In most urban areas, in addition to global problem with climate change, waste materials that are disposed from factories, industries and individual households are taking the major share in polluting the environment. Such conditions are mainly observed in cities of developing countries including Addis Ababa, due to lack of modern disposal management.
Irresponsible and reckless practices of waste disposal apart from polluting the air, water and soil and causing severe threat to public health, it also distorts the beautification of cities.
Among hazardous wastes that threaten the environment; plastic wastes are the major contributors which constitutes relatively wider portion. Plastics are dangerous for environment in many aspects. Providentially, if properly managed, they could be converted to raw material for the production of other goods.
It is clear that plastics are inexpensive, durable, easy to carry and are attractive. However, if they are not properly removed, they are toxic and worsen environmental pollution.
According to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MEFCC), in Ethiopia, plastics constitute nine up to fourteen percent of cities waste.
The Ministry’s Solid and Hazardous Waste Compliance Monitoring Director Girma Gemechu told The Ethiopian Herald that, this in turn posing several harms on the habitant’s health and environment image.
More often, people used to burn dry wastes including plastics. And this process will easily release harmful chemicals like methane and carbon dioxide to the air, as to him. These chemicals can gradually defile the purity of air and water as well as soil; which can cause respiratory and respiratory related problems on humans and gradually warm the environment.
In addition to these major problems, plastic wastes can damage the cities drainage channels by closing them and despoil environments beauty. Animals can also eat plastic wastes which cause domino effect on human being, Girma added
According to his explanation, companies investing on the production of bottled water and other users of plastic package products like juices, chocolate, biscuits, plastic bag producers and the likes took the lions share.
The world has not yet reached the state of preventing the usage of plastic products; however some countries are successful in controlling the situation and reducing the danger using different ways. Ranging from setting production guideline in a manner that enables them keep out hazardous inputs to posing restrictions on importation, selling and using of substandard plastic products, countries are taking different measures. In this way, most European countries could be taken as an example, he noted.
The matter is not only an issue of developing countries. Rather, it is also a big concern at international level. This has made this year’s theme of the world environment day, ‘Beating Plastic Pollution’.
The society is vulnerable to this problem and the government to mitigate the problem is taking different measures. It is striving to modernize the disposal system. There is also an effort to sensitize the society by using media and involving higher officials in cleaning program.
However, Girma underlined that, yet 50 percent of wastes are thrown away in careless way. Thus, MEFCC is working to put additional measures in place. As a result, he noted that new regulation has been developed and awaiting to be ratified by the parliament. When the regulation is ratified, it is expected to alleviate the problems regarding plastic products, he added. The regulation will restrict the importation and production of substandard plastic products that are below 0.03mm, according to the National Environment Policy. It also prevents people from selling and using substandard products.
Not only that, but also it will dictate companies that are engaged in the production of bottled water and those which are using plastic containers for their products: to involve them in recollecting the products after use or to fund government’s cleaning efforts.
In addition to this effort, Girma urged all stakeholders such as media and companies that are working on environment to raise people’s awareness in this same issue and work together; as 50 percent of such dangers is only alleviated by concerted efforts of the public. He also underscored the importance of plastic bags substituting materials.
Moreover, he emphasized that if plastic wastes could be managed in proper way, they can serve as good input for production of construction material like conduits. Currently, there are two companies, which produce conduits by using plastic wastes and export the input independently. Therefore, he said the society including stakeholders should give due attention for this issue.
BY BETELHEM BEDLU
Aggaro, one of the 10 cities of Jimma Zone, was founded from the five Gibe dynasties which were Limmu, Gumma, Gomma, Gerra and Jimma by the Gomma King Abaaboka in 18th century. According to historians, at that time residents in the area were settlers of Oromo ethnic known as Mecha found from mecha Oromo which are called Awaleni, Jida, bedi, bed and Enerata ,Endocho, Jarso Balto Legade and seyo ethnics.
