• Kenya pledges plot for Ethiopia in Lamu Port
ADDIS ABABA- Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed and Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta have agreed to shore up the two countries partnership in bilateral and regional issues.
According to the communique issued after the discussion, the two leaders held talks on boosting economic ties, and on the current peace and security situation in Somalia and South Sudan.
During the discussion, President Kenyatta expressed his government’s readiness to facilitate the formal acquisition of land in Lamu Port, meanwhile Dr. Abiy reiterated Ethiopia’s commitment to develop the land for logistical facilitation.
Ethiopia reached similar agreements with Djibouti and Sudan during Dr. Abiy’s visit to the respective countries. The agreements are expected to play major role in helping Ethiopia’s move in diversifying outlets, and enhancing import-export activities whilst helping reduce the cost of port rent significantly. The two leaders also discussed development cooperation, on ways to speed up the road project up to Moyale as well as finalize the Ethiopia-Kenya interconnection transmission line. The sides also expressed commitment for the development of the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor project.
The parties strongly encouraged members of their respective private sectors to identify potential areas for engagement and pledged to continue improving the business environment and create maximum incentives for successful commerce.
Furthermore, both sides agreed to strengthen the collaboration between the two national carriers, Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways, and to give unrestricted marketing in the respective countries.
Prime Minister Abiy and President Kenyatta also expressed willingness to promote inclusive economic growth within the border region, and ensure cross-border trade between the border communities that could greatly elevate their quality of lives.
The two countries also reiterated the need for strengthening cooperation in shared trans-boundary resources use, based on the principle of equitable and reasonable utilization.
Concerning regional peace and stability, they agreed to intensify their joint effort to bring peace and stability in South Sudan and check the activities of Al-Shabaab in Somalia.
The two sides expressed their disappointment at the slow pace of progress in ongoing efforts to restore peace in South Sudan, and urged the warring factions to adhere the peace accords and refrain from violating cessation of hostilities agreement.
They noted that Al-Shabaab continues to pose significant threat to Somalia and the region. In this regard, they called on the international community to provide reliable support for AMISOM forces to support peace building efforts in that country.
The parties also agreed to champion common African Union positions in the UN Security Council, while Ethiopia pledged to support Kenya’s bid for a non-Permanent Seat in the UNSC for the years 2021-2022.
Ethiopia and Kenya have started diplomatic ties in 1961, when Ethiopia opened its Embassy in that country. Kenya opened its Embassy in Addis Ababa after seven years, in 1968.
BY BILAL DERSO
Various reputable international and continental financial institutions and Media outlets have been stating that the Ethiopian economy has been growing rapidly in the last decade. Some of them even describe that as a phenomenon that has been and is still growing with double digits.
On the contrary, it is not also something new to hear some economists expressing their doubts on the healthiness of the growth. The Ethiopian Herald has approached two prominent economists to get to the bottom of it.
Eyob Tekalign, Political economist and Director at Schulze Global Investments' Ethiopia office, says that people should, before anything else, clear their confusion
with the two concepts of economic growth and economic development. Economic growth, as to him, is a narrow concept that deals with measuring a country’s growth over a period of time, in terms of amount of goods and services; so one can say the economy has grown by this or that percentage. “In this regard, we have seen a sustained GDP growth over the last decade - a double digit growth,” he noted.
According to Eyob, economic development is a much broader concept. It measures an upward movement of the entire social system in terms of income, savings and investment along with progressive changes and socioeconomic status. Economic development may even require reorganization and reorientation of the entire economic and social system, he furthered.
So, considering this, it's safe to say that there has been a sustained economic growth, while a lot still remains to be done when it comes to the social system, he stressed. “Thus, it is about time to be looking at how we can sustain that economic growth to make it more of an economic development,” he reiterated.
Further explaining, Eyob points out how the recent frustration in some sects of the population boiled over despite the fact that the overall GDP growth on per capita income level consistently scored high marks over the years, and Ethiopia is much better than other African countries in terms of income inequality.
“As could be learnt from the frustration over the last few years from the youths, the growth has not really trickled down to every part of the society, and to the grassroots level.” As a result, every citizen can’t feel that he\she is really reaping the benefit of this economic growth, which means the socioeconomic structure needs to move in an upward way, he notes.
As per Eyob, there needs to be a completely different mindset in the bureaucracy in terms of making the private sector key partner of development.
“The private sector is not playing its natural role in this economy, though it is a very important engine of growth. It is this sector that plays huge role in harnessing saving, promoting investment, and creating jobs.” According to him, however, the ecosystem has not been yet changed to allow young entrepreneurs to do start-up businesses without being afraid to fail.
The (economic) system is the most development oriented one, which is very good, but it is also equally necessary to bring it to the ground, he accentuated. Aggressive and wonderful policies, like the industrial policy, and smart regulation that encourages innovation and creativity should be fully implemented to bring structural shift (in the economy).
“All in all, my take is that the job is well started, but the real job has yet to commence - the job of changing the structure of the economy, making everybody beneficiary.”
