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PCI launches the First Annual Ethiopian Diaspora Business Conference to be held on September 19, 2007 at the UNECA

The Ethiopian Diaspora Business Conference aims to make a business case for investing in Ethiopia and illustrate exactly how the Diaspora community can benefit from the investment opportunities that exist in the country, while supporting the ongoing development and growth of the Ethiopian economy.
Crude calculations using remittance figures (USD 1.1 billion in the first 9 months of 2006/07 alone) show that the Gross income of Ethiopians in the Diaspora is in the range of 10-20 billion USD per annum, roughly equal to the home country’s GDP of 13 billion USD in 2006. As we approach the New Ethiopian Millennium, advances in communications technology have made it easier for Ethiopians across the globe to connect and do business. There are significant untapped opportunities that exist in this equation for all parties involved. The Diaspora can reap the benefits of investing in a growing home economy or stay behind and make profits by facilitating the import of quality Ethiopian products into their home countries. At a time when global competitiveness decides the fate of nations, some of the capital, world class know-how, and market access necessary for the survival of the Ethiopian nation can be provided by the Diaspora.
“Back in the old days, our forefathers fought off colonization using spears, guns, and even their bare hands.” said Ato Henok Assefa, Managing Partner at Precise Consult who also happens to be an ex-Diasporan who grew up in New York City. “Times have changed, however. The survival of the Ethiopian state now depends on building the competitiveness of Ethiopia’s industries. Be competitive or perish is the order of the day. And in this endeavor, utilizing the Diaspora who already possess world class know-how and capital is a no-brainer for Ethiopia”
Indeed the Ethiopian Diaspora’s contribution is already notable. In addition to the large amount of money entering the country as remittance by the Diaspora, direct investment over recent years has run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. While still at a nascent stage, export opportunities facilitated by the Diaspora are starting to make an impact using the duty free and quota free access Ethiopia enjoys to the United States and European markets. However, given the potential that exists, these numbers are only indicative of this important group’s possible contribution to the Ethiopian development agenda in the form of investment (FDI), business partnerships, advisory services to local businesses, and participation in the local debate on improving the investment climate.
Ato Henok says this is partly due to a lack of coherent information and strategic engagement with the Diaspora community. “It is surprising how many Diasporans we have met who say to us, I have 150,000 dollars and would like to invest it in Ethiopia. Where do I go? How do I start? They all seem to have an irresistible urge to contribute to the country but do not know how to begin. The lack of basic information and facilitation services to navigate the local beaurocracy are quite possibly undermining a large influx of investment and exporting opportunities from being realized. So this is basically how the idea for the conference and associated support services to be disclosed soon came about.”
The conference is divided along two main themes with expert panels to discuss the prevailing business conditions in Ethiopia and a mini-information/products tradeshow. The first theme is aimed at de-mystifying the process of doing business in Ethiopia. With a legacy of communism and a history of a beaurocratic regulatory culture tarnishing the image of the Ethiopian business environment, few are aware of the significant improvements achieved over the past few years. Even fewer are bold enough to venture in and find out what it takes to invest in Ethiopia. There appears to be a gap between the perception and reality of doing business in Ethiopia. What is the experience of investors so far in this regard? Where are the opportunities and constraints to investing in Ethiopia? Key issues such as investment process, land acquisition, finance, etc. will be discussed based on the experiences of a panel of successful diaspora investors.
The second theme focuses on the investment opportunities and incentives that exist on the ground. With an economy expanding in double digits per annum, exports growing at almost 30% per year and a fast improving investment environment, Ethiopia now offers the prospect of high returns in many sectors. This panel will discuss where some of these high potential sectors lie and showcase concrete opportunities for investment. The panel will also discuss emerging opportunities for the diaspora to link with local producers and import Ethiopian products into their adopted home countries.
The First Annual Ethiopian Diaspora Business Conference which is being organized with the financial support of The World Bank and USAID VEGA Ethiopia AGOA+ is scheduled to take place on September 19, 2007 at the UNECA conference center. “We hope that this conference will provide profound insights into the possibilities of doing business in Ethiopia and also create export linkages with local export ready producers and members of the Diaspora community. For more information on the Ethiopian Diaspora Business Conference, please visit www.DiasporaInvest.com. As space is limited, those interested to participate are advised to register online as soon as possible.
he Potential of Greater Ethiopia
A Nation Beyond Borders. The Rise of a Globally Interconnected Ethiopian Entity and the Promise it Holds for Development

By Joshua Yau and Henok Assefa,
Originally published on The Ethiopian American (www.theethiopianamerican.com)

Within the space of the past 35 years, Ethiopians have spread across the globe and some 1-2 million of them now call North America, Western Europe, The Middle East, and parts of East and Southern Africa home. Over the same period, this Ethiopian Diaspora has grown in financial and technical capacity and managed to largely integrate themselves into their adopted countries. All the while, they have continuously harbored a longing to either return home or at least help their families and friends who have not been so fortunate to escape the quagmire of poverty and civil war. As we approach the third Ethiopian Millennium, the world in which Ethiopia and Ethiopians reside has changed in fundamental way to make just this possible.

Advances in communications technology have made it possible for the Ethiopian Diaspora to keep connected to each other across the globe and indeed to friends and family back home. Voice over IP (VOIP) technology, cheap phone cards, web aggregators, blogs, and sites such as YouTube, Google, and Yahoo Groups! are helping to create a ‘virtual Ethiopia’. In fact, what is beginning to emerge is a new Ethiopian entity, a Greater Ethiopia, beyond the legally recognizable physical borders spanning the entire globe. Combined with the end of civil war, better investment environment, and a booming economy back home, there exists today a potentially large win-win arrangement in which Ethiopians the world over can all benefit economically.

Defining the “Other Half” Economically

The International Monetary Fund reckons that Ethiopians in the Diaspora sent home USD 800 million in 2005 . This figure roughly doubles if money transferred through unofficial channels, such as in person or mail deliveries are included. These cash transfers alone may equal around 10 – 20% of Ethiopia’s USD 13 billion GDP. The potential for growth is even brighter. If Diaspora Ethiopians were to send no more than a tenth of their total annual income home, it is conceivable that the net value of their remittance may equal Ethiopia’s Gross National Product (GNP) .

The Ethiopian Diaspora’s economic strength is just one of its potential benefits to the country. Other major strengths of the Diaspora include a vast pool of trained human capital. An International Organization for Migration (IOM) report estimated that Ethiopia lost 75% of its human capital – including a third of its doctors – from emigration between 1980 and 1991 . The loss in business management and other technical skills are likely at least as severe.

People who move to developed societies also tend to acquire other intangible skills. The bulk of the post-1974 émigrés now have had more than 20 years to get acquainted with Western management styles, business discipline, and technology. Someone who worked for a multinational corporation understands the importance of attending meetings on time and answering back to clients promptly. An IT manager in an industrial country has seen how Internet can speed transactions and enhance promotions – not to mention knows how to manage a multi-team project. A simple visit to Starbucks reveals what customer service can do to a business – and what it looks like. Moreover, the Ethiopian-Americans, -British, -Dubaians know what the customers in these markets desire and how they do business. Some perhaps even have connections and influences. These are all skills and know-hows severely needed and lacking in Ethiopia.

The “Other Half” as Agents of Change at Home

Members of the Diaspora are among the most powerful, capable and focused development agents for Ethiopia. The macro view of the Diaspora’s power only partly conveys the influence they can each exert individually. In fact, the Ethiopian Diaspora returnees represent a reverse side of the brain drain. The difference in living standards and technology, a little money and know-how from the developed world goes a long way back home.

Interviews conducted with recently returned expatriates shows the promise of the Diaspora community. A returned Canadian Ethiopian who worked in hotel management for the Hilton for more than a decade and wanted to come back to contribute to the country’s development put it this way:

“If we don’t come back and face the hardship [of development] here, who is going to come?” he told himself. He added “if I can create just one job, that is contribution.”

After many years of, sometimes admittedly difficult, trials and errors, he now employs 55. These 55 employees probably support several hundred people in turn.

In another example, an Ethiopian American who works for a garment distributor, with the help of USAID’s AGOA project, successfully placed a USD 1 million garment export order. This large garment order possibly will increase the country’s total non-agricultural export by up to 5% , single-handedly. With several more millions orders likely to come in the future from this Diaspora buyer, the potential for expanding export in this sector is bright. It is tough to imagine where else this type of impact can be achieved.

Then there is the progress in business savvy brought by the Diaspora. Arguably already the best known international business to come out of Ethiopia, Ethiopian Airlines has been flying even higher since the arrival of CEO Ato Girma Wake, once a member of the Diaspora. Since his takeover, Ato Girma has emphasized the state owned airliner’s modernization efforts on customer service and global competitiveness. Ethiopian Airlines is currently projected to earn USD 1 billion and reach about 50 international destinations by 2010, a phenomenal feat for a country currently marginalized in every measure of world trade.

But the business savvy is also starting to reach smaller investments as well. Recently, when a cup of coffee took too long to come at a recently opened trendy Café establishment in Addis started by an ex-Diaspora, the on-duty manager walked out, apologized, and offered the customer to have it for free. This unfamiliar level of customer service has deeply surprised many Ethiopians. There are more examples than this page can hold.

