Political parties and politicians are expressing their readiness to contribute their share for the peace and stability of the country once the new Prime Minister materializes his pledges to widen up the political space more than ever.
Following political unrest that rocked some parts of the country, the ruling party initiated an internal in-depth renewal to put forward some corrective measures in a bid to ensure lasting peace and stability, which culminated in the now former Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn tendering his resignation.
In what is heralded as a peaceful power transition in the country’s modern history, Dr. Abiy Ahmed was sworn in as the new Prime Minister last Monday, where he gave a rousing acceptance speech at Parliament and vowed that his government would work closely with political parties on common national agendas, and relayed the government's desire to allow opposition parties to operate freely and create a conducive and fair and level playing field.
Merera Gudina (Ph.D.), prominent opposition politician, found the approach of the new PM encouraging, and that the government needs to prepare political platforms to initiate dialogue with other political parties.
Recalling that his party had held political dialogue with the ruling party and there were little agreements, Merera tells The Ethiopian Herald that there need to be willingness on the part of the government to come through on its words.
“In our part, we are ready for peaceful struggle (political competition) and to negotiate in truth.”
He mentions three points were subject of discussion when his party held talks with OPDO (one of the four national parties that make up EPRDF); to free remaining political prisoners, widen the political space, and allow opposition parties to operate freely.
Merera points out that in the absence of those things, national consensus is unthinkable. There are additional issues to add to repertoire; for instance, illegal displacement. “But the main thing here is, the willingness of the party,” he adds.
Former Parliament Member, Girma Seifu, states his happiness when hearing of the initiatives from the mouth of the new Prime Minister, but stresses on the need to materialize them.
For this to happen, he says, the ruling party should open dialogue with political parties that really represent the Ethiopian people, and echo the public's voice.
Furthermore, he comments that previously, the government did not have the willingness to open dialogue with parties that had not accepted the incumbent’s interests, and the new initiative would go a long way to amend this if it is applied.
“In our side, if the political space is open, we are ready to play. But so far, the political landscape was blocked for opposition parties. That should be open.”
Lidetu Ayalew, also former MP and an opposition politician, says that the words of the new PM are more than he expected, and if he can stand by it, it will take Ethiopian politics one step forward.
“It is not going to be an easy task. Our political party has been trying to bring forward such initiative, and we are ready to do whatever is expected from us ( to change into reality). “The speech is a good thing, but it would be great if it is changed in to reality.”
“The tone of the speech is high. If this so, I hope that he would strive for its practicality. And, we will measure the speech when it will be changed into a reality,” he stresses.
It has to be expressed and backed up through improved law, legal frameworks and institutions. “We first introduce this idea recognizing that one should object a certain idea not for the sake of objection, it has to be reasonable - we named it the third option.”
Lidetu remarks that after the underwhelming acceptance shown to the idea, many have come to receive it favorably, especially the ruling party.
“If the way we look or view one another is not changed, and if we do not discuss our problems by widening the political space, Ethiopian politics will go worse before it gets better,” he adds.
“So, we are ready for further negotiation but favorable platform should be created in improving structure, widening social base and make a move within a public.”
Furthermore, he stresses on the need of changing on how the ruling party is viewed, seeing it as part of the solution. We have to contribute our share to resolve our problems through negotiation than conflict, and in so doing, we can assist the ongoing national reform, he concludes.
BY GIRMACHEW GASHAW
Following the appointment Dr. Abiy Ahmed as Prime Minster of Ethiopia, Ethiopians have been filled with mounting expectation regarding the future prospects of the country. Particularly, some scholars are admiring the fact that the new Premier instilled spirit of solidarity, unity and hope among Ethiopian nationals.
Dr. Tsegaye Berhe, who has been working in international and local nongovernmental organizations, says “as I understand, Dr. Abiy aspires to ensure the country's peace and unity. His election brings buoyancy as he is a person with vision.”
“For me the main issue he boldly underlined at Parliament is about Ethiopia and Ethiopianism,” he says talking about the main theme of the PM's acceptance speech. “And the priority action must be restoring peace and security across the country, which is the basis for all the actions that would follow. Then, I hope that the Premier will materialize his pledges in a short period of time,” he remarks.
