By: Amleset Abraar
Somalilandsun – Ethiopian resident communities in Somaliland celebrated on Thursday (May 28th) 2015 the 24th year anniversary of Ginbot-20 (May-28) victory of the defeat of the repressive Dergue regime in Ethiopia. Jointly organized by the Ethiopian General Consulate to Somaliland and the Ethiopian Community Associations in Somaliland, the 24th year Ginbot-20 celebration was held colorfully in the attendance of several hundreds of Ethiopian communities residing mainly in Hargeisa, Borama and other parts of Somaliland. It has also been graced by many Somaliland high level officials including the Vice President, the Speaker of Parliament, ministers, military chiefs, chairpersons of the political parties and other dignitaries. The celebration detailed the overwhelming progresses made in Ethiopia following the demise of the brutal Dergue regime and the formation of a Federal Democratic system of governance.
Ethiopian Ginbot-20 (May 28) annual celebration has many things in common with Somaliland’s May-18 event where Somaliland citizens have similarly been marking the overthrow of the dictatorial Siad Barre regime annually since the same year of 1991, and Somaliland witnessed last week, May-18, the colorful celebration of the 24th anniversary of the fall of the brutal Siad Barre regime, just ten days before the Ethiopian May-28, in the presence of domestic and international guests including the Ethiopian Consul General to Somaliland, Brigadier General Berhe Tesfay and other Ethiopian senior diplomats.
In his opening statement, Ethiopia’s General Consul to Somaliland, Brigadier General Berhe Tesfay, said this year’s 24th Ginbot-20 (May-28) anniversary was special as it’s being held nationwide in the aftermath of the 5th Ethiopian National Election took place on the 24th of May where eligible voters overwhelmingly cast their ballots to a party they believe will serve them best in the next five years. The election and its entire process, he said, has earned credit as free, fair and democratic both from the people of Ethiopia and members of the international community involved as observers, including an African Union team. About 13 and over 53 political parties run for the 5th National Elections at Federal and Regional levels respectively and the final result of the vote is expected to be announced by the neutral Ethiopian Electoral Board soon.
The General who noted Ethiopia’s inspiring progress in building democratic system founded on the equality of all nations, nationalities and peoples and in ensuring rapid and sustainable economic and social development following the fall of the military dictatorship in 1991. He said the new Federal Government has given a unique opportunity to adopt the new Constitution which provides the foundation for a new democratic era in Ethiopia and ensures full respect to human and democratic rights. He said the improving implementation capacity built in all aspects has enabled the Government to put Ethiopia in the path of both economic and social renaissance. These have helped Ethiopia to register a double digit growth for the last consecutive ten years. The Consul General also detailed the overwhelming achievements made in the areas of agriculture, industry, infrastructure and services.
Because the Government, General Berhe said, has allocated significant share of its annual budget to agriculture, the sector has become diversified in product variety and volume as gross yield has been tripled in two decades. This increased production has enabled the Government to ensure food sufficiency at a national level. In fact ensuring food sufficiency at household level is also not far from being met within the next few years. As part of this, General Berhe said, the Government has already maximized its emergency food reserve to 3 million cubic tonnes (30 million quintals) now to make Ethiopia be able to respond to any drought driven emergency food requirements by itself. The progress of the Government’s direction of transforming Ethiopia from agriculture-led economy to an industrial-led one has also been very rewarding as can be evidenced by the lessening of the share of agriculture to the total GDP. The share of agriculture, he said, to the total GDP was 53% some 20 years ago and become less than 40% now because of the fact that the industrial sector is expanding rapidly and is contributing a significant share to the economy. This does mean that while the productivity and volume of agriculture sector is also increasing in an amazing annual pace, its share to the economy is giving way to the industry.
The putting into place of investment incentive packages and one-stop-shop services to investors has resulted in a marked increment in FDI inflow. In the last four years, for instance, new FDI amounting USD 5 billion has flown into Ethiopia. Again, general Berhe said, domestic entrepreneurs are proliferating across all corners and micro and small enterprises as well as medium and large scale industries are tremendously expanding in every corners of Ethiopia, ushering the irreversibly continuing pace of renaissance. Subsequently, the level of poverty headcount in Ethiopia has therefore been halved from 53% in 1991 to 26% in 2012 with further drops in the years after.
The Consul General who noted the construction of over 37 thousand new schools and 35 new universities with over 439,000 trained professionals being assigned to serve the education sector across the country in the last ten years also said that the Government has so far made the average national school attendance rate to reach over 95%. Currently, about 22 million school-age Ethiopians have got access to education and the Universities’ admission capacity has reached over 50,000 students per year and all the universities are hosting a total of half a million students in total. In other words, General Berhe said, almost half a million university graduates are emerging in every three to four years to satisfy the growing demand of skilled and educated manpower borne out of the booming economy. Similarly, over 200,000 students are joining technical and vocational training facilities every year as there is a huge demand for such graduates in the country.