Found at the west of Jimma 45 km far, Agaro is known for being a hub for coffee and it is a place for over 1000 coffee seed genes, untouched resources and natural endowments such as forests and rivers as well as ancient mosques which are favorable for investment and tourists attractions.
Agaro is named after a plant seed called Agaro and is surrounded by rivers called Temsa, Dogja, Kore, Chesech.
Agaro was also a market hub in ancient Ethiopia chained in trade with surrounding cities bartering various goods. Aggaro officially demarcated as a small town in 1928 and started its developmental journey though a road constructed from Jimma to Aggaro in 1958 which has opened a door for more growth and development in infrastructure, trade and investment.
Since that time, the town commenced a wide range of development from time to time. Primary and secondary schools established, telephone and communication technologies expanded. Currently the city has hotels, business centers, coffee processing and research centers, and parks and youth centers.
According to Jimma Zone City Development and Housing Bureau Head Elias Sherefo Aggaro has five sub cities with a total population of 91,400 composed of 46,470 male and 46,630 female which make their living mainly through agriculture, trade, wood works and other related fields.
The City has been chosen as a model city at a forum '1st Round City Forum' held recently in Jimma for its encouraging developmental progress.
“Aggaro has met the criteria to be a model City due to the progress it has showed in infrastructural and overall developments. Ranging from ensuring its residents socio-economic benefit from the city's development by solving housing and unemployment problems to involving its younger generation through job opportunities, the City has witnessed remarkable achievements."
According to him in the 1st GTP, the City Administration budgeting 200 million birr, it has undertaken various huge projects. It has built health and educational institutions, youth and market centers, and embarked on massive road infrastructural activities.
“City’s infrastructural development in the past three years has shown dramatic change. For instance, roads are constructed; preparatory school and library are opened. Efforts that are made by City Administration are completely changed the image of the city.” he added
Similarly, 10.5 km asphalt road is underway in the city which costs 430 million and is expected to give service in three years. Also, Jimma University Agaro Campus is underway with a cost of 200 million birr which would further accelerate the city's developmental activity as well as widen the education scope of the area he furthered.
Agaro City Vice Mayor, Abay Bedada on his part said that as the State was a place where many developmental questions had been arisen. In response, the City Administration is working diligently giving priority to develop the City and make to residents part of the development.
“Consequently, in an attempt to ensure beneficiary of the youth, 20,000 land stocks which were formerly transferred to investors were returned to youths.”He added
“On the current budget year, through implementing city development policies and strategies to eradicate poverty and benefit the youth, the City Administration has registered 1,449 job seekers and has organized them in associations.
Capacity building training was also given to 887 youths in five clusters namely manufacturing, food processing, metal and wood works and farming. It has also provided them with the necessary financial and material support and made efforts to create market chain, he added
He further marked that the administration is working further to solve residents’ development questions, reduce unemployment in the city and ensure peace and security in the area as well as keep Aggaro green and clean.
However, shortage of water and electricity is still a problem in the City which needs the attention of pertinent bodies, according to some of Aggaro residents.
BY FASICA BERHANE
Ethiopia’s diplomatic history shows that it has never been poor even in the distant past days. Beginning from the late nineteenth century and since, Ethiopia has always tried to live in peace and harmony with other states by stretching diplomatic wings. It found itself entangled in diatribes only when its sovereignty was put at risk. Then Ethiopia had to defend its dignity and integrity.
Despite limitations in military might, citizens never hesitated to confront the alien forces. Resolve and prowess were at their side. Defeat was never an option.
History testifies that Ethiopia joined the League of Nations to secure itself at the international arena. It entertained relations with foreign governments and accepted delegations at home. It also sent delegations to foreign missions mostly to discover the level of growth in those countries visited. History had taught Ethiopia that imperialism was the order of the day and its vulnerability was undeniable, hence it needed to take precaution.
