12 January 2014

Ethiopia: Ministry of Mines Installs New Head

Two weeks after Sinknesh Ejigu, the former minister of Mines, headed toBrazil, the Ministry of Mines (MoM) has welcomed Tolessa Shagi, the former state minister for Mines, as its new minister.

This comes after Parliament approved Tolessa's appointment on Thursday, January 9, 2014. This followed the request of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in a letter dated January 2, 2014, attached to a brief bio of Tolessa.

Tollesa got a Bachelor's degree in geology from the Addis Abeba University (AAU)in 1982 and a masters in applied geology from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). He has also attended short-term trainings in geosciences, management and mining resource development, both inside and outside ofEthiopia.

His longest service was at the Geological Survey of Ethiopia (GSE) - an autonomous institution under the Ministry, involved in generating, analysing, processing and handling geosciences data. In that Institution, Tolessa first served as a geologist, between 1983 and 1989, becoming team leader up until 1996. He would then become a geotechnical expert at the then Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development. For four years, between 2006 and 2010, Tolessa held the post of director general of the GSE.

In October 2011, he became state minister for Mines.

Roman Gebreselassie, the chief government whip at the 547-seat parliament read out the short biography attached to the letter from the prime minister. She requested the 302 parliamentarians, who had gathered for their 13th regular session, to approve the appointment.

An MP from the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) asked why a position vacated by a woman would be replaced by a man, bringing down the number of women with a ministerial portfolio from four to three.

When Parliament approved 10 appointments to ministerial portfolios on July 4, 2013, the number of women in the 21-person Council of Ministers (CoM) became three, including Zenebu Tadesse, minister of Women, Children & Youth Affairs; Demitu Hanbissa, minister of Science & Technology and Sinqnesh herself. Roman, too, has a ministerial portfolio.

"All I can tell you is that the Administration has not been able to find a suitable woman with the capacity and other requirements," Roman said, raising a chuckle in the parliament.

Sinqenesh, who headed toBrazil- a country of nearly 200 million people, with a 2.2 trillion dollar gross domestic product (GDP) - left behind a ministry she had been serving since 2001. She was first a state minister for Mines under Mohammed Dirir, nowEthiopia's ambassador to Egypt.Her last year in the position was marked by an export shortfall of 255 million dollars, largely due to poor gold exports. The target set for 2013/14 is a billion dollars, up from 848.3 million dollars the previous year.

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