Ethiopia’s economy needs to focus more on streamlining tax payment, increasing domestic input supply, and maximizing export markets among others to maintain its momentum as the fastest growing economy in Sub Saharan Africa, according to economists and officials.
The economy has proved that it is laid on a solid foundation and broad based growth as it has remained the fastest growing economy in Sub Saharan African recovering from three major and unprecedented levels of challenge namely drought, unrest and army worm infestation, economists explain.
In its late April report, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) confirmed that Ethiopia has remained at the top spot as the fastest growing economy in Africa registering 8.3 percent growth in 2017 fiscal year.
It also forecasted that the Healthy FDI inflows and strong public investment should keep activity buoyant in 2018 fiscal year to register 8.5 per cent growth, 8.3 in 2019 and 8.1 in 2020.
But the country is just experiencing a growth recovery from three major challenges that normally hamper the smooth progress of an economic development: drought that is unparalleled in the last 50 years, popular unrest that has never been seen before in the country as well as Fall Army Worm (FAW) infestation.
Now that these challenges have passed, will the economy continue with its rapid momentum as it is or needs more actions to maintain it?
An economist from Jimma University Dr. Wondaferahu Mulugeta told The Ethiopian Herald that growth is expected to stay high in 2017/18, as the country’s Economy is built on solid foundation supported by sustained expansion in exports and investment.
Peace and stability has major role to enhance the rapid development of private sectors, and increase public confidence to advance their investments and consume productivity, he commented.
Yet, along with addressing the challenges of trade communities, the government needs to mobilize businesses to pay taxes that should be done through the three Es processes: Enumeration, Estimation, and Enforcing, he mentioned.
Dr. Wondaferahu said the FDI inflows and export-oriented industries can be expanded if the economic sectors are supported by continuing robust private investment in infrastructure, and improving agricultural productivity.
The economic sectors need to be supported by significant resource allocations to ensure poverty alleviation, enhance social safety net and other programmes, he commented.
Mobilizing domestic resources, enhancing financial intermediation, and improving the investment environment are the top priorities to register the anticipated economic growth in the fiscal year, Dr. Wondaferahu said.
The other economist Million Timer, from Development Bank of Ethiopia, stated that the number of domestic input suppliers should increase and the producers should also become exporters over the coming years, so that the country’s economic growth could grow in many directions. For instance, coffee productivity is increasing time to time; hence, the revenue can increase as the production supply increases, he added.
Regarding the IMF report, Million says the presence of such kind of increment is motivating as compared to non-petroleum exporting African countries, though Rwanda and Botswana would attain better GDP than Ethiopia.
It could be possible to reach or increase from 8 to 10 per cent in the remaining two months if given priorities for selected sectors. Because, this does not mean little as compared to the GDP. For example, Europe, Asia and America grew by 0.2 up to 0.5 per cent.
On the other hand, inflation has existed in the construction sector last year. Metal products are imported from abroad, in that the possibility for getting foreign currency is uneasy for that matter. As the construction and manufa- cturing industries usually import metals from aboard, it is better to give priority for manufacturing industries than construction sectors; because the manufacturing industries grasp much manpower and need to produce more export items regularly.
In the last few years, the man- ufacturing industries like textile could not grow at expected level due to shortage of adequate productivity and lack of hard currency. Thus, linking domestic input suppliers with industries will have manifold advantage to the economy to increase revenue in a way producers export products abroad, he commented.
According to him, there are long and short term solutions for these challenges. The short term solution is solving the bottlenecks in the economic sectors and other serious challenges.
“If there is no any input in the country, the government or banks must find access for foreign currency either in credit or other means in order to make industries continue their production that was staggering due to lack of inputs.”
In addition, exporting or selling of electric power to neighbouring country like Kenya is essential to tackle hard currency problems and contribute for the growth of the country’s economy.
In his recent public dialogues, Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed stated that he will focus on tackling corruption, reducing bureaucracy, and opening the way for economic reforms in a bid to establish solid FDI inflows and sustain robust economic growth.