Dr. Atlaw Alemu, Head of Economics department at Addis Ababa University, for his part says there is no denying the existence of growth. However, when it is evaluated from other perspectives, the economic growth should be beneficiary to the majority of the people at grassroots level, if it is to be proper.
As for him, there can be economic growth without employment enhancement and with employment too. However, economic growth has to be evaluated in association with how much job and employment it creates, he reiterates.
From this point of view, the current economic growth is not employment enhancing, since the number of unemployed is either on the same proportion (to last FY), or the employed are underemployed, Atlaw restated.
“One can judge the unemployment situation in Ethiopia. The last unrest, for instance, is a clue of how much employment was not expanding. So, I would only say there is a reasonable economic growth if and only if many people are getting engaged in economic activities from time to time for this is one of the indicators of a healthy economic growth”.
As per the economist, the Ethiopian economy is not employing as many people as its rapid growth should have. “The economic growth is in the hands of few individuals. This is my observation as an individual economist,” he marked.
The other aspect Atlaw mentions is how one of the features of the economy is the growth of the service sector, other than manufacturing and agriculture, which in his view structurally affects the economy. He argues that there are doubts when it comes to the sustainability of service-led growth.
Thus, the government has to (further) simplify the processes of entry into the industrial sector, in general, and the manufacturing sector, in particular, by making credit more available. It is not only entry, but the exit has to be also made as easy as possible, he highlighted.
“Now what the government is doing in industrial parks is a good step forward, but they have to attract as much local investors and manufacturers as possible so that they can take many people into their business,” the economist pointed out.
In a nutshell, both economists agree that the growth of the Ethiopian economy is in the right direction, and it has a positive outlook. Ethiopia has a good prospect to prosper, to increase and diversify its outputs and earn better, although a lot still remains to be done in changing the mindset in the public sector.
BY SHUSHAY ADANE
• Lauds Ethiopia's economic growth
ADDIS ABABA- Saudi Arabia is keen to consolidate its longstanding relations with Ethiopia in the trade and economic frontiers, according to country's ambassador.
In an exclusive interview with The Ethiopian Herald, Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Ethiopia Abdullah Faleh Alarjani stated that his country has keen interest to bolster economic cooperation with Ethiopia in agriculture and other priority sectors.
The Ambassador pointed out there is a growing desire among Saudi investors to do business in Ethiopia, and to maximize their involvement in the country's market. Ambassador, Abdullah the Ethio-Saudi Joint Commission, whose establishment dates back to 2002, has remained an instrumental element in outlining new areas of cooperation and cementing the existing ones.
Due to the Commission’s exemplary engagement, the two countries signed Agreement for Avoidance of Double Taxation, and many more deals are in the pipeline.
“Among them, Agreement for Promotion and Protection of Investment, which aims at enhancing the flow of Saudi investment to Ethiopia, is being discussed by the two parties, and they are close to reaching a deal,” Ambassador Abdullah added.
Saudi Arabia is the fourth largest foreign investor in Ethiopia, and currently 200 Saudi-based investment projects are operating in Ethiopia with a total capital of 18.3 billion USD, while the two countries annual trade volume reached 659 million USD in 2017.
MIDROC's Gold Mine, Sheraton Addis Hotel, Derba Cement Factory and Saudi Star Agricultural Development Plc are among the Kingdom’s high-profile investment projects in Ethiopia.
Mentioning Saudi investors growing desire to maximize their involvement in Ethiopia’s market, Ambassador Abdullah called on the Government of Ethiopia to facilitate conditions for more Saudi companies to come and do business.
Moreover, the Ambassador praised Ethiopia’s rapid economic progress over the past decade and plus years, stating his country's delight in Ethiopia’s successive economic growth.
He said: “Saudi Arabia is happy with Ethiopia’s persistent economic growth and appreciates government’s commitment and ability to attain such significant success in a short period of time.”
The Ambassador expressed his belief that the multiple efforts of the people and government of Ethiopia enables the country to attain ‘impressive’ economic growth and achieve sustainable development.
According to Ambassador Abdullah, government’s sound economic policies and meticulous leadership has also helped the country to achieve huge economic boom that enabled it to become one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
“As a development ally, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia extends its support to Ethiopia’s development projects to sustain its promising growth,” the Ambassador affirmed.
Ethiopia primarily exports live animals, meat, coffee and sesame to Saudi Arabia, while petroleum products and derivatives, machinery, automobile and other commercial and consumer goods are the sole exports of the Kingdom to Ethiopia.
BY BILAL DERSO
ADDIS ABABA- Scholars advise Ethiopia to give utmost priority to strengthening national consensus in order to fully unleash the positive outcomes of the federal system.
According to them, Federalism has facilitated development and fostered democracy in the country by giving full recognition to self-administration.
Gedion Mezmur lecturer at Ethiopian Civil Service University said that federalism is the best option for Ethiopia as it bestows self-administration for all nations, nationalities and peoples of the country.
