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Business for Peace: Building Business Engagement in the Upcoming National Dialogue

On April 5, 2024, at the Cassiopeia Hotel, regional chambers of commerce came together for the “Business for Peace” event, aimed at enhancing the involvement of the business sector in Ethiopia’s national dialogue. The day began with IA’s project manager delivering the opening remarks, followed by a presentation from the Ethiopian National Dialogue Commission that set the context for the discussions. This meeting provided a platform for members of regional chambers to deliberate on the challenges and opportunities for businesses in contributing to the country’s peace and economic stability.

Discussions during the event focused on several pressing issues, including the need for ethnic coexistence, the impact of VAT on small traders, the role of media in promoting informed public discourse, and the critical importance of creating job opportunities. Participants advocated for better governance, a more conducive environment for investment, and the inclusion of women in the national dialogue process. These discussions highlighted the complex relationship between peace, economic stability, and governance, reflecting on how regional chambers can play a role in these areas.

In response to the issues raised, the Dialogue Commission pointed to the importance of open dialogue in addressing fear and insecurity, the need for inclusive representation in the national dialogue, and assured the audience of the commission’s autonomy from political influences. The event underscored the importance of women’s participation, the necessity for collective action, and the role of media in supporting peacebuilding efforts.

The “Business for Peace” gathering marked an occasion for regional chambers to consider their part in Ethiopia’s broader dialogue on peace and economic recovery. While not without its challenges, the event provided a moment for reflection on the potential collective action and responsibility in navigating towards a more stable and prosperous future.

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Igniting Creativity and Fostering Peace: Meleya Workshop at the Urban Center in Collaboration with Initiative Africa

On February 15, the Urban Center was abuzz with creativity and innovation as Meleya, in collaboration with Initiative Africa’s Business for Peace project, hosted an enriching workshop and panel discussion aimed at igniting creativity and fostering peace.

The event’s highlight was the presence of Ethiopian American artist and industrial designer, Jomo Tariku, who is reshaping the landscape of modern African design by drawing inspiration from the continent’s diverse elements, including its landscapes, cultures, architecture, and traditional adornments. His innovative creations offer a contemporary interpretation while deepening their roots in Africa’s rich heritage.

Tariku’s notable designs, such as the Nyala, Qwanta, and Meedo chairs, alongside the Watatu Stool series, were prominently featured in the stage design of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, showcasing his bold design approach. His work is not only recognized in prestigious museums like the Met and LACMA but also reflects his advocacy for greater representation of Black designers in the industry.

The evening commenced with an inspirational workshop led by Meleya, offering participants a platform to explore their creative potential and discuss innovative ideas. Attendees were treated to an insightful panel discussion featuring Tariku, alongside Kalkidan Tadesse, CEO of Meleya Soft Furniture, and Maheder Gebremedhin, Director at The Urban Center.

The panel discussion, moderated by Kalkidan Tadesse, delved into the importance of creativity and innovation in fostering peace and driving socio-economic development. Tariku shared his experiences and emphasized the power of art and design in shaping narratives and promoting cultural heritage. “It is about representing our local cultures” stated Tariku.

With the support from Initiative Africa, the workshop ventured into exploring new avenues for creativity and innovation, aiming to empower individuals and communities to become catalysts for positive change.

The event concluded on a high note, leaving attendees inspired and motivated to harness their creativity for the betterment of society. As Meleya’s workshop continues to unfold, the journey towards peace and prosperity through innovation promises to be both exciting and transformative.

 

News

Exploring the Vital Link Between Business and Peace: Initiative Africa and Addis Ababa University Host Dynamic Panel Discussion

On February 22, Initiative Africa, in collaboration with Addis Ababa University, hosted a panel discussion on the critical link between business and peace. This event, a part of the Business for Peace project, aimed to explore the role of commerce in fostering peace. Dr. Yohannes Adigeh initiated the discussion with a welcoming address, followed by presentations from esteemed speakers Dr. Tilahun Bejitual, Dr. Desalegn Amsalu, and Ato Mesfin Messela.

Under the skilled moderation of Dr. Samuel Tefera, the discussion unfolded seamlessly, with each speaker offering nuanced perspectives and practical insights. From exploring how businesses can foster stability within communities to examining the role of economic development in conflict resolution, the dialogue was rich and diverse. Attendees were actively engaged, with a robust question and answer session allowing for further exploration of key themes and ideas.