According to him, restoring peace and security across the nation and ensuring unity of the country must be the short term task. “Then, his government can improve and bring about great results in social, economical and political spheres in the remaining two years of his tenure and be ready for the next election,” Dr. Tsegaye adds.
“I am sure the new Premier will invite oppositions for discussion to create constructive understanding to pursue the country’s development and transformational agendas,” he says adding “In this regard, opponent political parties should come to the table and discuss issues of common national interest.”
The main challenge for the Premier, as to Tsegaye, will be the presence of bureaucracy. “I believe he will deal with it progressively,” he reflects his hope.
People must have patience and give him time to adjust things. “High expectations alone would not be fruitful. It also requires collaboration and support to realize the desired outcomes,” he notes.
The fact that the Premier ended his speech with “God Bless Ethiopia” is also a good gesture, he claims.
Eminence Social Entrepreneur's Chief Executive Officer Asnake Amanuel, on his part says the peaceful transfer of power by itself heralds a new chapter.
“What I mostly appreciated (from the acceptance speech) is the place given to Ethiopian women,” he underlines. “I have seen bright future for Ethiopians in his speech, so I hope that the pledges would be applied on the ground. His forgiveness for prior mistakes and wrong doings broke the heart of Ethiopians. ”
According to him, the priority task for him should be creating trust between nation, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia and settling peace and security issues.
The way the Prime Minister requested opposition parties to discuss and work with the government has a major significance to build the nation. Opposition parties need to use this open call for dialogue, he underscores.
Sultan Kassim, Lecturer at Haromaya University School of Law, recognizing the peaceful transition of power as a bold step forward, stresses on the fact that without changes in policy and principles, change in individuals could not bring about basic changes.
Other than that, the Premier made an impressive speech that united all Ethiopians. “What matter most is the implementation of the promise,” he adds.
“Taking political difference as a blessing to build country and work together with opponent political parties, are among the best components of the speech for me,” he adds.
Sultan also agrees that peace and stability should be the primary tasks of the new Prime Minister. According to him preparing national political parties forum to continue genuine discussion on national issues would be the best way forward to bring national consensus.
BY TSEGAYE TILAHUN
• Generates 68.5 million USD in 8 months
ADDIS ABABA - Textile and Garment sector is expanding rapidly, with the number of industries more than doubling and playing huge role in boosting the country’s light industry, and in transforming the economy, according to Ministry of Industry.
Talking to The Ethiopian Herald, Zerihun Abebe, Director of Textile and Apparel Research, Monitoring and Support with Ministry of Industry, stated that the country's textile and garment sector is in an upward trajectory with the number of industries has now reached more than 200 in few years time.
The trend shows that the sector is in the right journey to become the leading sector in Africa and make the country's vision of becoming continental textile hub in the coming years a reality, he added.
According to a recent government data, Ethiopia’s textile and apparel industry has grown at an average rate of 51 percent, and more than 65 textile investment projects have been licensed for foreign investors in the last five to six years.
Zerihun explained that the expansion and development of industrial parks in various core areas of the country, developing technological adoption and industrial culture in the industry along with attractive investment incentives are helping the sector’s growth.
Textile is considered important for technologically less advanced developing countries as it enables them to exploit their abundant labor force and cover for their lack of capital.
On this context, the Director claimed as the core of the country's light industry, the textile has been playing a pivotal role in facilitating structural transformation by accumulating capital that would enable the country to focus on capital-intensive heavy industries in the future.
The sector is also working on solving issues related to raw materials, namely cotton, in a bid to increase productivity and global competitiveness.
“We didn’t use to have a road-map to strategize cotton development, but we have now formulated a 15 year road-map with time-frame that would increase productivity, direct how the sector can be assisted and facilitated,” he remarked.
Further explaining, the Director noted that the road-map in general provides a set of solution in identifying and solving bottlenecks in cotton production, and a way to interlink with the pertinent stakeholders, including agriculture extension experts. It will also contribute to increase the cotton field coverage, and ultimately the cotton production of the country.
