Eyeing the Stars Ethiopia’s Space Programme

Astronomers have made great strides in understanding and accessing space within the last century. In particular, the development of satellite technology has helped in the growth of technologically and economically advanced countries. This is because satellite technology assists in the development of telecommunications infrastructure and disaster preparedness, among other things. Now, Ethiopia is hoping to benefit from satellite technology through the advancement of its own space programme. The government says that this will aid the country’s aspiration towards development. However, critics say that it’s too soon for Ethiopia to pursue such an ambitious plan and that the country has other pressing concerns to manage. EBR’s Ashenafi Endale spoke to key stakeholders on either side of the debate to learn more about the country’s nascent efforts to develop a space programme – and the potential challenges and benefits that lie ahead.


It Produce Due to Poor Distribution

Before assuming his current position of Chief Executive Officer at the Ethiopian Electric Utility (EEU) in August 2015, Gosaye Mengistie had many years of experience in the present Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity. He started his career as an expert for energy in the Ministry, where he also served for more than 15 years as director for several offices.
Gosaye has been a focal person for Africa in the World Energy Council Forums. In fact, he’s been serving as a secretary of the Council representing Ethiopia for the last ten years. He also served as member of the board for the former Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) for eleven years before assuming his current position. EEPCo split into EEU and Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) in December 2013. He says this is a company he knows the ins-and-outs. He used to closely regulate, monitor and supervise its operations while working in the Ministry. Gosaye earned a BA Degree in Economics from Addis Ababa University and MSc in Energy Economics from the University of Dundee in Scotland.
EBR’s Tamirat Astatkie spoke with him about energy efficiency in Ethiopia and the institutional transformation he leads at EEU. The following is an excerpt.


Be it in business, social or politics, ICT plays a significant role. That’s why several nations are putting in place policies to guide its development. Countries such as India have benefited from a prudent ICT policy. In fact, the Asian country has earned a name for itself as a global power of ICT earning approximately 67Pct of the USD124-130 billion global market for ICT in 2015.
Though much remains to be seen, Ethiopia has been trying to emulate the success of India. It established an ICT park at a cost of ETB2 billion and expanded technology education in several universities.
However, local ICT companies couldn’t function successfully due to challenges related to access to finance, lack of supportive policy framework and users, such as financial institutions, lower interest to buy their software. EBR’s Ashenafi Endale spoke with company CEO’s and consulted government policies to understand what the nation is doing to help local ICT companies grow.


“Ethiopians have been engaged in space science for [millennia]; we are trying to reclaim that.”

Tefera Waluwa has had an illustrious career in government: he’s served as Mayor of Addis Ababa, Minster of Defence, Minister of Capacity Building, and Deputy Prime Minister at different times. Despite his high profile, decades-long service in public offices, Tefera says space science has been a big passion of his since childhood; even during the period of armed struggle prior to the EPRDF’s ascent to power.
Now the veteran statesman has his eyes set on space. Since 2004, he has been serving as the Chairman of the Ethiopian Space Science Society (ESSS). According to its website, the Society aims “to build a society with a highly-developed scientific culture that enables Ethiopia to reap the benefits accruing from space science and technology.” To that end, the Society established the Entoto Observatory and Research Centre, which is the first of its kind in East Africa.


Government Hopes Diversified ‘Green’ Energy Will Mitigate Outages

Despite the government’s plans to improve the performance of the manufacturing sector, many factories still face considerable power outages that hinder their operations. Power outages aren’t new in Ethiopia, but the current drought has further hampered the country’s attempts to improve the electricity shortage facing factories that are so crucial to building a manufacturing-based economy. To that end, there are plans to better harness Ethiopia’s potential to produce hydroelectric, solar, and geothermal power, among others. The hope is that the country will produce 17,347MW of power, up from its current capacity of slightly over 2,000MW, in five years. Yet some experts say the government has a long way to go before it can reach its full potential and are sceptical if it can meet the demands of the growing manufacturing sector. EBR’s Ashenafi Endale spoke with manufacturers and government representatives to understand the efforts being made to reduce power outages.


Addis Ababa, while well know for its numerous construction projects, is also home to many plots that remain undeveloped, despite their intended use for construction. This comes at a time when there’s a massive land grab in the city, due to its scarcity and importance for commercial purposes, especially in prime locations. To help mitigate the problem, the city’s government is working to regulate the management of these plots to ensure they’re being developed in a timely manner. However, as EBR’s Fasika Tadesse reports, that task has proven to be difficult in the face of the logistical and legal hurdles that confront investors.


Ethiopia Needs to Develop Alternate Urban Growth Centres

Addis Ababa is Ethiopia’s most populous city and enjoys the status of being its economic, political and cultural capital. This reality is known as urban primacy – the concept of one urban area dominating the development and economic activities of a particular country. This imbalance creates problems for urban residents, especially in Addis Ababa. This is because the primacy of the city creates an increase in urban migration, since people from other parts of the country flock to the most active urban centres in search of economic opportunities. Development scholars note that this exacerbates a city’s resources and adversely affects quality of life. They argue that more urban areas need to develop in order to equally distribute the benefits of economic development – such as job creation and political influence – throughout the country. EBR’s Samson Hailu spoke with economists and government representatives to learn more about what’s being done to create more urban centres in Ethiopia.


Will Capital Regulation Weed out Ethiopia’s Young Banks?

In the business world, a merger refers to the joining of two companies into one entity. The concept has made headlines recently because the two state-owned banks – the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and the Construction and Business Bank – ‘merged’ in December 2015. Advocates of mergers say they provide a number of benefits to the financial sector, not least of which is weeding out young banks, thereby strengthening the overall sector. Others, however, think that the concept may be too cumbersome for Ethiopia’s nascent private banking industry, which they say needs more time to mature. EBR’s Fasika Tadesse spoke with banking leaders and experts to get a better grasp of the concept and its potential role in Ethiopia’s fledging but promising private banking sector.


Why do foreign trade missions target Ethiopia?

Business investment forums provide an opportunity for foreign investors to visit Ethiopia in order to get a better sense of the potential economic opportunities in the country. Since the 2011/12 fiscal year alone, the country has hosted hundreds of delegations from countries like China, Turkey and India. Despite the promise of these forums in bringing investments to Ethiopia’s fledgling manufacturing sector, an ulterior motive exists for some companies: to use the events merely as an opportunity to market their goods. Still, the government thinks these forums prove fruitful, as even the marketing of goods can potentially lead to investment relations. EBR’s Fasika Tadesse spoke to government representatives and foreign investors to learn more about these forums and whether they are achieving their intended goals.

Ethiopian Business Review | EBR is a first-class and high-quality monthly business magazine offering enlightenment to readers and a platform for partners.

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