As it has been mentioned via various media outlets, it is almost half a year since the new initiative with new bottom up approach under the name ‘Peace Song for Ethiopia and Eritrea’ was introduced. The initiative has been undertaking various activities since then which could become the hottest agendas by quite a number of individuals and groups in both sides. The very promising thing in this regard, as could be learnt from the organizers and various communication channels, the initiative has started to mobilize the citizens of the two brotherly peoples at all levels, regardless of their whereabouts in the world.
In this regard, the movement has been working relentlessly to reach to all segments of the society of both nations. For instance, various events where the citizens of both countries at various levels and influential organs have taken part were organized.
As part of its efforts, the initiative along with Celebrity Events has last Saturday organized an event where religious leaders, influential figuresand local elders from both sides took part and discussed on the issue at Peace Hall, at the premises of former Ethiopian President Girma Woldegiorgis.
In his opening speech, Professor Medhane Tadesse, African Leadership Centre, Social Science and Public Policy Lecture at London King’s College said that the movement was initiated by the new generation who critically examined the wrong direction of the two peoples’ deep rooted relationship, but not by the governments or the United Nations or experienced diplomats.
He described it as a public movement which does not have anything to do with politics, border or port issues or with reconciliation of the two governments or other debatable issues between the two governments. This is simply a question for peace emotionally raised by the public. It does not have the intention of changing the geo-political map too. It is all about prioritizing peace for the general public, Medhane stressed.
“A dangerous circumstance which can make our common values history is ahead of us. The situations in both countries in particular and that of the region and the globe in general are becoming menaces”. The illness of Eritrea and Eritreans is that of Ethiopia and Ethiopians and vice versa for they are of the same blood and lineage, he further said.
General Tsadkan Gebretensae on his part said that lots of confusing and mixed things may come to one’s mind when he\she hears the issue of Ethiopia and Eritrea raised in such a way. He said that he has known the issue very well, before and after the war between the two nations. “I was among the three individuals selected from the Ethiopian side to discuss the border issue before war broke out. I had the mentality that they fought us from behind while we received them with open arms fraternally. That war was a war we were obliged to fight without our willingness,” he furthered.
As it has been mentioned now and then, Ethiopia had never ever dreamt that Eritrea might declare such a war against its family members. In this regard, the General said that was happened while the Ethiopian government and people had been working for peace building and infrastructure.
“None of us had imagined that because we have done quite lots of good things together. We were buried under a single grave at various war fronts. Had not it been like that, they would not have to throw away the dictatorial regime and the same is true that it might have been testing for Ethiopia too. So, we have lots of memories. But, we fought against our brothers and friends forcibly for that was the only option we had to protect our nation,” he furthered.
The most saddening case at hand now is that it is almost two decades have already elapsed since that happened. So, this must be enough. It is impossible to keep living in such a way from now on. “I was very glad when the youths came and told me for the first time about the new initiative. As a result, I, very soon promised them that I would do all what I can for the success of this project,” Tsadkan told for the participants.
It is common to hear some people be it unknowingly or intentionally associating the intention of the movement with border or port issues. In this regard, the General asserted that the initiative has nothing to do in relation to border, port or else issues. It is the question of living together in peace and harmony as one people of the same linguistic, culture and history.
“I am an Ethiopian, Oromo ethnic group, but I dare to say I am an Eritrean for Eritrea is the country in which I lived for 21 years,” said former Ethiopian President, Girma Woldegiorgis. The peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia are not only neighbors; they are one people, so they have to be able to meet one another.
Referring to a research finding conducted by an Israeli Institute, Gelila Research Institute, the President said that Eritrea is a country which would be empty in some time in the future for its citizens are migrating to other countries so this condition has to end as fast as possible.
Isaac Yosief, Acting Chairperson of the Eritrean Committee, said that others may become desperate and quit their endeavors to normalize the ongoing situation between the siblings of the two nations. But, how dare the peoples of Ethiopia and Eritrea themselves who are victims of the phenomenon do so. “We, concerned citizens from both sides along with celebrity events are now trying our best to pave the way to bring about the possible solution to the problem on the ground” he accentuated.
The effort of the first chapter of the journey, as could be learnt from him, is to create a public movement which can knowledgeably influence the governments of both sides.
The readiness being observed on the peoples of both parties along with the political renewal taking place here in Ethiopia, according to the participants, made the initiative see green light and made them hopeful that the efforts would borne fruits in the coming recent times.