The Home as an Opportunity for the “Other Half”

An expatriate’s involvement in Ethiopia’s economy is beneficial to both the expatriate and the country. Many argue that Ethiopia is now a great place to do business. GDP has been growing by double-digits for three consecutive years. Various business environment indicators score well above Africa’s average. A national Industrial Development Plan has been passed, outlining export-oriented strategies for sectors such as coffee, leather and flower, whose exports grows at more than 200% per annum. The government has put many incentives in place, including a loan guarantee for 70% of the capital requirement for an investment on ‘priority sectors’. International organizations and IT professionals continue to sprawl into Addis Ababa, creating demands for high-scale services as well as capacity for niche high-value technical businesses. A day’s tour around Addis Ababa will reveal as many buildings in construction as established buildings.

The returned entrepreneur mentioned above heard news that the government was trying to induce investment, and came back to test the environment as a tourist for two weeks. To his surprise, he found that the government agencies were inviting. He was able to get direct access to the needed people at the Investment Agency and other secretaries with no prior connection. The incentives were hard to refuse. Land was offered at 70 cents per square meters, “which is like free”, he said. “You might not get things done in the way you do in the US, but have to understand Ethiopia and America are not the same,” he conceded. “Yet, the business opportunities are here. As long as you learn how to navigate the bureaucracy, the private environment is very advantageous.” After an attempt at building a hotel consultancy failed since the local hotels were not ready to embrace professional practices yet, he quickly moved on to other entrepreneurial opportunities.

Today, he owns a fiber glass manufacturing shop and a fish processing plant in joint venture with Italian partners. When asked about the difference in his living standards between now and the day when he was Operating Manager of The Hilton Hotel in Toronto, he replied, “Oh, there is no comparison. Much higher. It is much higher now. It’s got to be when I am employing 55 people.”

Moreover, the superior management and technological know-how that the Diaspora possesses, as discussed above, give them an unique competitive advantage in this environment to make profits out of opportunities. Spend a few months in country and it is not hard to see that many of the most successful businesses are started and run by people who had first-hand foreign exposure. As the economy steers itself for export-driven growth, the new business leaders will need to understand what foreign customers demand; the ones with established contacts with foreign buyers will excel even more.

Where Do I Put My Money?

The Ethiopian Diaspora wants to invest back in their homeland. Unlike other Diaspora groups, such as the Armenians, who are typically second-or-more generations removed, the Ethiopian Diaspora is made up of almost entirely first generation and still maintains fresh and emotional links to their country. Most expatriates we interviewed so far expressed strong desire to come back and do business in Ethiopia at some point soon. Of those who returned, none of them regretted their decision to return home.

But many of the people we interviewed said they do not know where to put their money. What sectors are growing, which geographical areas are best to put in a factory, whom to trust, and how does one determine these things? We have talked to several people who have accumulated more than USD 100,000 in investable assets, would like to invest in Ethiopia, but do not know where to start. Worse, there are some that are turned off by Ethiopia’s regulatory obstacles. A prospective Diaspora returnee we talked to expressed his desire to invest and be a part of the country’s development. But, due to the burdensome regulatory structure and weak telecommunication infrastructure, he was forced to divert his invest to Kenya and South Africa instead.

Putting it all Together: A One Stop Shop for the Diaspora

In the absence of a well developed integrated scheme to lure the global Diaspora into the Ethiopian economy in a productive way, the current level of involvement is only indicative of the immense potential the Diaspora holds for development. Taken together, through remittances, direct investments, and increased export opportunities, it is not hard to see the significant role the Ethiopian Diaspora is already playing in earning foreign currency and job creation into the Ethiopian economy. In fact, the Diaspora can be much more important for Ethiopia, even more so than foreign direct investment and development assistance.

But how to translate this potential into results is a key challenge. While economic performance and third-party assessments suggest that the overall business environment is changing for the better (World Bank’s most recent Investment Climate Survey found that most areas of regulations have significantly improved), bureaucracy and regulatory transparency often take a long time to fix. More immediate stop-gap solution will reap a large benefit.

The authors of this paper argue that what’s needed is a one-stop shop for the Diaspora focusing exclusively on business related services. We are working on a project and work plan to establish a Center that will facilitate all investment and trade needs of the Diaspora. The Center (and its website) will provide comprehensive and easy-to-understand information on all aspects of business regulations. It will also have database on which investment opportunities and suppliers are reliable and high-performing (tested by various due diligence processes), and trained agents to handle specific inquiries from interested investors. Finally, it aims to form special relationships with government agencies to allow it to facilitate and ‘fastrack’ permitting and land access processes. It can also arrange meetings and help ‘follow up’ with potential local partners. (Please see the end of this article for more information about how you can get involved and contribute*).

The Greater Ethiopia Concept and Its Policy Implications

As argued earlier, the GDP of Ethiopians living abroad is now at least as large as the one within Ethiopia’s geographic borders. These facts and trends are inevitably changing the way we think about and define the Ethiopian economy. Discussions around a development policy therefore must now start to include the “other half of the Ethiopian economy” and how to integrate it for better value addition system-wide. Such an approach can help to increase incomes for Ethiopians the world over.

In the areas of direct investment and trade development, national and donor policy makers should pay a lot more attention to the potential and promises of the Diaspora as a development force. Today the Diaspora is treated more or less on equal ground as other foreign investors and importers. But we believe they are a lot more important. No export strategy, sector planning, or linkage building should be done without considering the Diaspora at the forefront. Just as the government put in economic, preferential incentives for priority sectors, it can equally view Diaspora as a sector with strong natural endowment, and put in preferential incentives to facilitate their impacts to the economy. This would imply, for examples, preferential economic incentives, dedicated government agencies and access process, and tailored supporting services, such as access to finances and legal money-pooling mechanism for shared companies. And this could be even more productive if an offer of dual citizenship is considered along the lines of what the Indian government is doing to integrate its sizable global Diaspora into its economy ‘within borders’. These seemingly drastic steps are not superfluous considering the developmental impacts that the Diaspora has demonstrated for the country.

Members of the Diaspora want to invest back because they care about the country’s development, and because they want to make profits. So they should. We are at a point in the country’s development that the two objectives coincide. Ethiopia will only be better off if they continue to do so. The government should consider the potential of the Diaspora in economic terms separately from their stands on political terms. The Diaspora should, at least, as our succeeded hotelier-turned-plant-owner advocated, “come, and see the country for yourself. Come and see whether it is like what you heard. You will never regret it.”

*The Ethiopia Diaspora Investment and Export Center project, promoted by Precise Consult International (PCI), is conducting a large, anonymous online survey to understand the exact services that are needed by the Diaspora.