He noted that the wide variety of demands of citizens was delivered upon within a short period of time since federal system reduces bureaucracy compared to centrist system. “This system affords citizens proximity to the administration.” In addition, it strengthens political participation of citizens in public affairs at all three levels of the government through their representatives, he added.
Furthermore, Gedion noted that since Ethiopia is home to more than 80 nations and nationalities, such administrative system allows them to develop their culture by means of constitutionally guaranteed rights. However, he added: “Being different in terms of language and culture doesn't mean that we have no common interests.”
Gedion pointed out that the current Ethiopian federal system faces challenges resulting from lack of awareness and experience, like low level of understanding on the fundamental principles of federalism both at federal and local level. Similarly, stemming from unfamiliarity to the working of unity in diversity, the national consensus of the country was undermined.
Tariku Tadesse federalism expert said there was partial self-administrating system based on geographical location during Emperor Haile Selassie, even though there was no formal federal constitution. “We can say that the imperial system laid foundation for the current system of government,” he opined. Because at that time there was a power distribution between local nobilities and central government, according to him.
Tariku argued that federal system is the best option for multinational countries like Ethiopia, as it allows self-rule and the right to self-determination. However, he mentioned that the current federal system of the country faces challenges that come from unintentional consequences.
As a remedy, he suggested strengthening common grounds within the federal system.
BY TAMERU REGASA
ADDIS ABABA- Ministry of Education stated that it has been working to attain the vision of securing employment for 80 percent of university graduates by 2020.
The Ministry's Higher Education Inspection Director, Dessalegn Samuel told The Ethiopian Herald that strategic plan was set to help the graduate obtain relevant jobs within 12 months of graduation.
He said: “We give due emphasis to not only provide new graduates access to jobs, but also to ensure that it would be relevant to their field of study within 12 months after graduation.”
Inadequate English proficiency and limited exposure about future carriers have been identified by the Ministry as the major challenges facing new graduates. To this end, a strategy was put in place that takes these major hindrances into consideration.
According to the Director, carrier service centers that offer training for graduate students on different jobs, work discipline, market, salary rate and other related issues were established in all universities. Currently the centers are providing service in 23 universities.
Dessalgen noted that preparation has also been finalized to install carrier path prototype in 79 programs while the trainings are incorporated into the system.
It is a viable move in acquainting them with the desired knowledge, and exposure about future carriers, he added.
The Director also pointed out that the manual for English Language Improvement Program is prepared for students to improve their English language proficiency and enhance their competitiveness to secure jobs.
Students continuous assessment, opening language improvement centers, improving university-industry linkages, Career Services and Sensitizing Career Path are also part of the strategic plan that aim at building graduate’s capacity for future jobs, Dessalgen noted.
BY BETELHEM BEDLU
In the last decade, Ethiopia’s economy has registered consistent economic growth, driven by strong public investment in infrastructure and manufacturing. The economy has also shown resilience by withstanding huge challenges like drought and unrest in some part of the country for the past 3 years.
The World Economic Situation and Prospects 2018 projected that economic growth in Ethiopia is expected to increase to 7.3 percent and 7.5 percent in 2018 and 2019 respectively, while the economy is tipped to maintain its growth lead for the East African region in 2018, according to the latest World Bank forecast report. In addition, International Monetary Fund (IMF)s recent predictions shows that Ethiopia will become the fastest growing economy in Sub Saharan Africa.
Amid the growth and resilience, the government is aiming to shift Ethiopia from an agrarian economy to a level of development where manufacturing becomes dominant, with the ultimate goal of maintaining the economy's health and help improve the livelihoods of the people in the process.
The plan is to shift the economy towards manufacturing and benefit the general people by creating jobs and reducing poverty; thereby triggering an upward socioeconomic mobility. To this end, the government has put in motion an industrial strategy that prioritizes labor-intensive sectors such as manufacturing as a means to create employment opportunities for its large and mostly poor population.
Industrial parks have been laser-focused as a vital cog to boost manufacturing and reduce unemployment. The plan is to have 15 world-class, specialized, export-driven and eco-friendly industrial parks by June 2018.
The Hawassa industrial park is the flagship facility for the country's industrial park project, and its journey towards industrialization. The industrial park took nine months to build and is expected to employ 60,000 and create another 150,000 indirect jobs.
Ethiopia has seen some success in manufacturing due to the creation of various industrial parks, and through the introduction of “one-stop shop” type regulatory services from the government
While the government's plan to create massive amount of jobs every year until 2025 is impressive, considering the growing number of the population, with 80 percent of the rural youth not finishing primary school, the challenge remains daunting. Nevertheless, works need to be further strengthened to attract sufficient foreign investment to meet the job creation, and other economic targets like sustainable development and poverty reduction aka triggering an upward social mobility.
Given how the demographics of the country is changing fast, with the youth holding the vast chunk of the population, creating jobs and a chance for upward mobility is critical. Youth dominated population tend to be restless and demand for rapid change, which if not attended, can turn into frustration that can spillover to negative consequences as seen in recent times. This means shifting the economy towards manufacturing dominated economy is vital.
