By Tadesse Nigatu
The lessons from history is that, humans are the main actors who shape their own future through their actions. Their actions are guided by their wills, wants, attitudes and perceptions of the future. With the right wills, wants and attitudes, Ethiopians, can create a better future for ourselves. This write-up depicts one optimistic scenario which KERRO, FANNO, ZERMMA, NEBRRO, and WODELLA type grass-root movement of Ethiopians can change the current unbearable situation into a pleasant future by weaving education, technology, democracy and ethical conducts and jump to modernity. Since the most important asset of a nation is the co-coordinated efforts of its citizens, grounded on a clear vision, integrity, positive attitude, strong will and commitment, it is possible that ordinary Ethiopians can build a better future.
The Ethiopia 2048 scenario puts together an optimistic future for Ethiopia that Ethiopians ourselves could build. Scenario construction is one of the predictive tools used to envision what could happen. Scenario construction method helps to scan the future, which, in turn helps to construct a future story to enable one to see what could happen if certain actions are taken today. By doing so, the method encourages to take certain actions which could result in the realization of the story. Of course, the scenario has to be plausible. And to be plausible, a scenario should be clearly anchored in both past and present facts. Scenario is not a construction of wish lists. It is rather a picture of the future painted from what is possible. The scenario must be grounded on facts that exist today.
One of the facts is that Ethiopia has millions of sons and daughters who are capable and willing to change their future for the better. That they want to build society free of abject poverty, political repression, inequality and injustice is tangible. If these millions can construct an optimistic future story and participate to realize the likelihood of its plausibility is very high.
If we take a holistic approach to the society’s fundamental activities such as good Governance, Economics, Educational, Technological/scientific, Health, Environmental, and Ethical practices as interdependent and we self-organize around them starting at basic societal levels such as family, we can gradually progress to national level. The interconnected, interdependent and inseparable nature of those major activities in the country is accurately reflected by systems thinking world outlook. As such, making system thinking part of the scenario construction can serve us dependably: as we strive to change our nation by outlining practical actions. Viewing the fundamentals of Ethiopia as interconnected and interdependent rather than as isolated, can speed our development by synergizing each effort to build an Ethiopia where every citizen enjoys a standard of living of an advanced nation by 2048, in thirty years, that is.
Can we really do it in thirty years?
It goes without saying that this is an ambitious scenario. But most optimist scenarios are ambitious by their nature. The question is: are thirty years enough? Can you believe that over 40 years flew by, just between the military junta known as Derg and the repressive EPRDF alone? Yes, leap-frogging to an advanced nation in 30 years appears unreasonable. But if most patriotic Ethiopians decide to attack the multi-faceted national problems from multiple directions and move step by step, we can implement the dreams of the scenario. Nowadays, thanks to the advances in technology, we do not have to go through the zigzag roads the advanced nations took during the last three hundred years. If the patriotic and skilled Ethiopians begin to THINK BIG and utilize the potent power of peaceful grass-root movement of millions, cooperation, strict discipline and technological advances in various fields including solar energy, the Internet, cell phone etc., it is achievable in thirty years.
As you read what follows, put yourself in 2048, and look back (back cast) to the present to see what were done to get there.
Most Ethiopians loved their country and each other as always. In many occasions, they did what they thought were good for their country. The political organizations fought for political reforms. Educators have been at the forefront of education and educational reforms. Ethiopian students stood for social and political changes. Farmers and workers not only struggled for democratic and labor right, but also created the products to sustain our lives. Medical doctors and nurses took care of the sick. Journalists wrote and spoke the truth. Musicians and artists entertained and motivated us to be good to each other and be patriotic. Business people and entrepreneurs created new wealth and looked for a corruption-free economy. Environmental groups worked to stop environmental deterioration. Ethiopians in the diaspora not only provided financial support to families but also cried for democracy and justice in their country. But, despite all the efforts both from within and out their country, millions of Ethiopians, were not able to make meaningful progress. It was still one of the poorest. The main reason for their failure was that they were betrayed by their past and present governments which they thrusted and depended on.