Corporate Communication Director with the National Planning Commission Zelalem Berhanie told The Ethiopian Herald that the government has remained committed to sustaining inclusive and pro-poor development strategy in the coming years to further scale up efforts in poverty reduction and employment creation.
According to the national macroec- onomic research findings, “the Ethiopian economy grew by 10.6 per cent for the last 14 consecutive years from 2005 to 2017. In addition, by the GTP II, the government planned to register an 11 per cent growth annually. Hence, the country could register a growth of 10.9 per cent last year,” which is relatively similar to IMF’s report.
According to the Director, this outstanding growth could be recorded due to the increasing of domestic saving, foreign direct investment, and the presence of stable and competitive market system in the country.
The development of the manuf acturing industry has indispensable role to create broad based job opportunity and improve citizens’ income. That is why, the development of the manuf- acturing industry helps to improve the total growth of productivity and competitiveness of the overall economy, he noted.
BY ZELALEM GIRMA
In addition to the rapid economic development and political stability that attract lenders, Ethiopia’s good will to return loan on time has contributed to its credibility to earn foreign loan for its development, Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation (MoFEC) as well as economists explain.
Public Relations Directorate Director with MoFEC Haji Ibsa told The Ethiopian Herald that Ethiopia has a track record of returning foreign loan on time, and working accountably.
Both the government and public enterprises take foreign loan. Public enterprises like Ethiopian Airlines and Ethiotelecom, have a capacity to repay the loans while the government stands as collateral in this regard.
The government has 23.2 billion-dollar foreign debt in the fiscal year, he said adding the country returns sixteen billion Birr or close to USD 440 million loan annually. According to Haji, though the government has a will to return even more amount of loans annually, had it not been for the challenge posed by the imbalance of import-export.
According to Haji, Ethiopia’s current debt is more of a concessional type which is of low interest rate, earning high amount, and paid a long period and half of the money is donation and interest free.
Haji also added that countries can borrow a maximum of 56 percent of their GDP based on the economic term of lending and in their paying capacity. However, Ethiopia’s current debt is below 25 percent, which shows that the debt is healthy, though it is categorized as middle risk borrower.
Unlike some countries that invest foreign loan on increasing salary for government employees, Ethiopia borrows money to develop public facilities. In other words, the country borrows money only after designing a developmental mega projects like roads, factories, power generating dams and the like.
Ethiopia’s relation with African countries aims to ensuring political stability while the relation with developed countries aims at economic cooperation. The relation with IMF also focuses not only with financial supply but knowledge sharing which is beyond the financial support.
According to the director, the revenue from mega projects alone has a capacity beyond returning debts if used properly. They can even generate additional income, which witnesses that the country is beneficiary from the financing.
Dr. Berhu Assefa an economist at Addis Ababa University on his part indicates that the aim of the loans is spending public investment such as roads, water, building dam, electric, clinics, and the like.
He added that Ethiopia has become member of international capital market recently, and obtained loan by selling bond to investors.
Dr. Berhu also noted that as the economy of the country becomes encouraging, the interest rate will be decreasing. For instance, Ethiopia has a ‘’B’’ rating, this is a good economic performance of the country, he stated according to Berhu.
The sustainability of development, the timely payment of loans, and the effectiveness of the projects should be effective as they enable the country to gain credibility among such intern ational financial institutions, he stressed.
Dr. Berhanu Denu an economist and assistant professor at Addis Ababa University says on his part countries borrow a large amount of money from abroad to bridge the imbalance of investment and saving.
He said loan should not be taken as the first alternative for a country to address its financial deficit as it has reverse effect in repaying in foreign currency, which costs a lot to the economy.
He further elaborated as an example that Japan is a small and developed country which is not using the foreign loan while the USA and Russia are developed countries which once used the loan in the past which shows effective use of loan is the secret behind the success of the two countries, he noted.
In addition to this, the economic development, capacity to repay loan, and political stability are among the requirements that add credibility for securing foreign loan.