The Race Is on

IT LOOKS LIKE A ROCK VIDEO. AS TECHNO music pounds in the background, attractive young Asians break-dance, play guitar and pump their fists in the air. Yet this is no dance track. It’s an ad: part to the U.S. colleges and universities. The video-which has been shown to more than 180 million Chinese TV viewers since November- also features students taking notes in class, playing in a marching band and cheerleading. The message: America loves Chinese students. It’s the first time in history that Washington has actively marketed its education system overseas, says Frank Lavin, U.S. Secretary for international trade, who is heading the campaign. “Attracting the best students from around the world is more competitive than ever.” Explains Lavin,
“so we are making a special effort to reach out.”
They’re not the only ones. The days are long gone when the world’s best schools-Harvard and Yale, Cambridge and Oxford-could rest on their laurels and expect the best students to come to the. Today, a variety of trends are utterly reshaping the educational landscape. Governments across the globe, especially in China and India, are pouring unprecedented sums into building and improving their universities, and are spending millions more selling them abroad. Europe is unifying its fractured system to make it more attractive. Private universities are springing up where they never existed, through-out developing nations. The stakes in the ever-tightening race could not be higher: with the numbers of internationally-minded students growing exponentially, schools and nations must do all they can to lure them in-both for economic and intellectual reasons. State funding for education is falling in many places, making those fee-paying foreigners look ever more attractive. And importing intellectual capital or fighting brain drain- can pay off richly.
Ultimately, the winners in the new global education race will be those countries with institutions that are the most international at every bodies, elite foreign campuses, offer internationally recognized degrees and, no matter where they’re based, will teach in English-still very much the global language of business, research and technology.
For the moment, the United States remains the undisputed world leader, consistently occupying about half the spots in most global rankings of the top 100 universities. But it was also the United States that helped the competition grow so fierce. The attacks of September 11 led to tighter student-visa restrictions and a widespread feeling that the United States no longer welcomed foreigners. The problem was compounded by a drop in government funding for public universities, weakening second-tier schools. In the three years following September 11, international student enrollment in the United States dropped by up to 2.4 percent a year the first such losses in 32 years.
Now, however, the United States is rebounding. It’s an important comeback: providing higher education to foreign students generated more than $14 billion for the USS. Economy in tuition and living expense last year alone.
But although the raw numbers are up, some of the changes seem set to stick, and a multipolar educational world looks likely to be the new norm. The proof: America’s share of the fast-growing pie of international students-more than 2.5 million people study overseas today is shrinking. Among the top six host countries, the United States experienced the weakest growth between 2000 and 2005, pulling in just 17 percent more students over that period, compared with 81 percent in France and 108 percent in Japan. According to a recent report from the American Council on Education. In total, America’s market share of international students dropped from more than a quarter in 2000 to one fifth in woo4, the latest year for which figures are available.
More evidence of the increased competition today can be found by looking at academia’s most prestigious rankings. London’s Times Higher Education Supplement (THE) and the Shanghai Jiaotong list are still dominated by Western institutions, with the United States consistently taking eight of the top 10 slots and Britain picking up the remaining two. But beyond the top 10, the rankings are more diverse. “There were no less than 30 different countries represented in our top 2000 list this year, and I expect that number to keep growing,” says John O’Leary, editor of the THES rankings. Indeed Beijing University, the National University of Singapore and the University of Tokyo all won top 20 status in the most recent THES ranking.
The best of the challengers are building up their international programs with foreign out-posts and joint degree programs. France’s famed INSEAD business school, for example, now al-lows its students to move freely between its French campus and its Singapore location. The international slant has proved such a success that in June, INSEAD launched a joint M.B.A. with China’s Tsinghua University.
More and more schools are taking a similar approach. In May, a report by the American Council on Education found that 131 private India colleges have established links to foreign universities, and nearly half of Britain’s higher-education institutions provide study opportunities in China. Among the dozens of universities with campuses, research labs or partnerships in Singapore are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Chicago and Cornell. This internationalization, says the IIE’s president, Allan Goodman. Is exactly what all universities need to stay competitive. “Campuses should have their own foreign policies,” he says, “and require every undergraduate to get a passport instead of a student ID.”
Having physical presence abroad is more important than ever. Asian countries, the biggest exporters of foreign students to the West, are now pouring resources into homegrown schools in a bid to prevent brain. Today, China spends an estimated 0.5 of its annual GDP on higher education, but it plans to bring that share up to 4 percent in coming years a figure higher than both Europe’s 1.1 percent and the United States/ 2.7 percent. Earlier this year, Malaysia announced its goal of becoming an international education hub with 1000,000 foreign students-double today’s number by 2010. To lure the best professors, Singapore’s universities are of faring salaries competitive with the best U.S. schools; young academics in the city-state can now earn more than $180,000 a year.
To sweeten the deal or students, many of Asia’s most cutting-edge institutions have also started offering entire degrees in English. This is threatening one of the greatest advantages enjoyed by the United States and the United Kingdom. Today[s youths are often as keen to gain English fluency as a topnotch diploma; indeed, a Europe’s “single major disadvantage in the eyes of Asian students is that English is not the universal mother tongue.” To improve their attractiveness, many of Asia’s universities are, therefore, adopting English. In South Korea, Underwood International college, Korea University and Ewha Womans University all recently created English-only undergraduate programs. Japan’s Waseda University has run an English college since 2004. And many of China’s top schools, including Beijing University, are increasing their English-language course offerings every year.
These efforts are paying off, as evidenced by the number of new institutions popping up throughout Asia. Consider this: China has expanded its university system so quickly that more than 20 percent of its college-age population now receives tertiary education ago. Or this: last month India held its first formal meeting, chaired by Nobel laureate Amarty Sen, to plan the $1 billion revival of the country’s great ancient university, Nalanda, which was last open in A.D. 1197. “The pace at which china and India are creating higher-education institutions is quite astounding,” says Bernd Watcher, director of the Brussels-based Academic Cooperation Association. “And it’s not just quantity, it’s quality.” Indeed, the new institutions are already proving so successful that the Eu’s commissioner for Education warned in a recent interview that British, French and German universities risk being “overtaken” by those in China and India within a decade if they don’t modernize.
To fight back, the world’s established homes of higher learning are launching international ad campaigns something once unthinkable to these venerable institutions. In February, the United States announced that it would spend $1 million to expand its music-video-esque marketing campaign from China to India next year. In Britain, 79 percent of colleges and universities are increasing their marketing and recruitment efforts abroad this year, according to a Universities UK survey released in March. Last month, the French government declared university reform a top priority, vowing to spend €5 billion by 2012 on modernization. In Europe, the much-touted Bologna process promises to standardize higher-education degrees across the entire continent by 2010, giving an internationally recognizable seal of approval to the continent’s idiosyncratic diplomas.
Through all these changes, at least one thing has remained constant: the world’s biggest name institutions are still everyone’s first choice. America’s Ivy League universities have huge amounts of cash, and they and Britain’s Oxbridge retain huge cachet, which help them continue to procure everything from the finest libraries and laboratories to the best professors and students. “The competition is hooting up, but for the absolute top universities, we can stand tall,” says Tim Lankester, president of oxford’s Corpus Christi College, who recently stepped done after three years as the chairman of Oxford’s admissions Committee. “I don’t want to sound complacent, but we offer the best.”
But even Britain’s best can’t compete with the multibillion-dollar treasuries of the Ivy League. At the beginning of this school year, Harvard used its endowment of $28 billion (more than all of Britain’s universities combined) to make a move few other schools could afford, announcing that henceforth all students from families making less than $60,000 a year would enjoy a completely free ride. That has made Harvard one of the cheapest options for working and middle-class students, assuming they can get in, of course.
At the tier just below the very top, however, America and Europe are losing their monopoly on prestigious degrees. “Australia, Canada, Russia and Hong Kong are all higher-education hot spots now,” says Catharine Stimpson, dean of New York University. “Everyone wants to be everywhere.” And, ultimately, that is exactly where the most successful educational establishments of the future will enable their scholars to be. Get ready for more U.S. students making Beijing home-and more Chinese students cheerleading in Boston.

Free Marketers

SOME OF THE 20TH CENTURY’ Greatest scholars got their start at India’s venerable state universities. But if Anil Agarwal has his way, those august institutions will soon get a run for their money. The 53-year-old metals and mining magnate plans to create Vedanta University in sleepy Orissa state, with 100,000 students and 40,000 faculty that he claims will raise standards throughout Asia. True, only a fraction of the $3.5 billion needed has been raised. But the fact that the project exists at all is emblematic of a new trend: the privatization of higher education in the developing world.
Independent universities are nothing new in the West. But since colonial times, higher ed in Latin America, Asia and Africa has been a virtual government monopoly. Tuition was heavily subsidized or free. This began to change late last century, however. The international financial crises, massive debt and the collapse of socialism pauperized governments from Albania to Argentina, leaving them unable to support public schools.
At the same time, emerging-market economies began to take off. Soon private players stepped in, drawn by surging demand and government deregulation. Of course, launching a private university is no simple latter, especially in developing states with accident-prone economies, poor populations and thickets of red tape. Yet many barriers are now falling. Brazil is booming. In India, 30 percent of students attend private schools, up from a handful two decades ago. In China, the number has doubled since 2003, Even in Russia, three out of four students attend private schools.
The changer is being driven by a shift in the international economy. As the information age goes global, college degrees become ever more important; in Brazil-which typifies the trend-graduates, now earn 2.7 times more than those with just high-school diplomas. And public institution cant’s keep up with the demand. A third of students taking entrance exams in Beijing last year were unable to find places.
Moreover, quality is plunging. “the truth is that many public schools are riding on past glories,” says Rajpan pai, head of Manipal University, India’s pioneer nongovernmental school. A 2005 report by Mckinsey concluded that fewer than 10 percent of Chinese graduates were qualified to work for a multinational company, and in June, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called his country’s state system “dysfunctional.” Public schools teach “students to think about joining the commanding heights, not to become a junior partner in a firm,” says University of Illinois economist Salim Rashid. “They [are] misfits when they get out into the real world.” Many new private schools, on the other hand, offer practical courses, top teacher and accountability. “If you pay for education, you keep a much closer eye on it,” says Rashid.
That said, some critics argue that private schools discriminate against the poor. In fact, however, most of these universities offer scholarships and charge modest fees. And rich kids still enjoy a huge advantage in public systems, thanks to prep schools and private tutors. Still, policymakers worry that it’s hard to ensure quality with new schools emerging overnight. With honorable exceptions, private universities generate only a fraction of the developing world’s ph.D.s and cutting-edge research. Yet Rashid remarks that while “there are plenty of mediocre private schools, there are also plenty of mediocre jobs out there.”
No advocated argue that the market is infallible-only that it has become indispensable. “We know today that the government is not enough,” says Manipal’s pai. “A lot of people wouldn’t be studying at all if there was no private sector.” As more and more students in the developing world strive for a college degree, that knowledge alone should help them up the learning curve.

The New Ethiopian Millennium

The New Ethiopian Millennium
Kosher, Haraam, Renaissance or Just a Feel Good Time?
By Minga Negash | Johannesburgh August 29, 2007


A young Ethiopian girl reads a traditional Ethiopian book (Source: Beteseb.com )
September 11, 2007 (Puagumen 6, 1999) marks the end of the Second Millennium of the Ethiopian calendar. According to Professor Richard Pogge’s lecture notes for the Astronomy 161 course at Ohio State University ( website ) world calendars can be broadly classified into two: the lunar calendar group and the solar calendar group. Lunar calendar follows the moon while solar calendar follows the seasons. For example, the calendars of Arabs, Chinese, Indians, Japanese and Vietnamese are lunar while the Jewish calendar is a mix of solar and lunar. The ancient Egyptians’ calendar is a solar calendar as are both the Gregorian calendar and the Julian calendar. The ancient Egyptians developed their calendar around 3000 BC. They divided the year into 12 months of 30 days each and added an extra five days to make up the 365 days in the year. The Ethiopian calendar resembles the calendar of the ancient Egyptians.