Dawit Gebregziabeher, a business tycoon, said that what happened between the two people has already happened. The question now is whether these people have to live in such circumstances for additional 17 or 18 years or not. It is clear that the conflict is costing the peoples of both nations in general and those who are living around the border. One can simply see and observe their sufferings. If truth has to be told, it is not only Eritreans who are desperately migrating in mass but also the youths of Tigray living around the border for there is no any investment around there.
That was why the critical question that the people of Tigray echoed to his Excellency Prime Minister Dr. Abiy’s in Mekele with regard to the issue of peace with the brotherly people of Eritrea. And one might have observed their feedback to the Prime Minister’s promise in that regard. I hope what the two Koreas did this week can be a breakthrough for our case.
BY SHUSHAY ADANE
As the saying goes, old age is the golden stage of life where senior citizens desire to spend life with good health, dignity, economic independence and yearn for a peaceful death. However, in this stage of life, elderly people are subject to a number of health, social and economic problems and rely on their families for care and comfort.
Taking this into consideration and to show highest honors and care for those who once were responsible citizens, many developed countries establish senior citizens’ care centers.
With this same objective, currently Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MoLSA) in collaboration with different stakeholders is undertaking various social welfare programs for elderly people.
Social Security Development Department Capacity Building and Information Team Manager with the Ministry Damtew Alemu said that in Ethiopia until very recently, care for elderly people was considered to be a family responsibility, since older persons are traditionally supported by extended family system. In fact, this family network plays an important role in the fulfillments of the special needs and requirements of older people in terms of solving their health, social and economic problems, protecting them from harm, and giving them due respects.
As to him, family in Ethiopia provides the major security service for the elders. This is not only taken as a moral duty but it is an accepted social value and a privilege that everyone should extend to elderly parents. Failing to do so is a socially condemned practice and is considered as family disgrace, he said.
Unfortunately, the idea of establishing senior citizens centers or institutions was not common to substitute for family care. However, following the day to day routine activates and certain socio-economic changes, family care and comfort for elderly people are weakening from day to day.
According to him, urbanization, modern education, high rate of unemployment, mobility and HIV and AIDS are some of the factors that change the extended family structure into a nuclear one and weaken family care and support. As a result, many of vulnerable older persons who lose primary assistances are forced to disintegrate from their homes and localities.
However, since the past two decades and plus, the issue of elders have got due attention and various activities have been carried out by the government and stakeholders.
Fortunately, the problem of the elders is being a global issue; it has gained the attention of many at national and international level and to devise elderly plan of action and policies.
While talking the opportunities for elderly people, he further explained that to create a conducive environment for elders there are multi opportunities. For instance, 41/5 of the Ethiopian Constitution explains the importance of allocating resources to provide rehabilitation and assistance to the physically and mentally disabled, the aged and to children who are left without parents or guardians, within available means.
“By realizing the goals set on the African Charter on Human and Peoples right on the Elder, National Social Policy of the county and the second Growth and Transformation Plan of the country, we can ensure the empowerment of elders.”
As a future direction since the issue of elder persons is included in the safety net program, by using this program multi challenges of elders will be addressed especially unemployment problem will be solved by strengthening the participation of elders on income generating activities he furthermore, he added,.
According to him, in the first national action plan of elder persons, thirteen issues such as health and well being, family and community care, rights, housing and living environment, social security, education and training, employment and income generation, poverty reduction, HIV/AIDS, gender and older persons, food and nutrition, emergencies, protection of life and property are included to betterment the health, social and economic lives of elder persons. In this regard, the Ministry is working to address the challenges of elders.
Getachew Kiflu, Prisedent of Addis Ababa Elders Association on his part said that elder people have enormous contributions for the community and to the development of their country. Furthermore, their life time accumulation of knowledge and experience are manifested in various institutions. Ranging from discharging responsibilities to shaping younger generation to be responsible citizens, their contributions are immense.
He further explained that elders play an arbitrary role in every societal conflict by promoting social harmony and have greater role as organizers in mobilizing the community in various ways. Even though over the past times enormous activities are done to support elders, as compared to their problems, it is not enough. Thus, government, the community and all concerned bodies need to support and betterment the lives of elderly people, the President underscored.
BY TAMERU REGASA
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) latest prediction, Ethiopia, in 2018, is projected to be the fastest growing economy in Africa by 8.5 percent. As the report indicates, the country would be the frontier country surpassing Nigeria; continent’s topped fastest growing economy.
