29 April 2012

Ethiopia: Maritime Academy to Move Into New Facilities

Bahir Dar University graduates 90 maritime students in its first batch with all finding employment abroad

The Bahir Dar University Maritime Academy will train cadets in its own building, starting in the 2012/13 fiscal year, following the expected inauguration of its new building within two months.

The Academy, established in October 2011, under Bahir Dar University, in partnership with the Ethiopian government and YCF Group, a Virginia-based maritime company, to train cadets for employment in international shipping companies, graduated 90 students last week for the first time since its inception in 2011.

The upcoming inauguration involves the first phase of the construction of the Academy's facilities, which are expected to total 68 million Br in costs by the time they are completed, sometime in July 2012, according to Mola Ababu, information and strategic communication vice president of Bahir Dar University. This phase has taken up 2.3ht of the over 18ht allotted to the Academy at Ba'ata area along the south-western part of the shore of Lake Tana. The construction, undertaken by Gad Construction Plc, includes laboratories and classrooms.

With the completion of this phase, the Academy will stop using the Bahir Dar University Main Campus and move into its own offices, according to Bayle Damtie (PhD), president of the University.

Last week's graduation was the first of its kind in Ethiopia, but the University had already sent 44 mechanical engineering graduates in two batches to Israel, where they undertook a six-month training course before graduating as marine engineers in 2010 and 2011. Those graduates have all been employed internationally.

Among the latest graduates, 74 have already found jobs in Germany, 14 in the US, and four in Israel, according to Mola.

The University expects to graduate 162 cadets in October 2012. These students are now undertaking six months of training. There are also 160 regular students, who will graduate after four years of academic courses and one year of marine experience with international shipping companies, according to Mola.

"The students of the Academy are only Ethiopians, because the major target is to produce Ethiopian international marine cadets and create income for themselves as well as for their country," Bayle said. "They deposit 80pc of their salaries in Ethiopia, which will generate foreign exchange for their country."

The training involves academic courses, technical skills training, and physical fitness.

Ironically, maritime professionals required by the Ethiopian Shipping Lines are sent for training by the Ethiopian Maritime Institute to the Institute of Marine Surveyors in the West African country of Ghana, according to Abate Hadgo, Addis Abeba manager of the Ethiopian Maritime Institute.

Bahir Dar University was officially inaugurated on May 6, 2000, with the former Polytechnic Institute and the Teachers College becoming the faculties of Engineering and Education, respectively. The University added two more faculties of Business & Economics and Law, which were established in 2001 and 2003, respectively.

Now the University comprises of four institutes, four colleges, one school, two academies, and four faculties, with 60 undergraduate, 55 master's, and six PhD programmes. The Maritime Academy, Sport Academy, and Blue Nile Water Research Institute were added in 2011.

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