Furthermore, the Julian calendar was developed by Sosigenes of Alexandria. It was the result of Julius Caesar’s attempt to correct the calendar that was used by ancient Rome; as the old Roman calendar did not correctly compute important Christian holydays like Easter Day. The Julian calendar in turn was abandoned in 1570 when Pope Gregory XIII instructed all Catholic countries in Europe to use his new calendar. The use of the new calendar became mandatory in the then Catholic Europe and its colonies.
Japan, Soviet Union and China respectively adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1876, 1918 and 1949.

The link between culture, faith and time counting system is apparent. Notwithstanding the solar basis of both the Gregorian and Julian calendars, Eastern Orthodox churches follow the Council of Nicaea’s method of computing Christian holydays such as Easter Day (Fasika). This methodology was adopted in 325 AD and reaffirmed as recent as in 1971. Hence, despite the widely held view that the Ethiopian calendar is a version of Sosigenes’s calendar (Julius Caesar) and is often linked to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, it is important to note that the origin of the Ethiopian calendar is ancient Egypt. Hence, the link between the Ethiopian Orthodox (Tewahido) Church and the Ethiopian calendar is one of custodianship and functionality (use) rather than faith or invention.

Followers of Pope Gregory’s calendar celebrated the end of the Second Millennium nearly seven years ago; with big fireworks and parties. The ancient Egyptian (Ethiopian) Millennium is not expected to have a different form of celebration. The party is gearing up. The difference is that the party is more than likely to reinforce myths and contain political bugs. For example, one widely held Ethiopian superstition (mythology) suggests that in the year 8000 (Ethiopians believe that there were 6000 years before the birth of Jesus Christ) the world will end at the tail end of the Second Millennium. This mythology is strengthened by fe’kare yesus, an ancient Ethiopian writing in the Geez language; which literally translates to ‘the warnings of Jesus’. It contains selected verses from the Holy Bible, with extended annotations. For the modern version, see fe’kare yesus, by Tesfa Gebre Selassie zebehere Bulga, Tesfa Printing Press, Addis Ababa 1986 Ethiopian Calendar, 74 pages, (in Amarigna).

Leaving the mythology aside, social reality is difficult to discern. In his famous book the Pandora box, the reality of science studies, the French scientist Bruno Latour (1999:7) observes that “reality [in science studies] depends on what the mob thinks is right at any given time”. Hence, while one cannot always successfully juxtapose science realities with social realities, it is easy to observe that the Ethiopian mob inside the country and in the Diaspora think that the Ethiopian Millennium is indeed truly and uniquely Ethiopian; a treasure that has been maintained despite cultural invasion, Eurocentric education, culture based politics and the myths and realities of modernity. Contemporary writers on Ethiopia and the press often relate the celebration of the Ethiopian Millennium with the resilience of the Ethiopian culture and identity; in a period of ethnic politics and the post 9/11 world order.

Thanks to the Internet, from Cape Town to Copenhagen and from Seattle to Sydney, one reads news and receives invitations to a millennium celebration party. The parties are of different shapes and sizes. The celebration has also attracted several people from the rest of the continent and the African Diaspora. The Heads of States and Governments of the African Union have also correctly declared that the Ethiopian Millennium should be celebrated as Africa’s Millennium. Hence, the celebrations will be happening not only in different shapes and sizes; but in different colours; with or without the control and influence of the present day Government of Ethiopia. Hence, given the current political climate, a given celebration centre might be kosher to a group of Ethiopians but haraam to other group of Ethiopians.

The English thesaurus defines the term kosher to mean acceptable, legitimate, genuine, authentic, the real thing and true. The origin of the Ethiopian Millennium is ancient Egypt. It has a scientific base; it is African; millions of people use it and, is therefore kosher. With regard to its celebration, one might face the halaal and haraam (e’erm in Amarigna) dichotomy. Some might be unable to decouple the celebration of the heritage day from organized institutions. However, the Islamic faith teaches the existence of a fundamental difference between a halaal and a haraam (e’erm). In the halaal concept, one finds compliance to be the central issue while the haraam (e’erm) concept suggests a total prohibition. For most Ethiopians, including the lunar calendar followers, the celebration of the heritage of ancient Egypt cannot be a haraam (e’erm). Hence, the halaal-haraam dichotomy helps us to know the difference between a ban and compliance.

Halaal or kosher, as one celebrates a new year, let alone a new millennium, s/he cannot avoid thinking about the past and looking ahead into the future. While looking back at the last millennium, one is reminded about the many koshers, halaals and haraams in the history of Africa and Ethiopia. The kosher includes the existence of historical footprints that connect the people of the continent of Africa. The history of the inhabitants of ancient Egypt, whose physiology resembles the indigenous people of the continent, provides us with the legacy of astronomy. The new generation faces the formidable challenge of unearthing Africa’s knowledge repositories. With regard to African Empires, one cannot avoid thinking about the political geography of Africa before the continent was conquered by Arabs and Europeans. There are few hints here and there. For example, the British cartographer William Berry in 1630 referred to the Southern coasts of South Africa (Durban and Nelson Mandela Metro areas) as the “Ethiopian Sea”; and described the then residents of the now Great Zimbabwe as “Ethiopians”. In contrast, the Abyssinian Empire often gets merged with the maps of ancient Egypt and Nubian mountains in the North and Benin in the East (see for example the historical maps available at the libraries of the University of the Witwatersrand).

The beginning of the new millennium must herald the end of unfounded assertions about Africa. The post millennium celebration day (September 13, 2007; Meskerem 2, 2000) must be a time for a sober reflection on the past. It must be the beginning of not just Thabo Mbeki’s renaissance period and a time of getting reparation from the 17th century slave traders, but a period of innovation. It must be the beginning of a coordinated challenge to the process of the crowning of bad ideas. In this respect, for example one recent puzzling idea comes from a group of rather eminent scholars of European origin. Professor Christopher Clapham of Cambridge University and his colleagues in Southern Africa attempt to find a relationship between economic development and “dysfunctional” States of Africa. They reckon that the break up of several “big” dysfunctional African states (Ethiopia, DRC, Nigeria and Sudan included) is evident. The result of the break up might be the creation of functionally “efficient” states, and functionally efficient states are often associated with growth and prosperity; the argument goes. The dysfunctional States hypothesis and other similar shaky theories need to be interrogated as they have the potential to crown bad ideas and worse, re-introduce the haraams of the past.

Thinking about the end of the Third Millennium (that is year 3000 AD) brings wild guesses and requires the kind of powers that a super psychic, T’enquay or a sangoma enjoys. Notwithstanding this, the population estimate of present day Ethiopia is 81 million. No one would imagine what the shape and size of Ethiopia will be at the end of the Third Millennium. Assuming no major human tragedy occurs (including the rift valley remaining stable, the planet is not hit by a major meteorite, global warming is under control and the AIDS epidemic is subsiding), and if one further assumes that birth rate exceeds death rate by a constant growth rate of g per annum, the land mass that is described as present day Ethiopia can have a staggering population figure of 81, 000,000 (1+g).1000 The implication of this population size for the finite landmass of today brings both nightmare and scientific challenges and illusions.

The Ethiopians of the Third Millennium will have to create and learn to eat a different form of injera; as the size and method of making the present injera will not be useful in the future. The size of the injera of the Third Millennium might be the size of a tablet but must also have complexity to satisfy the hunger of the future. The type of house that an Ethiopian of the Third Millennium will live in cannot be the one s/he is living in now. One might think that it will look like a kennel. However, while thinking about the physiology of the Third Millennium Ethiopian, one becomes helpless in knowing not only his/her size but the birth and burial system of the future. In other words, following the teachings of dialectical materialism, the world will continue to change, for better or worse, with or without our knowledge. The new Ethiopian Millennium can be kosher, halaal, haraam (e’erm), a renaissance period or just a random collection of discrete feel good times or a mix of some or all of them. To the extent life can be deterministic, it will depend how we shape our future. Notwithstanding this, a feel good moment, however short it may be, so long as it is affordable, does not harm anyone.

Happy Ethiopian Millennium and enqutatash!

Our esteemed contributor, Minga Negash, is a Professor of Economics at University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburgh, South Africa. He can be reached for comments at Minga.Negash@wits.ac.za

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has requested the Government of Norway to reduce the number of its diplomatic staff in Addis Ababa to three people, the Ambassador and no more than two other members of the diplomatic staff. This decision has been made because the Government of Norway has been attempting to build up an image as a regional peace-maker at the expense of the stability and security in the Horn of Africa. Indeed, the Government of Norway has been working consistently to acquire leverage with forces of instability in the region. This, in turn, has seriously aggravated problems of stability and threatened to undermine the national security interests of countries of the region including that of Ethiopia.

We have been continuously raising these issues with the Norwegian Government at various levels to try and ensure that relations between our two countries are based on equality and mutual respect. We have tried to impress up on the Government of Norway that using "spoilers" in its image building exercises is unhelpful. We have repeatedly highlighted the destabilizing consequences of its actions in our sub-region. We have informed the Government of Norway on many occasions, that its efforts to acquire leverage with those elements is, in fact, undermining the national security interests of Ethiopia, and of other countries in our sub-region.