As time went by, citizens figured out that rather than depend on the undemocratic governments, their needs would be met if they depended on their own collective efforts and if they put their futures in their own hands Just like the KEERROS, the FANNOS, THE ZERMAS, THE NEBRROS did recently. So, citizens began to recognize the need to break the silo and come together to bring meaningful change to their country. Thanks to the efforts by few change agents, all the groups (not just the political groups but also the workers, farmers, teachers, students, women, journalists, musicians etc.) started discussions among themselves as to how to coordinate their previously isolated activities to create synergy to address their immediate challenges and develop the nation for the long term.
Eventually, those discussions and interactions led to repeated conferences and then to the formation of coordinating body. That coordinating body took a step to develop a unifying theme which all groups could agree upon. That led to the identification of goals that are common to all.
In one big conference that took place sometime in the summer of 2018, the representatives of all the groups agreed to leapfrog Ethiopia from underdeveloped to developed nation by 2048. They then decided to unite their loosely connected associations with vision and mission and named their umbrella association
Ethiopia 2048 movement. As starter, they agreed on the following guide lines and resolved to implement them starting at individual level.
- Recognize every citizen has power. The will power that citizens possess individually as well as collectively is the only asset that a nation can harness to move forward and develop. Development is the business of citizens. So, to empower every Ethiopian to be responsible and accountable for their collective destiny is the primary task of the movement. Citizens must recognize that they are the source of creativity, knowledge and wealth. When they respect and listen to each other and work cooperatively they can do miracles. In Ethiopia 2048 Ethiopians need to harness this collective power to win over poverty, ignorance, diseases and tyranny. Then, use that achievement as stepping stone to further develop the nation, stage step by step.
- Recognize the important role of ethical practices. That is, to be good, fair, honest, caring and responsible to fellow citizen and your society. Develop Ethical guide lines and promote their implementations by every member of the Ethiopian society. To strengthen the ethical practices in every aspect of life use the power of music, art and literature to reinforce ethical practices at every level starting from home. Ethical citizens can create an Ethical nation by freeing ourselves from subjugation, injustice and corruption one citizens at a time.
- Practice democracy, justice, equality, peace and cooperation starting at family and community level and then proceed to regional and national levels to pave the way for good governance and economic development. If most of the citizens possess these values, the nation would possess them as well. Encourage dialogue and discussion to solve disagreements in peaceful manner.
- Protect our environment. Teach that every citizen has the obligation to restore and protect the environment. Create the awareness among the citizens that without our forests, fertile soils, rivers, and its natural habitats we will not have home called Ethiopia.
- Seek peaceful methods to engage with the powers to be, including governments and international organizations to achieve the Ethiopia 2048 goals.
The above agreed upon guide lines led to the formulation of vision and mission statements as well as bylaws.
Vision: Developed Ethiopia that becomes a member of the advanced nations by 2048.
Starting at grass-root (family, friends and community) level in small communities
- Empower citizens to teach each other and expand literacy and skills training and education at all levels
- Expand the application of traditional and modern technology and entrepreneurship to grow the economy and improve living conditions.
- Implement democratic and ethical principles in every activity
- Apply the principles of sustainable development to protect the health of people and the environment
- Utilize music, art and literature as motivational tools to reach the objectives of Ethiopia 2048
Agents of the movement started working to disseminate the ideals of Ethiopia 2048 and encouraged Ethiopians all over the world to join or form the grass-root movement. To that end they launched a web site and facebook, published newsletter and acquired radio and Television Stations to reach millions of Ethiopians. The movement was legally incorporated in Ethiopia and in various nations and states around the world where significant number of Ethiopians lived. The branch organizations were free to do what they felt was important to accomplish the mission.
The huge task of the Ethiopia 2048 movement was divided into seven key functional areas, namely, economic, political, educational, technological, healthcare, environmental and ethical movement. Appropriate organs were also formed for each function by skilled volunteers. Each functional organ developed short and long-term objectives, structures and rules for the respective teams starting at community, all the way to national levels to synergize the efforts of the movements at every level.
Activities were taking place community by community and district by district all over the country in almost identical manner and within reasonable timing as this was the intention of the 2048 movement to bring a uniform development in every part of the nation. When working on the key functions, they were treated as integrated and inseparable as if one depends on the others. That is, work on each function is done parallel with the others staring at grass-root communities.