“Obviously, upping the quality and production of cotton will have a positive effect on the textile and garment sector.”
Bantihun Gessese, Director of Communications at Ethiopian Textiles Industry Development Institute (ETIDI), for his part opined that the sector has been elevated from a collection of very few private factories some into a park industry in a few odd years as a result of the works done in technology transfer and other endeavors.
He indicated that the Institute undertakes various programs to facilitate skill and knowledge transfer within the sector, including a twining arrangement, where countries and higher education institutions with huge textile experiences provide various training opportunities for Ethiopians.
There are also other domestic endeavors initiated to shore-up skill development. One of which is the increase in the number of higher education institutions that give courses in textile development from one to six, Bantihun.
As a result of such skill transfer programs, the country now boasts capable top managers, supervisors and professionals that are elevating the sector’s productivity and competitiveness, and hence foreign currency earning.
“The country has earned 68.5 million USD from the sector in the first 8 months of the current fiscal year, whilst creating 90,000 jobs.”
By Robel Yohannes
While constructing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in astounding unity to meet the economy’s ever growing power demand, Ethiopians have also started to reap fruits of their toil earlier before the dam even go operational, - in the form of priceless national consensus.
Ever since its construction commencement, GERD has changed the image of the country and become source of national consensus, inspiration and unity for the peoples of Ethiopia.
This week, GERD’s seventh construction commencement anniversary is being celebrated across the country. Prior, a bond week was organized to make sure that the people continue their relentless support to the dam.
More than 200 temporary sales centers across the country sold GERD bond to citizens. Ethiopian Press Agency reporters recently went to one of these centers around Arat Kilo where Demissew Damete, the capital’s resident was buying GERD bond.
“All Ethiopians own GERD. It is our property. If we do not join forces and support the construction, we would not be able to realize and see the prosperous Ethiopia,” he said.
He also added that he has been supporting the dam’s construction ever since its commencement in various aspects, particularly by buying GERD bonds issued by the government.
So far, Demissew bought four bonds and used the bond week to buy yet another bond. “As GERD is our hope and future, I call on every Ethiopian to support its completion,” he underlined.
This is what most Ethiopians believe and have been doing to support the construction of GERD. Similar to the times of foreign aggressions in the past, GERD united all Ethiopians, irrespective political affiliation, gender, sex, ethnicity and any differences that come about for the same cause.
This spirit of national consensus has raised the morale of citizens to support the construction of the dam morally, financially, and materially with sense of duty, patriotism and national responsibility.
Zewudu Gebrekidan, Office head at the Addis Ababa City Office Secretary for the Coordination of Public Participation on GERD on her part said from its inception the people of Ethiopia have showed unreserved support for the GERD cause. “GERD is our identity through which we have showed our commitment, dedication and unity to the world,” she said.
Hailu Abraham, Public Relation and Media Communication Director at the Office of National Council for the Coordination of Public Participation on the Construction of GERD also told The Ethiopian Herald that besides its positive impact internally, GERD has brought together Ethiopians all over the world by creating consensus and common identity under one umbrella.
Over the seven years period, a considerable number of Ethiopians have bought GERD bond, donated fund and visited the construction site in person. The Coordination Office has so far raised more than 10.3 billion birr from GERD bond, trophy, tombola and Diaspora wing.
There might be political, religious, and ethnic differences, but there is always something common among Ethiopians, Hailu said. That is why they have come to reach common consensus and jointly show belongingness and commitment to build the dam as it is their lasting dream to see a prosperous and strong Ethiopia.
GERD has now become a very important part of the life of each and every Ethiopian. It is considered the symbol of the nation and an expression of sovereignty. It has created a new sense of optimism and consensus among the population. This is clear in that the finger prints of every Ethiopian are sealed on it, as to him.
While there have been conflicts in some parts of the country, but it seems that no Ethiopian would make compromises when it comes to GERD.
Despite the existence of both internal and external pessimists, doomsayers and destructive forces, the pace to finalize the project has kept on, Zewudu added.