Ghana's economy is established on oil, gold and cocoa products and currently the country has a capital of 43 billion USD. Especially, since it has begun producing oil over the past ten years, it has been registering a record of fast economic growth. However, at present, it is obliged to slip the place for Ethiopia which has enabled to attract a number of anchor international companies from America and China.
In accordance to the projection, Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and the top oil producer in the continent is predicted to grow by 2.1 percent in this same year. South Africa is tipped to have a 1.5 percent grow. These two countries, Nigeria and South Africa, alone account half of the continent's total Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The report also predicted Ghana, Africa’s second biggest economy, to grow by 6.3 percent.
IMF also projected Sub-Saharan Africa’s growth and said that they would register a 3.4 and 3.7 percent growth in the current and the coming years respectively.
In relation to this economic projection and its implication for Ethiopia, Addis Zemen Daily Newspaper conducted an exclusive interview with economic experts.
Dr. Berhanu Deno an Economist at Addis Ababa University said that according to IMF’s prediction, Ghana has been a leading country in Africa which registered economic growth for consecutive years. Surprisingly, now Ethiopia has taken over its place. The forecast indicates Ethiopia’s promising economic growth.
It is quite clear that in a year’s time, differences among countries can happen and a country which was once a leader may step down and relinquish its position to the other one. Now, Ethiopia has taken over Ghana’s position and become the leading country. This, in fact, is fascinating. However, the basic issue to be considered is the extent the projection aligns with government’s planned growth rate.
For instance, the Ethiopian government has set a five year national Growth and Transformation Plan with an ambition to maintain at least an average real Gross Domestic Product growth rate of 11 percent per year. Thus, IMF's forecast should be seen from this point. Equally, it is important to give due attention what to do to sustain the growth. In this regard, there are some concerns that need to be taken into consideration, Dr. Berhanu stated.
Over the past two years though drought and unrest had been observed in some parts of the country, current IMF's projection for Ethiopia is promising and forecast it to be Africa's fastest economy in 2018. This evidently indicates country's economic resilience to such resistances. But to stay long in the leading position in the economy, it is vital to make differences in various concerns, he underscored.
The agriculture and construction sectors and construction of infrastructure have been playing a significant role in nation’s aggregate economy in terms of revenue generation, capital formation and employment creation. To further strengthen these growth engines, provision of adequate finance is still an issue of importance. In like manner, expanding the industry sector is the other matter of concern.
Not surprisingly that the activity of the private sector compared to the level of the economy is too weak. Even its capacity in the creation of job opportunity for citizens is not at the desired level. Its competitiveness in the global market in terms of quality and price is also low. Thus, it is of paramount importance to expand and strengthen the private sector. Particularly, for those investors engaged in the manufacturing industry, all-round support should be given to encourage them, as he stated.
If it is required to flourish the private sector, it is mandatory to curb maladministration. Equally, it is critical to combat illicit trade and control it. At a recent discussion Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed held with investors, he has pledged to battle against contraband. To this effect, hence, a concerted effort from all is imperative, he retaliated.
The other issue Dr Berhanu raised to sustain Ethiopia’s growth is attracting foreign investments. Mentioning World Bank's report the Economist said, nation’s sound policies and strategies as well as the competitive incentive packages make the country one of the favorable investment destinations in the world.
In this regard, though the country has made great strides over the past decade, there is still a lot of work to be done. For instance incentives such as tax holiday, provision of land and other services should be facilitated smoothly. Concurrently,government’s infrastructure expansion programs need to be reinforced.
Similarly, tackling corruption and cracking challenges associated with land and investment licenses; quality service delivery needs special considerations to sustain the growth. Furthermore, devising a system that permits the private sector taking a large amount of loan from public banks is essential in order to create competitive industries, he opined.
According to Dr. Berhanu if the country works persistently to get to the bottom of the aforementioned challenges, it is possible to maintain high economic growth and to continue along this successful path.
Dr. Haile Kibret an Economist in Addis Ababa University also said that growth in the agricultural sector, various industrial parks being built in the major cities of the country and expansion of investment are manifestations of Ethiopia’s reputed economic growth. And IMF's forecast is done based on these indicators.
Agriculture is the mainstay of Ethiopia's economy. And the sector, except in some drought-affected areas, has shown substantial growth. Even the unrest occurred in some parts of the country has no significant impact on the economy. This also has contribution for Ethiopia's bright economic growth prospects, Dr. Haile remarked.
