Gaps for Diasporas in science, technology

The current Ethiopian government led by the reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has done a lot to enhance the participation of the Diasporas in the development of their homeland uniquely from other previous governments. For his government, the role of the Ethiopian Diaspora and the private sector is crucial in transforming Ethiopia into a middle-income country by 2030.

Consequently, it has organized an Ethiopian Diaspora Agency that incorporates the Diaspora Participation Coordination Directorate that has been set up with a number of existing experiences and the current type and purpose of the Diaspora, as to the documents obtained from the agency.

And under the Directorate of Trade, it is a key part of the business and tourism division. It will provide the Agency with a single-window service for the business and investment activities carried out by the Diaspora. The Diaspora Tourism Organizations and Diaspora Associations engaged in tourism support to increase the role of Diaspora and the country-promoting programs organized by the Diaspora. Formats and coordinates projects that will allow the Diaspora to visit and explore the tourist destination areas found in our country.

Knowledge and technology transfer Unit is one of the jobs that the Agency has been working on to build and strengthen the present experiences. This sector plays a major role working as part of the Ministry of Education particularly the Ministry of Innovation and Technology.

As well, it coordinates activities in modernizing the work of universities, hospitals, and other educational and training institutions through the support of the Diaspora or other donor agencies acquired by the Diaspora.

It also works jointly with the relevant institutions to organize the best practices of trade and investment participation in a systematic manner to expand and distribute in the country.

Equally, the resource gathering and project division is a third party, which primarily aims to widen the source of resources and contribute to the national development with the help of projects that are already being developed. And it works to involve the diverse Diaspora communities in the selected small and intermediate projects in the home country.

The Diaspora associations will also promote and support project activities to benefit from a variety of Civic Society Funds. At the agency level, it coordinates different tasks in designing projects and fundraising for diverse projects related to the Diaspora society.

Similarly, it provides project assistance to help the diaspora coordinate their internal capacities and mobilize additional resources from outside sources to provide civic and charitable activities in their home country.

Likewise, it works with international agencies to prepare projects for Capacity Building of agency, staff and government agencies related to the work of the Agency. And it constantly supervises the use of additional resources available. Generally, this unit is dedicated to expanding resources and providing a better experience for the Agency as a strong institution.

To the effect of this directorate’s responsibilities, the Ministry of Innovation and Technology has emphasized on the roles of the Diaspora, Private Sector in Transforming Technology and Innovation in Ethiopia.

Once again, as recently disclosed by the Ministry, the role of the Ethiopian Diaspora and the private sector is crucial in transforming Ethiopia into a middle-income country by 2030 through technology and innovation investments.

On a panel discussion, it organized to involve technology and innovation knowledge, and investment of the diaspora; State Minister of the Ministry Bayyisa Bedada said that the sector is one of the priority sectors identified to realize the Home Grown Economic Reform to lift up Ethiopia to the middle-income level by 2030. “The role of the diaspora, private sector and academics is high in transforming the estimated 115 million citizens to prosperity.”

The government has been carrying out reforms in technology and innovation as well as development and investment in the sector by revising laws and putting in place encouraging incentives that attract investments to the various opportunities, he noted.

Ethiopia has ample investment opportunities for the diaspora and the private sector in space science, biotechnology, geospatial, ICT development, agriculture, health, mines, energy and tourism.

In order to enhance technology and innovation sector development and attract investment, the government has been undertaking many reforms. That also includes the revision of science and innovation policy besides the introduction of incentives to create conducive situations for investment, he pointed out reaffirming: “The ministry is committed to resolve challenges which investors face in the processes and to create a conducive environment to private sector investors.”

As a result, the Ethiopian Diaspora can play key role in the technology and innovation sector through knowledge transfer, conduct of research, engagement in investment, and promotion of investment opportunities, he further detailed them.

By the same token, the other Innovation and Technology State Minister Huria Ali has recently told Ethiopian News Agency that the government has been improving the law framework to attract vigorous private sector investments in innovation and technology. It is committed to resolving challenges in the practical processes on the ground.

“We are especially resolving bottlenecks such as the law frameworks. Take for example, the approved Electronic Transaction Proclamation and the draft Startup Business Proclamation under scrutiny of Ministry of Justice. We are also working on data protection. That means we are on the way of resolving the main bottlenecks to create a conducive environment,” she said, adding that private data protection is urgent and of concern for investors in Ethiopia.

The House of People’s Representatives approved in May 2021 the Electronic Transaction Law, giving legal recognition to e-commerce. Upon approval, the Startup Business Proclamation would also encourage innovation and technology, job creation, and remove entrepreneurship barriers by easing procedures for establishing new, running, expanding and closing businesses.

In its 10-year development plan unveiled in mid-2019, the government has identified innovation and technology as one of the key development pillars, the state minister noted.

Ethiopia, like any other developing country, faces challenges on the ground that are manageable with effective coordination of the government offices and investors as the country has latecomer advantage from the best experiences of other countries to improve them shortly.

“In particular, the Ethiopian Diasporas are ought to contribute their share to the emerging innovation and technology investment option. They have to invest their knowledge and resources in their country. On our part, we will solve obstacles in coordination with them because it is when they invest that we can see the challenges they face and resolve them. It’s only when they start working that we can find out challenges.”

In the same way, an Ethiopian Diaspora investor, Orbit Health CEO Pazion Chernet, has also the agency that the business condition in the innovation and technology sector is improving fast.

The Startup Proclamation, which was extensively discussed, would hopefully make the business environment very conducive for companies to come in and start business and smooth the journey for startups operating in the country, he said noting: “Once this becomes the law of the land, it would create the most conducive environment for any business to come and invest in the country, and start a company.”

He also witnessed the swift change during his tenure in the private sector for the last six years. “Things have been changing dramatically since we started. I anticipate that things will be extremely viable for people to come and invest and be profitable and make an impact in the coming few years.”

Millions of educated ready youth from universities are available and investors can help them adjust to their investments easily, the CEO said, adding that the telecom liberalization is a bridging asset for the emerging innovation and technology investment.

Pazion stressed, “Telecom is the new digital age bridge. Whatever we are imagining may not be practical without telecom or liberalization of telecom, advancement of telecom, and modernization of telecom.”

Therefore, the Diasporas have to use the opportunities provided by the government and invest in their homeland both their knowledge and resources in science and technology to lift up their beloved ‘Land of Origin-Ethiopia’ to the middle-income economic status.



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