Friday, June 21, 2024

Ethiopia to make digital ID compulsory for access to government services

All Ethiopians seeking government services will have to present a digital ID, the executive director of the Ethiopia National ID program (NIDP), Yodahe Zemichael, says.

According to him, the move is part of a government plan to ensure that all government services are integrated into the digital ID.

Although under four million people have so far been enrolled for the digital ID dubbed Fayda, the country expects to register 90 million eligible citizens by 2028. The initial deadline for this target was 2025, but that is no longer possible as the process has witnessed significant delays.

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While the Digital ID Proclamation given the green light by Parliament last year doesn’t make enrollment for digital ID a mandatory exercise, the legislation gives government and private institutions the right to deny service for lack of the ID.

NIDP has taken a series of steps in the last months as part of its plan to expand the use of Fayda. Apart from making the digital ID a compulsory credential for civil servants and for students, the authority has also sealed a number of deals with some UN agencies to speed up the digital ID adoption, especially for groups like children and forcibly displaced persons. NIDP also has a collaboration with banks to step up enrollment for digital ID.

The Federal Ministry of Justice also recently said in a statement posted to its Facebook page that plans are underway to soon make it mandatory for citizens to present a digital ID before having access to any service from the ministry.

Ethiopia recently had USD 350 million in funding from the World Bank for a “Digital ID for Inclusion and Services Project” that aims to facilitate access to digital ID for millions of citizens. Part of the money is expected to be invested in developing other components of the country’s digital public infrastructure ecosystem such as instant digital payments services and an interoperable data exchange platform.

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Ethiopia, Somaliland engage in talks on military cooperation amid controversy

Ethiopia has held military cooperation talks with the self-governing but unrecognized republic of Somaliland. This development occurred in the wake of Ethiopia’s contentious announcement of a deal granting them access to Somaliland’s Berbera port, a move harshly criticized by Somalia.

As Ethiopia and Somaliland were discussing terms of cooperation, Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was in Eritrea to garner support against the agreement he views as an indirect nod towards recognizing Somaliland’s independence.

In response to the Ethiopia-Somaliland Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on New Year’s Day, President Mohamud enacted a law on January 6 to nullify the MoU since Somalia does not acknowledge Somaliland’s sovereignty claims.

Somaliland, with its capital in Hargeisa, asserts full sovereignty and dismisses Mogadishu’s authority over its territory. The deal between Ethiopia and Somaliland is seen as a major step in confirming this position, as it includes an exchange of a stake in Ethiopian Airlines for access to the Gulf of Aden. The specifics of the agreement have not been published, escalating regional tensions and unease.

The potential military cooperation with Somaliland is a delicate balancing act, as Ethiopia attempts to navigate the political minefield of regional politics and domestic issues. The recent developments and the subsequent diplomatic fallout underscore the intricate power dynamics in the Horn of Africa. The controversy over the port access deal and the military cooperation talks have the potential to reshape the region’s geopolitics.


US collaborates with Ethiopian Defense Forces for groundbreaking de-mining initiative

The US Embassy in Ethiopia’s Office of Security Cooperation and the US Department of Defense (DOD) have joined forces with the Ethiopian National Defense Forces and the Ethiopian Mine Action Office (EMAO) to tackle the pervasive problem of explosive remnants of war (ERW) in Ethiopia.

Landmines, unexploded artillery shells, and other types of remnants of war litter former battlefields throughout Ethiopia, resulting in accidental civilian deaths and hindering farmers from returning to their fields. These ERW’s imperil safety, threaten livelihoods, and hinders the Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) of former combatants.

To address this issue, starting on January 15, a team from the DOD’s Humanitarian Demining Training Center and the US Department of State’s Weapons Removal and Abatement program will be working closely with the EMAO to conduct a comprehensive Requirements Development Site Survey.

The survey will help identify the scale of the explosive remnants of war contamination throughout Ethiopia, with the ultimate goal of improving civilian safety and agricultural productivity in affected regions.

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The primary objective of this exercise was to formulate a series of requirements for the EMAO, aligning them with available DoD and DoS resources. A subsequent delivery of equipment, training, and additional resources will take place within the next six months.


Over 100 Ethiopian students win Chinese scholarships

A total of 143 Ethiopian university students have won scholarships provided by the Chinese government to help them pursue graduate and post-graduate studies across different academic fields in the country’s largest Addis Ababa University (AAU).

Speaking at the awards ceremony of the China-Ethiopia Friendship Scholarship on Friday at the AAU, the university’s Interim President Samuel Kifle said the Chinese government and different universities in China have had “strong and meaningful collaboration with the AAU, which helped us to train our faculties, to train our students.”

He said the collaboration between Chinese and Ethiopian academic institutions is reflected in the robust Sino-Ethiopia ties.

Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia Zhao Zhiyuan for his part called on the scholarship recipients to help contribute to Ethiopia’s socioeconomic development.

Noting that the AAU and its graduates have over the years played an important role in fostering China-Ethiopia ties, the ambassador underscored the need to further strengthen the AAU’s role as a “bridge” between the two countries.

Mulugeta Ayele, one of the scholarship recipients, said the opportunity will help him and his fellow students to further their studies and, eventually, contribute to Ethiopia’s development.

The scholarship awards ceremony also featured an awards ceremony for 22 Ethiopian students who had won the “Chinese Bridge” language proficiency competition.


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