Opposing and condemning aggression was not sufficient and the unheeded pleas of the Emperor by the League of Nations begot tragedy for the country. The then Emperor’s admonishment did not take time to materialize. An attack by a state on another had to be condemned and sanctioned but the League failed and what followed was World War II. The aggression against Ethiopia was a prelude to the War. The politics of appeasement resulted in a huge error and cost millions of lives!
Today, most of the diplomatic moves of Ethiopia take place not only at the UN to which it is one of the first signatories, but also in other international organizations such as the African Union which it helped creates and host. Its role in smaller regional bodies such as IGAD and NEPAD is also significant.
Ethiopia’s contribution to peacekeeping has always been brilliant. The integrity and bravery of its troops are exemplary. Korea 1950-1953 and Congo in the 1960s are witnesses to this glory. More recently, its troops have taken part in peacekeeping efforts in places such as Liberia, Rwanda, Sudan, and Somalia.
Wherever they went, Ethiopian contingents have accomplished their mission with honor and dignity as well as courage.
It could be said that it is indeed a tradition that has been transferred from the past years to the current administration.
No wonder the new prime minister made it his priority not only to take care of his compatriots’ woes internally but also to engage to stabilize and reassure its neighbours about the policies he intends to pursue.
Ethiopia has always had good diplomatic relations not only with the West as erroneously portrayed by some but also with other power houses: the East, the Third world, the Arab nations etc. Its relations with the US date back to more than a century as do with Russia. Similarly, it has always entertained good relations with the Anglophone countries as with the Francophone despite it not being part of neither. It has close ties with its Arab neighbours without alienating Israel. Similarly, its ties with China stretch back to the Mao Tse Tung days and have continued today, enhanced. China is one of the strongest economic partners of Ethiopia.
Ethiopia’s participation at the Non Aligned movement led to excellent relations with the Former Yugoslavia, India as well as Egypt. Many used to wonder how it was possible to have the USSR Media Centre and the United States Information Service, USIS, on the same road in Addis just a few meters away from one another during the stiff Cold War days. Ethiopia has always followed its apt neutrality in any of these divergences based on its own principles that eye relations with mutual interest and respect. It implied that Ethiopia’s diplomacy was never bound by doctrinaire boxes adopting whatever suited its interests. The brief period during which the military rule had committed to socialism has turned out to be an exception but withered away soon.
In the last few months with a new prime minister at the head of Ethiopia’s government, one can say that there has been a reiteration of these Ethiopian diplomatic values. The prime minister in fact has renewed the country’s bonds with some important visits aimed at underlining the government’s commitment with a new spirit.
The long tradition continues even stronger. That is why the prime minister traveled to Djibouti and reinvigorated the ties with new pacts pertaining to Ethiopia’s economic lifeline. He paid a visit to Kenya, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and later on to Uganda and Egypt. He hosted the Rwandan president Kagame here and several other important delegations that came from our development partners such as the US, the Gulf States, Japan, China, Germany and France.
In all these interactions, Dr Abiy reassured allies and friends of Ethiopia that the relations would continue enhanced with strategic partnerships and joint commissions. All possible avenues of partnership were attempted and put in the pipeline. The importance of cooperation in various areas such as trade, investment, tourism, transfer of knowledge and sharing of common resources such as the waters of the Nile were marked.
The prime minister’s latest visit to Egypt was particularly significant for both Egypt and Ethiopia as it cleared emphatically Ethiopia’s good intentions in the way the usage of the Nile waters were implemented particularly in view of the huge hydropower project that Ethiopia is constructing.
His words of promise and reassurance have created a sense of relief even among some diffident Egyptian circles. He has underlined what exactly Ethiopia was aiming at. His pledge that Ethiopia would never engage in activities that would hamper the life line of Egyptians has been significant. In fact he always sustained a win-win scenario not one of divergences where one wins and the other loses.
Similarly, his overtures with Djibouti to involve it with stakes in Ethiopia’s public enterprises while at the same time reciprocate by conceding a share in the administration of the port was crucial. Ethiopia’s relations with Kenya are the closest that any two countries could dream to have. There will be full-fledged infrastructural connection with Nairobi as with Khartoum. Road and railroad links are either complete or a few years away from it.