According to Berhanu, the Ethiopian airlines, Ethiopian electric power, telecommunication and sugar factories are borrowing more foreign capital.
Since Ethiopia is registering sustainable economic development, the loan is not going to be a burden as the country can keep on reducing the loan, he believes.
Concessional loan is more preferable to Ethiopia as it is a high amount of capital with low interest rate and long maturity period, Dr. Berhanu stressed.
Furthermore, he recommends that the government should focus more on enhancing the participation of diaspora to tap more foreign currency through remittance, which would not cost the country any interest rate.
BY MESERET BEHAILU
ADDIS ABABA- Construction of 2000 rural town centers is underway across the nation with the first phase of 13 towns in four States, according to Ministry of Urban Development and Housing.
Public Relation and Communication Office Head with the Ministry Ethiopia Bedecha, told The Ethiopian Herald that the Ministry in collaboration with stakeholders is undertaking the construction of the new rural towns by gathering scattered rural settlements to one center.
Out of the 2000 centers planned to be constructed the first round of 13 rural centers are under construction in Tigray, Amhara, Oromia and Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples States.
According to Ethiopia, the project entitled “from rural settlements to rural recreational centers” aims to bring together scattered rural settlements to one center to simplify infrastructural development, provide alternative means of income other than agriculture, transform model farmers into trade and industry sectors as well as simplify delivery of government service to the inhabitants by creating rural town centers without driving them far away from their localities.
He added that the program will play a crucial role on changing the way of life of the rural settlers.
Launched two years ago by conducting various researches, the program has currently started with 13 centers in four states and lessons drawn from the 13 centers will be replicated in the establishment of the entire 2000 towns, Ethiopia said.
Initially designed by the private sector the government along with some nongovernmental organizations, foreign institutions and higher education institutions has taken over the leadership and ownership of the program and formed a steering committee, Ethiopia added.
The program is financed by the government and non-government organizations though the exact amount is not specified, Ethiopia said.
The program is part of the “rural development strategy program” which was set five years ago, Ethiopia said adding accomplishing the establishment of the 2000 rural town centers there is a plan to raise the number of such centers to 8000.
Initially there was a misun derstanding of the program by the people to accept the program fearing of displacing from their settlements, but through time the society understand the advantage of the program through awareness mobilizations and the society accept it where all preconditions are settle collaborating with the four regional states, different governmental and nongovernmental institutions to apply the program.
In Ethiopia the development of towns average increases by 5 percent on annually and according to recent records the towns in Ethiopia exceeds 2000 and the new program plays a vital role on the development of towns, Ethiopia stated.
BY DARGIE KAHSAY
ADDIS ABABA- Companies participating in the 11thAddis Chamber Specialized International Agriculture and Food Trade Fair and the 6th Addis Chamber International Tourism and Travel Trade Fair expressed their desire to explore market opportunities in Ethiopia.
Business persons, who are displaying their products in the five-day exhibition at the Addis Ababa Exhibition Center, told The Ethiopian Herald that they are ready to do business in Ethiopia.
Santhosh N. Menon, President of India- based Himadri Foods Company said the boost in Ethiopia’s market encouraged them to come to the country to seek new business deals and explore investment opportunities.
Menon, who stated it is his first participation in the exhibition heled in Ethiopia, said that the briefing they gained about country’s huge spice market and conducive investment climate also encourage them to do business.
He said: “Ethiopia’s large population size gives our company an opportunity to get reliable market and source of labor force. We plan to engage in Ethiopia’s untapped trade and investment opportunities for mutual benefits and looking for a positive response from the Government of Ethiopia in our endeavors.”
Abdulkadir Munir, Vice Manager of Munir Hassen Company, who is working in partnership with China-based agricultural manufacturing materials producing firm, Henan King Shine Machinery Manufacturer for his part said that the trade fairs create good opportunity for local companies to establish business partnership and business -to- business linkages with foreign firms.
Paving ways for effective experience sharing platforms, the trade fairs are also beneficial for domestic companies to enhance their productivity and giving foreign entities an opportunity to realize Ethiopia’s investment potentials, Abdulkadir added.