The other element in this is the private sector. In addition to state-led investment, like industrial parks, the private sector should be engaged in even more intensely to harness more available capital and channel it into the industrialization aspiration of the country, and into job creating endeavors/investments.
The Ethiopian government of course acknowledges the importance of the private sector in key areas as highlighted in the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II), which aims to strengthen private sector development and increase FDI. However, more is expected and needs to be done given that the private sector can and should be unleashed to its fullest potential in order for it to motor the economy.
All in all, the rapidly growing and resilient economy should be accompanied by a structural shift in order to maintain its health, and thereby achieve the country’s vision of reaching lower-middle income status by 2025 and improve the livelihoods of the people in the process.
Numerous western governments and NGOs produce reports on human rights conditions in countries all around the world. These reports generally label the developing world as major violators of human rights while depicting the developed as the guardians of these rights across the world. The passing of bills such as HR 128 by the U.S. senate also comes to mind when discussing the self-perception of western governments and their opinions about the rest of the world on matters of human rights.__
Although human rights conditions in developing countries are generally bad considering their lower economic conditions and more non-inclusive political environments, the reports do not show the trend across the spectrum of issues human rights incorporate. They might present the state of arbitrary detention in a developing country over a short period of time, for instance, but they do not make a long-time analysis of the condition of the right to form and join trade unions or the right to adequate living standard in the face of austerity measures in the developed world.
These reports generally deal with common issues such as: freedom of expression, association and assembly; arbitrary detention and ill-treatment; conduct of security forces; freedom of the media, etc. Such issues make up the political section of human rights. However, there are economic and social rights that do not get addressed in these reports that are hugely implicative of the alleged great role played by governments in the developing world towards human rights violations. These long lists of rights incorporated in the articles of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) are just ignored because they would expose the harsh realities of the neoliberal international system they are trying to promote.
I would imagine that an extensive and complete report on human rights would deal with the state of each of the 30 articles of the UDHR. Every country, regardless of their development stages, fails short of fulfilling all the articles. By dealing only with a selected section of the universal declaration of human rights, therefore, the western reports manage to depict a grim image of human rights conditions in the developing world while camouflaging their own embarrassments systematically.
That approach thus makes me question their staunch allegiance to human rights promotion. The constant emphasis of human rights violations and intentional omission of better human rights conditions in the developing world along with the systematic avoidance of deteriorating human rights conditions in the developing world make these reports untrustworthy. Had they been interested in progresses made towards ensuring the protection of human rights in all countries around the world, though, they would have dealt with the topic more seriously and comprehensively.
To provide a clear picture of how a comprehensive approach to analyzing human rights conditions would favor the current torrid image of developing countries, let me use a factual inclusion that I used before.
The achievement of rapid economic growth that transcends to development translates to better conditions for the protection of human rights. Accordingly, Ethiopia has been experiencing a double-digit growth for the last one and half decades mounting itself at the helm of the fastest growing countries in the world._
Consequently, this sustained rapid economic growth registered in the country has created much more favorable conditions for human rights protection. Through micro and small enterprises, for example, the economic growth has generated millions of jobs for the unemployed productive section of society. In so doing, those who have become employed would enjoy better living standards and health conditions, which in turn mean improvements in the right to desirable work and to join trade unions along with the right to adequate living standard.
Similarly, raising the gross enrolment rate of primary education to about 97 percent and register double and triple fold access to secondary and tertiary education to citizens does a lot of justice to ensuring the right to education. As access to quality education also contributes to one’s hopes of landing a desirable work, that right also gets better protected along the way. The same moves can also serve as investments in promoting the right to adequate living standard.
The tremendous achievements in disseminating health services to small villages and large cities alike in Ethiopia also has its share in alleviating the right to life and the right to adequate living standards in the country. Saving millions of lives of children by getting them access to health services and reducing the child mortality rate by two-thirds would help ensure the right to life of this group of society.
Though there obviously are various activities being undertaken in Ethiopia that would directly or indirectly help improve human rights in the country, western human rights report only prefers to narrow things down to isolated cases of breach and legal actions against criminal suspects under the country’s laws.
By comparison, let’s consider what the inclusion of an additional article would mean for a human rights report about the U.S. Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights deals with the right to Desirable Work and to Join Trade Unions.
A March 2015 article entitled The rise and fall of US labor unions, and why they still matter” states: “the US labor movement was once the core institution fighting for average workers. Over the last half century, its ranks have been decimated. The share of the private sector workforce that is organized_has fallen_from 35 percent to approximately 6.5 percent today (2015).
In dealing with the reason for this sharp fall of the labor unions,_Richard Wolff_noted in his article “Organized labor's decline in the US is well-known. But what drove it?” that big business, Republicans and conservatives had developed a coordinated strategy to break up labor unions as far back as the late 1940s. He then wrote: “They would break up the coalition of organized labor, socialist and communist parties.