The Government of Norway attempted to justify its actions on several occasions, claiming it had not fully appreciated the complications that might arise from such engagement and behaviour. However, it became clear that no change in policy could be expected despite all our representations. Ethiopia, as a first step, felt it had no option but to request the Government of Norway to reduce the number of its diplomatic staff in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia urges the Government of Norway to refrain from clandestine and underground activities contravening international laws governing inter-state relations. It calls upon the Government of Norway to behave as a credible and accountable state actor in the region.

The Government of Ethiopia is not interested in escalating this issue. This is why it has not previously publicized this action. Our interest has been and remains to engage the Government of Norway in a serious and transparent dialogue over issues of common concern including the consequences of its actions in the sub-region. We expect an equally responsible reply from the Government of Norway.

August 28th. 2007

Yahoo plea over China rights case

Internet giant Yahoo has asked a US court to dismiss a lawsuit accusing it of complicity in rights abuses and acts of torture in China.
The firm filed a motion for dismissal saying its Chinese subsidiary had no choice but to comply with local laws.
Yahoo is being sued by the World Organization for Human Rights for sharing information about its users with the Chinese government.
The information has led to the arrests of writers and dissidents.
One journalist cited in the case was tracked down and jailed for 10 years for subversion after Yahoo passed on his e-mail and IP address to officials.
Ethical responsibilities
In its 40-page response to the lawsuit, filed with a federal court in San Francisco, Yahoo acknowledged releasing information to the Chinese government.

Even if it was lawful in China, that does not take away from Yahoo's obligation to follow... US law and international legal standards as well,
But it argued that there was little connection between the information the firm gave and the ensuing arrests and imprisonment of its users.
Yahoo said that while it did not condone the suppression of people's liberties, the firm had been compelled by local laws to hand over the information that was requested.
"Defendants cannot be expected, let alone ordered to violate another nation's laws," the company said in its filing.
But Morton Sklar of the World Organization for Human Rights said the company had failed to meet its ethical responsibilities.
"Even if it was lawful in China, that does not take away from Yahoo's obligation to follow not just Chinese law, but US law and international legal standards as well, when they do business abroad," he said.
De-listed sites
The human rights group brought the case on behalf of several plaintiffs, including the Chinese journalist, Shi Tao, and another named Wang Xiaoning.
Shi Tao, who worked for the Contemporary Business News in China, was jailed for 10 years in 2005 for "divulging state secrets".
Whole websites, including media sources, are eliminated from Yahoo
He is believed to have posted an internal Communist Party message warning journalists about the dangers of social unrest resulting from the return of dissidents for the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square uprising.
Wang Xiaoning was also given a 10 year sentence for "incitement to subvert state power" after publishing pro-democracy material online. David Willis in California says the case has prompted debate about the responsibility of US internet companies to protect the anonymity of users in the countries in which they operate.
Yahoo is not the only internet company accused of collaborating with the Chinese authorities, which operate strict laws to regulate the internet.
Rival Google freely admits to blocking politically sensitive items on their China website.
Whole websites - including media sources - are eliminated from Yahoo and Google in China.
De-listed sites are skipped over when the search engine trawls the web for results.
The internet firms argue it is better to offer Chinese users some information than none at all.

Ethiopia's Bekele wins third straight world 10,000m crown

OSAKA, Japan (AFP) - Kenenisa Bekele won his third straight 10,000 metre world title Monday with teammate Sileshi Sihine pacing him and finishing second in a dramatic victory for Ethiopia.

Japan-based Kenyan Martin Mathathi finished third as the Ethiopian duo overtook him at the start of the final lap in the 25-lap race and Bekele broke away from his teammate around the final bend.

The 25-year-old Bekele remains unbeaten in all his eight 10,000m races including the 2004 Athens Olympics.

He clocked 27min 05.90sec with Sihine at 27:09.03 and Mathathi at 27:12.7, short of his world record time of 26:17.53.

Zersenay Tadesse of Eritrea took an early lead closely trailed in his slipstream by Bekele sandwitched by Sihine and another teammate Gebre Gebremariam with Mathathi behind them.

The front pack thinned to nine halfway through.

Mathathi surged to the front just before 9,000m with Bekele and Shihine behind him while Tadesse started fading.

The Ethiopian duo chased Mathathi hard before they mounted their own duel in the final lap.

The result helped Bekele close on legendary compatriot Haile Gebrselassie's four successive 10,000m world crowns

Millennium 2000

By Anteneh Mokonnen
Ethiopian Diaspora, Please come Home!
Ethiopians have bee migrating to the whole world some to escape poverty others seeking better life chased by the 17 year military government. It is estimated that there are 350,000 Ethiopians in Washington, 96,000 in Los Angeles, 90,000 in Saudi Arabia, 30,000 in Italy, 30,000 in Beirut, 20,000 in Ottawa-Canada, 10,000 in New York, and many in different countries. As kit is often said “problems are the sources of opportunities”, now these Ethiopians, who traveled to escape problems, ate becoming the hope of the country. Ethiopia is the midst of hope; Ethiopia’s economist, and 10% according to the Ethiopian government releases, this growth, which is confirmed by the World Bank, is much higher than the growth rate of the United States and Europe(2-3%), and close to the China’s and Indian’s economic growth rate which is 12% and 9.2% respectively. This growth is reflected in different ways such as construction is booming and the export sector attains highest record of 1.1 billion dollars in 2006. If not unforeseen circumstances such as weather and other factors come in to the way, the growth is expected to continue for the coming years, and if this growth continues as expected, Ethiopia will be the third country that will surprise the world after China and India in the economic growth. This is the perfect time for each Ethiopians much is expected from the Ethiopians Diaspora can contribute for their country’s development at least in three ways:
1. Foreign Currency Remittance
Each foreign currency sent by the Ethiopian Diaspora in addition to assisting loved ones also helps the economy. The foreign currency helps the country atleast in two ways: Financing import sector and increasing domestic production. From fertilizer used by farmers to the cars that are cramming the streets of Addis-all are bought using foreign currency; numerous foreign products that the Ethiopians are enjoying at low prices are the results of foreign currencies. Thus the amounts of foreign currencies sent by the Ethiopian Diaspora have a direct impact to affecting the day to day life of many Ethiopians.
In addition to assisting the import sector, foreign currencies remitted by Ethiopian Diaspora also contribute in increasing domestic production. It is evident that to facilitate domestic production, a country like Ethiopia has to import means of production such as machinery. For instance to increase efficacy and the amount of coffee production, textiles machineries ahs to be bought.
This could only done through the power of foreign currency, and each dollar sent by the Ethiopian Diaspora has an impact.
The next aspect that Ethiopian Diaspora could contribute is by making investments. Luckily many of Ethiopians are lived in the developed world in which accumulation of capital is relatively easy. This capital if it is invested in Ethiopia could bring tremendous change to the economy. Some positive trainds are being seen in this regard, the Ethiopian Diaspora step by step are engaged in the Horticulture-exporting flowers, others in construction, some are engaged in unique investment by establishing car assembly plants, which gave an example of the possibilities of establishing heavy investment in Ethiopia. The Impact of foreign investment in a country’s economy could be clearly learned from China. More than 50% of China’s annual totals, production are made by foreign companies operating in China. In other words, Investments coming from outside of china are contributing much to the country’s surprising economical development than domestic investments are doing.
Many western companies are also landing in different countries in the Asian continent seeking cheap labor and resources, which in return booms the Asian economy. In providing cheap labor and resources, Ethiopia also similar to Asian countries. With the cheap labor and resources available in Ethiopia also similar to Asian countries. With the cheap labor and resource available in Ethiopia, it is also possible to make a fortune, which in effect helps the economy by creating more jobs and increase in production. Ethiopian Diaspora utilizes such opportunity. By doing this they may hit two birds with one stone: making fortune for themselves and at the same time helping the economy.
3. Flow of knowledge:
The last but not least possibility is the flow of knowledge. Ignorance is the deadliest enemy of an individual and a country as a whole. Europe and the United States had scored tremendous development not because abundant resources, but because they paved the way for the abundant development of knowledge and wisdom, which is a key tool to change the country’s resources to the benefits of citizens. Many Ethiopian Diaspora while thy live in the developed world has access for such knowledge and wisdom which worth millions of dollars. There are not few Ethiopian Diaspora that specialized in Medicine Engineering, Management etc. and this is potential that has to be tapped to further develope the country’s economy. Such Diasporas should identify where thy fit in and should start affecting the economy.
To conclude, the above possibilities are the least opportunities that the Ethiopian Diaspora could contribute to their country; it is like taking a cup of water from Nile. Many assets are found within the hands of the Diaspora and many possibilities could be developed to affect this country positively. I believe that it is time to work hand in hand bring this country out of poverty. Ethiopia will be rescued from poverty and the that to happen will not be far away.

Political Economy

Where will market or the Economy?