The business people said they find Ethiopia’s market favorable for their products and they are looking for discussions with Ethiopian business persons on ways of working together.
Former Industry State Minister, Dr. Mebrahtu Meles said during the opening event of the trade fair that Ethiopia is working to attract more foreign companies to come and do business in the country.
_According to the State Minister, Ethiopia's agriculture and agro-processing sectors enjoy huge government attention whilst agriculture has remained in its leading position in country’s Gross Domestic Product, exports and employment.
Dr. Mebrahtu stated that the country has given different incentives to investors in the sectors including tax holidays, duty exemption on imported goods and access to land to encourage investors to engage in the sectors.
Special emphasis is also given to the development of agro-processing industrial zones and clusters to facilitate ease of entry for investments and operation of business, the State Minister said.
Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association Secretary General Getachew Regasa stated that the previous trade fairs have been successful in attracting foreign companies in Ethiopia’s economy whilst agro-processing projects take the lead.
Some 70 local and 35 foreign companies are displaying their products in the five-day long exhibition that would stay till 14 May 2018.
BY DARGIE KAHSAY
Though Ethiopia’s economy has passed through worse challenges and remained strong and fast, it rather needs protection from other challenges like corruption, maladministration and illegal activities that it is likely to face.
The government needs to take various actions in order to ensure the sustainability of the economic growth which is witnessed by scholars and international organizations as resilient against unprecedented challenges.
According to the recent report of International Monetary Fund (IMF) Ethiopia’s economy will be the fastest in Sub Saharan Africa Region in 2018. This is an amazing performance for an economy of a developing country that has been confronting three big challenges potentially risky to it.
It is to be recalled that Ethiopia suffered El Nino induced drought that is the worst level in 50 years. It exposed more than 8 to 10 million people to catastrophe. Hence the country has to feed the victims by expending a lot of resources from its growing economy.
The invasion of an exotic insect, American Fall Army Warm (FAW) was also another blow to the economy, which was already suffering drought. Though the worm was put under control before too late, the damage it caused on the agricultural produces of the country in various corners is immense.
The lack of stability that surfaced in some parts of the country was also one of the impediments posed against the country’s economy during the last three years. Conflicts and chaos are undeniably the worst factors that fend off means of development and aggravate economic crisis.
It is undeniable that these problems plunge any country in to crisis. Ethiopia has also suffered many losses to the already existing infrastructure as well as the possibility of development in the future.
Yet the economy is said to have climbed as the fastest one in Sub Sahara African region overtaking that of Ghanas. So if the economy scored this remarkable level of growth it is indicator that it was really built on a strong and reliable foundation.
While appreciating the remarkable growth, it is also important to make due care to prevent the possibility back slide in the future. Passing the unprecedented hardships does not mean that the economy is also able to pass all types hurdles posed against it. It should be noted that challenges like corruption, illegal trade practices and lack of execution capacity, among others could be more lethal to it than the problems it passed through in the past couple of years.
As observed both in our country as well as others, corruption is the worst problem that drags the progress of economic development. Hence, the government needs to further upscale its anti-corruption struggle by strongly following up its steps that keep changing tactics and features.
Illegal trade practices, tax evasion and related activities should also be a major target of the government to put in place stable macro-economic situation in the country. Failure to do so is likely to cause loss both at the government as well as the grass roots level.
Failure to effectively and efficiently execute governments development programs as well as fiscal plans should also be addressed seriously as they nullify all the endeavors for which the country gained the capacity to obtain support for its development as well as built its reputation as effective developmental partner to international financial institutions.
Therefore the government and relevant stakeholders need to give due attention to the possible challenges ahead and stand with utmost commitment to nip them in the bud before they pose risk.
Living up to the challenges of drawing FDI
The past quarter of a century witnessed the rise of trade relations between states and powerful non-state actors. Cross-border investments have become the order of the day in which private interests are provided with packages of incentives such as tax breaks to start their businesses in countries that scramble to have themselves favored.
