Ethiopia’s world market potentiality examined

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Ethiopia’s state-driven set of initiatives to increase the pace of industrialization dominated the pages of the country’s sole daily newspaper, which went to great extents to examine the potential these initiatives had of success.

The Ethiopian Herald, a state-run newspaper, filled its pages this week with discussions on how the country could exploit its resources, including unskilled labour-force and massive agricultural potential, to power the country’s pace of industrialization.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi kicked off the debate on Ethiopia’s industrialization during celebrations to mark the country’s national export day set aside to honour private and state businesses which have made outstanding contributions in the export trade.

Profits from grain exports despite ban

The Herald played up Prime Minister Zenawi’s assertion that the country had high potential of becoming a successful export economy if particular attention was paid to the quality and quantity of exports for both agricultural and industrial produce.

“Premier stresses quality in export trade,” read the headline on the Sunday Herald. “We are expected to pay particular attention to quality and productivity to sustain the exports trade at the same rate and successfully penetrate the world market,” the paper quoted him as saying.

The Ethiopian newspaper particularly played up the fact that the country’s income from export of grain played a major role in increasing export earnings despite the fact that the government imposed a ban on the export of grain.

Role of education

Ethiopian state-controlled agencies have also over the past week dominated the media headlines through pronouncements on the state of the country’s educational needs. The role of the private-sector in helping Ethiopia to industrialise has also been scrutinized.

“Minister highlights private sector role in attaining MDGs,” the Herald reported on Wednesday, quoting Trade and Industry Minister Girma Biru, on the need to have the private sector involved in efforts to put the country on sustained economic growth rate.

In a related development, Finance Minister Sufian Ahmed also grabbed headlines with his emphasis on the need for continued training and capacity enhancements within the private-sector, to enable it to increase its industrial production.

“Capacity building critical to ensure private sector growth: Minister,” read the headline on the Herald Tuesday. The minister was speaking on the theme: “Financing Ethiopia’s continued growth,” during talks with a regional bank.

He said the business climate in the country required major adjustments in the areas of increased access to credit facilities, land and other factors of production.

Combining efforts

In another feature story examining the weaknesses of Ethiopia’s industries, the Herald writers noted that Ethiopia’s lack of industrial progress was a result of failures to create linkages between universities, the private sector and the various government agencies.

“Higher education institutions and industries are working in isolation and their efforts fail to result in improved tools, equipment services to react the community in volumes, which may make a real impact on productivity,” the newspaper quoted an expert saying.

“This also results in weak industrial development in the country. A critical misalignment exists between the research output and research institutes. The type of curricula and skills imparted to the graduates from the universities differ from the immediate needs of industry,” said Dr Daniel Kitaw, Director, University-Industry-Partnership.

He blamed Ethiopia’s lack of industrial progress on capacity under-utilisation. This, he said, had resulted from poor design of industrial plants and inadequate skilled labour.

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