Our diplomatic relations continue to flourish and if things continue in this manner, there is no reason why the future cannot be rosy for Ethiopian diplomacy and for more integration among neighbours. Even the long stalled peace process with neighbouring Eritrea has been called to the fray with an olive branch in our hand.
The Algiers Peace Accord was to be unconditionally accepted in search of total peace and good relations with our northern neighbour upon the understanding that the two peoples are more than brothers and sisters even if political issues created animosities. It was time that rectifications be made and Ethiopian diplomatic moves have been appreciated. The search for a win-win scenario is being sustained in all our relations with other states, near and distant.
At the same time Dr. Abiy scored some points by restoring the dignity of citizens who for one reason or another were held captive in neighboring countries’ prisons. He facilitated their liberation with a plea to the leaders.
Further diplomatic endeavors are definitely in the pipe line as Ethiopia proceeds to develop and build up on its already historical diplomatic endeavors.
It is undeniable that Ethiopia needs to use all its potential particularly the youths in order to continue with its fast growth. It is equally undeniable that to reach such objectives tremendous economic resources must be availed and the cooperation and collaboration of all its partners and allies are imperative. That is why we cannot underline more the new and sustained diplomatic ventures of the prime minister. That is why the prime minister has made it his primary agenda to reconquer the hearts of these vigorous citizens, restore full confidence in the country. The efforts hence are not limited internally but also extend to the outside world as well.
As the country now needs more arrows in its arches and more fuel for its economy, the hard currency scarcity should not risk slowing down its growth. The efforts of the prime minister are also geared to that direction because only with sustained investment from foreign ends can there be relaxation of the scarcity. At the same time, exports need enhancement to secure more income and balance the trade deficit. The more it interacts with several actors, the better and that is why the economy as well is inviting foreign capitalists or investors to come and have some share in the well performing public owned enterprises.
Diplomacy working hand in hand with free trade and direct investment is one of the instruments of growth. The economy needs to enter a phase of flexibility and mixture and not be commanded by the public sector alone.
Injecting new resources from the private sector has been adopted as a new policy including foreign actors. More fuel to the economic machine facilitates steady upsurge. Poverty remains the fiercest enemy and all means are used to battle it including the recent diplomatic ventures.
BY FITSUM GETACHEW
Ethiopia last Tuesday warmly welcomed a high-level Eritrean delegation to Addis Ababa for peace talks aimed at ending up the conflict and animosity which took both countries over two decades.
The historic visit was the first time in more than two decades. And it came to happen due to the new Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed initiatives and a call to Asmara regime to restart talks, find a lasting solution to the problem and President Issayas Afewerki’s positive response to send a delegation to Ethiopia.
The arrival of the delegation is a fundamental move and promising ones which paved a way to map out future activities: to rework on their issues, peacefully solve problems which the two countries involved in and find a lasting solution to normalize their relations. Interestingly, it is intended to conduct high-level peace talk between the leaders of the two countries [Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki] and more talks are expected to take place in the near future.
The Ethio-Eritrean border war, which broke out in 1998, has spoiled the two countries diplomatic relations and led both countries to huge human, social and economic costs.
It has broken up family ties, ruined the social fabric of the people and caused hostility. It has displaced thousands of peoples and even some are still residing in the border areas risking their lives.
It is clear that no country benefited from hostility and war; except multifaceted bankruptcies. Ethiopia is the best example for this. In its history, the country went through a number of civil wars. All has gained it nothing except ruin.
The two neighboring countries while they had ample opportunities to build up their economies mutually and speed up their developments; they missed the available chances because peace has remained an elusive between them.
The other issue is that the conflict apart from costing the two countries which are in ‘no peace, no war’ situation, it has caused a serious concern for the region.
In fact, time has now brought substantial changes and a new chapter which blazes a light of hope for is opened: to restore real peace between the two countries.