A 2012 study presented by the International Journal of Financial Research indicated that FDI has expanded strongly over the past three decades. The study cites UNCTAD as saying that the growth in FDI accelerated in the 1990s, rising to $331 billion in 1995 and $1.3 trillion in 2000.
_As a result, goes to the study, developing countries experienced a dramatic increase in foreign direct investment with the annual figure soaring from $24 billion in 1990 to $178 billion in 2000. Despite the general rise of FDI coming into the developing world, including Africa, the
African share of the total FDI flowing to developing countries decreased steadily. The study states that Africa’s share in total FDI flows dropped significantly from 36% in 1970 – 74 to 10% in 1980 – 84 and to 3% in 1995 – 99. A 2007 UNCTAD report indicates that_Africa’s share of global FDI inflows decreased from 3.3% in 2003 to 2.7% in 2006.
Various sources on the forces driving FDI identify both policy and non-policy factors as drivers of FDI. Policy factors include openness, product – market regulation, labor market arrangements, corporate tax rates, direct FDI restrictions, trade barriers, human development and infrastructure. Non-policy factors include market size of the host country (often measured by the GDP), distance/transport costs, and political and economic stability.
Africa’s negligible share of FDI inflow out of the global bulk is thus a clear indicator of the weak state of policy and non-policy factors that drive FDI into the continent. The poverty that characterizes the continent obviously reflects the shaky state of non-policy factors.
The small size of African economies expressed in modest GDPs and weak purchasing power of the people make them less likely destinations for FDI.
The volatile political realities of a number of African countries exacerbate the lack of conducive environment for economic development, effectively discouraging investors from coming in.
On the other hand, the frail state of infrastructure in the continent has been a barrier to drawing FDI in. The other market liberalization moves also have a relatively short history in the continent.
A major point to note is that the policy and non-policy factors stated above reinforce each other. For instance, better policies on market regulation would augment GDP increase. On the other hand, a stable political and economic condition would lay the ground work towards expanding the policy factor of infrastructure.
The recent invigorated quest for development in the African continent has brought the continent forward as infrastructure and social services such as health and education have all enjoyed a tremendous bask of sunshine. Accordingly, the state of FDI inflows to the continent has gained a positive momentum.
_The World Investment Report 2015 by UNCTAD clearly depicts the steady rise in Africa’s share in global FDI inflows to reach 4.4% in 2014. The report shows that despite a 16% global FDI fall in 2014, inflows to Africa remained stable at $54 billion.
“North Africa saw its FDI flows decline by 15% to $12 billion, while flows to Sub-Saharan Africa increased by 5% to $42 billion.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, FDI flows to West Africa declined by 10% to $13 billion, as Ebola, regional conflicts and falling commodity prices negatively affected several countries. Flows to Southern Africa also fell by 2 per cent to $11 billion. By contrast, Central Africa and East Africa saw their FDI flows increase by 33 per cent and 11 per cent, to $12 billion and $7 billion, respectively.”
The report goes on to state that East Africa saw its FDI flows increase by 11 per cent, to $6.8 billion and singled out Tanzania and Ethiopia for claiming a considerable stake of the increased inflows.
The report’s findings about Ethiopia’s revamped capacity to draw FDI have also been seconded by recent reports in the international media.
The reports about Ethiopia included two on automobile assemblies and the engine manufacturing plant in the country, the Salini Impregilo contract to build the Koysha dam and Ethio-Sudanese agreement to cooperate in various sectors.
The two stories on expanding automobile assembly and manufacturing in Ethiopia deal with foreign investment in Ethiopia while the Koysha dam deals with national investment in social services.
The Ethio-Sudanese cooperation also involves various forms of investment._
The country’s FDI drawing capacity has grabbed international attention in recent years as it was identified as Africa’s third largest recipient of FDI in 2013 by UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2014. The report states that the country registered a 240% increase in FDI inflows from the previous year as it shot up from $279 million to $953 million._The report further states that the country has also registered a significant increase in its Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) stock – the amount of investment from aboard held within the economy.
