopia’s e-banking system has brought convenience and accessibility for customers and enabled them to enjoy variety of services, especially those not provided by traditional banks due to geography,’’ he adds.
For the veteran businessman with profound experience in Ethiopia’s banking and insurance industry, Eyesuswork Zafu, the technology increases reliability and accessibility of banking services and has a role in addressing the safety problems customers used to face in carrying huge amount of money for transaction.
Eyesuswork says customers and deposit holders could not easily get information about products of banks and general services due to absence of online system before the introduction of e-banking.
According to him, customers can now manage their banking transactions by their own and enjoy improved privacy in their interactions with the bank.
“By using the system, including internet and mobile banking, customers can enjoy more benefits at lower cost which would in turn build their loyalty to the bank.’’
Apart from benefiting customers and banks, e-banking has also positive role for the national economy. In this regard, Dr. Teshome explains that the technology addresses safety concerns and encourages customers to save more money in the banks. That would reduce frequency of printing cash notes and controlling inflation.
Despite the stated benefits and its huge potential in supporting banks, customers and economy at large, Ethiopia’s electronic banking system has remained at unsatisfactory level. And cash is still the dominant means of transaction in the country
The economics experts mention poor infrastructure and internet connection, frequent power interruption, absence of financial networks that link different banks as well as lack of skilled human resources are factors contributing to the slow penetration of the technology.
They all, however, agree that the unavailability of legal and regulatory frameworks regarding e-banking at national level is a key challenge the sector has been facing.
According to Dr. Wondaferahu, electronic payments are not currently incorporated into Ethiopia’s legal system and such gaps in legal fraework hinders the expansion of cost effective modern electronic payment instruments such as ATM, mobile and internet banking, among others.
The Expert further says lack of legal framework that enforces banking industries to implement technological outputs is also considered a barrier in the adoption of e-banking in Ethiopia.
Sharing what Dr. Wondaferahu says, Eyesuswork states that the banks show reluctance in implementing e-banking services, paying too much attention instead of competing through traditional ways such as opening new branches.
In this respect, the active collaboration of government and stakeholders in the banking industry is crucial to enable customers, banks and the economy to benefit from the technology at the desirable level.
Dr. Teshome points out that the government should give utmost priority to develop information technology infrastructure, a major perquisite for successful implementation of e-banking in the view to avert power and internet disruptions.
The banks, on the other hand, need to focus on employing technology to enhance accessibility and competitiveness, instead of following the traditional ways of banking, the Expert adds.
Associate Professor Wondaferahu expresses conviction in the idea echoed by Dr. Teshome, saying the banks ought to build their technological capacity and transform the manual banking practice to electronic in the bid to become internationally competitive firms.
Dr. Wondaferahu notes that the government has also a responsibility to support the initiative and make an important contribution in backing efforts towards the introduction and implementation of e-banking services.
The experts agree that NBE should play the leading role in formulating viable legal and regulatory frameworks that clearly stipulate the use of e-banking in domestic and international transactions.
The timely adoption and implementation of legal and regulatory frameworks is indeed crucial in shortening Ethiopia’s accession to the World Trade Organization and enabling the country to play a meaningful role in the recently ratified Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, they underscore.
BY BILAL DERSO
ADDIS ABABA- Leaders and heads of international and continental organizations have sent congratulatory messages to Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed on his becoming the new Prime Minister of Ethiopia.
Accordingly, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has congratulated the new Premier and expressed his country’s desire to consolidate its partnership with Ethiopia to ensure regional and continental peace, stability and development.
“I write to convey my warm congratulations following your election as the Chairperson of the Ethiopian Peoples Revolution Democratic Front and endorsement by the Ethiopian Parliament as the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia,” Uhuru quoted by Kenya-based The Star Newspaper.
Passing his congratulatory message, President of Somalia Mohamed Abdullahi Mohammed also expressed his belief that the two countries cooperation in trade, investment and security frontiers would reach a new height during Prime Minister Dr. Abiy’s tenure.
Similarly, United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Boris Johnson was among expressed best wishes to Dr. Abiy.
Johnson expressed the two countries have shared agendas to work on ‘development and political reform to Somalia, South Sudan and Salisbury.’
In his official Twitter account, Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat expressed his warmest congratulations to the people and government of Ethiopia.
Likewise, Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom expressed his best wish for Dr. Abiy on assuming the Office of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia.
The leaders and organization heads wished the new Prime Minister a fruitful and successful term.
BY BILAL DERSO