The peace talk and agreement between the two would help to reunite the peoples of the two countries who not only ‘cut from the same cloth’ but have also common history, cultures, and languages. Beyond that, it would break the wall of hostility and aggression. Equally important, it eases tensions, sustain peace and stability and strengthen integrity within the horn of Africa and beyond.
However, to enjoy the promising hope of peace and to close mistrust, hostility and war of decades for irreversibly, the peoples of the two countries should support the ongoing process of their respective governments. Governments, in the other way, should work to embark a new cooperation and neighborliness in a manner it benefits the peoples of the two sisterly peoples.
ADDIS ABABA- The Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) said that the 8028 Farmer Hotline has become the largest interactive voice response and short message service system in Africa.
During a commemoration event held yesterday, ATA CEO Kahlid Bomba said that since the inception in July 2014, the Hotline has received 30 million total calls and 3.6 million registered telephone numbers, which consist of smallholder farmers and agricultural Development Agents.
The CEO noted that the Hotline is beneficial for small holder farmers to get information on farming practices, while federal ministers and state bureaus send SMS messages to warn the farmers the occurrences of diseases and pests.
The Hotline has helped to alert farmers on the prevalence of crop protection issues such as what rust, maize lethal necrosis disease, and fall army worm in areas affected by these threats, the CEO added.
Khalid indicated that the platform also enables the farmers to get customized information from experts by calling in and leaving voice messages with question. The system in turn contains a survey feature used by Development Agents to collect information that allows for real-time decision making by policy makers.
Agriculture and Livestock Resources State Minister Dr. Eyasu Abreha said on his part that that the need for accurate, timely and trusted information in the agriculture value chain initiate the launch of the service.
The State Minister noted that to deliver valuable information to the small holder farmers and properly support the various agricultural value chains, information communication technologies play important roles.
To this end, the Ministry facilitated 8028 Farmers’ Hotline. In the platform, issues related to agriculture such as ways of utilization of fertilizer, mechanization, air condition, soil information and others useful information disseminated.
Having access to input and markets at optimal prices; financial services, payments, credit and saving services, insurance and others are issues farmers want to know about, he added.
“Since agriculture is a backbone of the country,. Hence, transforming the sector would have paramount of importance to country’s economic transformation.”
He further stressed that though the utilization of Hotline by farmers is started in a very recent time, it is yielding a multifaceted advantages. The Ministry would work closely with stakeholders to enhance the utilization of the system, the State Minister noted.
BY TAMERU REGASSA
ADDIS ABABA - Addis Ababa City Administration said that one million youths would participate in summer voluntary program.
City Administration Youth and Sport Bureau, Youth Mobilization Director Tizazu Aklilu said that culture of volunteerism and the number of volunteers are showing a marked increase in the city as a result of community mobilization.
Volunteerism enables citizens to invest their knowledge, time and energy to assisting their society. Beyond helping others, the Program enables them to utilize their different skills whilst keeping them away from wasting their summer time on unnecessary matters, he added.
The Director explained that this year's summer voluntary works were launched by a committee that is setup to not only support and monitor the activities of voluntary services, but also to mobilize participants.
According to Tizazu, boundaryless summer voluntary activities will be carried out at the end of this year's summer voluntary program, where two hundred young people will travel to Southern Nation, Nationalities and Peoples’ state.
Such type of voluntary work brings about other advantages, he explained. “It allows the volunteers to know the culture and living condition of communities residing outside of Addis Ababa. By traveling in to the States, they participate in blood donation, environmental cleaning and humanitarian activities”
Recently, in addition to summer voluntary service, winter voluntary works have been provided by various youths: especially, during holidays.
In collaboration with City Youth Federations, the Bureau is planning to mobilize over one million youths in different voluntary service activities, which is worth of over sixty million birr.
According to the plan, ninety youths will participate in humanity service activities. These activities will include collecting used clothes and educational materials. It is expected that twelve thousand people will benefit from second hand clothes, while one hundred thousand youths take part in tutorial education.