The report goes on to explain that the inflows to Ethiopia and Kenya lifted the region’s FDI by 15pc to 6.2 billion dollars in 2013. It also tipped the Ethiopian industrial strategy to attract Asian capital to develop its manufacturing base. Various media sources indicated that investment in light manufacturing from China, Turkey and India has the major share in the increase of the amount of foreign investment in Ethiopia.
Bruno Casella from UNCTAD, who presented the major findings of the report, was quoted as saying “Ethiopia is closer to FDI than other parts of Africa.” He also said that the robust economic growth and the growing middle class of Ethiopia have contributed to the attractiveness of Ethiopia as a preferred destination of cross boarder investors.
BY BEREKET GEBRU
One of the agenda discussed by Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed during his state visits to Sudan and Kenya were integration of the countries with railway routes. Indeed the issue of linking coutries of the region with railway line is a vital issue as it plays an all rounded role in socio-economic and political development of the region.
Railway transport has a history of more than a century in the Horn of Africa. Among the oldest railway lines of the region is the Ethio-djibouti railway line built during the colonial period. The old age train lines become shifting and expanding currently by the sovereign countries of the horn aiming at mutual economic development based on win-win strategy.
Ethiopian Railways Corporation Communication Service Head Dereje Tefera stated that “Railway transport is the back bone of developed countries economy. It is the main source of development for the developed world and it carries their economy even at this time. The newly developed countries are also busy in expanding railway transport nationally and regionally, such as china and Brazil.”
According to Dereje railway transport is incomparable with other transports for economic development and for regional integration since it carries bulk of freight and passengers with in short period and low price. It is cost effective, cheap and fast. It facilitates people-to-people relations within and beyond borders of nations. It also strengthens both import and export trades nationally and regionally. Even though, it is costly in building, it delivers indispensable service for a long period of time, he added.
According to Dereje, it is obvious that it has a clear advantage for the horn region to facilitate regional development, to strengthen people-to-people relations and for diplomacy.
Lying in the epicenter of the horn region Ethiopia has a plan to build railway projects linking with neighboring countries of the horn region. So far it has built and launched the longest Africa’s electric railway project which connects it with Djibouti, the Ethio-Djibouti railway line.
It also has a plan to build new railway lines from Mojjo-Shashemene-Hawassa- Moyale to link with Kenya, the Sebeta-Ambo-Jimma line to connect with South Sudan and from woldia-Bahir Dar-Worota to connect with Sudan.
Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir also announced, in January 2018, plans to build a railway system linking Sudan to Ethiopia and South Sudan. Kenya also wants to connect its railway line with Ethiopia from the port of Mombasa.
The expansion of railway infrastructure has a big role for regional economic integration, diplomacy and people-to-people relations, Dereje stated. For example, the Ethio-Djibouti railway cuts the 3-day long journey to 10-12 hours, which facilitates the trade relation and movement of peoples between the two countries. This strengthens brotherhood relations among the countries and between the people.
Similar to the Ethio-Djibouti, it is also clear that if the transport infrastructures expand among each countries of the region, the countries under instability may also become to peace and focus on economic development. Dereje states “absence of infrastructural development and Unemployment are among the reasons for instability within countries, so infrastructural expansions create new jobs for the youth.
This has a big role in creating peace and development within nations, to regions and at the continental level. The African Union also gives emphasis in building the rail transport in Africa that plan to build railway line from Djibouti port to the port of Dakar which crosses more than ten countries.”
According to the Communication director not only railway but also all big mega projects, before starting building the projects, there is a feasibility study and preliminary design. So, the security issue is one among the concerns of preliminary study of the projects.
Nationally, strengthening the relation between the projects and the people is the best mechanism to protect the security of the railway, now government is implemented. Government focuses on the people, since it is built for the advantage of the people. But, at regional level, governments and foreign affairs of the concerned countries sign agreements before the beginning of the projects. After the accomplishment of the agreements between state governments, the project starts. This agreement includes the security issue of the projects. So rail transport is safe and secured and there may be no threat because government gives big attention.