The implementation of Ethiopia 2048 is divided in three-ten-year time plots. The remaining part of the scenario is divided in to three ten-year terms.
The First Ten Years
The goals of the movement for the first ten years was to reduce poverty, eliminate illiteracy, reduce disease and slow deforestation. Accomplishing these required concerted efforts from locally formed teams around the major activities of the movements namely economic, technological, health, environmental ethics and good governance issues.
Since Ethiopia’s economy was largely agricultural, the focus of the movement of that period was to improve harvest by changing agricultural practices. One starting point was to identify ways to improve farming productivity. Farming brings together plant seeds, soil, watering, farming equipment to facilitate the growing and harvesting agricultural produce. The experts of the movement in each field equipped with the best practices in each aspect of farming started training farmers with the best know-how to improve farming. As part of that process, Agricultural engineers, extension workers and college students in the field (from technology team) looked at traditional farming techniques and selected as to what should be preserved and maintained and what should be changed. The team also, identified other farming methods from other cultures that gave improved harvest. The best farming equipment, soil handling, water delivery (irrigation) and seeds were identified and applying them began.
With help from mechanical and industrial engineering students, professors in local colleges, and engineers in the field built several prototype farming equipment and evaluated in farm fields and the better ones selected. Then farmers were introduced and trained in the new farming techniques. In the meantime, businessmen and investors were encouraged to collaborate with metalwork and woodwork shops in the community to manufacture the improved farm equipment and make them available to farmers at affordable price. The goal to transfer best practices in farming skills and technologies were made available to farmers in very reasonable time. The fact that farmers were encouraged to be open minded to accept new ideas and practices made the change easy.
Striving for continuous improvement was a key aspect in dealing with traditional technologists such as black smith, wood workers and equipment makers. To that end, engineering departments of nearby colleges were encouraged all the time to work with those technologists to improve farming equipment so that they save labor and increase productivity. Gradually, productive and affordable farm machineries were made available to cooperatives and individual farmers through small interest loans. Financial support that assisted that type of loans were made available by the diaspora who backed the Ethiopia 2048.
Plant scientists came with variety of drought resistant plants to improve yield in areas where rain is small or unpredictable. Also, animal science experts in the movement trained farmers in the best practice of animal husbandry to breed healthy domestic animals.
Diversifying the economy with cottage industries that converted farm products into other products were encouraged. That lead to the start of small industries that could package and preserve perishable produces such as tomato, onion, potato and others to keep them longer before they spoiled. That also made it convenient for commercial shipping to where they were needed. In addition, the formation of volunteer farm and other economic cooperatives was put to work to synergize their financial, skills and organizational resources of communities all over.
Agricultural business and trade was encouraged and facilitated so that farm products from abundant regions were sold to where they were needed at fair price. Cellular phone, facebook and the internet was instrumental for sharing information regarding market needs between individual farmers and between regions. That created win-win situation for the buyers and the sellers. In the meantime, fair trade and ethical business practices were discussed and practiced in all communities, thanks to the encouragement ethics team in every community.
Farmers were also encouraged to build local roads to make transportation available for as many people as possible. Volunteer engineering students and civil engineers, and the locals cooperated in planning and building the roads. In all these, practicing good ethics and democratic principles and team work were constantly discussed and practiced by people from local ethics and political teams.
Also, applying practical organizational principles, sharing of responsibilities, willful cooperation and consensus building, self-reliance, hard work, creativity and innovative attributes were discussed regularly in the communities all around.
Literacy campaign took place in every community. High school and college students, teachers and other working professionals were involved. “Zero illiterate in our community” was the motto. Everyone who did not read was a target and instructors took the pain to accommodate their student’s schedule to make sure that they got their education. Lessons in ethical behavior were also given where literacy classes were held.
Just in five years, the farming community showed significant changes both in their behaviors and productivity. Farm yields have improved both in quality and quantity. As the result, even members who contributed the least had more food than they needed for their families. The excess food they had enabled farmers to sell and buy other needed items.