By Anteneh Mekonnen
It is expected that a large number of Diasporas will come to Ethiopia to celebrate the millennium, and with them, enormous amount of foreign currency is expected to arrive into Ethiopia. But, the question is: where will that money end up, to commercial banks and then to the economy; or the Black market and then vanish through the sands. Foreign currency is the fuel to develop a country’s economy; from the fertilizer used by the farmers to the foreign goods that are cramming the shops of Addis are bought using foreign currency. Ethiopia’s long term plan for the construction of roads, dams and factories could only be realized through the power of foreign currency, but this could be possible if each foreign currency coming to the country is directed to the economy. Among Ethiopia’s sources of foreign currency, the Ethiopian Diaspora are significant contributors, for example, reliable sources estimate that 341 million dollars were received from the Ethiopian Diaspora through inward remittances in 2004/2005; this figure is almost equal to 44% of what the Ethiopian export was able to generate in the same year, which indicates that how much the Ethiopian Diaspora are supporters of the country’s economy. Irrespective of such contribution, a big question is still remained unanswered: Does Ethiopia is utilizing the full potential of the foreign currency coming through the Ethiopia Diaspora? Thanks to the Black market shops opened in each corners of Addis, the Ethiopian Diaspora are forgetting currency, in stead they are directly heading to the Black Marketers, and it is becoming the normal life style of the Ethiopian Diaspora, and I am afraid that this will be so even during the Millennium festival i.e. If the black marketers are left untouched during the Millennium festival, a significant portion of the foreign currency coming to this country will end up in the black market leaving commercial banks empty handed. This should not be so and it has to be corrected at least during the millennium festival period as the amount of foreign currency expected to arrive into-Ethiopia is enormous; and no one but the economy should be the beneficial of such fortunes that comes once in a thousand year. In order to correct such future event, however, harmony and cooperation is needed among the Ethiopian Government, the National Millennium committee, the National Bank of Ethiopia and commercial banks in the objective of ending up each foreign currency coming during the Millennium festival in the hands of Commercial Banks by developing different types of strategies that could range from a hard-line strategy to moderate ones, and the following are the few possibilities:
Law Enforcement
Law enforcement, which is closing Black market shops and bringing individuals involved in Black market into justice, could be one of the solutions of driving all the foreign currency coming during the Millennium festival to commercial banks. This is from the fact that if the black shops are closed, those that planned to go to commercial banks. However, this should not be taken as a permanent solution in eliminating black market from Ethiopia because as long as there is a gap in the demand and supply of foreign currency, Thus, if each individual coming to celebrate the millennium festival are made fully aware of consequences of exchanging in the black market, it will be possible to draw a large number of the Diasporas which could have gone to the Black Market, to come to commercial banks and exchange their foreign currency. The Law enforcement, if used, could bring the desired result during the millennium festival as there is little difference between the buying rates offered by the Black Market and Commercial Banks. If we take recent market rate: For 1 USD, Birr 8.9 was offered by the Black market, while 8.8 was offered by Commercial Banks; For Pound Sterling, 17.40 was offered by the black market, while 17.3630 was offered by commercial banks; For Euro, 11.85 was offered by the black market, while 11.80003 was offered by commercial banks. And, a sensible person does not take the risk of falling in the hands of the law for insignificant benefits. Adjusting the Buying rates without touching the Selling rates:
Extensive promotion in the side of Commercial Banks There is a saying that “bas event will not leave the mind easily”, many individuals are still thinking in the old times, remembering when one dollar was two birr, and still run to the black market whenever a dollar gets into their hands,. They still think that there is huge rate difference between the black market and bank rates; this greatly lies in the inadequacy of promotion in the sides of commercial Banks in promoting the prevailing rates by comparing it with the black market rates. People are not interested that one dollar is 8 birr; they are interested how much the rate differs with the black market, and The other option is the National Bank of Ethiopia adjusts the buying dollar rates to be competitive with the Black market rate during the Millennium Festival.
This goes to the root of the problem and eliminates the reasons to visit black market shops, this strategy could be implemented as the difference between the two markets is around 0.1 cents However the NBE should be careful not to touch the swelling rates as it will have a diverse effect making imported goods to be expensive, which will add fire in the current high inflation rate. On the other hand, adjusting the buying rates without touching the selling rates reduces the selling buying margin, which in effect decreases the Foreign exchange income of banks, however, this will be compensated by the volume of foreign exchange processed as the purpose of the strategy is to direct as much foreign currency as possible from the black market to commercial banks i.e when the NBE adjusts the buying rates to be competitive with the black market, more and more foreign currencies will end in the hands of commercial Banks, and the volume to generate higher income, which compensates the income losses due to reduction in the buying and selling rate margin. However this strategy as has a short coming if the black marketers adjust their rate benchmarking the buying dollar rate issued by the National Bank, this strategy will end up in the waste basket. Their rate benchmarking the buying dollar rate issued by the National Bank, this strategy will end up in the waste basket.
Extensive promotion in the side of Commercial Banks:
There is a saying that “bad event will not leave the mind easily”, many individuals are still thinking in the old times, remembering when one dollar was two birr, and still run to the black market whenever a dollar gets into their hands.
They still think that there is a huge rate difference between the black market and bank rates; this greatly lies in the inadequacy of promotion in the sides of commercial Banks in promotion in the sides of commercial Banks in promoting the prevailing rates by comparing it with the black market rates. People are not interested that one dollar is 8 birr; they are interested how much the rate differs with the black market, and this has to be included in the promotion agenda of commercial banks. For example, if individuals know that one Euro is 11.8003 in commercial banks and 11.85 in the black market, it may make them to forgo the insignificant benefits and come to commercial banks to exchange their foreign currency.
The other hurdles that are still in the mind of individuals is “the old communist procedure” Previous, under the Military government, individuals was burdened with questioned whenever they come to exchange a dollar-questions like. “Where did you bring this foreign currency”, “who gave it that to you”, “bring this document, bring that document” –questions that the free world wants to avoid. Not few still think that there are still such procedures in commercial banks and fear that they come to commercial banks to remove such hurdles from individual minds. Thus, much such promoting should be made during the Millennium festival in making the Ethiopian Diaspora to be aware of the rates and the procedures of exchange foreign currency in commercial banks in the objective of attracting as much foreign currency as possible in to the hands of commercial banks.
Creating awareness
Foreign currency is a key resource to develop Ethiopia economically and if Ethiopia is developed it is the benefit for us all.
The development, however, needs the full cooperation for its citizens. Much work has to be done in initiating each Ethiopia citizen for development, and coordinating each resource to the common goal. However this requires more than rules and regulations, it requires the willful cooperation of Ethiopians based on understanding and knowledge. Each has to leave insignificant selfish motives and start thinking for his/her country. In such context, the value and importance of foreign currency has to be taught widely, and the damage of directing precious foreign currency to the hands of the black marketers has to be stressed. It is possible to convince people by teaching what is right and what the truth is. As one of Ethiopian nationals, the Ethiopian Diaspora should be clearly informed about the value of their foreign currency- its impact tot the economy through concrete evidences-that it is not only their loved ones that are benefiting from the foreign currency generated through them, but also the economy as long as they send it using the right channel
To conclude, the Millennium festival has to be directed in the objective of bringing short and long term benefits to the economy, one value is to focus upon the foreign currency coming with the Ethiopian Diaspora to celebrate the Millennium. To make such fortunes, however, it needs the cooperation of each stakeholder to develop and implement possible strategies in the objective of ending up the foreign currency into the hands of the commercial banks. The article is written in the purpose of initiating the stakeholders to do something on the issue before and during the Millennium Festival Ethiopia will be rescued from poverty, and the time that to happen will not be far away.

Teenage hacker unlocks the iPhone

A New Jersey teenager has unlocked the iPhone, opening the way to Apple's iconic mobile telephone being used by non-US networks.
The Associated Press news agency confirmed George Hotz, 17, had unlocked the iPhone and used it on T-Mobile, a rival to its sole US operator, AT&T.

The hacker says the unlocking takes about two hours and involves some soldering and skill with software.

AT&T and Apple have not yet commented on the news.

Some of my friends think I wasted my summer but I think it was worth it

George Hotz

Hackers and security researchers have been poring over Apple's much-coveted phone since its launch in the US in June in an effort to discover vulnerabilities in the handset.

Top of their list has been cracking the code that ties the phone to AT&T, the iPhone's exclusive network.

Before George Hotz's announcement on his blog, the iPhone was made to work on overseas networks using another method, which involves copying information from the Sim (Subscriber Identity Module) card.

However, special equipment was needed and the actual phone was not unlocked, with each Sim card having to be reprogrammed for use on a particular iPhone.

Analysts believe Apple may still have time to modify the iPhone production line to make new phones invulnerable to the hacks before the iPhone's expected European launch later this year.


The young hacker says he hopes phone-owners can eventually unlock their phones by themselves, and that he hopes his discovery will not be exploited for commercial gain.

The iPhone is currently sold only within the US

"That's exactly, like, what I don't want... people making money off this," he told AP.

The next step, he said, would be a non-solder solution: a way to unlock the phone using software alone.

Technology blog Engadget said on Friday that it had successfully unlocked an iPhone using a different method that required no tinkering with the hardware. The software was supplied by an anonymous group of hackers that apparently plans to charge for it, AP reports.

The agency notes that both the Hotz and Sim techniques leave the iPhone's many functions intact apart from its "visual voicemail" feature, which shows voice messages as if they are incoming e-mail.