Again, the General said, the Government has so far made rural areas to have access to healthcare facilities within 5 kilometers radius. Within the last decade, about 21,000 new health centers and over 200 urban hospitals as well as over 400 rural hospitals (tena tabiyas) have been built with over 40,000 trained health professionals being assigned to serve the sector. This has enabled the country’s total health coverage to become over 90% now and the continuation of efforts to build several thousands of additional health centers and hundreds of rural hospitals will put the sectors coverage in an unprecedented level.Expanding road and railway interconnectivity within the country and across the region has also been an area which grabs the Government’s prioritized attention. He said the country’s road coverage has grown over five fold to about 105,000 kilometers now compared to what was to be less than 20,000 kilometers 20 years ago, with plans to increase the road coverage to130, 000 kilometers in the next few years. The 5,000 kilometers railway project under construction in eight selected corridors would be finalized in 2017 and this will connect Ethiopia with Djibouti, Kenya, Sudan and South Sudan and later with Somaliland. The Addis Ababa city rail way project has almost been completed as test-trips have already been started.
General Berhe also noted the Government’s effort in encouraging the creation of strong private sector as well as the initiatives taken side by side in building multi-billion dollars mega public projects to fill infrastructural gaps emanating from limited capacity of the private sector. To this end, General Berhe said, the construction of the USD 5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam with the capacity to generate 6,000 MW of electric power continues in full swing and about 44% completed. This coupled with the three finalized Gilgel-Gibe hydropower dams and wind power turbines will help to ensure the Governments target of increasing Ethiopia’s power generating capacity to 10,000 MW earlier than 2025. Among the 10 new sugar factories being built by the Government to ensure sugar self-sufficiency and eventually enable the country to be among the top-ten sugar exporting countries in the world, some of them have already started first phase production and the remaining will follow suit at the end of this year. The five fertilizer factories under construction with a total outlay of USD 3 billion are also in full swing with expectations to complete them at the end of 2017 and this will reinforce efforts aimed to transform the agriculture sector.
Brigadier General Berhe Tesfay who noted that Ethiopia has now many partners due to its appropriate foreign policy such as the one being established with Somaliland said the two sides have an excellent cooperation in all areas, adding that there is a continued constructive engagement to further broaden the existing excellent trade, security, social and political cooperation. He also appreciated the mutual desire to move forward ongoing efforts of interconnecting the two sides with roads, railways, electricity and meaningful port service.
Taking note of all the tremendous successes registered in all areas, the Consul General expressed gratitude to those who have sacrificed themselves for the creation of the current improved Ethiopia, adding that their sacrifices will remain in the hearts and minds of the Ethiopian people as the current Ethiopia would have been a dream in vain without their sacrifices. Especially the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi will remain unforgettable as his solid and sound contribution and legacies towards Ethiopia’s renaissance have been indispensable and will remain living.
He concludes his remark by calling for the renewal of commitment to support efforts to put the country into a new height of progress in democratization, development and security, a sentiment broadly shared by large numbers of Ethiopian communities and Somaliland officials who attended the colorful event.
In his remark at the event, Somaliland’s Vice president, Mr. Abdirahman Abdillahi Saylici, congratulated the Ethiopian people and Government for the successful completion of the 5th national election in a peaceful and democratic manner, and for the colorful 24th year Ginbot-20 celebration as well as for the successful overall progress being made in Ethiopia within the last two decades, adding that Ethiopia and Somaliland were able to establish excellent and meaningful cooperation in the areas of economy, security and capacity building following the Ginbot-20 victory since 1991, a time when the two sides replaced their respective repressive eras with democratic ones.
Representatives of Ethiopian community associations in Hargeisa and Borama also made their own remarks with particular emphasis on supports being provided to them by the Government to ensure Diaspora participation in home affairs. Apart from those who have been assisted to return to partake in the booming investment and trade sector in Ethiopia, a total of over 300 vulnerable Ethiopian community members were also been assisted this year by the Consulate General office to return home and lead descent life. Meanwhile the office in collaboration with partners and stakeholders has also provided the necessary assistance related to travel documents and transportation to many Ethiopians who fled the conflict in Yemen, crossed into and temporarily sheltered in Somaliland and finally returned them home safely.
The event included a salute to the national anthem accompanied by a briefing and discussion session as well as presentation of a brief documentary film about Ethiopia’s overall progress following the May-28 victory, cultural music and the Ethiopian unique coffee ceremony among others.