Wednesday, April 17, 2024
NewsCity Admin's decision to abolish billboards faces opposition

City Admin’s decision to abolish billboards faces opposition

The Addis Ababa City Administration’s recent move to replace billboard advertisements with digital ones is facing strong opposition from the Ethiopian Advertising Association. As the city administration proceeds with the demolition of outdoor billboards, leading advertising companies in the city are voicing their discontent.

A year ago, the City Admin implemented strict standards to regulate outdoor advertising. However, an unexpected decision by Mayor Adanech Abeibie has now resulted in the demolition of billboards.

City officials argue that billboard ads should transition to digital screens. Nevertheless, advertisers argue that digitization is expensive and cannot occur overnight.

During a general assembly of the Association on December 4, 2016, experts from various government and private institutions expressed their concerns about the administration’s approach. They stressed the need for comprehensive standards that align with the country’s laws and respect basic rights.

While some advertising companies are prepared to transition to digital screens, many participants in the forum criticized the current method of erecting billboards and the associated infrastructure as problematic. This highlights the delicate balance between the city’s aesthetic goals and the concerns of the advertising industry.

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In the coming weeks, further discussions and negotiations between the Addis Ababa City Administration and the Ethiopian Advertising Association are expected as they seek common ground on the future of outdoor advertising in the city.

Ermias Mengste, a veteran in the field with 22 years of experience, expresses support for modernization but cautions against the potential unemployment crisis that may arise from a swift shift to digital advertising.

He believes that the abrupt demolition following the implementation of digital advertising guidelines issued a year ago may not be the most prudent approach.

Ermias’s sentiments reflect the wider concerns within the advertising sector.

The Addis Ababa City’s Construction Licensing and Control Authority, responsible for permits and oversight, alleged illegal demolitions by a task force, raising questions about the legality of the process.

The Association revealed that 25 organizations employing over 2,000 people are facing challenges such as electricity shortages, foreign currency limitations, and health concerns associated with digital screens.

Almaz Kebede, the director of the Urban Beauty and Green Development Office, defends the city’s pursuit of aesthetic preservation. She justifies the administration’s action by stating that outdoor advertisements diminish the city’s beauty. Almaz emphasized the need for collaboration with advertising agencies.

According to her, “Most advertising companies, after displaying billboard advertisements, alter the aesthetics with new designs and repaint the metal.”

Over the past three months, 142,000 illegal materials have been collected, prompting the Bureau of Urban Beauty and Green Development to plan discussions with advertising agencies.

Advertising companies also argue that the regulatory office is corrupt and unable to effectively regulate the sector.

Established four years ago, the Ethiopian Advertising Association, which comprises diverse advertising professionals, aims to strike a balance between the city’s aesthetic aspirations and the livelihoods of those working in the sector.

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