During the panel discussion, the historical connection between business and peace in Ethiopia was highlighted. The panel emphasized how previous trades and exchanges have shown the pivotal role of the private sector in fostering peace and security. Business activities have not only contributed to economic development but also played a significant role in promoting stability and social cohesion. The discussion highlighted the interdependence between business interests and peace outcomes, emphasizing that a conducive environment for business operations is essential for maintaining peace, while peace, in turn, creates favorable conditions for business growth and investment. Furthermore, panelists stressed the importance of a collaborative approach among the private sector, government, and civil society in promoting peace and security. They emphasized the need for dialogue, cooperation, and partnership to address underlying causes of conflict and build sustainable peace.

The closing remarks were delivered by Dr. Adigeh and a representative from Initiative Africa. They underscored the significance of the discussions held and reiterated the commitment of both organizations to advancing peace through collaborative efforts and knowledge-sharing. This event serves as a testament to the potential for businesses to play a constructive role in promoting societal stability and sustainable development.

 

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A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) Signed Between the National Rehabilitation Commission and the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association

On January 16, 2024, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the National Rehabilitation Commission (NRC) and the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectorial Association (ECCSA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The signing was facilitated by Initiative Africa (IA) as part of its Business for Peace Project.

The Business for Peace Project , which has been implemented by IA for the past two year, seeks to integrate the private sector in the peacebuilding process of the country. This MoU represents an important step forward.

Ambassador Teshome Toga, representing the National Rehabilitation Commission, and Eng. Melaku Ezezew, representing the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectorial Associations, formalized the agreement during the signing ceremony.

The primary objective of this collaboration is to forge a united front in the rehabilitation and reintegration process, emphasizing the implementation of the Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) program. This MoU signifies a pivotal step towards fostering peace, stability, and sustainable development in the region.

To ensure the effective execution of the MoU, all participating parties have committed to establishing a dedicated technical committee. This committee will play a crucial role in supporting the seamless facilitation of the rehabilitation and reintegration initiatives outlined in the agreement.

The signing of this MoU not only reinforces the commitment to peacebuilding but also serves as a testament to the power of partnerships in addressing complex social challenges. The combined efforts of these organizations are expected to have a lasting impact on the lives of individuals affected by conflict, promoting stability and prosperity in the region.

For more information, please contact us at info@initiativeafrica.net or call +251-11-662-2640/41

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The Next Generation of African Peace Leaders for a Sustainable Culture of Peace Donates 105k Birr to Aid IDP Women Affected by the Conflict in the Tigray Region

In response to the observed consequences of the recent conflict in the Tigray region, 18 fellows from the second cohort of The Next Generation of African Peace Leaders for a Sustainable Culture of Peace, formerly known as the Business of Peace fellowship, contributed a total of 105,000 birr towards aiding 21 internally displaced women in the Tigray region.

The Business for Peace project, which commenced in 2019, aims to involve the private sector in the peacebuilding process actively, fostering sustainable development. The recent donation represents a tangible step toward realizing this goal, demonstrating the program’s fellows’ commitment to positively impacting the communities affected by conflict.

The distribution of funds ensued following an extensive field visit to the Tigray region, providing the fellows with a firsthand encounter with the profound repercussions of the conflict on both individuals and businesses. Sileshi Yilma, a fellow and the current senior manager of marketing and branding at Dashen Bank, reflected on the transformative impact of the field trip, stating, “It helped me immensely to understand the situation on the ground firsthand in comparison to the reports on social and mainstream media.” Ashenafi Dawit, owner and shareholder of Gojo Coffee and a fellow, highlighted the motivating factors behind their philanthropic efforts, expressing, “Our visit to the IDP center and interactions with struggling pregnant women inspired us to extend a helping hand to women in need.” The core focus of this initiative centered on providing immediate relief to women who had been forcibly displaced as a consequence of the conflict.

Representing various areas within Tigray, the 21 beneficiaries received financial assistance as part of an initiative to address the immediate needs arising from the conflict. The money was provided in addition to their income to help give them a head start. The allocation was conducted in a manner consistent with the Business for Peace program’s broader goal of integrating the private sector into peacebuilding efforts to foster sustainable development. Members of the interim cabinet government together with the women and children governmental office oversaw the selection process.