Pertaining challenges related to foreign reserve shortages Dr. Haile said that there is a gap in foreign currency demand and supply. On the go government’s mega projects, such as the Grand Renaissance Dam, sugar and irrigation development projects require huge amount of hard currency. Thus, the challenge may draw out further for months, he elucidated.
The bottom line to increase nation’s foreign currency reservation and manage it accordingly, Ethiopia should work on import substitution and increase its export earnings through diversifying exportable products. As to him, addressing the problem in urgency is fundamental to make real difference in the long run.
Since the past two decades, Ethiopia has been experiencing impressive economic growth. Currently, it has overtaken the position of Ghana. However, to maintain its leading position, and realize nation’s development goals, constraints which slowdown its progresses should have to be adequately addressed in an integral way.
BY ELIZABETH MENGISTU
Abegia Meskelu, 11, is a grade six student in one of the schools at Hawassa. Abegia has deep interest in robotics which she is now engaged in. Besides her regular class outside the university, she spends her weekend at Hawassa University Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Center to get hands on practice on the stream.
Motivated by her senior mentor students at the University who achieved the best in their education carrier, Abegia is inspired to be one of the future scientists of Ethiopia. She said “I am discovering the hidden interest of being a scientist within me by being member of the STEM Center at the Hawassa University.”
She believes that this generation is lucky as various opportunities are created and people around are willing to support them by mentioning her senior mentors like Tsion Tesfu and Higewongel Belete who are recognized by the international community as role model Ethiopian mentor students who are now leading their juniors. “They are inspiring and directing us to be scientists of the future in the stream, telling us about One Thousand Girls and One Thousand Future Program and its benefits. And I took part in this girls program where we share experiences and learn from the challenges of our senior mentors so as to do things better than they did.”
Tsion Tesfu, first year medical student at Hawassa University Referral Hospital, explained that she had conducted a research on the medical advantage of weeds which has enabled her to get an international recognition and awarded during her three years stay at Hawassa University STEM Center. Part of her recognition goes to her active engagement in ‘One Thousand Girls and One Thousand Future Program’ activities which enabled her elected as best mentor of the year.
According to her the Program, a Program designed to empower girls in STEM has benefited much. “I have got awards and presented my experience at the New York Summit traveling to United States of America with my mother. The Program was amazing for many of the attendees as an Ethiopian little girl under 18 was not expected to get recognition in that big forum.”
Since that time, Tsion started giving motivational and inspirational speeches to her junior girls in the Center to follow her footsteps aiming at bringing about more Ethiopian future scientists who would impact the science stream of the globe in the near future. “I share my experience to my junior students to do better than I did in our regular discussions as it is part of my responsibility to expand what I got from the STEM center to other students.”
Being one of the role models in the Program and few among the luckiest people to engage in the STEM center hands on practical training opportunity, she has unwavering ambition to make a difference in Ethiopia to significantly increase the limited number of female scientists at a national level.
The program is beneficial to Ethiopia as the future of the nation is highly relied up on today’s girls who would be the scientists of tomorrow, Tsion commented on adding “This calls for special support, guidance and assistance for girls.”
This Program, according to her, is a mentorship program which would absolutely lift up the status of girls and bring about reputed female scientists both in quantity and quality, she expressed her strong belief.
Higewongel Belete is a first year medical student at Hawassa University Referral Hospital and Former Trainee at the Center. She is also the other winner who plans to participate in York Academy of Sciences Summit in New York on the coming July for motivating and inspiring her junior scientist students in a One Thousand Girls and One Thousand Future Program and being best Ethiopian mentee in the area and for
“The Summit is going to be the best opportunity for me to show the exact image of Ethiopia and to testify girls’ potential if given opportunity. I will have video presentations to show that Ethiopia is a nation in a speedy move in all aspects, including science and technology streams. And I encourage girls and women to optimally utilize all the opportunities they may get with firmness to achieve their utmost best.”
University STEM Center Director Nigist Tilahun, on her part said that the Center is established to assist pre-university students on science and technology with hands on practical training to produce future young scientists. .
The Director, who also introduced the Program to the Center, further highlighted that One Thousand Girls and One Thousand Future Program is among the areas given focus by the center to produce more female scientists. “We have brought the program by establishing communication with New York Academy of Sciences to make a difference particularly for female scientists through developing their leadership skills using an online mentorship program which rewards best performing female scientists on a regular basis.”