While all those were happening, the health team, has been making progress in initiating training programs in hygiene and sanitation with a goal to enhance preventive measures against various diseases. The health team was regularly “preaching” about the importance of sanitation and clean water in the farm communities. With guidance from technology group that focused in water –well drilling and pumping, farmers took steps to make water supply available within minimum traveling distance. They made sure that everyone got enough amount of water to meet basic needs. Then as techniques of water distribution improved, the quality and quantity water that each family got grew.
In parallel, the environmental team started its work with environmental education. Here the key objective was to redeem and protect the environment. The first practical task was the protection of forests and the soil by planting trees. Also, with help from the health team, birth control education and methods were encouraged not to overload the environment with large population. To reduce the reliance on wood as a source of cooking energy, simple but effective solar cooking techniques were introduced. Initially that focused on simple solar cookers. That paved the way for the next generations of improved solar cookers. To minimize the consumption of forest trees for home construction, simple technique was introduced by the technology team for producing bricks from local soil with which to build homes.
While that was taking place, teams from good governance and ethics teams made concerted efforts to educate farmers and the surrounding community about the benefit of applying democratic principles, conflict resolutions etc. when they dealt with each other or with the local political officials. The ethics team trained the locals in good values like hard-work, integrity, honesty respect etc.
The movement did not limit itself to the farming communities alone. There were significant efforts in big as well as small cities. The economic development teams at various cities and towns were advising and helping small business to improve their performance. Education groups were providing classes to reduce illiteracy at all levels at student’s convenience. The technology teams were also working with all sorts of small manufacturers to help them improve their tools and eventually their yields. The environmental teams encouraged families to plant trees in their yards and to clean polluted areas in the neighborhood by going door to door. The health teams were restless teaching about the importance of clean water, sanitation, hygiene as well as treating the sick. Political teams went door to door (held meetings) to teach the value of democracy, fair election, and justice. The same was true for the ethics teams who tirelessly advocate in creative ways the importance of good ethics to our communities and the nation.
Within ten years, each farmer became self-sufficient. They have enough food, clean water, good hygiene, soil erosion was reduced, lots of trees were planted and the environment improved. Each farmer at least has a couple of trees by his/her house. There were improvements in housing as well. The newer houses were cleaner, sturdier, and had more space. Thanks to the education team each farmer can read and write. All school age children were able to attend schools. The biggest challenge of the first ten years were fighting against individualism, corruption, bribery that was rampant. It was hard, partly, because, the corrupt individuals were also those who had political power or political connections. But thanks to the ethics and political teams who were present and persistent teaching and encouraging community members to handle things the correct way, the corrupt individuals gone diminishing. The contribution from singers, drama artists and poets in educating the population about the value of democracy and good ethics for collective growth was invaluable. At that point, the morale of Ethiopians all over the country was high. The trust level in each other has increased a lot. Every body’s confidence on themselves and on each other as well as in their country got stronger. They clearly could see the brighter future ahead of them.
The Second Ten Years
During the ensuing ten years, some of the cottage industries that began with the help of technology groups continued to operate. Some even grew and started to buy raw materials from the neighboring farming communities. For example, the cottage industries that extract oil from oil producing seeds, the small leather factories that converted leather to shoos, belts and other items, the small brick making factory that made bricks from selected soil for home construction, the black smith that forged metal or the woodwork shops that made home furniture not only started selling their products to neighboring communities, they also began buying raw materials they needed from those other communities in larger quantities. The ones that grew, started hiring farmers and training them first as part time and then as things improved into full time workers. Now the economy started diversifying. Initially, the market for the cottage industries were the neighboring farmers. That slowly started expanding to the nearby farming communities. At the same, time the engineers in the technology groups were hard at work to improve the tools and machines so that the industries met the growing market need. Also, since the quality of the products continued to improve year by year, the products were getting the attention of city dwellers and the demand was growing. That created the opportunity for the small cottage industries to cooperate with each other or to mage and become bigger to respond to the market needs. When the industries grew, they started hiring more. The farm economy was diversifying more and more by the year.