This generous donation signifies more than just financial aid for the 21 women; it stands as a compelling illustration of how business leaders can emerge as catalysts for positive change in times of crisis. Sileshi humbly expressed, “I personally don’t believe that the donation was something to brag about. It was only the first step and similar initiatives will follow in Tigray and other affected areas.” This sentiment reflects a commitment to sustained action and underscores the understanding that this contribution serves as a starting point for broader, ongoing initiatives. Ashenafi affirmed this commitment, stating, “We, the fellows, are currently planning ways to continue our assistance to the IDPs,” emphasizing the collective dedication to making a lasting impact beyond this initial act of philanthropy.

The Business for Peace program continues to exemplify its commitment to integrating the private sector into peacebuilding, making tangible strides toward sustainable development and community resilience in conflict-affected regions like Tigray.

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Initiative Africa, National Rehabilitation Commission, and Ethiopia Chamber Pave the Way for Collaborative Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reconciliation Initiatives

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – On November 2, 2023, a meeting was convened in Addis Ababa, bringing together the National Rehabilitation Commission (NRC) and the Ethiopia Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association (ECCSA) with Initiative Africa (IA) facilitating the relationship as part of its commitment to bringing the private sector into peacebuilding. This significant gathering marked a substantial step towards fostering collaborative efforts in the realm of Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reconciliation (DDR) in Ethiopia.

This development follows a successful workshop organized by IA in collaboration with ECCSA and NRC on August 11, 2023. The primary objective of the workshop was to provide a platform for open discussion, knowledge sharing, and the establishment of cooperative networks between the private sector, government bodies, and business associations. The event underscored the critical role that the private sector can play in the development of an effective DDR program, which is pivotal to sustainable peace-building and socio-economic development in a post-conflict society.

The meeting held on November 2, 2023, built upon the momentum generated during the August workshop. Representatives from the three organizations participated in constructive dialogues, exploring avenues for enhanced collaboration and the integration of resources and expertise to further the DDR initiative in Ethiopia. This cooperative spirit has laid the groundwork for the potential signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to solidify the partnership and objectives.

News

Aksum Airport reconstruction project set to boost tourism and economy in Aksum

A major initiative aimed at revitalizing tourism and economic growth in the historic city of Aksum is on the horizon. Over the past two years, Initiative Africa has diligently executed its “Business for Peace and Development” project, generously funded by the Embassy of Sweden/Sida. The primary goal of this endeavor has been to foster the active involvement of the business community in the processes of peacebuilding.

As an integral part of this ambitious initiative, an upcoming conference focused on rejuvenating Aksum’s tourism sector is slated to coincide with the Ethiopian New Year. The event, aptly named “From Axum,” is a collaborative effort orchestrated by Initiative Africa, in partnership with the Center for International Private Enterprises (CIPE), the Tigray Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association, and the Axum Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association. This conference is poised to serve as a pivotal platform for tourism sector stakeholders, experts, and enthusiasts to convene, deliberate strategies, and exchange knowledge.

A critical outcome of the assessment conducted to invigorate tourism in Aksum was the urgent reconstruction and reopening of Aksum Airport. The Ministry of Tourism has endorsed this recommendation wholeheartedly. Aksum Airport, renowned as Ethiopia’s oldest and historically the second-busiest airport, stands as a vital attraction within the city. However, its operations came to a halt in 2020 due to the conflict in the Tigray region and have remained suspended ever since.

The ramifications of restoring and reopening Aksum Airport extend far beyond the realm of aviation. The local economy is poised to experience a substantial upswing, as the airport’s resurgence promises to amplify connectivity and tourist footfall in the region. Nestled within Ethiopia’s Tigray region, Aksum Airport resides in the proximity of some of the nation’s most venerable historical landmarks, including the ancient city of Aksum itself.
The leadership at Initiative Africa perceives the revival of Aksum Airport as a pivotal turning point that not only impacts Ethiopia’s aviation sector but also casts ripples of transformation across the broader tourism industry. The airport’s reopening is projected to exert a profound influence on the country’s economic trajectory and usher in a new era of expansive tourism opportunities.