Luckily Tsion and Higewongel were exemplary, determined and inspiring role models for many students in the Center and beyond as they are now mentoring junior girls to create more future scientists to the nation. The Director said adding that little girls like Abegia and her likes are following their footsteps to become scientists who are hopes to nation’s future.
The Program is led by New York Academy of Sciences, an academy with an age old services and experiences. And the aim of the Program is to bring about more scientists from around the world through interconnecting women in a mentor and mentee relationship and experience sharing platforms.
The Center, established four years ago is now offering hands on practical education through its laboratories and various programs such as robotics, designing and programming, engineering and mathematics, science fair competition, computer programming, technology and many more components.
Concurrently, having various programs and initiatives, it is now significantly inspiring many girls in the field to make a difference in the area.
BY YARED GEBREMEDEN
For successive years, Ethiopia has maintained an astonishing economic growth with the country estimated to taking the lead this year in Sub Sahara Africa as the fastest growing economy. This is good news for a country that has been hit with unrest over the last three years. Though the unrest in some parts of the country cast a shadow over its investment activities, the economy is poised to grow remarkably. The estimated growth by the World Bank and IMF is against possible economic downturn whose main justification was the country's unrest.
Not few have feared that the brief period of instability could deter the East African country’s astronomical growth propelled by both public and private investments and expenditures. The country’s huge investment in infrastructural facilities including expansion of industrial parks, hydro power plants and other basic services together with the devaluation of Birr are ascribable to the estimated economic growth. This year's economic growth is continuation of the averaged around 10 percent rate over the last decade.
This year, with an estimated growth rate of over 8.1, the country will take over the lead from Nigeria as the fastest growing economy in the Continent. This figure corroborates the continued economic expansion unfolding as a result of successive growth in GDP.
And, a new wind of hope is blowing over the political sky of the country with the coming of a new prime minister, rising hopes of further economic growth and changes. In fact, ensuring stability and peace is nothing less than sustaining the economic growth for a non-oil exporting economies, which is typical of Ethiopia.
To make sure that the growth is sustained, the country must continue to work ardently particularly in promoting manufacturing and export sectors. To do so, peace and stability are the most expensive ingredients the country must put in place because their absence does not only halt growth but also undo the achievements made over the last years. After all it only takes a brief time to undo what has been built for years.
On the other hand, the country should keep up the expansion of a number of large-scale infrastructural investments, as still portions of its people are living under the shackle of poverty. True that extreme poverty has been declined over the years, but it also requires daunting task to reduce the level of poverty.
Moreover, the public private partnership should gain further momentum if the country is to maintain the fast economic growth. Without the active participation of the private sector, it is less likely for the country to unchain the shackles of absolute poverty any time soon.
While the government should address the bureaucratic red tapes the private investors face along the way, the latter should also come up with value adding investment projects that can create wealth both for themselves and the entire people. In fact, the dramatic expansion of the industrial park and other infrastructural facilities will not be enough by themselves without the engagement of the private sector. Private investments as witnessed so far, have a key role to sustain growth and in order to do so, they need to be supported through reliable supply of credit and finance as well as incentives.
If the fast economic growth is maintained, it is only a matter of time for the country to create ample window of opportunities not just for its peoples only but also for the entire Horn African region and the African Continent in general.
In all the public speeches on his recent working tours to the different states of the country, Prime Minister Dr. Abey Ahmed stressed on two important issues that cut across his messages, unity and democracy.
Why is unity so peculiarly important for Ethiopia? Is unity juxtaposed with democracy? One could treat this question from two perspectives. In the entire history of the country, Ethiopia was utterly weak and was vulnerable to foreign attack when it was divided into numerous principalities ruled by local vassals and warlords. During the Zemene Mesafint (Era of the Princes), the European colonizers have made numerous efforts to sow discord and hatred between the warlords who were fighting against each other for power. Ethiopia was much stronger only when it was united.
Again what kind of unity was professed in this country prior to 1991? During the imperial regime, the crown was a symbol of unity with intrinsic oppression and repression. Emperor Menelik, with all due respect to his leadership during the Battle of Adwa and his multi-faceted innovations in modernizing Ethiopia, in many cases used his military prowess to dictate unity among Ethiopian people.
The Derge was trumpeting about unity by tampering upon the basic political rights of the nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia and even its members under the smokescreen of “Socialism. “ In both cases unity was shrouded in mere equality in inequality.
Speaking on the practical link between the security and unity of any country, Aung San Suu Kyi once said “Every government must consider the security of the country. That is just part of the responsibilities of any government. But true security can only come out of unity within a country where there are so many nationalities.”