The article entitled “The rise and fall of US labor unions, and why they still matter” states that “U.S employers developed a set of legal, semi-legal and illegal practices that proved effective at ridding establishments of existing unions and preventing nonunion workers from organizing. It also gives a detailed account of the actions taken to weaken existing unions and blocking workers’ organization into unions.
With the last major piece of federal legislation aiding unions in their organization efforts passed back in 1935 along with political blockade of recent (2008-9) efforts to pass an Employee Free Choice Act, the U.S. government has effectively weakened trade unions and made it hard for workers to organize. Accordingly, it has infringed on the human rights of millions of its citizens. The fall of U.S labor unions has been raised by the article entitled “The rise and fall of US labor unions, and why they still matter” to be the root cause of the growth of economic and political inequality, stalled progress on racial integration and the removal of an established pathway for immigrant populations to assimilate economically.” With further effects of the fall of the unions, the U.S can be liable for the violation of other articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights such as: right to equality, freedom from discrimination, right of peaceful assembly and association, right to participate in government and free elections, right to adequate living standard and right to participate in the cultural life of community._
As has been demonstrated above, the consideration of an article not normally incorporated in the human rights reports of western governmental and non-governmental organizations would expose the intentional economic, political and social discrimination these governments impose over certain groups in their societies.
By adopting a comprehensive approach for human rights reports, therefore, the currently concealed transgressions of western countries against human rights in and outside of their countries would be exposed smearing their relatively clean records with dirt. On the other hand, the same move would give developing countries the chance to redeem themselves through socially beneficial pro-poor acts they have carried out. That would create a scenario where the harsh economic and political conditions in the western world would reflect badly on the state of human rights in those states while the growth in regions like Africa would spell brighter day for people in those regions.
Sounds about right considering just the facts but that could be one hard pill to swallow in some regions of the world so obsessed with looking down on others. The shortcomings in economic and political human rights are, after all, an important alibi for western governments to rationalize their policy of aid to the developing world. Despite the latter’s insistence on trade and investment, western countries have showed their resilience to stick to an aid strategy that helps them promote their policies and engulf recipients with debt.
So, how can they imagine themselves being portrayed as having gross human rights violations that are somehow not as extremely contrasted to those in the developing world? What would the realization of these glaring problems lead to in their societies? So, I dare the western countries and their NGOs to come up with comprehensive human rights reports that honestly investigate each of the thirty articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in both the developing and developed world.__ _
BY BEREKET GEBRU
Editor's Note: The views entertained in this article do not reflect the stance of The Ethiopian Herald
Ethiopia has longstanding commercial, cultural, and people-to-people ties with Saudi Arabia. It was also the first country to embrace companions of the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century from the persecution they faced under rulers of Mecca.
Even though the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1948, the tie was limited to people-to-people before the pre-1991 period. Taking in to account Saudi Arabia’s enormous economic potentials, the current Foreign Affairs and National Security Policy and Strategy gives the utmost priority to make the country Ethiopia’s priority export destination and a major source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
In its endeavor to make Ethiopia attractive to FDI globally, the government has hugely invested in massive infrastructural development, and has put in place viable policies and strategies to form a conducive business climate for foreign companies. The government’s huge involvement has paid off in luring large-scale Saudi investment in manufacturing, agriculture, agro-processing, mining, hospitality and other priority sectors.
Ethiopia’s missions in Saudi Arabia have also been hugely engaged in fostering the economic partnership, and they are hosting various trade missions and discussions with Saudi stakeholders. The Embassy is taking part in the annual Riyadh Travel Fair to seek markets for the country’s agricultural exports and promote its wider investment opportunities among potential stakeholders.
According to Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Ethiopia Abdullah Faleh Alarjani, the high-level exchange visits made between the two countries have given great momentum for the bilateral relations. He said that Ethiopian delegation headed by the former Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn made a very successful visit to Saudi Arabia back in 2016, where he discussed with high-level Saudi officials including King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud on various issues.
Similarly, Foreign Minister Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu and former Labor and Social Affairs Minister Abdelfattah Abdullahi also concluded successful visits to the Kingdom in 2017, paving a way for the two countries to reach a labor deal that is expected to have a paramount importance in ensuring the rights of Ethiopian domestic workers, and in regulating contractual obligations among Saudi employers.
On the Saudi side, high level delegation came to Ethiopia to identify investment areas for Saudi investors. Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdulmohsen Al-Fadhli paid frequent visits to Ethiopia and held talks on ways to bolster Saudi investors involvement in the agriculture and livestock sectors. Similarly, Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Senior Advisor at the Royal Court in the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia paid a visit to Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam to look for possibilities of Saudi investment in Ethiopia’s renewable energy sector.
“These visits have resulted the signing of various agreements, and contributing to take the overall Ethio-Saudi relations to new level,” Ambassador Abdullah noted.
By the same token, the Ethio-Saudi Joint Commission, which was established in 2002 has remained a key factor in enabling the two countries reach various agreements in social, economic and political frontiers.