The Ethio-Djibouti railway, the longest electrified railway line in Africa, started operation in January 03/2018 both passengers and cargo services with 1171 trains, 41 locomotive and 1130 wagons. 1,100 of the Ethio-Djibouti trains are cargo service trains.
BY DARGIE KAHSAY
Meseret Berhanu, a manager of Habesha Sweater Production Enterprise in Arada Sub-city here in Addis Ababa says she used to assist her mother in the production of sweater while she was a student. After completing her schools, she entered in to full time engagement in the production, and now she leads the enterprise as a manager since many years ago. The enterprise has twenty-five employees on permanent and temporary basis.
Meseret says personal interest is the primary turning point for someone to work hard and become effective. In addition to interest, the experience gained from job as well as the satisfaction of customers would help develop a profession, she added.
Indeed, when interest and experience meet, women can be effective in productivity and grow their economic scale. To make this happen, the government must facilitate opportunities for women to work and support their families. Currently, the government is on the track to provide online market systems and give consultation to producers in fiscal year.
Fortunately, Meseret has one young boy who has graduated in Computer Science, which created good opportunity to hasten their works. Having graduated in this course helps him to adapt the new machine, which they brought from China. She said adding that the machine is unique and not available in other parts of the country. The machine is more significant to save time and produce more sweaters in good quality. But the production is now challenged by lack of training, inadequate material support, and lack of due attention. Though some challenges are now addressed, a lot remains she noted.
The enterprise is tested due to lack of market linkage, and lack of capital, she noted. Overcoming these challenges, the enterprise aims at transferring in to industry, by increasing the number of workers from 25 to 400 as well as producing internationally competitive products, she stated. Of course, women can change the livelihood of their family from low status to high, and this can be interpreted as empowering women is empowering the country.
Bekelech Alemu, a permanent worker in the Enterprise says on her part, a conducive working environment has an indispensible role to enhancing the productivity thereby improving monthly income. She used to making sweater before she joined the current enterprise.
Bekelch believes that the government is working aggressively in women empowerment. However, some challenges are still existed, which are not directly indicating towards the government, rather the enterprise itself, she believes.
Ferehiwot Assefa is also working in producing women’s dresses, trousers, T-shirts and sell products in export market in order to earn high foreign currency.
According to Frehiwot, the enterprise has 34 permanent and eight temporary workers while most of them are returnees from refuge. Hence, such type of enterprise is significant to reduce unemployment rate and generate income and benefiting indirectly in the utilization of finance, management system, and customer handling, she added.
As to her, so as to solving the refugees’ economic problems, the government needs to facilitate opportunities to work and change lives.
On the other hand, lack of input is another challenge for the enterprise that producing a high quality and quantity of the product, and she call that if the government should be solving this type of problems, then the enterprise become productive more.
According to the document from the Ministry of Women and Children, in the past, Ethiopian women just like throughout the world, suffered social, political, economic and psychological problems because of gender stereotypes and imbalance. To solve these problems the women used to organize themselves in various organizations or groups. By doing so they were able to solve the problems they were facing.
According to the document, power supply and expanding rural technology are some activities that the government accomplished after women empowered themselves economically. Following this, 54.4 percent electric power covered in the past few years throughout the country.
In another example, previously only rich people were able to establish an electric mill house in many rural areas. But currently such kinds of services are being delivered more simply by women association and farmers’ associations.
On the other hand, the government has made efforts to enhancing of women productivity, protects their wealth from robbers, affirms land ownership by issuing tilte deeds certificate, equivalent salary with men for similar job, and the overall equal participation with men. For instance, two million women have become owners of land out of 11 million, according to the document.
The Federal Urban Job Creation and Food Security Agency aims to ensure economic independence of citizens, equal participation of women and men as well as to ensure food security. Of this, ensuring financial independence of women is one of the main duties of the agency.
Adding to this, the Agency works for women empowerment particularly, to help them realize the good opportunities and to change their livelihood. Of this, providing short term training under market oriented, technology supporting, and saving services are some advantages both in men and women.
