“The Presidents call for diaspora’s contribution is a big opportunity” -Getachew Bekele

Getachew Bekele is an Ethiopian who lives in Oslo, Norway. He is chairperson of Ethiopian Communal Forum, a civic origination of Ethiopians registered in Norway. He is also member of the Executive Committee of Ethiopians Community in Norway.

The Ethiopian Herald has interviewed Getachew recently concerning the activities of Ethiopians in Norway in connection with the political and social struggle in recent years, the contributions they made in the change that unfolded in the country during the last three years as well as their expectations from the government to increase their overall involvement in the future. Excerpts:

Could you explain the movements of Ethiopians in Norway during the last three years as well as in recent developments at home?

During the last three years, the Ethiopian community in Norway have made various contributions. Previously its relation with the Ethiopian government, the embassy was soaring. The community and diaspora perceived each other as hostile. After the change many discussion forums took place. Ethiopians having various professions and skills have organized themselves to benefit their nation. Above that, the community has contributed money to GERD. They have also contributed money to the compatriots who were displaced by the conflict in the north of the country. It amounts to Birr 1.6 million. Our relation with the embassy now is also smooth.

Ethiopians have now voted and elected their government. How do you see the change in the trend of a media report in your area of residence?

We can classify that into three levels. The first is highly acceptable. The awarding of the Nobel peace prize has got a lot of momentum. With the outbreak of law enforcement in Tigray, the TPLF supporters were successful in confounding and smearing the image. But now there is a better situation. Now they are watching the situation with tranquility. The establishment of government, acceptance of the government presence of other leaders have played a good role. This has shown the significance of working in partnership with Ethiopia.

What was the expectation especially on the eve of the election, Norwegian Media, scholars what was the expectation about the future of Ethiopia?

Indeed there were media and scholars who were duped by TPLF Propaganda. They used to understand Africa as a continent that is swayed by ethnic politics. They also threw Ethiopia into this framework. As per their calculation, there was an ethnic group that was in power for a long time, but now it is removed only from politics. So it is likely to return to power. What they observed lately is that militarily too, the situation has changed. TPLFs’ hand and mouth have been shackled. This has become clear to them by now. They are not likely to plunge into the same confusion again.

The president has called on all Ethiopians to participate in the development, image building endeavors of the country. Based on your experience how are you going to realize this?

This is a big opportunity for Ethiopians. Many countries were able to grow with a considerable contribution of their diaspora community. If you see the history of Israel and China. For instance, China has exploited the knowledge and financial capital of their diaspora community until the 1980s. For Ethiopia to this is a big opportunity. So we have to stop thinking that only the investment of foreigners is able to develop our economy. Ethiopians abroad should use this. It gives those engaged in the finance sector would be able to use it.

I do not think we would face a lot of problems or challenges. But the government needs to train employees so as to serve the diaspora properly. In addition, foreigners also want to get partners to work with them in collaboration. It is important for Ethiopians to create linkage with foreigners in their respective areas of residence. It is not good to presume that the diaspora knows everything. It is important to build the capacity of generating ideas. There is a need for an office that can solve problems they face. Challenges can be faced everywhere at home or abroad.

I also would like to suggest that Ethiopia has to cultivate a digital economy. For instance, it is good to create a conducive situation where they can get license issuance services from abroad. The system abroad has no problem in clearly identifying a person. This is enough to run the digital system.

How is your media creating impact?

I run a website called Gudayachin. It has been operating since 2011. It has a large audience at home and abroad. Policymakers also attend to it. So it is impactful.

There is a need to present correct images of the nation to the outside world. When we do that we have to make it in the form of giving and take. We publish stories about the positive image of others also. This is because people like their country. For instance, when they celebrate their national day we attend that and give them coverage.

Thank you very much

You are welcome



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