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Against many odds it’s been a brilliant year for MoFA

Against many odds it’s been a brilliant year for MoFA

Dilwenberu Nega

5 August 2015

Ethiopia’s regiment of Ambassadors and Consul Generals are in Addis Ababa for their annual convocation where, amongst other agenda items, there is a grilling session of Their Excellencies by respective Directors of Directorates General. Seldom has Ethiopia been in receipt of huge diplomatic dividends as this year. “From giving our national image a new lease of life to wooing direct foreign investment, Ethiopian missions abroad have, by and large, faired good” according to a recent interview Ethiopia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Tedros Adhanom, had with Addis TV.

How this was made possible sheds light to the story behind MoFA’s success.

As a medical doctor Dr Tedros Adhanom knows all too well that one’s look can only be deemed a picture of health if, and only if, one’s internal organs are healthy and effective. By the same token, he needs no reminding from anyone that Ethiopia’s external affairs could only be deemed healthy and vigorous, if, and only if, our nation’s obtaining conditions is good, safe, venerable and solid. And when it comes to the institution he is entrusted to lead, he has from the start been cognizant of the need to make MoFA fit to cope with the vagaries of new world order.

No sooner then had Dr Tedros Adhanom – who first earned his political spurs by effectively delivering EPRDF’s manifesto commitment on health during his ministerial stint at the Ministry of Health (2005-2012) – assumed his new post at MoFA than he invited over 100 resident Ambassadors to a get-acquainted meeting at The Sheraton Addis. According to The Reporter’s anonymous columnist of “Fine line,” Dr Tedros pledged “to turn MoFA into the best institution of its kind in Africa.” He was only highlighting one of the salient features of Ethiopia’s “Foreign Affairs and National Security, Policy and Strategy.”

Today many at MoFA believe that the Ministry is in a constant state of flux because of “Teddy’s and his Ministerial colleagues’ determined efforts to carry on full speed with the civil service reform agenda first ushered in by friendly but firm Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalgn during his 2 year ministerial stint at MoFA.” Last month MoFA became winner of the Civil Service Ministry’s much coveted Gold Cup. For an ancient state institution, whose Ministers included such luminaries as Emperor Haile Selassie and Tshafe Tezaz Aklilu Habte Wolde, to become the first Gold Cup recipient for successfully implementing the Federal Government’s Civil Service Reform, speaks volumes of the sea change which has engulfed MoFA in recent years.

MoFA recently established the long overdue “Foreign Service Institute” (FSI) in Addis. This is the first of its kind for a nation that for far too long has bragged about being one of the founding fathers of the Organization of African Unity (May 25 1963) which morphed into the African Union on May 26 200 without having at MoFA’s disposal a centre of excellence for its regiment of diplomats. By accepting only the best and brightest university graduates, FSI is entrusted to produce hyper active and articulate would-be diplomats for the Foreign Service. When dispatched to Ethiopian mission abroad these young and energetic diplomats are expected to effectively fight Ethiopia’s corner, to encourage and woo foreign investors, to explore and secure markets for Ethiopian products and to slough off flash-backs of famine and war from our national image.

Whether the FSI will succeed in convincing young would-be diplomats of the need to pay heed to the oft-repeated advice Meles the Great used to offer to departing Ambassadors of Ethiopia - “Ambassadors must be willing and ready to forgo the emollience and suaveness of traditional diplomacy, and embrace the hard knocks of a salesperson” - remains to be seen. In any event however MoFA deserves an accolade for establishing FSI.

The year also witnessed the “Brussels of Africa” – Addis Ababa – living up to its name. Not only have prospective inward investors from all over the world headed to Addis, but Addis is now viewed by reputable conference organizers as a preferred convention venue. Last month, the capital was host to The Third International Conference on Financing for Development which attracted more than 7000 participants from all over the world including close to 50 Heads of State and Government. Behind these success stories are unsung heroes from various state organs including from MoFA. The nation owes a great debt of gratitude to all, but on this occasion, while our diplomats are in session in Addis, we should say THANK YOU to MoFA’s unsung heroes: janitors, drivers, secretaries, Desk Officers, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Secretaries, Counselors, Minister Counselors, Directors, Director Generals, Consul Generals and Ambassadors.

A word of advice: MoFA must avoid like a plague resting on its past laurels; it instead must garner the courage and humility to constantly look inwards and fine-tune the performances of its diplomatic brigade.

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