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Wednesday, 24 June 2015 14:19

Ethiopia: The Diaspora Difference

By Yohannes Gresellasie

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, June 24, 2015 (The Ethiopian Herald) -- Diaspora Ethiopians are great in number and they are loud on political issues and less loud on economic issues such as investment and development. No need to prove this fact because one need not compare Ethiopian Diaspora's development initiatives with any other African Diasporas.

Somali Landers from internationally unrecognized nation of Somaliland next door do participate and contribute to the socio-economic development of their country of origin much better per capita than Ethiopian Diasporas. Somaliland, unfortunately unrecognized by the international governmental organizations such as the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU) etc. has been doing very well, thanks to the remittances from its Diaspora population and that against all odds.

Although Ethiopian Diasporas have done some contribution to the economic development of their country of origin, the fact is that their participation and contribution on investment and development endeavour is by and large minimal as compared to their number and potential. Therefore, much remains to be done and much is expected from them and from the government in that regard. Ethiopian Diaspora's collaboration with the Ethiopian governmental, non-governmental as well as the Ethiopian public at large is thus crucial in the effort of poverty reduction and in enhancing investment and development in this country.

Ethiopian Diasporas can participate in many areas and fields of development endeavours. Among the most important areas of development, the education sector is a significant area. Diaspora Ethiopians can see the education and training of Ethiopians back home as a unique, attractive and lucrative investment destination. Education and training is a back bone for investment, progress and prosperity; therefore, to look at this sector and provide more focus on this sector is vital to both the Diaspora Ethiopians and their country of origin.

If Ethiopia is to become a major agricultural, industrial and manufacturing nation competitive to not only with its neighbours but internationally, tens of thousands and even millions of its citizens need to be better educated, better trained with international standard and more competitive in the international or global market.

The globalised market place requires an ever increasing number of knowledge workers. Therefore, Ethiopians must be educated and trained at all levels to the highest international standards with a "FIT FOR EXPORT "stamp. The knowledge worker is truly his/her country's best asset and export. India, Finland, the Philippines etc. are living testimony to this fact.

For example, India trains 29-30,000 doctors per year-many for export to all parts of the world. Knowledgeable and trained worker is Ethiopia's best asset, best investment and best import and export. Therefore, Diaspora's contribution and collaboration in the education and training field is not only important but also paramount. Diaspora Ethiopia can help create business entrepreneurs, can ran professional training institutes for welders, steel benders, carpenters, joiners and masons.

Ethiopian Diasporas have done some job regarding these and other professional activities but they are few and there is a great need regionally and nationally. The government has done a very commendable job in the education sector and as a result primary school enrolment. However, government, the private sector and especially Ethiopian Diasporas have to play a significant role in order to help this country in its effort to self reliance in all sectors.

The government must encourage the Diaspora Ethiopians to establish more international standard colleges, universities and even basic schools in this country. Also the government must act like a facilitator to encourage the establishment of more world standard educational and training institution in Ethiopia. Further, government must encourage ragged competition and allow parents to choose the best schools for their children. This will foster competition and raise the quality of education being offered as well as the number of good educational and training institution in the market place.

Ethiopian diasporas must learn to form companies and a joint venture with endogenous as well as international investors can help overcome some financial constraints and it can even lead to profit making. Diaspora Ethiopians must learn to share the ownership of the pie so that a bigger pie can be created, which in turn will give larger returns to them and their country of origin it should be noted however that as investors, they have to take a long view in order to create and build wealth. Further, they have to note that there are lots of opportunities that go bigger in the country- whether it is housing some or the poor, or health, nature or heritage tourism.

Ethiopian Diasporas in collaboration with the Ethiopian government, their country of destination, the private sector and endogenous as well as international NGOs can make the wealth creation thing happen. There is a big opportunity for Diaspora Ethiopia in variety of sectors in Ethiopia; education, health, tourism industry are just a few, most importantly, let the diasporas come home as investors temporarily or permanently or they can invest from where they are. They can come as teachers, trainers and investors in the education sector.

They can come and see the whole gamut of education and training as a very lucrative investment destination and have the private sector take on a major portion of the responsibility to educate and train Ethiopians' young people at every sector in Ethiopia's education system. The reward for Diaspora Ethiopians can be substantial in financial terms and immeasurable in social and international terms. There is enough investment opportunities in Ethiopia in which Diaspora Ethiopia can build their wealth and make success happen. In doing so, Diaspora Ethiopia can bring rapid progress in communication technology in provident

Ethiopia with new opportunities for networking and enterprise; and perhaps above all, increasing numbers of Ethiopians in the Diaspora are reconnecting to their home land in imaginative new ways involving creative "peer to pear" development strategies. All these transformations are felling changes in the ways Ethiopian Diasporas nurture the relationships of accountability embodying practices of obligation, respect, responsibility and mutuality that underpin their connection to each other.

Ethiopian Diasporas must combine their efforts to bring about a positive change in their country of origin. Thus, while they individually or through their community organizations still direct bulk of remittances money they send back home, they can channel more collectively.

There is rise and rise of remittance flows over the last few years from African Diasporas, a good examples Ghana. The bank of Ghana estimates suggests that remittance flows in to the country stands £864 millions. Ethiopian Diasporas can take a good lesson from this fact. Generally, Ethiopian Diasporas show a lot of jubilation wherever they are when our great athletes win in athletic competitions; they put their political differences aside and enjoy the festivity together.

In the same way, Diaspora Ethiopians must show their collaboration, dedication and commitment to help their country of origin together putting their political differences aside. The same way they enjoy and become very proud waving the Ethiopian national flag when our great athletes win, they can also be proud of contributing to poverty reduction and other development endeavours in their country of origin.

One way of doing so is among others by focusing on the education sector. Why on education? The answer is simple and clear; education is the most important investment of the nation. The Diaspora difference can have a significant outcome in that regard. (END)



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