Addis Fortune (Addis Ababa)

Ethiopia: Impressive First Step

Tedros Adhanom (PhD), the most favoured Ethiopian senior official in the eyes of the West, has taken his first steps late last week, as chief of Ethiopia's diplomatic corps. He introduced himself to ambassadors based in Addis on Friday, December 14, 2012, at the Sheraton Addis.

His well crafted and partly humours remarks were hailed by a veteran diplomat in the foreign service as "a good start with the right words." A day earlier, he had a briefing with mission chiefs from European Union (EU) countries based in Addis. He pledged to work with them in his administration's bid to overcome poverty in Ethiopia.

For a man whose career has always been with the nation's health system, diplomacy is indeed a new frontier. His was a remarkable record in the research to fight malaria, ever since he graduated fromAsmaraUniversityin 1986, where he studied Biology.

It was in the same year that he joined the Ministry of Health (MoH), and came to be known as "a globally recognised researcher on malaria," according to Dina Mufti, chief spokesperson of the foreign office. His research on malaria's impact on children who live nearby dams inNorthern Ethiopiagot published in 1999, in the prestigious British Medical Journal. Lauded as an 'inspirational leader', Tedros earned his PhD from theUniversityofNottinghamin community health.

Tedros pledged, last week, to bring as much success to the foreign office as he is celebrated for during his tenure with the MoH. "I want to make the Ministry a leading diplomatic institution inAfrica," he told diplomats gathered at the Sheraton for their first encounter. He also would like to seeAfricaearn a Nobel Peace Prize, same as the one the EU received last week, for the African Union (AU) is succeeding in making the continent a place of peace and not of war.

Nonetheless, he will be making mistakes if he were to underestimate the enormous limitations he will be facing at the foreign office, according to a veteran career diplomat.

"It is a 100-year old ministry," he said. "The institutional culture there is not one that you can discount."

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