As preparations for the conference and subsequent airport reconstruction gain momentum, all eyes are fixed on Aksum, where the convergence of business, tourism, and peace-building efforts holds the promise of a brighter future. The successful realization of these endeavors could mark a historic chapter in Ethiopia’s journey toward sustainable growth and development.

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THE ETHIOPIA GLOBAL COMPACT PROGRAM

Initiative Africa in collaboration with the Addis Ababa Chamber of Sectoral Association (AACSA) organized a pre-launch consultation to launch the Ethiopia Global Compact Program on August 1, 2023.

The Ethiopia Global Compact is open to all businesses in Ethiopia, regardless of size or sector. By joining the initiative, businesses can demonstrate their commitment to upholding the ten principles of the Global Compact, which cover areas such as human rights, labor standards, environmental sustainability, and anti-corruption.

The pre-launch consultation featured a presentation about the Global Compact Program followed by a discussion on the ten principles of the Global Compact Program and a presentation on sustainable development was also presented. The businesses discussed the purpose of the program, and who can own and lead it in addition about 40 plus businesses registered for membership in the Ethiopia Global Compact Program.

As a way forward The participants also agreed to form a committee that will lead the process of launching the Ethiopia Global Compact Program. The committee will be responsible for developing the program’s implementation plan, as well as for outreach and engagement with businesses.

For more information, please contact us at info@initiativeafrica.net or call +251-11-662-2640/41

Uncategorized

INTRODUCING NATIONAL DIALOGUE RESOURCE CENTER

As part of its “Business for Peace” program, Initiative Africa officially introduced a digital resource center where it built a foundation to integrate knowledge, experience, and critical reflection into the national dialogue and thereby strengthen the national dialogue deliberations by launching a resource center for upcoming national dialogue in Ethiopia. This resource center will play a complementary role to support the National Dialogue Commission established by the House of People’s Representatives, and other actors engaged in the National Dialogue in Ethiopia. More specifically, the National Dialogue Resource Center can help us to:

  • Educate the audience about the process, stages, and deliberations of the National Dialogue.
  • Collect, analyze, and avail information regarding the National Dialogue deliberations for any user.
  • Engage the private sector to get engaged through targeted content topics. Boost the quality of information available regarding the national dialogue.
  • Support a variety of activities of the National Dialogue including research, media analysis, study papers, and a quarterly symposium to showcase new research and analysis

On the launching event, HE commissioner Melaku Woldemariam applauded the contributions IA is making to raise awareness about the upcoming National Dialogue.

The event was well-attended by representatives from the private sector, government, and civil society. The speakers and participants all agreed that the National Dialogue Resource Center plays an important role in providing information that will help better understand the Ethiopia National Dialogue.

For more information, please contact us at info@initiativeafrica.net or
call +251-11-662-2640/41

Uncategorized

THE ROLE OF THE PRIVATE SECTOR IN NATIONAL DIALOGUE

Initiative in collaboration with Addis Ababa Chamber of Sectoral Associations-AACSA organized a platform to discuss the role of the private sector in the upcoming National Dialogue.

A welcoming speech from the executive director of Initiative Africa Mr. Kebour Ghenna and Mr. Chane Bitew from Addis Ababa Chamber of Sectoral Associations (AACSA) followed by HE Commissioner Melaku Woldemariam delivering an opening remark recognizing the efforts from Initiative Africa in taking the lead to raise awareness about the National Dialogue.

The event featured a panel discussion on the role of the private sector in the upcoming National Dialogue sustainable development led by Mrs. Asma Redi from the Ministry of Peace with panelists Dr. Abdeta Dribssa from Center for Dialogue Research and Cooperation, Mr. Geressu Tufa from Initiative for Change and Mr. Yohannes Woldegebriel from the Private Sector representing Addis Ababa Chamber Sectoral Association.

The discussion focused on how the private sector can contribute to the National Dialogue by sharing its expertise and resources, and by
supporting the implementation of the dialogue’s recommendations.

The event was well-attended by representatives from the private sector, government, and civil society. The speakers and participants all agreed that the private sector has a critical role to play in the National Dialogue and in the development of Ethiopia.

For more information, please contact us at info@initiativeafrica.net or call +251-11-662-2640/41