The New Jersey hacker says he collaborated online with four other people, two of them in Russia, to develop the unlocking process.

He spent about 500 hours on the project since the launch on 29 June.

"Some of my friends think I wasted my summer but I think it was worth it," he told US newspaper The Record of Bergen County.

Australia unveils immigrant tests

Australia unveils immigrant tests
Australia unveils immigrant tests

Some questions centre on national symbols
Australia has unveiled details of a new citizenship test for immigrants.
They will be asked questions about history, institutions and culture - as well as committing to Australian social values focusing on "mateship".

The aim of the test was to get "that balance between diversity and integration correct in future", said Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews.

Critics believe the requirement of an English language exam discriminates against non-English speakers.

The new citizenship test is expected to be introduced later this year.

The details were unveiled in a 40-page draft guide that is to be given to all applicants.


The prospective citizen will have to give a correct answer to 12 out of 20 questions - drawn from a total of about 200.


What is the first line of Australia's national anthem?
Which is Australia's national flower?
Where is parliament located?
When did first European settlers arrive?

Some elements will almost certainly be beyond the knowledge of many ordinary Australians, says the BBC's Nick Bryant in Sydney.

They include knowing the country's first prime minister or when European settlers arrived in Australia - or what the opening line of the national anthem is. Another one could be related to the nation's most important horse race.

Applicants who fail the test will be allowed to re-sit the examination.

But Kate Gauthier, national co-ordinator of refugee support group A Just Australia, criticised the government for introducing a citizenship exam.

"If they want to have Australia be more integrated they should spend more money on programs that achieve that instead of punishing people who are having trouble achieving that [integration] because they have language barriers and are recovering from things like torture," she was quoted as saying to the Sunday Herald Sun newspaper.

Mateship return?

For the first time, the draft guide lists 10 essential Australian values every citizen must embrace - focusing on "mateship and a fair go" and including tolerance, compassion, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and secular government, equality of men and women and peacefulness.

It describes Australia as "a nation at ease with the world and itself", but it expects potential citizens to respect Australia's core values.

"Australia has a strong tradition of mateship in which people help and receive help from others voluntarily, especially in times of adversity," it says.

"A mate can be a spouse, partner, brother, sister, daughter, son or friend. A mate can be a stranger."

The formulation caused controversy in 1999 when voters rejected an attempt by Prime Minister John Howard to have the concept written into the preamble to the constitution.

It was criticised as too sexist, or inappropriate for a formal document.

Some questions centre on national symbols
Australia has unveiled details of a new citizenship test for immigrants.
They will be asked questions about history, institutions and culture - as well as committing to Australian social values focusing on "mateship".

The aim of the test was to get "that balance between diversity and integration correct in future", said Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews.

Critics believe the requirement of an English language exam discriminates against non-English speakers.

The new citizenship test is expected to be introduced later this year.

The details were unveiled in a 40-page draft guide that is to be given to all applicants.


The prospective citizen will have to give a correct answer to 12 out of 20 questions - drawn from a total of about 200.


What is the first line of Australia's national anthem?
Which is Australia's national flower?
Where is parliament located?
When did first European settlers arrive?

Some elements will almost certainly be beyond the knowledge of many ordinary Australians, says the BBC's Nick Bryant in Sydney.

They include knowing the country's first prime minister or when European settlers arrived in Australia - or what the opening line of the national anthem is. Another one could be related to the nation's most important horse race.

Applicants who fail the test will be allowed to re-sit the examination.

But Kate Gauthier, national co-ordinator of refugee support group A Just Australia, criticised the government for introducing a citizenship exam.

"If they want to have Australia be more integrated they should spend more money on programs that achieve that instead of punishing people who are having trouble achieving that [integration] because they have language barriers and are recovering from things like torture," she was quoted as saying to the Sunday Herald Sun newspaper.

Mateship return?

For the first time, the draft guide lists 10 essential Australian values every citizen must embrace - focusing on "mateship and a fair go" and including tolerance, compassion, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and secular government, equality of men and women and peacefulness.

It describes Australia as "a nation at ease with the world and itself", but it expects potential citizens to respect Australia's core values.

"Australia has a strong tradition of mateship in which people help and receive help from others voluntarily, especially in times of adversity," it says.

"A mate can be a spouse, partner, brother, sister, daughter, son or friend. A mate can be a stranger."

The formulation caused controversy in 1999 when voters rejected an attempt by Prime Minister John Howard to have the concept written into the preamble to the constitution.

It was criticised as too sexist, or inappropriate for a formal document.

Dibaba retains world 10,000 title

Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibaba made an astonishing recovery to become the first woman to defend her world championship 10,000 meters title on Saturday. Dibaba made an astonishng recovery after falling off the pace to win 10,000m gold again. Dibaba was left languishing at the back of the field after being accidentally tripped on lap 13 but stormed back in draining humidity to win in a time of 31 minutes 55.41 seconds. .. "That was the hardest race of my life," Dibaba told reporters. "I had terrible stomach pain and then I was so far back I thought it would be impossible to come back. "But I did it for my country. I was struggling but I told myself to hang in. I didn't want to let down the people back home in Ethiopia."

One For the Road!

Secretariat of the Ethiopian Millennium Festival National Council in Addis Ababa kindly invites you to participate in this project which is bound to have popular support and leave a lasting legacy.
By simply dropping a book (most preferably academic in nature and suitable for secondary and university students) you will be helping fellow Ethiopians who suffer from either the scarcity of books, or who simply can't afford it.
Special boxes will be placed by the immigration lobby inside Bole International Airport where - without any hassle - you will be able to drop the book that you have brought with you. Do remember to place the book in your cabin-bag, as you will not be able to find a box for it outside the terminal.

Remember: It's time to make a difference!!

Ethiopian Millennium

Ethiopia is old beyond imagination, dating to the very beginning of mankind; after all this is the land of Dinknesh (Lucy), Lucy is a female hominoid that lived in what is now called the Awash Valley in Hadar approximately 3.2 million years ago and she is the oldest skeleton of any erect walking human ancestor that has ever been found. It is also the land of the Queen of Sheba, a place of legendary and farsighted leaders, fabulous kingdoms and ancient mysteries.
The Ethiopian calendar is much more similar to the Egyptian Coptic calendar having a year of 13 months. The Ethiopian calendar divides the year into 12 months of 30 days each, plus a thirteenth month of 5 days and one extra day during a leap year. The Ethiopian calendar is very much influenced by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which adheres to its ancient calendar rules. The Ethiopian calendar is always seven years and eight months behind the Gregorian and Eastern Orthodox Church calendars from September to December and eight years and four months behind, from January to August.
Ethiopians all over the world will celebrate the new millennium on September 12, 2007 (Meskerem 1, 2000 Ethiopian calendar).
It is time for Ethiopians from all walks of life ask the tough questions about ourselves; it is time to stop blaming others and let each and every Ethiopian ask himself or herself where do we take our country and people from here?

Interview with Ethiopian Ambassador Samuel Assefa

Ambassador Dr.Samuel Assefa
The Washington Times
We were well into the second half of a two-hour interview with Ethiopian Ambassador Samuel Assefa when a consultant to the ambassador handed us a four-color map of the Horn of Africa.
The message conveyed by the map was very clear: The word "Jihadists" appeared in bold red type across Somalia with black arrows pointing to red bomb bursts in parts of Somalia and eastern Ethiopia.
Equally large lettering over eastern Ethiopia bore the letters ONLF, referring to the Ogaden National Liberation Front, with more black arrows pointing to bomb bursts in central and southern Ethiopia. A key at the bottom left of the map said the bomb bursts represented "Terrorist attacks/planned attacks."
Finally, the map showed bright green arrows stretching from Eritrea to Somalia and eastern Ethiopia, with a third, double-pointed arrow, crossing the Somalia-Ethiopia border. These, the key said, represented "Terrorist relationships," (weapons/money/ support).
With even a superficial understanding of Ethiopia's strategic situation, it all made perfect sense. Ethiopian troops have been in Somalia since December, propping up a Western-backed interim government against Islamist militants who had briefly seized control of the country and who continue to attack the Ethiopian and government forces.
Ethiopia has also been fighting for years against the ONLF, which is based in the country's eastern desert near Somalia and is seeking to establish an independent state or, according to the ambassador, annex the area to Somalia.
Ethiopia accuses Eritrea, a one-time ally with which it fought a two-year border war ending in 2000, of funneling money and weapons to the Somali jihadists and the ONLF, who for the most part are ethnic Somalis. The last arrow suggested that the jihadists and Ogaden rebels are cooperating and moving arms back and forth across the border.

