Ethiopia: Empowering the Youth for Harmonious and Prosperous Ethiopia

The Ethiopian population is estimated to be more than 90 million, according to the World Bank report. Seventy per cent of the nation is composed of young population that would serve the formidable driving force for its economic transformation and national renaissance. Currently, many Ethiopians are engaging in various activities to improve their livelihood and the livelihood of their family.

The educational curriculum by itself has been designed to promote quality education which enhances science, technology and innovation. That is why we are able to see qualified young professionals in every sector. Thanks to the tireless effort of the government, competent skilful professionals such as engineers, doctors, judges, teachers, pilots, diplomats and leaders have been churned out in great number over the last two decades now.

The government’s commitment in establishing institutions such as the Ministry of Science and Technology, research institutions, universities and TVET institutions have contributed to the empowerment of Ethiopian youths. Policies that encourage expansion of science and technology such as awards for innovative knacks and the 70/30 placement of students have made big difference in inspiring the young generation to involve in science, technology and innovation. It has also ensured capable human power in engineering and medicine, the country has been yearning for many years.

In the meantime, the government has been striving to empower its young demographic base economically and politically. Youths are no longer waiting for the employment opportunity the government offers. Rather, they are being motivated and supported to create their own jobs. Currently, many youths have improved their livelihoods and created job opportunities for others.

However, there are still a greater number of unemployed youths throughout the country. Though they have the necessary skill and feasible business plan that can help them to run their own businesses, they lack starting capital and working land that would actualize their dreams. Having noticed these constraints, the government has allocated a 10 billion birr revolving fund which could solve the financial problems of the youth.

According to the book published in 2017 by Office of Government Communication Affairs, numerous packages have been launched based on the Second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTPII) to benefit the youth in social and economic aspects.

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Towards this noble end, in 2016 fiscal year, capacity building training on job creation and entrepreneurship had been provided for 2,742,355 youths in all urban and rural areas of the country. In urban centres, workshops and retailing spots had been given for 128,186 youths. Moreover, market linkage and other services were also facilitated to make them strong and competitive.

On the other hand, 913,584 youths were supported to engage in various agricultural activities. However, these promising achievements are not enough to empower the 70 per cent young demographic base of the nation. That is why the incumbent is diligently working to address the economic challenges of the youth in collaboration with other concerned bodies.

The ongoing mega projects such as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), industrial parks, sugar corporation plants and the construction companies have created significant employment opportunities for millions of youths.

Not only creating job opportunities, such opportunities have been bolstering scientific researches and innovations. Besides, they are promoting competitiveness and global standards in the employment sector. Thus, beyond employing citizens, the opportunities have been playing quite a role in huge investment in capacity building and enhancing structural adjustments.

It was not a hidden thing that rent-seeking tendencies, bureaucratic red tape, lack of good governance and other malpractices have been posing serious challenges in the country. These problems have caused public grievances which lead to the outbreak of political unrest seven months ago in Oromia and Amhara states. The unrest was so violent that governmental and public institutions were made targets of destruction. Citizens had lost their lives. It was some anti-peace individuals that hijacked the legitimate public grievances for fulfilling their own political interest. They manipulated the unemployed youth to involve in such destructive acts.

Having realized the public’s indignation, the ruling party EPRDF has undertaken deep reform within its party higher officials, members and the public at large. During its deep renewal, the party has identified that the questions raised by the people are acceptable and needs urgent solution.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, briefing local press on 9 January 2017 said that the deep reform undertaken would pave ways to fight out corruption and rent-seeking attitudes and incidents. He underlined that the abuse of power and using power for personal gains have been hampering the political and economic aspects of the nation. More than anyone youths were the direct victims of the malpractice. Youths have not been provided with equal access to socio-economic privileges of their country. Due to this, they have been facing numerous challenges. They were extremely vulnerable to addiction, migration and human trafficking phenomena.

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Hence, the Ethiopian government has started to show its commitment to address the challenges of the youth. It understood that alleviating the problems of the youth would be a viable mechanism to sustain the double digit economic growth of the country. Thus, the government has allocated 10 billion birr revolving fund to create favourable economic condition for the youth. The fund was unveiled in September by President Mulatu Teshome. The President said that concerted efforts should be exerted to create job opportunities to empower the youth. He stressed that if the youth get support and encouragement, they could play pivotal in realizing renaissance of Ethiopia.

The draft regulation approved by the House of Peoples Representatives has included the necessary precondition to be beneficiary of the fund. Discussion has taken place on its implementation among the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE), Ministry of Youth and Sports and stakeholders. According to the draft regulation, organized groups having a minimum of three youths who could present feasible business project proposal could be granted the fund.

As per the draft regulation the fund will be provided via micro-finance institutions. However, in Woredas which have not access to micro-finance, the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia would be responsible to administer, regulate and supervise the fund and report to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation. The regulation indicates that youths in the age bracket 18-34 will be eligible to be beneficiaries of the fund. As the name indicates the fund will revolve among millions of Ethiopian you ths to lift them out of abject poverty that seems to envelope them.

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