During the first ten years, the leadership of science and technology taskforce started to build a center with the task to do research and development in various fields that were relevant to the nation, particularly focusing in farming, metals, ceramics and polymers and their efficient processing as well as in clean solar energy. That effort slowly grew and began contributing to the materials and energy needs as it was their task to consult, share knowledge, and teach how-to-do things better to help small and medium industries.
In the meantime, due to the long presence of the good governance (political) teams in every part of the country and their good connection with the people, a strong, thrusting relations were built between them and the communities. That opportunity to work in the community at the grass-root level not only built trust between the people and the political workers, it also helped building thrust among political workers from different parties themselves. That thrust in turn helped many of opposition parties to merge and reduce their numbers from fifty or so into two- major ones. That was in itself progress. In addition, the political awareness of the community grew to higher level. Their awareness was at a level that no government official’s malicious intent could manipulate or bribe the people.
As the result of that tireless and persistent political work, in one major election that took place during the first years of the second ten-year of the movement, most of the candidates from the ruling party were rejected by the people, and the big majority of their seats were taken by the coalition of the opposition parties. That was a big victory for the country. Then, all undemocratic decrees made by the previous government was voted down and replaced with the pro-people ones. All the rudiments of corruption and poor governance lost anchorage to hold on to. Also, the newly elected officials adopted the goals of Ethiopia 2048 and voted to make it the government goals as well. Yet, volunteerism and the work of the movement continued.
Helped by the civil engineers from the technology group, the shorter community roads built earlier by farmers, kept growing year by year some even connecting to the bigger highways and improving access to wide area transportation. Now, farmers and cottage industries could take their products to the market quicker and further. With help from electrical engineers of the movement, the farmer cooperatives now could afford to generate electricity from solar energy for their members. They did not have to deal with long copper wire or government’s bureaucracy. They also did not need to cut trees for cooking anymore. The health movement of the first term continued to be stronger and stronger. Sanitation and hygiene became the rules not the exceptions. City streets and neighborhoods are tidier and had trees on their sides. The common diseases that ravaged communities for millennia became rarity. Mountains, fields and even cities were much greener. It became very hard to find someone who cannot read or write. Every family could afford to send their children to school and schools are within walking distance of any community. Graduating from high school became a mandatory for school children. The political and economic atmosphere became such that business and agriculture were thriving and new ones starting by day. As such, the opportunity to find jobs were getting much better.
At the end of the second ten-year term, things were much brighter. All UN development indicators showed that Ethiopia was in the category of developing nation like that of India, Brazil or China. Thanks to the volunteers of standards group of the movement, standards of our universities were at par with the rest of the world. Colleges were graduating world class professionals. The qualities of our manufactured goods and agricultural produces can compete in the world market. Thanks to the research and development institutions of the technology group and the collaborations from our universities as well as innovative entrepreneurs, Ethiopians have started manufacturing their own cars tractors, graders and other heavy-duty machineries. We made our own solar panels and use them as our main energy source including to use them to pump water for irrigation. Our materials industries mainly, metals and ceramics were good enough for our needs so did not need to import them from other countries. The result of the second political election also went in favor of the Ethiopia 2046 movement. Due to consistent efforts from health workers, hygiene and sanitation have become tradition. Also. clean water was available uninterrupted thanks to the technology group. Just for these reasons alone the common diseases that used to attack the population have disappeared for the large part. People were much healthier.
The third ten years
At the beginning of the third–ten years, Ethiopians were in much different realities from what they started in twenty years ago. At this time; they were not worried about starvation, or the spread of environment induced seasonal or water borne diseases. The political atmosphere was much friendlier, the economy was growing and functioning in a balanced manner. Yet, there are still many communities that did not get their fair share of the success. There are places that did not have good access to transportation, good hospitals, or modern school facilities. So, the goal of the third term was to maintain and improve on the success of the past two decades and to work harder to bring those underserved communities to the same level and move on. The movement functionaries also had recognized that the success achieved can easily be reversed if they were complacent. So, they kept their intensity as strong or better.
The teams responsible for ethical practices all over the communities continued to be vigilant and worked with musicians, actors and poets, to emphasize the virtue of hard work, love for the people and country, respect people’s right and the environment, and to be fair and seek the truth. Since political power can corrupt, politicians also needed to be reminded that they are accountable for their actions all the time. To that end, teams from the political groups and journalists, continued to be vigilant when it came to democracy, justice and respect for the rule of law.