Unity is therefore a major pre-condition for the security of any nation. The tragic and devastating wars that have continued unabated in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, DRC, Libya etc demonstrate that that unity is critical for the very survival of any country. This reminds one of the famous words from the Bible which reads "And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:25).
The importance of unity has economic implications. In traditional Ethiopia farmers, to date are pulling their powers together in Debbo, Jiggie to harvest their crops which cannot be handled by the manpower of a single family. In modern Ethiopia winning the battle against poverty is totally unthinkable without a collective, united national effort coordinated by the government. Economic equity is critical for the prevalence of a meaningful unity.
Unity implies the creation of a national consensus on the major political, economic and social factors which dissect through the entire well being of any society.
On the other hand, genuine and sustained unity is possible through the practical and constitutional recognition and application of democracy in Ethiopia. Besides, in the Ethiopian context, unity implies getting rid of biases, hate speeches and political gossips meant to be used to discredit political opponents.
Martin Luther King once said, “… let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of hatred and bitterness.”
As opposed to forced unity, democracy sets the stage for self determined unity and therefore a real unity is democratic.
In popular parlance, democracy is associated with freedom of speech and press. However, the concept of democracy surpasses these democratic rights that are in most cases enshrined in universal human rights codes of law. The Athenian democracy of the ancient Greece was the democracy of the slave owning stratum of the Athenians and was not extended to the non Athenian slaves who were forbidden to pass by the agora let alone participating in the public discussions.
Apart from constitutional provisions, full-fledged democracy demands the creation of economic bases which meets the basic needs of citizens.
For instance, in the former USSR, During the Brezhnev era the CPSU provided the basic needs of the citizens including the elderly and children. Food and children’s clothing are heavily subsidized but citizens were afraid to say anything negative against the party and the government. But during Perestroika and Glasnosts, a reform program that was issued by President Gorbachov, citizens used to take to streets and avenues and express their anger or anything they wish to say on the affairs of government but when they go home they faced shortage of food items like fillet meat for the elderly who could not chew on hard meat. In democracy both extremes need to be avoided as democracy entails equity in resource distribution.
In Ethiopia democracy can be exercised only in the context of unity and the real essence of unity lies in its democratic nature. Unity in inequality and in gross miscarriage of justice is unthinkable.
The unity among the peoples of Ethiopia emanates from the diversity of the peoples of the country. Both in the physical sciences and in the social context unity always rests in diversity. Unity not among the identical; but the diverse.
Prime Minister Abiy explained this more eloquently on this inaugural speech at the HPR. “Our identity is built in such a way that it is inseparable; it is threaded in a manner that cannot be untangled. It is integrated out of love. The Amhara have sacrificed_in Karra Marra for our country’s sovereignty – becoming intermingled with its soil. The Tigrayans have sacrificed in Metema saying, take my neck before my country and becoming intermingled with its soil. The Oromo have given his chest on the mountains of Adwa_to protect the country’s sovereignty and have intermingled with the soils of Adwa.
The Somali, the Sidama, the Benishangul, the Walaita, the Gambella, the Gurage, the Afar, the Silte, the Kambata, the Hadiya, the Harari, and all other peoples of Ethiopia have fallen saying my death before Badme and intermingled with its soil.
Both unity and democracy demand several pre-conditions including transparency, inclusivity, accommodative behavior, mutual tolerance, the art of listening, mutual learning practices and modesty.
Democracy presupposes respect for every Ethiopian regardless of gender, ethnicity, social status, world view, income level and other social demarcations. All the more according to Melese Zenawi, the late Prime Minister of Ethiopia,
“The rule of law is the basis for any democracy. And without the rule of law in democracy, you have chaos.”
The concepts of unity and democracy cannot be haphazardly equated with liaise faire socio-economic patters or a social nirvana. It implies responsibilities that citizens are expected to shoulder. Democracy in Ethiopia means exercising the freedoms that are clearly provided in the constitution. Democracy also entails equity in economic development and sharing of the natural resources of the country and freedom of movement and settlement.
Democracy does not automatically follow from the change of government but such a change could provide better opportunities to effectively democratize the political system and its economic basis.
Democracy requires the inputs of the public and should not be confined only to the formal efforts and planned activities of the government. Without the contribution of families, opinion leaders and elders in communities, traditional leaders, civil society organizations, democracy cannot be achieved at the desired level and the required pace. That is why democracy is considered as a process.
