Destiny Ethiopia’s Four Scenarios of Possible Futures – Recap
- Alemayehu Areda (PhD), Academician, businessman and a writer who is currently leading a consultancy firm called ANDBC.
- Asma Redi, Director General at the Ministry of Peace.
- Hassen Moalin, Foreign secretary and head of Addis Ababa office and federal issues of Ogaden National Liberation Front.
- Kejela Merdasa, Central committee member and public relations division head of Oromo Liberation Front.
Moderator– Blen Fitsum
Date: February 6th, 2020 Venue: Hilton Addis
Note: While the session was in Amarigna, we have translated quotes to English.
About 120 attendees gathered to focus on Ethiopia. This February monthly event started as usual with networking at 5:30 p.m. AWiB’s 2020 President Felekech (Fei) Zewde Biratu led the program at 6:30 p.m. She briefly went over what AWiB does, recognized our partners for the year, the office staff and board members for their contribution. Members that displayed products were given a chance to introduce their businesses and products.
Fei gave the floor to the moderator and AWiB 2020 board member Blen Fitsum, who was also part of the core team at Destiny Ethiopia that researched the process and facilitated the discussion. Destiny Ethiopia started the event by showing a seven-minutes video where a handful of people from the scenario planning shared their views. The initiative is led by the Destiny Ethiopia Team comprising nine concerned Ethiopian individuals from different walks of life, political views, ethnic groups and professional backgrounds. This team has been exploring options to break the structural challenges that Ethiopia is currently facing, drawing on experiences from various countries. Subsequently, they created a team of 50 members from across the country that met over a span of six months to produce four possible futures for Ethiopia over the coming 20 years. In the video, they explained the process, the amount of time and discipline it took to meet each other, hear what everyone has to say and work together for the common good of Ethiopia.
After the video, Alemayehu Areda (PhD) started the presentation by sharing his experience on the team. “It was daunting to see individuals with different ideologies in the same room for the first time. The first thing we did was bring our common truths and common mistakes to the table. Every member was asked to bring one symbol that represents Ethiopia and describe it. We had to declare our mental readiness to this process thus we were assessing if there is a negative connotation in the description that shows the mentality of the presenter. All the 50 people presented their symbols and in that process we found out that each of us has a different but positive attitude towards our country and that we all needed this platform to interact, discuss, and work together.”
“We valued everyone’s opinion equally and carved out the best approach through an intense process. The four scenarios were crafted after a long discussion and compression of ideas. We weighed each scenario from points of democracy, economic growth, environment, peace and security, foreign affairs, food security and most importantly moving forward as a unified country.”
Alemayehu concluded by saying, “As elites and politicians, we were hard wired by what we called principle to let other ideas flow and entertain besides our own. But spending 9 days and nights together with individuals far from our comfort zone liberated us from our thinking and made us declare a commitment to work together towards one scenario.”
Afterwards, Kejela Merdassa took the floor to present the “Broken Chair” scenario. He said, “We chose the chair symbol because government power is usually described using a chair. The government appears to stand but cannot endure the weight. Challenges as a result of increased population like unemployment, land ownership, air pollution, and food security are the main problems that Ethiopia could face in the coming years. In this scenario the government is willing to fix the challenges, but due to the limited resources and incapacity it is unable to respond timely and efficiently.”
Asma Redi then presented about the “Hegemony” scenario. Asma first pointed out that it is not just the response of the government that will lead to one of these scenarios but the response of every individual in the country to the challenges. She said, “Hegemony is not a new scenario for our country. The previous governments can be taken as an example. This scenario creates an authoritative government that ultimately focuses on sitting in power longer by any means necessary. An authoritarian state uses a strong hand to control violence and to manage the environment, economy and population. As a result the population will resist and the government uses force to put out fires and uprisings.”
Alemayehu Areda (PhD) then added a few remarks about Divided House. “In this scenario, like the famous Ethiopian saying “የፉክክር ቤት ሳይዘጋ ያድራል” different regions use their freedom and power to pursue their own agendas. The economy may or may not be affected but social development will suffer. Divisions will grow at all levels and some regions will strengthen to the point of self-governance.”
Hassen Moalin took the floor to present the “Dawn” scenario. He said, “Dawn scenario is the hopeful scenario all the scenario members agreed to work toward. It takes time to be visible on full mode but we, Ethiopians, should start this process by open communication and discussions to gradually strengthen our institutions to treat all people equally without discrimination.”
The floor was open for questions. First round:
- As political party members, wasn’t there a conflict of interest with your agenda?
- How did you choose the 50 scenario people?
- How can we go towards the “Dawn” scenario? What is being done currently? For every scenario are there any solutions presented?
- Was the youth represented in the discussions?
- What’s the current scenario of Ethiopia? Can the four scenarios occur simultaneously in Ethiopia?
Blen Fitsum answered, “The goal of the methodology is to check our present action taking these four scenarios into consideration. Currently we don’t agree on our problems let alone the solutions. This discussion helped to transform our understanding, our relationship and our actions. We believe that transforming the relationship between political parties and elites has a great impact on their actions in the coming years.”
Then our presenters answered.
Alemayehu said, “There were about 14 people from different political parties that are believed to have big supporters because it was believed that they play a major role in shaping their followers. There was no conflict of interest because the discussion was not in their political ideology but a common ground. It is believed that they will incorporate these common grounds when they create their specific political approach.
Our intention was to discuss what COULD happen in the coming 20 years. As a member of the society and influencers we need to discuss the alarming, current issues of Ethiopia, point out the possible outcomes and suggest which direction to go as a society. Destination team has been formed. Different plans have been developed and will take place step by step.”
Asma added, “The representation of youth may not be adequate because there were only 50 people selected from more than 80 million people, but the 50 people were selected from different age groups. There were few individuals representing the youth.
It is possible for more than one scenario to happen simultaneously. They can also happen in the future. One most likely dominates the others but they can happen together. I believe that having this opportunity to discuss the future by itself suggests that we are moving towards the ‘Dawn’ scenario.”
Second round of questions:
- Were there any changes made in your policy after this discussion?
- What are the scenarios bringing in an individual’s life?
- Why is 20 years chosen as a landmark?
- If political parties have positive common ground, why aren’t they working together?
Hassen answered, “As an individual I have changed so much after these discussions. Also, as a party there are a lot of changes being made. We are thinking beyond our region. We were fighting only for Somali region but after the discussion we are planning to work with other regions on our common problems. We are inviting each other for meetings and discussions.”
Kejela answered, “There are no major policy changes made within our party. Our party was not seen in a positive light in the past. We have used this opportunity to introduce the true intention of our party to the society in different forums. We have interacted with many political parties and individuals. Through this process some of the interactions have even changed into friendships.”
Asma added, “Change takes time; the individuals who participated in these discussions have a calm and subtle approach towards their differences. We don’t expect radical change over night, but as we work together on our common problems and discuss our differences in a civilized manner, we will see the change in time.”
Alemayehu concluded by answering the last question with humor, “ፖለቲከኞች አይጣሉም፣ ከተጣሉም ፋራ ናቸው”
In a country at risk of polarization, having leaders of all parts of the society working together is a significant accomplishment. AWiB, being an advocate for responsible leadership, is delighted to collaborate with Destiny Ethiopia’s initiative and be the platform to address the discussion points to the society.
by AWiB team
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