Sisay A. Teklu

Development and Business Consultant

One who visits the town of Aksum definitely, has to raise questions and issues seeking more information to learn what happened in Tigray before 2000 years. Why is Tigray the only place in Sub- Saharan Africa that was capable to have its own letter, number, currency, written language and huge traces of engineering and medicinal knowledge?

How did the kings learn to administer not only places in the present Ethiopia and Eritrea but also vast area of Africa including the Middle East? How did they learn to build the huge Aksum obelisks, build irrigation dams, engaged in import and export trade, mint gold and silver while many countries in Europe and North America were not even traced?

The answers to those and similar questions are not easy and beyond the scope of this paper, however, the then available human capital undoubtedly, was successful not only in identifying important development and social issues or problems around them but also capable to think differently and creatively; an evidence of their unique talent and skill that impacted Africa and the Middle East in general and Ethio–Eritrean  language, culture, history and religion in particular.

Betseferena – Relying on Human Capital and local Capabilities

Betseferena became popular word in Tigray during the liberation struggle. For TPLF, the most important resource in any endeavor was its unshakable belief and leadership capability of mobilizing its human resource. It appreciates the necessity of all resources but puts its members and the people of Tigray over and above all other resources. This was named betseferena .

During the 17 years struggle, the TPLF, didn’t get material or moral support neither from the West nor from the East. Unlike the Eritrean liberation fronts, the oil rich countries in the Middle East didn’t have a purpose to support the organization. Therefore, for TPLF the motto Betseferen a was an objective reality that focuses on the effective and efficient deployment and utilization of all available resources in general and its human capital in particular.

From the above experience, one can clearly deduceTigray’s unique potential on its human capital to bring change and continues improvement across its private and public entities.

What is needed?

Going forward is, designing and implementation of a system that gives its human capital in general and the intellectual in particular to be at the center in order to bring continues change and improvement at each and every entity.

In Tigray, mobilizing the critical development ingredient, human capital specifically, the intellectual must be doable, but not easy. This doable claim must aim to put the Tigryan intellectuals to be the best in East Africa capable to establish the best entities in East Africa.

Ethiopia - the East African Giant Economy -

The past 27 years (as customarily said), was a time of remarkable political, social and economic changes in Ethiopia. During this period, Ethiopia, in its history was able to sustain an eye browsing change and development. Unlike advocates of the Unitary and other political groups fabricated claim, the performance of the overall economy speaks for itself.

An annual growth of more than 10% was sustained for more than a decade. This rapid and broad based growth was more than double the sub-Saharan average growth registered. During the same period, annual budget increased from $10bln to $90bln, PPP increased from $1000 to $2200, life expectancy from 42 years to 68 years, absolute poverty declined from 48% to 23.4% and energy supply increased from 400MW to 4000MW , among others.

In less than two decades, Ethiopia became the Giant East-African economy. The country has lined up among the fastest growing economy both in Africa and the World rushing to become middle income economy using only, pertinent policy instruments and workable development strategy. The climax of achievements, success, national strength, confidence and unity of purpose among citizens was believed to be behind the final decision to kickoff the Grand Renaissance Dam by the late Prime Minster - Melese Zenawi.

In Tigray, before 1991, the urban - rural naming was simply symbolic with minimal urban characteristic features. Now, there are so many big towns in the region other than Mekelle. Tigray that had only, one floor mill before 1991, now, has a number of factories and business organizations including Mesfin Engineering, Messobo cement, Sheba Tannery, Addis Pharmaceutical, Almeda Textile, Trading and construction companies, transport and agricultural establishments, banking and insurance, etc. Tigray, that didn’t administer one 12 + 1 institute, is now administering four Universities, Nursing, Agricultural, Technical and Teachers college.

It is important to note what it takes to establish a manufacturing plant with almost zero background in Tigray. What it takes to conduct project identification, project feasibility study, implementation and administration of a number of huge and complex contracts using the human capital available in Tigray. Who knew what technology supply was in 1994/5 in the whole Tigray; while the broad based name for any type of intellectual was simply teacher ( Memeher )? Thus, the required hard work, thinking to design and implement the pioneer public institutions and business organizations that are now pillars in Tigray was tremendous that required an active involvement of the few hard working and devoted Tigryan intellectuals.

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