Ethiopia on the move again

Ethiopia on the move again

by Ras D. Levi / Amde Selassie / M. JB Venus

According to its own calendar Ethiopia has just celebrated its New Year 2010 (11 September 2017), 10 years after the great Ethiopian Millennium 2007. Since that time, many events have marked the life of the people in Ethiopia and impacted on Afrika and the diaspora as a whole. The great Ethiopian hydro-electric renaissance Dam, the biggest in Afrika, seems to be the main focus in term of major economic project with more than 60% completion. Amongst others, the passing of the Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, followed by Abuna Paulos, head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tawehido Church and more recently the passing of Mr Hapte Selassie Tafasse (aged 89), former minister of Tourism and Culture, who left us just after receiving honorific awards from the government, have affected the country. The former minister of health and of foreign Affairs Dr Tedros Adhanon has been elected early this year as the director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), first Afrikan person in such position.

Other significant socio-economic achievements are very significant, like the Addis Ababa electric train; the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railways; various agro industrial parks and factories; wind power plants; commercials centres and malls; the growth of social and business accommodations; industrial and textiles parks; global export growth; new stock exchange; best Airlines in Afrika; new airports; new roads and motor ways; tourism industry growth. These developments and achievements have boosted Ethiopia, making the country the world’s fastest growing economy with a forecast GDP growth of 8.3% for this year and expected to become within near future a middle income country. Note that between 2004 and 2016 Ethiopia has maintained a stable GDP growth averaging 10.9%. Recently this year, several industrial parks have been inaugurated with currently seven in operation and about targeted 18 by end of 2018, mainly dedicated to textiles and apparel sector: ie Hawassa industrial park specialised in textiles and garments which was inaugurated this year and will be the largest Afrikan manufacturing textile park, targeting to employ about 60.000 workers. With a population exceeding 100 million (the second largest in Afrika), and an area of approximately 3 times the size of the UK, reducing poverty and implementing social progress, unity and stability have been amongst the hardest challenges in modern time Ethiopia. It is fair to say that recent political and social disturbances in some regions, corruption and poverty amongst others have had negative impacts and effects on the smooth continuous progress of the country.

Ethiopian women, being one of the backbones of economic growth, driven by resilience, self- determination and the will to provide for their families seems nowadays to be in a better social position. On the continent they are in third position in terms of women business owners with 26.1% of all businesses behind Uganda (34.8%) and Bostwana (34.6%). Concerning entrepreneurial spirit, Ethiopian women are in fourth rank with 49.7%. Investing in women and girls remains therefore a secure asset for the future in these countries. Amongst various aspects of Ethiopian women in society, the yearly Women 5km Race in Addis Ababa during the month of March should be a booster and a great platform to promote Afrikan/Ethiopian women and to inspire and educate younger generations on a sustainable basis. Athletics success can be an asset for Ethiopia on the international stage in helping to promote Ethiopian women and the country as a whole. Is it too early to mention any idea of an Ethiopian woman in the position of Prime Minister?

Furthermore, Ethiopia has an industry that has not stopped growing and transforming since its conception in the early fifties. The Ethiopian Tourism industry since the time of the Emperor Haile Selassie 1st and the honourable Minister Ato Hapte Selassie Tefasse, “Father of the Ethiopian Tourism” who initiated the original slogan “13 Months of Sunshine”, has been through a steady increase despite challenging times. Also owing an impeccable airlines company; Ethiopian Airlines is expanding its international and continental and national routes at an impressive rate, which have a huge impact within the commercial and trade industry and movement of people. The airline reported a 10% increase in revenue and 70% rise in profits for the last fiscal year, with the newly built and largest cargo terminal in Afrika. Ethiopian, the best, most profitable and largest airline in Afrika, is dotted with all female crew on board, which is a very impressive record. Now the airlines operate 19 Boeing 787-8 dream liner aircrafts. Recently, the airlines have received various valuable awards for its successful operations. The new Ethiopian Tourism Organisation which emanate from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture has embarked recently on a new direction to enable the industry to accommodate and sustain growing influx of growth and also to maintain its target. The past few years we have seen an impressive growth in the number of visitors in the country for either short or long stay, increasing demand in term of international standard services. The industry plans to earn this fiscal year $7 billion in revenue, with a tourist arrival increase of 5.7%. A few months ago the country introduced online entry visa for international visitors. It is fair to note that up to this day, Ethiopia has ten UNESCO registered world heritage sites, various unique attractions, a rich and comprehensive bio-diversity, history and culture, excellent natural landscapes, abundant wildlife, genuine welcoming people and other assets that make the country one of the most wanted Afrikan destination. Some conditions are still required to attaint these goals and objectives. It is thus significant to start an extensive sustainable promotion, effective training for employees and staff, national awareness campaigns, and in the meantime, maintaining internal values and cultural identity. The Ethiopian Tourism Organisation is taking up the challenge by revitalising and re-structuring the industry with a new logo and slogan: “Ethiopia Land of origins”. This will re-position Ethiopia on the continental and international market and enable the country to fulfil its objectives. The tourism industry amongst other is a valuable asset in Ethiopia global development, within the next 10 years. Some important pre-requisites should include internal peace (thanks to the end of State of emergency; anti-corruption clean-up operations), also national common objectives, collective security, human rights observance, transparency, widespread benefits of economic development.

Ethiopia has achieved the last decade some of its social and economic goals, which one of them was to reduce poverty, but on the other hand issues like national cohesion, inflation and wages need to be addressed efficiently. In this case, we can say that it is important that a young, educated, peaceful nation will be an ideal opportunity for a sustainable and balanced progress in term of quality of life, where moral, traditional and cultural values should be prioritised and preserved. This Ethiopian New Year 2010, the Ethiopian Government is in the process of granting permanent residence and national identity cards to returnees from the diaspora: the RasTeferi community and to the Falashsa (original Jews). It is also good to acknowledge the fact that it has been finally accepted to erect alongside Dr NKrumah’s Statue, the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and the great leader Emperor Haile Selassie 1st statues at the Afrikan Union (AU) Headquarters in Addis Ababa; a leading example of inclusion and valuable recognition. Ethiopia’s destiny more than ever lies in the hands and mind-set of its own people, government and the involvement of its diaspora.

H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie 1st: “We must look into ourselves, into the depth of our souls. We must become something we have never been and for which our education and experience and environment have ill-prepare us. We must become bigger than we have ever been, more courageous, greater in spirit, larger in outlook” October 6th 1963

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