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Meet Mekonnen AMBACHEW, the new minister of construction in Ethiopia

01 May, 2016 News Center 1,334

The House of People’s Representative (HPR) of Ethiopia nominated several names as new minister in last October. Led by Prime Minister Hailemariam DESALEGN, Mekonnen AMBACHEW who graduated from Korea Development Institute (KDI) Public Policy of Management was appointed as the new Minister of Construction. 

Minister Ambachew came to the Republic of Korea in 1999. A year later, he earned his master degree in public policy. The lessons that he received in KDI School helped him transform his career from an economist to a successful policymaker. 

During his stay in Seoul, he gained plenty of valuable experience. He admitted that South Korea inspired him. Witnessing the ‘Korean spirit’ first-hand motivated the Minister to work even harder in pursuit of his academic and professional goals. 

When he continued his Ph.D. study in United Kingdom, half of his thesis was related to the Republic of Korea. In his thesis, Minister Ambachew wrote about the best experiences of 11 East Asian countries with Korea firmly at the center of his analysis. 

Due to his passion, he likes talking a lot in line with South East Asia’s miraculous economic performances, especially the rapid economic growth of Korea coupled with declining income inequality. 

“This shows that how my thoughts continue to be influenced by the inspiration I got from KDI School,” Minister Ambachew said. 

Ethiopia and its capital city of Addis Ababa is seeking to follow the Korean model of development. Minister Ambachew hopes that the good relationship between Ethiopia and Korea can lead to more tangible cooperation and exchange.  “I always stand for strengthening the established effective relationship between the two historically and sisterly related nations,” he added.

Booming construction in Ethiopia

Amongst African countries, Ethiopia has been impressive performers over the past of ten years in the world. According to the World Bank, the Ethiopian economy grew by approximately 11% per annum between 2004 and 2014, beating China and India despite not producing any oil. According to the World Bank 2016 global economic prospects, Ethiopia’s economy is expected to grow by to 10.2%.

In spite of agriculture remaining the backbone of the country’s economy, the booming of other sectors like construction has stimulated growth. Thanks to the government’s Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) I, the construction sector in Ethiopia grew 20.1% in 2015 compared with the previous year.

Tadesse AYALEW from the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture Addis Abba University wrote that the construction industry is currently divided into three sector: energy; building; and road and transport. AYALEW said that the expansion of the Ethiopian construction industry started since 2001 when the policy of Integration and Capacity building was introduced to the industry.

The Government focused on energy projects such as wind power and hydropower. The country has been building a Renaissance dam aimed at bolstering its electricity production. The dam is projected as the largest hydro dam in Africa. In total, Ethiopia is undertaking construction of 8 power stations.

Some construction projects are also focusing on residential and nonresidential housing. One such program aims to construct 450,000 housing units in five years in the capital and create employment opportunities for small and medium enterprises.

In addition, Ethiopia has been working tirelessly to boost its infrastructure. A highway network of 10,000km has been designed to accommodate increased traffic levels for the next 21 years. As part of the project, the Ethiopian Roads Authority launched Modjo-Hawassa Expressway and invested USD 700 million in December last year. Railway building is also another target for the country with a population of approximately 99.3 million (2015). The country plans to build 4,744km of railway lines.

In a bid to introduce a legal framework, AYALEW added that the Government launched the construction industry development policy. The Construction Industry Policy emphasizes the development of an efficient and self-sustaining roads network capable of meeting the diverse needs for construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of civil works for a road network consisting of central, regional, local district and feeder roads through involvement from the private sector.

By Arifenie FITRI NUR [2016 MPP, Indonesia]