Ethiopia Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn's Keynote Address - Launch of Ethiopia's Entrepreneurship Development Programme

19 Feb 2013

Excellencies Ministers

Mr. Eugene Owusu, Resident Representative, UNDP

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to thank the organizers for allowing me to make a key note address to a workshop that will address one of the most important topics in our national development agenda.  It is my hope and expectation that the deliberations you will be making this afternoon will help spell out the key aspects of entrepreneurship and enterprise development that the government should focus on in its effort to achieve the objectives clearly identified in our Growth and Transformation Plan. The workshop will also set the ground for the launching of an entrepreneurship Development Centre of Ethiopia to be tasked with providing entrepreneurial skills training and mentorship to tens of thousands of small and macro enterprises.  The centre will also help in the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs and the stimulation of economic growth.

 

The project is expected to create self and wage employment opportunities, bring equal development, improve the income of the society and lay foundation for industrial development.

 

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

This project is very important for a host of reasons that have significant bearing on the national development endeavors that we are undertaking in this country.

As you may well know, one of the challenges we have in this country that stands in the way of ensuring rapid industrial growth is the acute lack of social capital and particularly that of entrepreneurship skills.  The largest chunks of our graduates are very much wanting in this area and there is a widespread belief that only the government can afford to distribute jobs for millions of people.  Not only is this wrong and infeasible in a country every resource needs to be deployed in the most efficient manner, but it is also impossible to imagine the country sustaining its current growth spiral with a balance sheet that is heavy on unproductive government expenditure.

 

But more importantly, without the development of entrepreneurial skills by hundreds of thousands of our youth, the kind of equitable distribution of wealth that the government is very keen on achieving cannot be realized. And the country’s industrial development will be stunted without the required entrepreneurship skills and enterprise.

 

The project is also important in that it targets the tens of thousands of small and Micro Enterprises as well as hundreds of thousands of youth and women.

 

Our GTP puts higher emphasis on the development of Micro and Small Enterprises not only because they are the most viable way of creative massive employment opportunities but also because these are the most reliable drivers of industrial development.

 

With the number of graduates growing by leaps and bounds and the number of the youth population bulging every year, dependable ways of creating massive employment opportunities is an imperative.

 

As much as our huge youth population can be a source of strength and growth, it could also be a source of vulnerability and social tension unless we are in a position to offer job opportunities that can absorb this huge chunk of our population.

 

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

This project will not be confined to providing training entrepreneurship skills important as that may be.  It should strive towards bringing about attitudinal change in our society. Without a change in the attitude of the society and the development of social capital sustaining our growth spiral is almost impossible. The comprehensive effort by the government and other stakeholders should be geared towards this end.  The project should therefore focus not only on the creation of an Entrepreneurship Development Centre and the provision of entrepreneurship development training.  But it also needs to engage in the provision of business development services that will see the creation of new Small and Micro Enterprises and the enhancement of existing ones.  Particular emphasis also needs to be made on youth and women entrepreneurs as the most critical stakeholders in the development process.

 

Equally important, the project should also work on promoting partnerships and stakeholder engagement that aims at a much broader policy dialogue on the role of SMEs in the structural transformation of our economy.

 

The government on its part will continue to further strengthen its comprehensive efforts to ensure the expansion and enhancement of SMEs. In this regard more emphasis will be made to the development of working clusters and production facilities; the encouragement and provisions of credit and marketing support; and dismantling constraints that inhibit growth of Micro and small enterprises into medium and large scale competitive enterprises.  But all along, the onus is on the SMEs to continue to develop their entrepreneurial skills to remain competitive and the government will not be in the business of propping up enterprises that are not competitive in the name of creating employment opportunity.  That we believe is counter productive; hence the need for initiatives such as the one we are going to deliberate on this afternoon.

 

Excellences,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I recognize there are a number of initiatives here and there public and private alike that purportedly are aimed at developing social capital such as entrepreneurship skills. While these efforts are generally commendable, success however requires that our efforts be harmonized in such a way that they ultimately lead to the economic empowerment of our youth and women without which our growth cannot be sustained.  That is why this particular project is of primary importance to my government.  We believe that all our efforts to lift this country out of poverty and to set it on a path of industrial development will require all the attention we can afford.  It is also my belief that this workshop will set that meaningful process in motion. 

 

As I conclude, I would like to once again thank the UNDP for its generous support to our development endeavors and to my dear brother Eugene for his usual can-do attitude. It is also my hope and expectation that your deliberations this afternoon will help further inform our policies and contribute to addressing some of our challenges.

 

I now officially launch Ethiopia’s Entrepreneurship Development Program.

I thank you.