National Consultation Workshops on “Intergovernmental Policy Formulation in Ethiopia”

Speakers at the workshop

Three one-day national consultation workshops on "Intergovernmental Policy Formulation in Ethiopia” were held recently across Ethiopia, in Dire Dawa, Bahir Dar and Addis Ababa. The three workshops – jointly organized by the House of Federation, the Ministry of Federal Affairs and the Forum of Federations – drew over 100 participants from federal ministries, eight regional state legislative councils and various bureaus (regional ministries) and two federal city administrations, along with academics from public universities. The major objectives of the workshops were to create a common understanding and awareness on intergovernmental relations in federal systems generally and to gather inputs on Ethiopia’s current intergovernmental (IGR) policy formulation process. Two papers were presented at the workshops: the first on the concept of IGR and the IGR practices in selected federal and quasi-federal countries and the second on current IGR practices in Ethiopia. The first of the three workshops took place on 4 March, 2015 in Dire Dawa with 32 participants, including government officials, practitioners and academics from Somali and Harari regional states as well as the Dire Dawa city administration. The workshop was opened by the Deputy Speaker of the Dire Dawa City Council, Honorable Mr. Abdela Ahimed, who described the importance of IGR in the federal system of Ethiopia, followed by keynote address of H.E Mr. Mulugeta Wuletaw, State Minister, Ministry of Federal Affairs. The State Minister underscored the relevance of the workshop in assisting the government in IGR policy formulation and enacting relevant laws. He also emphasized the importance of these consultations for strengthening institutional arrangements, deriving working principles and procedures, and ensuring overall inclusiveness of the process. Dr. Solomon Nigusu, a subject matter expert and instructor at the Civil Service University served as facilitator. Mr. Aschalew Tekle, Director of IGR department at the House of Federation and Mr. Tsegabirhan Tadesse, Director of IGR department at the Ministry of Federal Affairs made presentations on IGR concepts and global practices, and the Ethiopia case, respectively. The second workshop was held on 6 March, 2015 at Bahir Dar. A total of 27 participants from Amhara, Afar, Tigray and Benishangul Gumuzi regional states attended the workshop. The event was opened by the Honorable Mrs. Worksemu Mamo, Deputy Speaker of the Amhara Regional Council and a message from the Honorable Mr. Kassa Tekleberhan, Speaker, House of Federation through his representative Mr. Yakob Bekele. The workshop was facilitated by Mr. Maeregu Habtemariam, East Africa Regional Director for the Forum of Federations. Mr. Aschalew Tekle and Mr. Yacob Bekele (Director of Intergovernmental Transfers at the House of Federation) made presentations on concepts of IGR and the experience of selected federations, and the practice of the Ethiopian Federation on IGR, respectively. The third workshop was held on 22 March, 2015 in Addis Ababa. A total of 53 participants from Tigray, Gambella and Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Regional states, federal institutions, Addis Ababa City Administration and public universities attended. Honorable Mr. Mohamed Reshid, Deputy Speaker of House of Federation made an opening statement. In his remarks he underlined that the IGR agenda is a very high priority for the government of Ethiopia. He further explained that in the last two decades Ethiopia has witnessed the growing need for formal intergovernmental relations, both vertically and horizontally. He further noted that in order to make these relationships more efficient, effective and predictable it is crucial to have a policy framework and/or legal act. He noted that all stakeholders should contribute to the process of this important policy formulation. The workshop proceeded with the same presentations as in the first two workshops, presented by Mr. Aschalew Tekle and Mr. Tsegabirhan Tadesse. Dr Assefa Fiseha, Director of Center for Federal Studies of Addis Ababa University served as facilitator. Attending all the three events Mr. Maeregu Habtemariam, Director East Africa Region, Forum of Federations made a briefing on the broader IGR policy formulation processes and the Forum's role in supporting the lead structures, namely the intergovernmental and interdepartmental Technical Working Group and the National Steering Committee. All the workshops witnessed hot discussions and debates on different issues such as: Does Ethiopia need an IGR policy framework or legal act? What will be the effect of such a framework on the autonomy of the regional states? What tools does Ethiopia need (policy, legal act, standard terms of reference or any other instrument)? How should Ethiopia establish accountability mechanisms for its IGR? Do all IGR need a policy or formalization; if not, which issue in the IGR of Ethiopia needs formal policy/legal instruments? The consultations were held within the Forum's program "Strengthening Peace, Democracy and Good Governance in Ethiopia”, financed by the German Foreign Office.

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