On the other hand, women also become beneficiary from loan provision and in market linkage, by 42 and 41 per cent respectively. The agency is now working in cooperation with the Labor and Social Affairs Bureau to empower women economically. Although the participation of women in economic activities show increment from time to time, it has not reached at the expected level, the document stated. Moreover, 37 percent of women have benefitted from the federal revolving fund.
Women’s economic independence is growing gradually. The government and women themselves play indispensable role to solve the past challenges to have full potential in bringing change and contribute significant role to the realization of sustainable development of the country. Thus, the government and other stakeholders should work hand in glove to empower women for the realization of the country’s sustainable socioeconomic development.
BY MESERET BEHAILU
Upgrading youth centres to deliver better service
By providing access to Information Communication Technology (ICT) facilities, encouraging reading habit, investing on healthy living, counseling and training, peer learning and small businesses youth centers play vital role in changing the awareness and building the personality of many youths. Beyond being mere recreational centers; the centers serve as sources of knowledge, education and information to the youth.
Establishment of Youth Centers started two years after the enactment of National Youth Policy in 2003 which includes expansion of youth centers as one of the ten major points. In line with the Policy, in 2005 urban, rural and pastoralist youth packages were formed.
The three packages envisage to build youth centers for every Kebele, local administration and since 2005 more than 2300 youth centers were launched nationwide, Eleni Tadele, Youth Personality Development Director with the Ministry of Youth and Sport said.
During the past ten years especially immediately within five years after the implementation of the packages, building youth centers were expanding and during the end of First Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP I) more than 2300 youth centers were constructed, Eleni told The Ethiopian Herald.
“The efforts in constructing these youth centers is appreciated, but still compared to the number of the youth; the access of these centers is not enough. Especially the accessibility of these centers in rural and pastoralists areas is rare where most centers found in cities.” Eleni added.
Not only the accessibility many of the operational centers are not effectively providing service as per the standards set by the National Youth Policy, according to Eleni.
To make the centers functional and effective the Ministry is working with due attention to streamline the service.
A recent assessment on the activities of the centers indicated that they suffered administrative problems, management structure, lack of accountability, buildings lack of attractiveness to the youth. The services provided by the centers are not enough and do not match the very needs of the youth. As frequently observed the centers have ended up regular meeting halls rather than serving as training venues for the youth, Eleni Said.
To solve the shortcomings on youth centers government revises the service and design of the centers to include all youth demanded services and to make the buildings attractive especially to the new ones, the director added.
According to the director the standard provides that the maximum service provided by model youth centers should be eight services, the second one five and minimum three services. but currently the standard is revised so that the model centers, most youth centers, provide 16 types of services, the second levels provide 13 services and the third level 9. The minimum number of services provided by youth centers in rural areas is set to be five types.
The design of the centers is also revised to add their attractiveness and modernity for which consensus was reached with regional administrations, she added.
According to Eleni there was no series administrative structure and system common for all youth centers and there was no accountability, so currently the government focused on the restructuring of the administrative and management system of the youth centers.
Based on the new standard of the youth centers, except youth related trainings and forums, it is prohibited to use the hall of youth centers for any meeting or other purpose. In many areas the centers are managed by boards but their authority entitled to control the board. But currently the new standard requires the formation of a General Assembly to check the service of the centers and the activity of the board.
In Addis Ababa there are 106 youth centers constructed well and provide different services. According to Eleni the ministry is working with the Ministry of Science and Technology to build science café’s in the youth centers. In Addis Ababa the ministry has finalized building of science cafes in five youth centers. Two centers in Amhara state, two centers in Tigray, five centers in Oromia and two centers in Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples region have also been selected for further establishment of science cafes, Eleni added.
Eleni stated that government gives attention to improve the service of the youth centers by establishing the same structural system, series management and administrations and a system of accountability since the centers are the places where the personality of the youth develops. Hence, to make the youth centers effective the youth, the society and private sectors should also play their own roles.
BY DARGIE KAHSAY