What was surprising was not the message of the map, but its simplicity, even crudity, compared to the subtlety and sophistication of the ambassador's discourse.
Mr. Assefa is not one to make blunt accusations; he speaks rather like the academic he is, boasting a high quality U.S. education including a doctorate in political science from Princeton University, and a recent stint as vice-president of Addis Ababa University.
He spoke of the conflict with Eritrea not in anger but in sorrow, recalling that the nations had been allies in overthrowing the Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991. And he was quick to point out that most of the Islamists who briefly established power in Mogadishu last year were perfectly reasonable and moderate, saving his criticism for a handful of their most senior leaders.
His biggest concern seemed to be that hostility in Congress toward President Bush has led Democrats to take a harsh view of the Ethiopian government because it is cooperating with the U.S. in the war on terrorism. That, he said, explains why African countries have hesitated to contribute troops to help maintain the peace in Mogadishu.
We pointed out that there is a large Ethiopian community in Washington, many of whose members are politically active and remain very angry over the outcome of 2005 parliamentary elections and whose efforts may contribute to the attitude in Congress. Mr. Assefa slapped his forehead in mock dismay. "How could I have forgotten to mention that?" he said.
All in all, it was a fascinating performance, and provided lots of fodder for an article to appear in the coming days. It was part of what makes this job so much fun.

David W. Jones is the foreign editor of The Washington Times. His e-mail address is djones@washingtontimes.com.

AFRICA: Vulnerability Despite Growth

By Eyasu solomon
High oil prices and a dependence on commodities cloud prospects, two new reports say.
African economic growth would accelerate to 5.9% in 2007, with oil exporting countries outperforming oil importers, which would face rising inflation from the high cost of fuel, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said in its 2007 African outlook on June 11th. The 30-member group of industrial countries warned that Africa as a whole was unlikely to meet Millennium Development Goals on improving access to water and sanitation in poor countries by 2015.
South Africa would expand at a brisk rate of 4.5% in 2007 and 2008 but the country's outlook could be clouded by international risks, including rising US interest rates, higher oil prices and a downturn in commodity prices. The report cited uncertainty over the choice of successor to President Thabo Mbeki as a negative factor for South Africa's economy. "In 2007 the average real gross domestic product (GDP) for the continent is expected to be 5.9%, with the difference between the two groups of countries (oil exporters and importers) even more marked at 7.4% and 4.7% respectively", the OECD said. In 2006 Africa grew 5.5%, well above the long-term trend, for the fourth consecutive year.

"Oil importing countries will need to contain inflationary pressures now running into double digits as a result of oil price increases, and to finance or to contain increases in their current account deficits", the OECD said. High energy prices had pushed Africa's inflation rate up to 9.1% overall in 2006, with oil importers faced with a rate of 12%, which was set to edge up to 12.9% by 2009. Progress towards the "Millennium Development Goals" of halving poverty by 2015 was being made—but not fast enough.
Ten million more people a year had gained access to drinking water between 1990 and 2004 but the population had grown even faster, which meant the annual total had to triple for those goals to be met, it said. Improved sanitation was more difficult, with 35m more people needing access a year, compared with the present 7m. "Even then, 234m people will lack safe drinking water by 2015 and 317m to improved sanitation", the report said.
On the positive side, African trade rose to 50% of GDP between 1996 and 2005 from 43% between 1980 and 1995, while foreign direct investment (FDI) tripled to $30.6bn between 2001 and 2005, it said.
But Africa's share in world trade remains minimal, at 1.5%, while it receives less than 4% of the world's foreign direct investment. To benefit from globalisation, African economies should capitalise on rising annual aid inflows, set to reach $51bn by 2010 against $40bn in 2006, the OECD said. (Business Day, Johannesburg 12/7)
Meanwhile, the UN’s 2007 mid-year World Economic Situation and Prospect report found that growth in Africa was likely to average 6% in 2007, compared with global growth of 3.4%.
However, "even the best governed countries on the continent have not been able to make sufficient progress in reducing extreme poverty in its many forms", the report said.
The report, an advance excerpt from a fuller document to be published later in the year, was issued as leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) top industrial democracies were meeting in Germany (p. 17397).
It said that progress remained fragile because it was driven largely by a boom in commodity prices. Meanwhile, aid to sub-Saharan Africa had stayed virtually unchanged since 2004, not counting one-off debt relief and humanitarian assistance.
Donors needed to move more quickly if they were to meet their 2005 pledge to double aid to Africa by 2010, the United Nations said. It also called for fairer trading rules and progress on the Doha round of world trade talks.
"The stark figures in this report should stir us to move away from debating principles towards working out the practicalities of scaling up interventions", said UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro, a Tanzanian. (Financial Times, London, 29/5, Reuters 6/6)
Curse or Blessing?
Africa's abundance in natural resources, especially oil, has been called a curse because of the fierce global thirst that exists for these assets. Oil and other mineral resources have led to conflict and corruption in countries like Sierra Leone (diamonds), Niger (oil), Equatorial Guinea (oil) and Angola (oil). According to the Energy Information Administration, which supplies official statistics to the US government, there is more trade in oil globally than in any other product as oil from producing countries is shipped to consumer countries. Millions of dollars are annually poured into Africa by international oil companies. Millions more are being spent in exploratory enterprises. It is a resource that is indispensable to the world economy. Therefore it should generate money to address the health and social issues of the oil-producing countries on the continent. Not so. In Angola, a cholera epidemic wreaked havoc in 2006. President Jos Eduardo dos Santos was criticised for enriching himself from the oil industry while his people were dying due to a lack of clean drinking water.
In Equatorial Guinea the same pattern is repeated. According to the international human rights watchdog, Amnesty International, Equatorial Guinea is the second most corrupt country after Chad in Africa. It is also the continent's third largest oil producer after Nigeria and Angola with a daily offshore production of 350,000 barrels. But 70% of the population survive on less than US$1 a day. In 2004 Riggs Bank of Washington was involved in a scandal when it was found that it had willingly accepted billions of dollars from the country's leader, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasago. An inquiry was launched by the US senate which found that oil companies operating in the African country were bribing the countries’ leaders by paying school fees for their children and forming business deals with leaders. Chinese state-owned firms are active in Southern Sudan, Nigeria and Angola. Critics say there is reason for concern about China's interest in African oil. The Chinese government has been criticised for human rights abuses and a lack of accountability. China is just one country extracting oil", Sumayya Hassan Athamni, company secretary of the National Oil Company ofKenya told IPS. "It is unfair to blame China for problems if there are others in the oil industry whose hands are not clean. We all know what happened with Shell in Nigeria."
Double Standards
"African countries have to look at internal structures in order to ensure that the oil wealth reaches the ordinary man and woman in the street. There have to be viable systems in place to monitor the industry", according to Athmani. "The large oil companies are concerned about environmental, corruption and human rights issues in the Western world where there are structures in place guarding against abuse. In Africa and other developing countries where these structures are not in place, they had no scruples in forsaking these standards", claimed Athmani. "If an oil company tars a road leading from the exploration fields to the company's headquarters, it can most definitely not say it has met part of its corporate social responsibility", Athmani pointed out. Banks also have to guard against corruption. "It does not matter how many good governance codes they have signed up to, if they do not in practice enforce these codes, it means nothing", said Athmani.
The list of the negative effects of high oil revenue is long but includes: trickle down effect fails to materialise due to the absence of a downstream sector; agriculture sector is neglected leading to an impoverishment of the rural population; low tax ratios and high consumption expenditures—typically on imported goods—reinforce inflationary tendencies; and displacement or disenfranchisement of indigenous people, conflicts over land use rights and environmental degradation.
Some of these negative effects are attributed to the enormous revenue flow that renders the establishment of a functioning tax system obsolete. As a result, the general public and civil society have rather little interest in the way these revenues, to which they do not contribute, are used. In addition, pertinent checks and balances remain underdeveloped, or the government is able to undermine them. With regard to expenditure, no use is made of openings or diversifying the economy, enhancing infrastructure or expanding education systems. "There is virtually no transfer of knowledge to local enterprises, and only minimal employment in domestic labour market is created", Geerd Wurthman, of the German Economic Development Ministry, states. "At the same time, the booming oil revenues give rise to a rent-seeking mentality on the part of governing elites that is extremely detrimental for the country's development", he adds. Governing elites enjoy ownership and/or control of oil reserves without having to pay for them. The resulting revenue that accrues to them fosters corruption and cronyism and strengthens authoritarianism.
Mary M'mukindia, an independent Kenyan analyst for the oil industry, argued that governments have to put in place structures which ensure that citizens benefit from oil wealth. She supports initiatives such as "Publish What you Pay" which forces international oil companies to publish the amounts of money they pay to governments. Cesar Chelala, the award-winning writer on human rights issues, wrote in an article in the Gulf Times on May 16th that oil companies, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and powerful governments should demand transparency from African governments. In 2002, British Prime Minister Tony Blair launched the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). Under the regulations of this initiative, countries rich in mineral and oil wealth as well as the companies extracting the wealth have to publish payments received and made.
Owning the Resources
So far, 14 of 23 oil-producing countries in Africa are members of EITI. Ironically, of all the countries, only Nigeria and companies working there have agreed to submit their accounts. The only other country in the world that has done this is Azerbaijan, according to an article by the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development. For EITI to work, M'mukindia says there should be three-way compliance. First: governments should "want to have" a transparency model. Second: extractive companies should be keen. In this regard, governments can implement laws which force companies to comply. Third: Civil society organisations (CSO) should be involved. "They represent the people who are the real owners of the resources", said M'mukindia. But for CSO to have an effect, they need to be well-informed. "They need to be brought up to speed with international standards and the intricacies of the industry. They have to understand the economy of the mining industry and they have to know what happens on the markets in Europe and America. They have to know when the trade is especially robust.