Ethiopia: Speeding Up Transformation Via Effective Communication

by Zelalem

In this modern era, when people are in equal demand to democracy and development, a dynamic and well-defined communication is imperative. Communication has thus come to be seen as a way to amplify voice, facilitate meaningful participation, and foster social change. Over every sphere of public issues, communication plays a key role in creating national consensus. Beyond this, it is also significant in building good image of a country to the outside world.

The fact that effective communication supports democratic development and stimulates economic growth, it is increasingly recognized in the national policy statements of many countries of which Ethiopia is the one. However, in practice it seems to have remained a relatively under-prioritized area in ensuring good governance, in improving access to information and encompassing the development of an independent media sector, among other.

A key aspect of governance is how citizens, leaders and public institutions relate to each other in order to make change happen. Without communication structures and processes which enable the two-way exchange of information between state and citizens, it is difficult to imagine how states can be responsive to public needs and expectations. Crucially, two-way communication allows citizens to monitor the states’ activities, to enter into dialogue with the state on issues that matter to them, and to influence political outcomes.

To date, a handful of widely-cited empirical studies have found that open communication environments – particularly free media and access to information – are correlated with improved government responsiveness and accountability, lower levels of corruption, and economic development.

Communication activities can also help people, even those from different social groups within a community, to share information and exchange ideas in a positive and productive fashion. This dialogue can be enriched by understanding how development issues affect them, discovering what others think in other communities, and seeing what other communities have achieved. These are effective methods to help people to reach a consensus and find common grounds for action, based on their own needs and capabilities.

Gaining people’s participation always requires much of communication work within the community in order to make a bridge of understanding. Communication and media help people to visualize and cross that bridge more swiftly as the strategic use of media and political communication tools is primal to influence behavior and brings about meaningful social change.

Public opinion is widely accepted to be an important basis of power and legitimacy as it is known as ‘legitimate governments are those that listen and respond to public opinion’. The government whether it does good or bad, must hear the voice of the public by which it can respond to bottlenecks and malpractices within its institutions. This is only achieved through proper communication.

The government communication is, therefore, expected to efficiently and effectively do that and strive in ensuring good governance for the realization of citizens right to free speech and access to accurate, timely information. The government stance for peace and efforts for development and democracy must be supported by communication. Otherwise, endeavors by themselves would not bear fruits and the intended goals won’t be achieved. Non-stop mobilization to creating popular participation in every national issue can only be done by consistent and participatory communication activities.

What is more, through different awareness creation to fight extremism and fundamentalism and facilitating forums and public debates are essential in teaching the public and act as a channel to an insight to the public wish and sift undesirable ideas must be also part of the Office job description.

In a bid to practically implement this trend, the Office must equip itself with committed, willing and skilled manpower, and thereby systematically aligned with this extra modern communication world.

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