been going through changes since Dr. Abiy Ahmed took charge of the horn African
country in early 2018.
The Positives – The changes in Ethiopia under the leadership of Dr.
Abiy Ahmed have exceeded expectations of many both at home and abroad. Dr Abiy
has the trust and confidence of many people both in Ethiopia and around the
The opportunities – The change in Ethiopia has brought opportunities
for Ethiopians both at home and abroad to engage in the affairs of their
beloved homeland. It has paved ways for the opposition to contribute to the
democratisation of the country. It has brought back the confidence of
investors, which if nurtured properly could mean job opportunities, taxation,
economic growth and march towards a better Ethiopia, that is open and
inclusive. The international community is closely watching and willing to go to
Ethiopia and work with the government, businesses, civic groups and other
stakeholders. There are initiatives at different levels that are encouraging.
The media has for the first-time freedom to operate freely.
The challenges – The change is not without challenges. The
resistance to change by the political elites needs careful and thoughtful
solution based on mutual understanding and open debates. The rise of tribalism
and ethnicism is deeply worrying. Irresponsible use of social media and some of
the media outlets including Fake news, Misinformation and Disinformation is
very alarming. Polarisation of some of the so-called ‘political elites’ is
disturbing. Egocentrism and individual fanaticism have triumphed over the past
many months. The conflicts in universities; displacements and the resistance to
change in many areas are among the challenges that need addressing patiently
The need for Office for Civil Society
Ethiopia needs to have office for civil society to help civil society engage in
local democracy actively. There are lots of areas and sectors of society that
need visiting and revisiting. There is a need to organise folks across Ethiopia
and help them engage in what really matters to them. They should be able to set
the agenda on issues that really matter to them and help the country flourish
through the process. They should be encouraged to be part of the changes in the
country. When community leaders buy the ideals of organised and open Civil
Society, Community Organising, Participatory and Adaptive Leadership; when they
act on issues that matter to them and achieve results together; when they feel
it is in their self-interests to engage when time, place and conditions allow;
then they all contribute to the betterment of their homeland and help Ethiopia
go from closed to open society.
- Our universities need to engage
students, local community leaders, elders, alumni, etc to get the best out
of them. Universities have to be places of study, research, participation
and hope. Our schools also need to engage in local democracy, institutional
and leadership development.
institutions should take stock and proactively step in and step up. All the
religious institutions have roles to play. There should be honest and open
discussions with the leaders of every denomination and also with traditional
and cultural leaders. The contributions of civic institutions like ‘Iqub’
‘Edir’ ‘Mahber’ etc need to be taken seriously. Civic institutions should
participate in local, regional and national democracies. Strong and functioning
civil society is the basis for an open, inclusive, strong and democratic
unions and unions of any kind –these unions have a lot to contribute. There is
a need to work with this sector and have them actively involved.
media - online, offline, printed, video and audio. It is vital we take this
very seriously especially as Ethiopia plans to go into general election. This
sector is at times very polarised. The dangers of fake news, misinformation,
hate speech and disinformation need due attention and proper handling. The
sector should be supported to be more professional and accountable. Due
attention should also be given for the sector as it is under resourced and
lacks diversity. We need to see more women and young people in the media.
judiciary, police and civil service need to be taken on board. Capacity
building and practical support is important to have an independent judiciary,
police and civil service. All these have to be free from political interference
and deliver their duties according to their books.
as Ethiopia moves from closed to open society, there is a need for patience and
calm and concentrate on the wider picture – peaceful and prosperous Ethiopia
that is for all, not for a few ‘political elites’. Change Ethiopia for
Ethiopians in an open society.