Similarly, while Six thousand youths are going to take part in basic computer trainings, 127 thousand would be engaged in HIV and AIDS mobilization activities. Some 5000 would also be involved traffic road security.
In addition to these, anti-HIV and AIDS training and voluntary blood testing activity will be carried out.
The country has youth development package which encourages the participation of youth in volunteerism and other public issues. According to him, this package enhances the motivation of youth in public and social issues, and allows them to contribute their part.
BY TAMERU REGASA
ADDIS ABABA - Partnering with international companies said important in bolstering the country's human resource capital.
This was disclosed when Ethiopian Management Institute and Crown Agents – UK based international development company – signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Monday to explore areas of cooperation in human resource development.
The agreement is also tipped to promote ties between the two countries in the area of public sector management development.
EMI Director General Mengistu Yitbarek, stated his belief that the partnership that was striked by the two institutions will give EMI new competitive advantage, and introduce best practices into Ethiopia's public service system. He added that as a pioneer management development center in the country that has done a lot in enhancing the managerial capacity of Ethiopia's civil service, the Institute has to equip itself with new competencies and capabilities through partnerships with international organizations.
Further, he mentioned that the dynamic change of the national and global governance environment demands new intervention and approaches. This is why it is essential to work along with Crown Agents, a company that shares common objectives with us and has an experience of working with different national cultures, Mengistu opined.
Talking to The Ethiopian Herald, Fergus Drake, Chief Executive of Crown Agents for his part said that there is a huge market potential given that Ethiopia has a large population and it has increasing investment in public services. “As a highly credible institution, we think it would be a great partnership to come together (with EMI) where we can increase the quality and impact of the course given in Ethiopia,” he added.
Drake also noted that by increasing the amount of courses and trainings given, it would be possible to upgrade the quality of the training product given in the country.
Moreover, the CEO highlighted on the importance training manpower has on a country's transformation and future prosperity. “If you are investing in training, you are investing for the long term growth of your country. And Ethiopia is going through its own transformation at the moment, which is exciting.”
Echoing the sentiment, Fantu Molla, Crown Agents Country Manager, for his said that the key question for the country is developing the professional skills of its people and management. And, to him, the role this agreement can play in addressing this issue cannot be understated.
EMI, as a pioneer management development center in the country that has been operational for over 60 years, its combination with Crown Agents can help in reducing the professional gaps seen in the country at various levels, he added. “We especially hope that it will help hasten the change that we are seeing currently.”
Fantu also lamented on how the partnership can help the country in staying in tune with the dynamic change the world is going through, by not only building the capacity of the manpower and people in managerial and leadership positions, but by strengthening EMI's reach to the region.
“We expect both organization to be renowned and top institutions in Ethiopia and neighboring countries, and believe that it can contribute in allowing the country to meet its national objectives fast.”
While EMI is a public enterprise involved in capacity building and management development, Crown Agents partners with governments, aid agencies, NGOs and companies all over the world, including Ethiopia where it worked on various projects for over 60 years.
BY ROBEL YOHANNES
Successive consultations with border communities and other pertinent stakeholders is something the government of Ethiopia should give utmost priority to normalize its relations with Eritrea and bring sustainable peace, political scholars say.
Recently, the Ethiopia government has proactively decided to fully implement the Algiers Peace Agreement, and called on the Asmara regime for dialogue to solve the two decades long standoff between the countries. Following the invitation, a high-level Eritrean delegation composed of Foreign Minister Osman Salih, Special Advisor to the Eritrean President Yeamne Gebreab, and the country’s Ambassador to the African Union Araya Desta paid a visit to Ethiopia last week.
Speaking to The Ethiopian Herald, Peace and Security Studies Assistant Professor at the Ethiopian Civil Service University, Dr. Getachew Zeru says that the delegation’s visit to Ethiopia opened a new era of cooperation between the two countries.