Last April, the fifth Ethio-Saudi Joint Ministerial Commission meeting was held in Addis Ababa to seek cooperation in the field of mines, petroleum and gas, and to commence direct and indirect electric power connection between the two countries. During the event, Agriculture and Livestock State Minister Dr. Kaba Urgessa and Saudi Arabian Deputy Minister of Animal Resources Hamid bin Abdulaziz Al-Batshan reached an agreement to scale up Saudi’s live animal and meat imports from Ethiopia.
Apart from being among the leading source of FDI, Saudi Arabia is one of Ethiopia’s primary development ally. Ambassador Abdullah stated that the country has extended a sizable finance to back Ethiopia’s road and rural electrification projects and has so far financed three road projects, namely the Asosa- Kurmuk and Azezo- Metema (Both connect Ethiopia with Sudan) and Geddo- LemlemBerha in Oromia State. The Jijiga- Degehabur Rural Electrification Project in the Ethiopian Somali State was also financed by Saudi.
The Ambassador said: “I hope there will be more projects to be financed, and development cooperation from the Kingdom to Ethiopia will be consolidated in the future.’’
Despite the two countries ever-increasing economic ties, the level of engagement is largely unsatisfactory when compared with Ethiopia's untapped potential and geographic proximity as well as Saudi Arabia’s enormous capital.
Too much dependence on few exportable agricultural items coupled with shortcomings in export quality and quantity are widely considered to be factors contributing to this.
Likewise, bureaucracy and infrastructural setbacks are regarded as major challenges facing Saudi investors.
In this regard, keeping quality of exports and diversifying commodities are the necessary tasks that need to be undertaken in order to seize Saudi Arabia’s potential for agricultural exports. Furthermore, building certified abattoirs and improving quality of slaughtered cattle and availability of transport is crucial to become a dominant figure in Saudi meat market.
Ethiopian missions in Saudi Arabia should extend their leading role in promoting country’s investment opportunities by partnering with the relevant bodies of the Kingdom to encourage potential investors to come and do business.
Furthermore, signing investment protection and promotion agreement, easing bureaucratic challenges and improving infrastructure as well as ensuring quality service delivery are also measures Ethiopia needs to take to attract a meaningful Saudi investment.
Capitalizing on their geographic proximity and synergistic economic potential both countries should maximize their partnership. By doing all this, it is believed the two countries historical relations, which was commenced by welcoming followers of Prophet Muhammad, will transform to strong trade and investment cooperation and herald the second chapter in the Ethio- Saudi ties.
BY BILAL DERSO
Job creation for youth continues upward trend
According to the Ministry of Education, in Ethiopia more than hundred thousand youths graduate each year from the 33 higher education institutions and other private and public TVET colleges. That seems a big number for a developing country, or it may even raise a question like where would all these young people find work, since high unemployment rate is one of developing countries nightmare.
However, according to a recent report by 'Trading Economics', one of world's leading reference in economic data,Ethiopia is doing just fine in decreasing unemployment rate and creating job opportunities despite high number of graduates and job seekers.
The website has reviewed Ethiopia's status in decreasing unemployment from 1999 up to now whilst putting forward future predictions to 2020. According to the report, unemployment rate in Ethiopia decreased to 16.80 percent in 2015 from 17.40 percent in 2014. Meanwhile, unemployment rate in Ethiopia averaged 19.88 percent from 1999 until 2015, reaching an all time high of 26.40 percent in 1999 and a record low of 16.80 percent in 2015.
While Ethiopian Central Statistics Agency report expects Ethiopia's unemployment rate to be 16.40 percent by the end of this quarter, Ethiopia's unemployment rate is projected to trend around 13.20 percent in 2020.
These and other reports and results show that the approach taken by the government in giving due emphasis to job creation and encouraging entrepreneurship in the last decade has been the right move.
The Government has implemented various national strategies, among them the Federal Micro and Small level Enterprise development strategy, which aimed to alleviate poverty and decrease unemployment as well as benefit the youth and improve citizens livelihood.
The government has also allocated billions of birrs to specifically support the youth. For instance, this year the federal government has allocated 10 billion birr in indirect loan fund for the youth, targeting job creation and entrepreneurship.
The Federal Urban Job Creation and Food Security Agency is among the major institution that work closely with the youth, and execute the program at the federal and regional level.
The Agency was established in 2016 by council of ministers, aiming to support and coordinate institutions that assist, promote and develop micro and small enterprises in urban agriculture, construction trade and service sectors and improve citizens livelihood.
This reporter recently approached the Agency's communication director for explanation regarding the 9 month performance report and achievements in addressing the youth's demand for training and fund.
Assefa Ferede, Director of Communications with the Agency, disclosed that during its 2 years journey, the Agency has achieved various achievements in job creation, ensuring food security, in terms of improving the livelihood of citizens who are unable or unemployed, and also in strengthening new emerging enterprises.