GERD has developed the ‘I can do it’ mentality among Ethiopians. According to Zewudu the strong commitment Ethiopians showed towards GERD have also positively influenced the thinking in neighboring countries that have also showed their support to the construction of the dam. “They came to understand that GERD would promote fair distribution of resources in the region.”
Hailu also agree with this stance. Regionally, GERD has also created a sense of hope and cooperation among African countries in general and riparian countries in particular, he said.
BY ESSEYE MENGSTE
Following the swearing in ceremony of the newly elected Prime Minister on Monday, Ethiopians saw a ray of hope for two reasons. The first is for witnessing peaceful transfer of power, which is seldom witnessed in the history of the country. And many observers of Ethiopian politics believe that this would lay the foundation for practicing politics of civility.
The other is, of course, Dr. Abiy’s acceptance speech which gives reasons for optimism and expectations. “Before anything else,” said the new Prime Minister “I would like to express my highest appreciation to His Excellency Hailemariam Desalegn, for his exemplary step in voluntarily stepping down and _transferring his power to be part of the solution…. for prioritizing the country’s dignity and national interests in a manner that can set precedence for our continent.”
Then after, Dr. Abiy almost touched on every burning issue that has been lingering in the minds of all Ethiopians, ranging from youth unemployment, fair distribution of wealth, respect for the rule of law, justice, democracy, corruption, and motherhood.
He called on the Diaspora and opposition political parties to work together with the ruling party with the spirit of brotherhood. He talked about reconciliation, and consensus. He apologized for the regrettable loss of lives, both of the youth and security forces, during the unrest in some parts of the country. He called on the Eritrean government to work for sustainable peace on behalf the peoples of the two countries that are closely related in blood.
Above all, the new Premier hardly pressed on unity, Ethiopians long held tradition of martyrdom and the spirit of Ethiopianism, which could be highlighted with his saying "When we live, we are Ethiopians, when we die, we become Ethiopia. Ethiopia's belongs to all of us."
In short, the speech was received with enthusiasm by citizens, members of parliament, political analysts and commentators as well as members of the international community. And above anything else, the speech has raised expectations very high.
Here, it should be underlined that Dr. Abiy is not a full term Prime Minister. And he came to power in the middle of the five year premiership tenure and hence does not have the comfort of a full term Prime Minister. He only has less than two years to deliver.
Then again, considering the immensity of the pressing issues, it is obvious that it will take time to address them all. Hence, what matters the most is understanding the magnitude of the problems surrounding the country and give time to the Premier to solve them step by step, some of them in the short term, and the others in the long term.
Certainly, this does not mean that we should not expect immediate outcomes as it is natural to do so from the perspective of the general public. And there are immediate actions to be taken to bring about immediate outcomes. Most importantly, the Prime Minister’s immediate task would be ensuring peace and stability. Then follows the creation of consensus and trust. With this, it is possible to once again mobilize the public to realize the democratization and development aspirations of the country.
But what should be noted here is that as the Prime Minister made some optimistic promises, he has to be given the opportunity to prove his worth. Hence, everybody, starting from his own party to opposition politicians, scholars, all Ethiopian nationals and the Diaspora should stand with and support the Prime Minister to achieve the short and long term national development goals and address the grievances of the public. To do so he needs time and the support of us all!
The issue, expression and state of democracy is relative. Winston Churchill, the late former British prime Minister from (1940-1945) was famous for his inspiring speech regarding democracy. On 11th November 1947 his remark regarding democracy goes like this “Many forms of government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe.
No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all worst. If I have to sum up the immediate future of democratic politics in a single word, I should say “insurance”. That is the future insurance against dangers from scarcely less grave and much more near and constant which threatens us here at home in our own inland”.
Different governments exercise acceptable democratic state and thus, they are considered as civilized democratic republic. That means there is no such perfect democracy anywhere. On the other hand however, this does not mean that governments and alike do not have to strive to achieve what is considered basic, fundamental, acceptable, reliable and that encompasses and fulfills standard and civilized democratic norms and citizenship rights to their people as much as possible. Churchill interpreted the idea of democracy giving reference to the common person that casts his/her vote during the election day having no pressure from anybody what so ever as follows: “At the bottom of all the tribute paid to democracy is the little man walking into the little booth with a little pencil, making a little cross on a little bit of paper - no amount of rhetoric in voluminous discussion can possibly diminish the overwhelming importance of that point.