“Access to transportation for all” became one of the mottos of the time. So, the national, the reginal as well as local governments and the general population, led by professionals in civil engineering, collaborated to connect every corner of the country by roads and highways. Where roads already existed, they were upgraded to asphalts or concrete surfacing. It took a little more than five years, but it was done. Public transportation was made the main mode of transportation but there were many who could afford to own private vehicles. In addition, railways that run across the four corners of the country were built so that trains could be used for long distance travel. The advances in transportation made fast travel accessible not only for people but also for goods and services which altogether improved commerce and tourism.
Also, the “affordable housing for everyone” slogan emphasized the goal to make housing available for everyone. That took the cooperation of investors, banks and the government as a guarantor. Everyone with some income could afford a decent place. Housing regulations were stablished so that all houses had certain standards (including area size, cleanness and planted trees) they needed to keep. Deliberate attempt was made to make roads accessible to residential areas so that transportation was not an issue.
The availability of electric power for every home and company was addressed by two sources. Solar electric and hydroelectric. Ethiopia was fortunate to have many rivers and lots of sunshine. All that was need was skilled engineers and technicians who could convert them to use; and colleges and universities were busy producing enough of them. The energy sources were so abundant that most vehicles be it commercial or private were designed to run with electric power.
The combined efforts in research and development by the movement research centers, universities, and new industry R&D centers as well government have begun producing world class research papers as well as patents. Ethiopia was no more just a consumer of other researchers but also a contributor to scientific knowledge. That was also the case for medical research as there were now many world class hospitals which were research hospitals also.
Ethiopians manufactured from the simplest nails to the complicated agricultural harvesters, combine, sophisticated, machineries, computers and anything in between. Due to the excellent reputation of Ethiopia’s aviation technologies, it was possible to manufacture every part that went into airplanes. Ethiopians had the skill set and know-how and the investment to build airplanes and drones. They were manufacturing solar panels and the electronics that go with it since a decade ago. Ethiopia was also catching up with computers and related communication technologies such as the internet and defense related capabilities.
The education system kept pushing students and teachers for the highest standard. That really paid off as it was the educated citizens who built Ethiopia to bring her up to advanced nation level in such short time.
Those prevalent issues from thirty years ago such as ethnic politics or the demand to push for separation were unheard of since the country has made significant advances in good governance, in technology and economy. People with different ethnic groups did not need to split-up to practice their democratic and civil rights in democratic society and Ethiopia had become a democratic country. Ethiopia has become such a good nation where other people from different countries wanted to come and live in.
By 2048, every Ethiopian who wanted and able to work could get a job. Everyone could eat more than three times a day if they wanted to. Clean water, medical treatment, housing, and transportation were accessible to all. Communication tools such as computers and cellular phones and the Internet were affordable and available to all. Students achievements were at world class level, and schools and colleges that produced them met and exceeded world standards. The economy was strong because the workforce was highly skilled. Big cities, small towns, rural areas and mountains were all green as they were filled with trees. Those were not only good for the environment but also for the country’s economic vitality. Our rivers and soils were protected so that they will be there for the many generations to come. Both the farming and manufacturing industries applied advanced technologies and use only clean energy. Our democratic system was young and vibrant and was built to sustain. Ethiopians are proud of their nation more than ever.
Plausibility of the Scenario
This Scenario is plausible because:
- There are many Ethiopians who think big
- There are many Ethiopians who have world class skill set in various disciplines and who love to contribute to the development of their country.
- KERROS, FANNOS, ZERMMAS, NEBRROS, WODELLAS and others have shown us models that worked to bring changes in our country. All we need is adopt that model for a wholistic development.
- Some of the works of Ethiopia 2048 are already started independently by grass-root organizations. What is needed is to bring them together.
- The Ethiopian people are ready for fundamental change.
- Ethiopians have recorded some success in our past.
Let’s dream and make it real. Let’s start the Ethiopia 2048 movement. It is up to us, especially the Young!