Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) on Thursday formed the Diaspora Trust Fund Advisory Council and has appointed 15 individuals including those once considered as strong critics of the government.
The 15-member council includes, a professor of California State University, Alemayehu Gebremariam (Prof.), renowned activist Tamagn Beyene, as well as other prominent individuals who are well-known for their views against the incumbent Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).
The Trust Fund; aimed to mobilize the diaspora community to actively contribute financial support targeted to improve the lively-hoods of poor people at both urban and rural areas.
According to a statement issued by the Office of the Prime Minister, Alemayehu Gebremariam has been appointed as the Chairman of the Diaspora Trust Fund Advisory Council.
Alemayehu is a political science professor at California State University, San Bernardino. His area of teaching includes: American constitutional law, civil rights law, judicial process, American and California state governments, and African politics.
Other picks of the PM include prominent activist and human rights defender, Obang Metho (who is also the Executive Director of Solidarity Movement for New Ethiopia – SMNE).
The rest of the appointees are Ethiopians who run various multinational global companies as well as high profile private firms. These include Bisrat Aklilu (PhD) [UNDP Executive Coordinator of the Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office], Gabriel Nigatu [Director General, African Development Bank], Kasahun Kebede [Founder and Managing Partner of Cepheus Growth Capital – an Ethiopian Private Fund started in 2016; founder and Managing Partner of Panton Capital Group] and Lemma Senbet (PhD)[Executive Director, African Economic Research Consortium, William E. Mayor Chair Professor of Finance, Founding Director, Center for Financial Policy University of Maryland].
Furthermore, the advisory council lists well acclaimed Ethiopians and Afro-American influential women like Lulit Ejigu [Executive Director – Risk Management Strategy & amp; Advisory at JP Morgan Chase], Mena Demessie (PhD) [Vice President of Policy Analysis and Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc.], and Mimi Alemayehou, [Managing Director at Black Rhino Group – she was also the Executive Vice president of the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corp (OPIC) under the Obama administration].
Similarly, Minelik Alemu, [Assistant Director General for World Intellectual Property Organizations], Robsan Itana, [President and CEO, Global Translation & amp, Interpreter], Tashita Tufaa, [President and CEO, Metropolitan Transportation Network [MTN] Inc. Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN.], and Yihenew Walilegne, [Council at the World Bank] are also among the list.
It was in early June that the PM first announced that he was planning to establish a Diaspora Trust Fund. He has been explaining that the Trust Fund will be fully contributed and managed by the diaspora community. In addition, the PM will supervise the fund in order to ensure that it would be implemented properly in its intended target area with no abuse unlike the conventional projects implemented by the government.
According to the PM’s calculation, if one Ethiopian in the diaspora contributes a dollar by deducting from his daily coffee expense, millions of dollars and more funds could be raised monthly and yearly respectively from over a million people residing in many countries across the world.
He also promised before the House of People’s Representatives (HPR) that the Fund would not be managed in line with the government’s coffers and rather will be managed separately with its own financial accounts.
It is to be recalled that a new account was opened last month at the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia. Shortly after the announcement, some members of the community immediately responded by depositing their financial contributions.
With the fast progression of the Trust fund, the newly established members of the fund are granted the responsibility of playing a leading role in mobilizing the diaspora community realize the objectives of the Fund.
Though Abiy’s initiative is still at its infancy stage, the PM looked encouraged with the reactions of the diaspora community particularly after his six-day visit to the United States.
Among the prominent diasporas believed to be influential; Tamagn Beyene and other figures have already given positive gestures towards the PM pledging their support and commitment to stand with him to realize the objectives of the Trust Fund by contributing more amounts than a dollar.