5 August 2017

Ethiopia: Chamber Brings in New Faces After Controversy

The Ethiopian Chamber of Sectoral Associations (ECSA), in its general assembly meeting held last Thursday, brought in 11 new faces, electing Iyasu Mosisa, head of the Oromia Chamber of Sectoral Associations (OCSA), as president for the next two years.

The meeting, attended by 99 representatives of the associations, was organised by the Ministry of Industry (MoI) at Hilton Addis Hotel in the presence of Alemu Sime (PhD) and Bogale Feleke, state ministers of MoT.

Iyasu, who was elected as a vice president in the past year's election, is owner of a construction materials manufacturing company worth 20 million Br located in Adama, 99km from Addis Abeba. He also owns a grade four construction company that is involved in the construction of government housing projects.

Iyasu was the only candidate to compete for the presidency during the meeting. He managed to get the vote of 98 representatives.

The electoral committee that has three members, Amare Solomon, Abebe Benti and Gibril Abdulkadir, oversaw the election process of board members of member associations.

During the latest general assembly, the members also elected nine board members, a vice president and a president.

Nine of the newly elected board members, who are from six sectoral associations, were elected among 16 nominees, whereas the vice president, Lisanu Belete, is the current president of the Amhara Chamber of Sectoral Associations.

This is the second time that the Chamber brings in new faces to lead the associations after the last election was dropped by the Ministry for being against the law and regulations stipulated in the establishment proclamation of chambers and sectoral associations.

The Ministry rejected the election of the previous year after receiving complaints from members a month after the election.

A new regulation approved without the presence of at least three-fourths of the members of ECSA was one of the immediate causes for cancellation of the past year's election, according to the Ministry.

"There were only 73 attendants out of the total 120 members of the associations," said Tekalegn Yidasu, legal service director at the Ministry.

The new regulation allows the president of the Chamber to stay in power for more than two terms in contrast to the previous one, which forbid anyone from being elected for more than two terms.

Gebrehiwot G. Egziabher, former president of ECSA, was elected on September 4, 2016, based on the new regulation. He has been in power for more than eight years.

"So, the past year's election is not valid since it was approved without the presence of a full quorum," Tekalegn added. "The fact that the president is elected for four consecutive terms makes the election invalid."

This has forced the Ministry to call the general assembly for the election of a new president and board for the Chamber.

The rejection of the new regulation and the election of the previous president were welcomed by members who had participated in the meeting.

"Even though the government previously neglected the sector for a long time, now we feel it has started backing it now," said Megersa Regassa, who was one of the representatives of OCSA and was dissatisfied with the previous elections.

Lack of a clear legal framework that stipulates terms of presidents and the board of directors caused controversy and disagreements in many chambers such as the Amhara and Gondar chambers last year. To solve this problem, MoI is currently amending the 15-year-old proclamation set for the establishment of chambers and sectoral associations.

Iyasu, who has a Master of Business Administration from Ashland University, prioritises solving the crisis in the Chamber.

"I want to clear the disagreement and dissatisfaction before doing anything," he told Fortune. "We cannot work without a stable environment."

Founded a decade ago with the objective of promoting the industry and empowering manufacturers, ECSA is composed of 52 industrial and nine regional associations, representing over 300,000 manufacturers throughout the country.

Oromia, Amhara and Tigray regional states have the largest share in the Chamber with 40, 22 and 11 seats, respectively. It provides technical assistance, training and information, and promotes manufacturers to expand investment in line with the strategy of the government.

The Chamber represents the interests of the manufacturer both at the national and international level for policy inclusiveness. Last year, the Chamber organised 10 business-to-business discussions with the international community from various countries.


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