In addition to decreasing urban unemployment and poverty, the Agency also targets readying citizens for future industrial development of the country, and various works have been undertaken at federal and regional level for the past 9 month, he said.
According to him, 1.4 million youth have been able to get a job this fiscal year through the Agency.
“Of the Agency's plan to register 1,941,080 citizens in all regions, more than 1.85 million youth were recruited, and given training the fund needed to initiate their own business venture. 86 thousand 469 of them are TVET graduates, while 32,861 were university.” The report of the Agency reveal that 31 percent of those given training and fund are females.
In all regions, 3,337,983 youth were selected and given training following procedures of registration and selection. Accordingly, by organizing themselves in a group of five, they are able to get financial loan that would enable them to initiate their own business venture in various sectors, once their business plan is endorsed by financial enterprises and the Agency.
As a result, 1.5 billion birr was transferred to 108.747 youths organized in 18,174 enterprises in the last 9 month, of which 68,002 are male, and 40,745 are female.
Consequently, in terms of the work sector that absorbed the most number of youth is huge the government and public mega project by hiring 475,969 young people, while the manufacturing and service sector hired 112,943 and 224,250 youth. While the construction sector performed better than all, by achieving 90.6 percent of its projected plan, in general, 1,235,235 jobs were created for citizens from regular and public and mega projects during the third quarter performance.
When compared to last year's performance, which saw more than 1.17 million young people getting a job, this year's performance has exceeded that by 5.2 %, he added.
According to him, 5.5 million youth benefited so far, while the plan is to benefit 8.4 million youth until the end of GTP II.
Under its food security program, the Agency has created job for more than 210 thousand youths in seven cities, including Addis Ababa (55 Weredas) Hawassa, Adamma, Dessie, Dire dawa, Mekelle, Jigiga, where 75% of the beneficiaries were women.
Regarding food security, the Agency carries out a five year long, three phase urban food security programs in 11 chosen cities, where they plan to benefit more than 250 thousand urban residents in the second phase program.
All in all, the agency disclosed that 1.4 million jobs is created within the third quarter of the fiscal year, which is in tune with the plan set, and believe that the upward projection of job creation will continue. This comes as a good news especially in terms of maintaining and giving an impetus to the employment rate.
BY FASICA BERHANE
Last week, The Ethiopian Herald has put out an article that contained the reflection of some figures who participated on an event held as part of the new initiative to bring peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Hereunder follows the second and last part of the article.
Melake Sebhat Behabtamu Zewde Mulugeta, from the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC), believes everything has its own time, whether its peace or war. And though the peace process has really taken quite many years, he considers the new phenomena, which are being observed these days, as golden opportunity.
Many efforts have been undertaken at various intervals and international stages regarding the issue of Eritrea and Ethiopia, in general, and that of the sisterly churches of the respective nations, in particular. But, they did not succeed, as it was not the right time. However, it seems now is the time as the new generation could raise the issue. Recently, the newly elected Prime Minister Dr. Abiy raised the issue as part of his government's policy in his inaugural speech, the father further indicated.
“We believe that it is not the governments, but the two people who are the owners of the case. Whatever comes from the general public has the power to influence the powers that be,” he asserted.
According to Melake Sebhat, the public has the power to influence and to have its interests implemented. But this can be fruitful only when there are those that can take such an initiative from within the public at the grassroots level, free of any political and other hidden agendas. Such efforts can bear the needed result with time.
“This is quite a unique phenomenon as there is nothing more important issue than this one these days. As to us, Eritrea and Ethiopia are two sisterly nations that should be close to each other and cooperate,” he stressed. As to the religious father, the cost of living separately is still being felt, and both sides have already experienced the pain of entertaining such great loss for decade plus.
In other word, they would have known the fruits of peace and cooperation if they had been living in such a situation, so having taken these facts into consideration, the effort which is being undertaken in this regard is a welcome start to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. “So I am calling on all of us to do all what we are expected to contribute to its success”.
Meanwhile, Reverend Dr. Wakseyoum Idosa, former President of the Ethiopian Evangelical MekaneYesus church, for his part expressed that there might have been various meetings at which the religious fathers discussed the issue, but it is not recommendable to become desperate as it does not guarantee results.
Religious fathers have been undertaking wide range of activities on this issue ever since the war broke out and as one can guess, the leaders of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo, the Ethiopian Catholic, the Ethiopian Evangelical MekaneYesus churches and Ethiopian Muslim brothers have been discussing on the matter since the aftermath of the war, Idosa mentioned.
He noted that since the last 5 or 6 years onward, they were doing their utmost to bring these two brotherly and sisterly peoples close to one another and this is especially true during the time of the late patriarch of the EOTC, his Holiness Abune Paulos. He said, “We have, during those times, officially asked the government that what we need was not the issue of the border but how to ensure peace so as to bring the two siblings close together. So, what we should do is build up on the works already started by these religious fathers previously”.