How is that word of democracy to be interpreted? Churchill’s idea was that the plain, humble common man, just the ordinary man who keeps a wife and family who goes off to fight for his country when it is in trouble, goes to the poll at the appropriate time and puts his cross on the ballot paper showing the candidate he wishes to be elected to parliament that he is the foundation of democracy. And it is also essential to this foundation that this man or woman should do this without fear and without any form of intimidation or victimization. He marks his ballot paper in strict secrecy and then elects representatives and together decides what government or even in times of stress, what form of government they wish to have in their country. According to Churchill, if that is democracy, he salutes it, responses it and works for it.
Since the downfall of the former dictatorial military regime and despite internal as well as external provocations and conspiracies, Ethiopia continues to maintain agreeable and relative peace, stability and embark on civilized norms and values of democratization, good governance and sustainable development. Although those norms and values can take long time to be fully implemented, from the very outset, the Ethiopian government formulated a constitution that guarantees equality for all nations, nationalities and peoples of the nation.
The constitution guarantees freedom of speech, expression in all aspects, ways and means. There are different independent newspapers with variety of views within the country expressing different social, economic and political views and addressing different issues. Also, there are different political parties operating with different political agendas within the parliament of Ethiopia. Generally, the Ethiopian people have by and large been enjoying relative peace, stability and the fruits of democratic values and norms since this current government came to power over twenty-five years ago. It is to be recalled that these fundamental rights of citizens were absent during the former regimes.
Recent election where over millions of Ethiopians cast their votes to the parties they wished is but one demonstration where the Ethiopian people exercised their democratic rights and responsibilities. During the last elections, many international observers including the renowned Carter Center and over thirty-five thousand local observers declared that the elections were free, fair and democratic.
Democratic nations follow rather strictly, only democratic and legal ways and means to resolve problems that may arise during social or political disagreements and this was the trend that should be followed by some opposition party members to resolve problem arising from the recent unfavorable demonstrations and disturbances in some areas of our nation. However, some extremist individuals and groups located in foreign countries are using tax-payers money to destroy every peaceful democratic of the Ethiopian people thus far gained by choosing violent ways and means instead of peaceful dialogue for achieving their objective i.e. to grasp power by every means including through violence and anarchy.
Further, some extremist leadership have made their number one priority to try to convince the international community that there is no democracy in Ethiopia or that the government is reversing the democratic process in Ethiopia and therefore the international community should penalize the country by denying economic assistance etc.
All these allegations by some internal and external extremist leadership against the government of Ethiopia is simply nonsense. It is non-sense because democracy is a matter of survival and not a matter of choice to the Ethiopian people.
BY YOHANNES GEBRESELLASIE (Ph.D)
In this age, desertification has been rapidly expanding across the world at an alarming rate. Scholars who make researches in the area figure out the factors behind the rapid rate of desertification.
One of the major factors is rapid population growth. When population increases, people are forced to cultivate new areas for agriculture. Such activities have their own impact in disturbing the balanced ecosystem. The distraction of flora and fauna for the purpose of gaining additional farm land resulted in rapid loss of forests. By the same token, it could be a factor for soil degradation and loss of wildlife.
What is more, culture of animal husbandry within pastoral communities is also a great contributor for this tragedy. Overexploitation of grazing land exposed the land for erosion, and hence influencing the ecosystem. In short, there is imbalance between the number of livestock and the capacity of land.
In the third world, the progressive destruction of the stock of trees for the sake of firewood and timber is accelerating soil erosion and reducing its capacity to feed and employ people.
Environmental degradation and desertification are posing challenges on the livelihood of human beings. Some third world countries that recognized the seriousness of desertification have been investing a lot of resources to afforest their land.
