Addis Ababa City Mayor Takele Uma Interview On Ebc Hard Talk
As per the estimates, 30 percent of the 1.3 trillion birr worth projects which is more than 200 billion birr is poured into electromechanical components. Nevertheless, Yeneneh regrets the fact that none of this resource is used to nurture local capacity in the electromechanical subsector. “To be clear, our biggest worry is not securing our cut of the resources, it is rather the lack of any forward or backward linkages for the acquisition of knowledge and technology,” he told The Reporter. “Now, I can say that there is little to no knowledge transfer happening in this sector in the past quarter of a century; and this is the biggest loss,” he stated.
After all these years and trillions of birr spent, Yeneneh argues that there is very little or no local company capable of executing proper telecom projects; not to mention in the railway or industrial park projects. “Very few firms are acquiring the knowhow and capacity to replace foreign firms in the power sector,” he said.
This is the definition of unsustainable infrastructure development, Yeneneh argues, “We pay to have it constructed but the lack of local capacity to even maintain these facilities is costing us further. We are very dependent in terms of human capital and technology in the electromechanical sector.”
For Bereket Tesfaye, Business Development Manager at Sigma Electronic, another electromechanical firm based in Ethiopia, it is the lack of a responsible and umbrella government institution supporting the sector which is contributing to the neglect of the subsector in the past decade or so, where construction sector has attained its peak in the country.
In the past ten or fifteen years, the certification and licensing of professionals and companies in the electromechanical sector have been shifting every two and three years between Ministry of Construction, Ministry of Water Irrigation and Electric and Ethiopian Energy Authority (EEA), Bereket maintained. “Now, EEA seems to be taking over, but that is part of the problem. The sector has no owner per say; so there is no authority working to craft suitable policies and regulatory framework for this sector.”
Among other factors, both the association and the sector operators blame overreliance on foreign contractors over the past decade or so. According to a veteran in the industry, Abdurahman Mohamed (Eng.) this was not always the case. Abdurahman worked in the power generation and transmission sector for close to 54 years working with some of the oldest hydropower dams in Ethiopia as a technician. He says that the frequent power interruption observed these days is symptomatic to the decline of local capacity and knowledge to operate these existing facilities and maintain them properly. For this, he criticizes the work commitment and dedication and declining quality of the local knowledge.