The Assistant Professor states that the delegation’s visit is a ‘historic act’ and it is a turning point in the history of Ethio-Eritrea relationship.
According to Dr. Getachew, the visit comes at a decisive moment in the history of Ethio-Eritrea relations, and heralds the end of the two decades long stalemate between the two brotherly countries.
The visit is the result of Ethiopia’s readiness for peace, and its desire to collaborate with Eritrea in various fields as well as to boost confidence by averting mistrust and suspicion, the Scholar adds.
He describes the call Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed made to normalize relations with Eritrea as a ‘landmark’ decision that paved the way for the two countries to come closer for negotiation. “It is a very good start to build trust and reach some agreements on peace and development,” Dr. Getachew stresses.
For Addis Ababa University Public Policy Professor, Dr. Costantinos Berhutesfa the visit manifests Ethiopia’s commitment to work together with Eritrea.
Stating that how the delegation's visit is a show of Eritrea’s political will to cooperate with their brothers and sisters here in Ethiopia, the Professor says that the two leaders need to make forward moves for their countries, and cooperate to solve the challenges they face. “It is necessary to neglect the past, which is full of problems and full of mistrust,’’ he points out.
Dr. Costantinos notes that the two countries move for peace and reconciliation has paramount importance in transforming their relations to cooperation and partnership instead of hesitation and confrontation.The presence of Eritrean delegation in the Ethiopian capital is a big step in consolidating the two countries' people-to-people and governments relations, besides its role in bringing peace and stability in the East African region, according to the Professor.
Stating the visit is a good beginning to bring peace in the two countries, Dr. Getachew points out that the Ethiopian government needs to establish closer partnership with Asmara in political, economic and social spheres to avert suspicion and maintain normalization.
He says: “While the incumbent needs to employ social diplomacy to enhance the two countries people-to-people ties, the economic cooperation should prioritize Ethiopia’s move to diversify its port outlets and to strengthen the two countries' trade relations.”
According to the Assistant Professor, the normalization discussions are expected to set arrangements for a restoration of Ethiopia’s access to Eritrea’s two ports, capitalizing on the existing high-quality road from Massawa to Ethiopia and the relative closeness of the Assab port to the capital Addis Ababa.
Prior to the emergence of conflict in 1998, Ethiopia and Eritrea enjoyed strong political, economic and cultural relations, and thousands of people were employed in both countries. At that time, Ethiopia was Eritrea’s top export partner and had full access to Eritrean ports.
For his part, Political Science and International Relations Assistant Professor at Mekelle University, Meresa Tsehaye says that the normalization process would create a good opportunity to Ethiopia access to international markets and politics take advantage of the unrestricted use of Eritrean ports.
He further states that opening the door for Eritrean investors to involve in Ethiopia’s wider investment opportunities, and paving the way for them to take part in the relatively big Ethiopian market needs to be the component of the peace agreement to revitalize the two countries' strong economic ties.
Dr. Costantinos indicates that Ethiopia needs to give due attention to reach a mutual security guarantee agreement with Eritrea that enforces the two countries to refrain from supporting and financing armed rebels.
The Professor stresses that substantive partnership with international, continental and regional organizations such as UN, AU and IGAD would have a principal importance to transfer the peace endeavors to regional economic integration.
“Forming entities equipped with the necessary expertise and resources is crucial to institutionalize the peace building efforts, and execute the normalization in a such a way to ensure Ethiopia’s national interest”.
The scholars highlight that the development of border regions is something that deserves equal attention and the re-opening of the border with Eritrea to trade activities would have a paramount importance in bringing the two countries border communities closer.
Above all, meticulous tasks should be made to enable the border communities to become the engine of peace efforts and ensuring their overwhelming participation would be instrumental in speeding and sustaining the normalization process. By doing so, Ethiopia will be in a position to re-establish its symbolic political, economic and social relationship with Eritrea, which will serve as the cornerstone of peace and development for the East African region in years to come, they comment.
BY BILAL DERSO