Ethiopia is one among such countries that have been striving to conserve the existing forest potential. For this to happen, the nation has established Secretariat for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
National REDD+ Secretariat Coordinator, Dr. Yitebitu Moges said that of the nine Ethiopian states, Gambela, Oromia, and Benshangul have good forest coverage. Thus, the Secretariat has been working on the conservation of the existing forest coverage of the regions through allocating budget.
He went on saying that the landscape in Amhara, Tigray, Afar, Somalia and some parts of Oromia are highly exposed to desertification. Hence, afforestation and reforestation efforts need to be exerted, particularly around mountainous areas.
The Secretariat has been striving to protect the existing forest, by mainly focusing on raising the awareness and improving capacity local communities. To increase the forest coverage in Amhara, Tigray and east Oromia, efforts has been carried out to plant trees through mobilizing the community.
Dr. Yitebitu also told The Ethiopian Herald that over the past two decades, various efforts have been exerted to develop the forest coverage across the board. But the expected result has not yet been attained due to poor institutional capacity as well as socioeconomic and other related factors.
He suggested that the tree plantation efforts have not been fully successful as there has been gap in caring for seedlings. Furthermore, no research has been conducted to identify the appropriate seedlings conducive for the environment. Simply, farmers are planting trees through various campaigns which have not taken into consideration what would happen then after. And this has its own direct impact on the forest coverage, he stated.
To further expand forest coverage nationwide, the government has identified specific areas to planting trees. What is more, it provides legal support and seeding assistance for various stakeholders who have a tendency to develop their own environs.
Nowadays, the federal government has been working jointly with various media outlets to raise awareness of the public towards afforestation. Recognizing that the job done so far is not enough, it has been working hard than ever before.
Environment education has been given in primary and secondary schools. Of the 44 Universities that are operating in the country, Wondogenet Forest College has been specialized in graduating students in forestry.
Furthermore, institutional capacity need to be strengthened, seeds that are suitable to the topography should be identified through conducting researches. So far, very few areas are covered with forests through the support of experts.
With regard to forest coverage, “we have to learn from best practices of countries such as South Korea, China, and Austria. They have a developed culture of collective forest plantation,” said Secretariat Coordinator.
He further said that the general public should be responsible to safeguard the forest and plants on a regular basis.
Stressing the geographical advantages of Ethiopia and its abundant potential, Dr. Yitebitu indicated that proper preservation and protection of the environment would enable it to export water not only to Arab countries, but also neighboring countries such as Sudan, Somalia and others. If the country is effective in forest coverage, the land will receive balanced rainfall and farmers can receive adequate water to improve national agricultural productivity.
Dr. Yitebitu also said that, in doing so, Ethiopia can boost its economy just by selling water, let alone the other multifaceted benefits that forest would bring about.
Focusing on forestry development would also support Ethiopia’s green development ambitions. The current coverage of forest is 17.2 million hectares of land. It covers 15.5 percent of the total surface area. While protecting the existing forest coverage, Ethiopia intends to undertake large scale afforestation and reforestation to enhance the total forest coverage from 20 to 30 percent by 2020 and 2030. REDD+ has largely been implemented in this regard, he added.
The government of Ethiopia considers REDD+ to be a flagship program within the national development plan and it is expected to make significant contribution in terms of investment in forest management, forest conservation and forest restoration.
The national REDD+ strategy, therefore, aims to ensure the sustainable management of the forest and to improve the livelihoods, biodiversity conservation and the hydro-logical functions of Ethiopia’s highlands, according to him.
He supposed that, REDD+ will achieve these goals through establishing an effective legal and institutional framework; enhancing investments in forest conservation and restoration programs/ projects and interventions; and improving institutional capacity and ensuring sustainable finance.
The strategy promotes the protection, conservation and restoration of forest ecosystems; strengthens governance; develops local capacities and creates an enabling environment for sustainable forest development. It has a bigger vision of harnessing forestry resource development for driving green and sustainable economic growth founded on the management of forest and water resources of natural capitals.
According to Dr. Yitebitu, the area affected by deforestation should be afforested to keep environmental safety and integrity. Some 660,000 hectares of land in Southern Nation Nationalities and Oromia states will be managed through participatory forest management program in the next three and four years. The plan also includes reforestation of 800 thousand hectares of land in Amhara and Tigray states through mobilizing local communities.