In neo-liberal democratic countries, democracy for citizens is in most cases related to their economic power. Those who are economically well off practice their full democratic rights but those whose economic status prevents them from practicing their rights continue demanding for further democratic rights.
In Ethiopia the ongoing battle against poverty is practically linked with the battle for democratic rights and unity is strengthened through the linkage between these elements.
BY SOLOMON DIBABA
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has recently predicted that Ethiopia will become the fastest growing economy in Sub-Saharan Africa surpassing Ghana. Ethiopia’s economy is predicted to grow by 8.5 percent this year by IMF. What does this prediction imply in flow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to the country?
Ethiopia’s performance in attracting FDI in the first half of the Second Growth Transformation Plan period has exceeded the national plan by over 2.5 billion USD and the country has become Africa's investment hub for textile and garment industry, according to Ethiopian Investment Commission.
_Speaking to The Ethiopian Herald, Addis Ababa University Economics Associate Professor Dr. Berhanu Deno says that the prediction will contribute significantly to attract international companies to Ethiopia’s economy. It also testifies that Ethiopia is among a few African countries with positive economic trend.
Issued by world’s authority in international trade and investment, the prediction will open the eyes of flagship companies and encourage them to come and see country’s business climate, Dr. Berhanu adds.
Sharing the above rationale, Professor of Public Policy at Addis Ababa University Dr. Costantinos Berhetesfa notes that Ethiopia has drawn globally-renowned companies including US- based General Electric, Johannesburg-based Standard Bank Group and hundreds of Turkish and Chinese companies.
_Dr. Costantinos states that the prediction benefits Ethiopia to lure quality foreign investment that contribute to its economic development by increasing the availability of capital and fostering technological advancement as well as diversifying exports.
_For Wollo University Economics Associate Professor Dr. Hassen Beshir, IMF’s economic forecast will build Ethiopia’s positive image among global markets and boost country's foreign currency earnings.__
_Dr. Hassan highlights that there are many factors enabling Ethiopia to become Africa’s investment hub of textile, pharmaceuticals and other labor-intensive projects whilst government’s viable policies and strategies taking the lion’s share.
_Expressing conviction in the idea echoed by Dr. Hassan, Professor Costantinos says that Ethiopia’s impressive record of attracting FDI is underpinned by the massive infrastructure and human development as well as stable macroeconomy the country has witnessed over the past decade and plus years.
_The professor notes that the government has hugely engaged in moving Ethiopia’s economy from traditional activities to higher-end manufacturing industry and actively competed for FDI with a variety of preferential incentives and policies that enables it to lure big corporates to country’s economy.
Having the vision of making Ethiopia a leading manufacturing hub in Africa, the government has been engaged in the aggressive development and expansion of specialized industrial parks across the country. The intervention has been proven fruitful in attracting flagship companies from all corners of the world.
By the same token, Dr. Berhanu states that the government seeing FDI as tool to bring capital, technology and know-how that helps Ethiopia speed up its economic transformation and lessening its dependence on agriculture.
According to the Associate Professor, the entitlement of foreign firms to access loans at a comparatively lower interest rate in Ethiopia encourages them to move their capital from low- returning countries to the East African nation.
Dr. Hassen points out that the presence of big foreign companies in Ethiopia contributes to country's economic growth not only through capital, but also bolstering the productivity and competitiveness of its exports in the world market.
He notes that the involvement of foreign firms benefiting in increasing the amount of capital available in Ethiopia’s economy while the capital injection further increases the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Similarly, Professor Costantinos says that the huge participation of Asian companies in the priority manufacturing sector is translating into GDP growth and enhancing aggregate productivity and export whilst reducing unemployment.
The scholars indicate that flow of FDI has not significantly affected by the past unrest as foreign owned firms benefited from their access to the parent organization and its global networks.
Commending the positive impacts of IMF’s forecast in attracting international firms to Ethiopia’s market, the experts, however state that consolidated efforts are needed to make the country a favorable place for foreign investment.
Dr. Berhanu says that the government should give utmost priority to address frequent power disruptions and improve road, railway and air connectivity to attract more companies to Ethiopia’s economy. The incumbent needs also pay attention to ensure ease of doing business and make the regulatory framework conducive for foreign firms. Speedy responses for investment inquires are also something worth equal attention, he adds.
Professor Costantinos states that the government has a core responsibility in enhancing the quality of infrastructure and services and keeping the efficiency and effectiveness of the public service and bureaucracy.