Regarding the stance of his church on the movement, the reverend mentioned the new initiative as a welcome one that deserves to be supported and pushed forward as a common agenda. The very saddening point, for him, is that lots of congregates of the evangelical church who are longing to come to Ethiopian to learn and worship with their brothers are left there in Eritrea.
“All of us here and there should push the process forward for that is the only thing what the time requires from us at the moment.” After all, everything has its own time. That is what positive turn between the two Koreas in recent days testifies. It was unthinkable, even some days ago. This intensifies the eagerness and aspiration of the Eritrean and Ethiopian peoples to see that happen to them.
Having expressed that he was there to convey a message to the participants on behalf of his Holiness Cardinal Birhaneyesus, Abba Hagos Hayish, Secretary General Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ethiopia indicated that he has had repeated opportunities to see the life situation of the peoples living around the border areas. According to him, the situation there is not good for the people living on both sides of the border.
Religious fathers have been really making lots of endeavors in different mechanisms to see the end of the ongoing conflict irrespective of the outcome, he stated. As to the secretary, this issue (between Ethiopia and Eritrea) has been and still is one of the prioritized agenda for them. Abba Hagos said, “God willing, what I hope now is that the new initiative taken by our children to bear the desirable result, because the new premier has recently declared this year to be a year of peace, unity and reconciliation”.
BY SHUSHAY ADANE
Globalization and cultural identity
Teddy Solomon is a grade 12 student from Addis, whom this reporter met while celebrating color day with his friends. He speaks confidently saying “I am celebrating the day even if I don’t know what it means and what it is it for me. I don’t know what benefit it has to me, my friends and the country. But I celebrate it to go through the trend that my senior students have gone through in their high school life.”
He further noted that we also need to look back and give value to the various Ethiopian indigenous cultures and our own identity. He said “I loved Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Day and other Ethiopian cultures.”
There are lots of youngsters today who spend time celebrating foreign and newly emerging cultures like 'crazy day', 'prom' and others. This week, grade 12 students in many private schools are celebrating 'color day' by sprinkling diverse colors on their white shirt, walking together, chatting and enjoying it in anyway without understanding the meaning.
Noah Birhan is another grade 12 student who also shares the idea that color day has no special meaning to him except spending it as a day of fun. He said “we just celebrate the day to relax and free ourselves from stresse as we are due to take national exam soon.”
The things seen on the students seem out of the norm and culture of their communities. Especially on 'color day' and 'crazy day' the dressing, the talks and all the things the youngsters do is often cited as out of the norm to the Ethiopian society. However, Kalkidan Gebeyehu, another grade 12 student, disagrees with this idea.
She said, “we sometimes need to have fun by going out of the normal walk of life, and those different days will create a memory flash of our high school time. I know that this is not our culture, but it is boring to always conform and be normal.”
The student further noted that Nations, Nationalities and Peoples day and other Ethiopian cultures are also her favorite days, and she enjoyed them as well as the globalization driven emerging cultures and days of celebration in addition to this emerging cultures which are outcomes of globalization.
It is clear that globalization is accelerating the contact between different cultures. Traded goods are often the reflection of culture. Obvious examples are Hollywood movies, Japanese anime or French wine. International investment brings multinational enterprises into contact with foreign lands and communities. Migration results in people of different cultures living together. Global communications and the Internet expose us to the lives, ideas and values of others.
Accordingly, people all over the world are all affected by globalization's cultural mixing or hybridization. Many countries now have their own indigenous versions of rap or jazz music, which are variants on the "original". Some call this "globalization". New cultural phenomena are developing through fusion or hybridization of national cultures.
Culture in that sense changes much more slowly. Indeed, economic development and prosperity can provide cultures with self-confidence. Cultural inferiority complexes can be replaced by the desire to keep cultural identity and traditions.
Through globalization we have greater awareness of cultural differences across the globe. We also have greater contact with different cultures, with which we often live side-by-side. Cultural mixing even if it sometimes has advantages mostly it creates misunderstanding and even conflict.
In many countries, there is concern about the loss of national cultures and the need to protect cultural diversity. UNESCO’s 2005 Convention to protect and promote diversity of cultural expressions enshrined cultural exception as a method of protecting local cultures.
According to discussions related to the convention there are great paradoxes in the area of globalization and culture as governments spend too much time in defensive, protectionist activities, and not enough in positive pro-active activities by actively promoting their local cultures.
Culture plays a very important role in societies. And governments should protect traditional cultures by subsidizing cultural study and research. And when it comes to solving global problems, communicating across cultures is key.
Senior Cultural Expert of the Ethiopian National Cultural Center with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism Akalu Asfaw said that except those cultural festivities days recognized in the Ethiopian Calendar, cultures and international days like 'color day' and 'crazy day' are not yet recognized by Ethiopia. He stressed “They are just time wasters of student academic program.”
He said these are just outcomes of globalization except those international days like March 8, water day, and children’s days and so on celebrated in all countries. He said “we are working with the ministry of education on creating awareness on managing emerging new cultures of globalization.”
BY YARED GEBREMEDEN