BY ESSEYE MENGSTE
As Ethiopia now becomes among the major foreign direct investment destinations in the world, the new jobs the newly established industrial parks have been creating are grabbing the interests of highly skilled local and foreign employees. In fact, besides initiating structural transformation, the major short term economic benefit of building industrial parks is creating significant number of job opportunities.
For instance, in Hawassa Industrial Park (HIP) alone, nearly 10,000 people, the majority being youths and women, are currently employed in various factories. When it goes fully operational and starts production in two shifts, the park is expected to hire approximately 60,000 employees.
Sasi Busen, an Indian, is Country Manager of Silver Spark Apparel PLC - a fully-owned subsidiary to one of the top five leading suit manufacturers in the world. He said his company has hired 530 Ethiopian employees who are engaged in suit production. Most of the employees are women. This is because; he explained, it is a global trend that the apparel industry dominantly employs women.
The Manager also indicated that the factory has given basic sewing skill training for its women employees and admired the company’s Ethiopian employees saying “They are hungry to learn.” The Indian’s technical trainers are now transferring suit making skills to the employees by installing technologically advanced machinery.
Alemayehu Woldehana, 23, is a graduate from Technical and Vocational Education and Training who is currently employed at HIP. Prior, he took part in mechanical and technical training before he is employed in the textile factory. And now, he is serving as a maintenance officer in the factory. Though he has some experience in electric installation, the presence of advanced technology grabbed his attention to join the textile factory. “This has helped me to further upgrade my knowledge and experience,” he said stating his future plan to become Chief Technician in the Company.
Genet Gedamu, is one of the beneficiaries of the Hawassa Industrial Park. She has been working in one of the textile factories for over the past six month, attaching button on men clothing, with a monthly salary of 1,002 Birr. She recalls the time that she spent idle after she had completed her 10th grade education.
Seizing the training opportunity provided by the government and acquiring skills, she was able to be employed in her current occupation. Now, Genet is confident as she is not only standing on her feet, but she is also supporting her family.
Beletech Gizaw, 25, is a mother of two and presently works at Hawassa Industrial Park for the past six months. She had been jobless for some time after completing her secondary school education, and decided to get married because she had no hope of getting a job.
According to Beletech, she and some of her friends were first recruited by the government and had been given physical fitness test. Then, they received training in attaching button. “After joining the Hawassa Industrial Park, we again took training on how to sew coat. Then they assigned us to perform the task assisted by a machine.”
Beletech is very happy for getting such an opportunity. She said: “I have my own job and earn a monthly salary of 1,000 Birr. Though I'm happy that I have a job now, the salary I earn is still not satisfactory. I hope the company would improve it once it starts to generate profit.”
Besides the direct investment in the Park, HIP will significantly contribute to the business competitiveness of Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples state and its capital Hawassa city in particular. The number of off-park investment in Hawassa has sharply increased in the past two years as many businesses have seen greater market opportunities, according to Ethiopian Investment Commission.
Commission, Deputy Commissioner Abebe Abebayehu told The Ethiopian Herald that nearly 18 leading global companies have invested in HIP. These companies are now creating ample job opportunities. The first of its kind, targeted labor screening, grading and skill training system have been piloted in HIP.
According to Abebe, this is a joint effort involves the State, Hawassa City and other zonal administrations, Ethiopia Textile Industry Development Institute, HIP investors association and enterprise partners.
Besides creating jobs for unemployed citizens, the government allowed local investors to engage in the Park. Accordingly, eight domestic investors have been meticulously selected, and the necessary preparations are finalized to facilitate their investment in the Park. The government attaches high importance to the inclusion of domestic industrialists into HIP and all other parks in the pipeline. In line with the industrial park strategy of the country, 15 to 30 percent of factory shades and spaces in all parks will be secured for domestic investors.
By operating in close proximity to world class manufacturers, domestic industrialists can easily benefit from technological transfer and diffusion of management know-how. Additionally, local industrialists will get the opportunity to seamlessly integrate into the global supply chain. There are important aspects of the linkage strategy through which the benefits of foreign direct investment can be leveraged and harnessed.