He further calls on theprivate sector to form a reciprocal relationship with the government and invest in technology transfer, investment promotion, employment generation and management as well as marketing research.
For his part, Dr. Hassen urges the multiple interventions of the public and the private sector to address the current foreign currency shortage. The government needs to closely follow up the implementation of laws and procedures regarding provision of lands, licenses and incentives.
The experts recommend that maximizing the beneficiary of local communities from investment projects and creating a conducive justice system for foreign firms are also worth consideration to sustain flow of FDI.
The prediction by such credible institution about Ethiopia’s economic growth can attract global companies to country’s investment opportunities thereby sustaining its rapid economic growth in years to come, they contend.
BY BILAL DERSO
ADDIS ABABA- Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association said the newly-formed cabinet should give attention to enhance domestic investors’ limited participation in the manufacturing sector.
Association President Elias Geneti told The Ethiopian Herald that the new government needs to give priority to devise a favorable business climate that maximizes local investors’ involvement in the priority sectors.
The President noted that addressing land, foreign currency and service delivery related problems should be given attention as they largely affect the participation of domestic investors in big investment projects.
He said: “The government should go extra miles to augment the involvement of local investors in the manufacturing sector and provide them with attractive incentive packages, and offering foreign currency, land and loans in competitive manner.”
Since active participation of local investors asserts Ethiopia’s march towards economic growth rules and regulations should be redefined taking in to account the need of the private sector, the President added.
Praising government’s efforts to create strong private sector with better financial status, Elias indicated that domestic investors have created huge employment for youth and women.
The President stated that the government should support local investors to produce quality products through applying up-to-date technologies in the view to boost their international competitiveness.
“The incumbent needs to give particular attention for export-oriented local firms to access loans and foreign currency to supplement Ethiopia’s export revenue and ease the current foreign exchange shortage in the country,” Elias added.
The President further noted that the new government needs to translate its motto of making the private sector an engine of economic growth in to action.
“Comparing with Ethiopia’s rapid economic growth and population size, the contribution of the private sector in the Gross Domestic Product is largely unsatisfactory and needs multiple interventions,” he stressed.
Indicating that public-private partnership is much needed to stimulate the economic growth, Elias called the government to join domestic investor’s efforts to maximize their involvement in the economy.
Industry State Minister Dr. Mebrahtu Meles said on his part that the participation of domestic investors in all development efforts is given the utmost priority by the current government.
The State Minister noted that the government undoubtedly considered the private sector the engine for national economic growth and aggressively working to enhance the involvement of Ethiopian and foreign nationals of Ethiopian origin in various investment opportunities.
Dr. Mebrahtu said: “The Second Growth and Transformation Plan envisions making Ethiopia a hub for light industries in the Sub- Saharan region by alleviating the limitations witnessed in the manufacturing sector whilst giving due attention to domestic investors.”
Improving involvement of local investors in the manufacturing industry is among the priorities for GTP II and the government has built specialized industrial parks and provided investors export incentives, customs duty exemption, income tax holidays and offering land in competitive lease price, the State Minister added.
BY BILAL DERSO
ADDIS ABABA- Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC) said that additional lands have been prepared for agriculture and horticulture investments in different parts of the country.
Various activities are underway to provide lands that were owned by Public Development Enterprises for investors, the former EIC Commissioner Fistum Argea told The Ethiopian Herald.
The ex-Commissioner noted that the government has recently transferred 4,000 hectares of land owned by Best Seed Enterprise in Hawassa for horticulture development.
Furthermore, lands owned by Public Enterprises in Gondar, Bahir Dar, Arba Minch and Shashamane are also planned to transfer to horticulture investment, he added.
Fistum said: “Taking in to account investment’s vital role in Ethiopia’s economic development, we employ different mechanisms including speedy provision of lands to attract potential investors in country’s untapped investment opportunities.”
According to former Commissioner, currently the government is examining investment land provision system to create an effective and efficient land delivery.
He further indicated that state governments are encouraged to attract investments in their respective areas and the Federal and State governments are working closely to address problems investors would encounter in compensation fees and availability of infrastructural facilities.
Fistum further stated that direction was set to encourage State governments to play the leading role in creating jobs for local youth from investment projects.
EIC is partnering with Agriculture and Horticulture Investment Authority and State governments to provide suitable lands for horticultural investors, the ex- Commissioner noted.
BY BETELHEM BEDLU