Modeling the HIP, the government has further embarked on the development of other parks in places such as Kombolcha, Mekelle, Kilinto, DireDawa, Adama. Following this, many citizens will have a chance to get jobs. And other local investors should be ready to engage in the upcoming industrial parks. For this to happen, concerned bodies should work aggressively to equip citizens with the necessary skills.
BY GIRMACHEW GASHAW
The holiday season is upon us once again; and with it the unrelenting and for most part unhealthy appetite for consumption. Inevitably, in such moments, the almost unholy alliance of excessive consumerism and the holidays are discussed, pointing out its negative side.
In his book entitled “Regrets on Parting with My Old Dressing Gown”, French Philosopher Denis Diderot basically depicted how chasing new and shiny things spirals out of control. And from the story came an interesting phenomenon called the 'Diderot Effect'.
In the story, Diderot is given a new, elegant gown from his friend, and suddenly his old things begun to look drab and dull to him compared to the newly bought elegant one. In his effort to match his new expensive gown, he spiraled into a frenzy of purchasing items that he doesn't need. This is pretty much the gist of the story, and what the subsequent 'Diderot Effect' phenomenon contends.
However, the aim of this article is not to delve into the Diderot effect but rather to draw parallels and point out the budding of excessive or unnecessary consumerism that is unleashed in holiday season in some urban areas, following the rise of middle class and urbanization in the country.
Now it may look a pretty long shot to put together 'over consumption' and Ethiopia or Africa, for that matter, side by side in the same sentence, given that most of people living in this part of the world are poor. Add to that, 'Worldwatch Institute' estimates that Sub-Saharan Africa, along with South Asia, accounts for only 3.2 per cent of private consumption spending of the world's population, which is a very meager number. However, things are looking up with the adjectives used to denote Ethiopia and the continent changing for the better, with words like 'rising', 'booming' dominating.
According to the ninth edition of the 'Deloitte Consumer Review', Africa's aggregate household final consumption expenditure grew at an average annual rate of 10.7 per cent, rising by more than 850 billion USD and reaching nearly 1.3 trillion USD. The same review estimate that markets with the highest GDP growth - Ethiopia is one of them - are expected to outperform middle class growth in other countries. And a number of forces are converging to make Africa more prominent in the global consumer economy, as an urbanizing and middle class drives demand for consumer products and improved services.
With such developments comes the the inevitable alliance of excessive consumerism and the holiday season. When holiday comes close, the city starts to get bombarded by various products' marketing campaigns, whether we flip through out TVs or radiowaves.
Obviously, consumption fuels the economy. Consumerism accelerates innovation, convenience and accessibility, while it also magnets investment like no other. It also boosts small and local businesses. But, like everything, it has excesses, and those excesses negatively impact consumers themselves, workers and the environment. The negative impact with regards to consumers lie with excessive and unnecessary consumerism and low saving.
The issue with unnecessary consumerism in light the holiday season is merely about people consuming, but consumers spiraling into unnecessary shopping spree and not knowing it. Buying an item not because they are in need of them, but simply because they are introduced as new. Maybe it might be a case of them trying items on sale to take advantage of discount price, but end up – just like in the Diderot story – getting compelled to buy items that better match the new one, overpowering them to cost of future purchases.
The point of the story, and this article, is not to get overpowered by excessive consumption and not sucked into phenomenon such as 'Diderot Effect', and try to save money instead. And given the country's low level saving rate, not only us, but the whole country depends on our ability to save up money. And in a way, the article is a sort of 'head's up' to the budding excessive consumption seen in the Addis. The culture of saving should be nurtured in the country, be it as household level or national level, as saving is as important as consumption is to an economy, especially to long-term economic growth.
Also, African countries’ ability to finance a greater share of their development can only come from their domestic sources, and one way to this to increase the rate of saving. At macro level too, saving improves the soundness of the economy, leading to a better credit rating resulting in the capacity of the country to borrow money at a cheaper rate on the international markets.
BY ROBEL YOHANNES