Ethiopia: 'Competence, Gender Constitute' Cabinet

Nine of 20 ministers are doctoral degree holders

The new cabinet composition of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's (PhD) administration, formed based on gender equity and competence, brought in 10 new faces to ministerial posts.

The new cabinet also brought in 10 women to the highest political decision-making body in the executive branch by boosting female cabinet representation portfolios to 50pc from 20pc. The cabinet, which was formed with the unanimous vote of the parliament, has nine doctoral degree holders.

"Competence in leading the institutions in accordance with the new reform is the major criteria of the nomination," said Abiy, while rolling out the list of his cabinet members before parliament on October 16, 2018, "the other is gender equity."

The new cabinet has also marked a new history by the selection of the first female to hold one of the most powerful offices in the federal government, the Ministry of Defence. Aisha Mohammed, a civil engineer by profession, became Defense Minister filling a post first established in 1907 by Emperor Menelik II.

Prime Minister Abiy has also appointed new cabinet members to key positions who are not members of the main four party coalition. Ahmed Shide, the chairperson of the Ethiopian-Somali People's Democratic Party, was assigned as Minister of Finance. The new Defence Minister Aisha is a member of the Afar National Democratic Party.

The cabinet membership also shrunk by eight following the new restructuring of the government executive body. The portfolio was structured into 31 members during the tenure of former Prime Minister Haimariam Desalegn in 2015.

Ministries of Environment, Forest & Climate Change and Public Enterprises were downgraded to corporation and Agency status, respectively; and Government Communications Affairs Office and Ministry of Federal & Pastoralist Development Affairs were scrapped.

Ministries of Construction and Urban Development & Housing were folded into the Ministry of Urban Development & Construction led by Jantrar Abay. Ministry of Youth is merged with the Ministry of Women & Children and gets Yalem Tsgeye as Minister.

The ministries of Trade and Industry were merged and will be run by Fetlework G.Egiziabher, former head of EPRDF Secretariat.

Muferiat Kamil, former speaker of parliament handed over the speakership of parliament to Tagesse Chafo, former minister of Public Service & Human Resources, when she moved to head the newly formed and powerful portfolio, Ministry of Peace. The new Ministry, likely inspired by the American Homeland Security Agency, oversees eight federal agencies in security and disaster management areas. Information Network Security Agency, National Intelligence & Security Service and National Disaster & Risk Management Commission operate under the Peace Ministry.

The Planning & Development Commission will be led by Fitsum Assefa (PhD), under ministerial rank and as member of the Council of Ministers. Fitsum, who is perusing her doctoral degree in Agricultural Economics at Justus Liebig University Giessen in Germany, will complete her studies within a five months period.

Ergoge Tesfaye (PhD), former director general of Gender and HIV/AIDS Prevention & Control Office and Vice President of Wachemo University, moves to head the Labour & Social Affairs Ministry, replacing Hirut Woledemariam (PhD), who is now appointed as a minister of Science & Higher Education.

Getahun Mekuria (PhD), former minister of Science & Technology is to lead the newly formed Ministry of Innovation & Technology, while the Ministry of Agriculture goes to Umor Hussien, who replaced Shiferaw Shigute. Umor was recently appointed as director general of the Ethiopian Revenues & Customs Authority. The Revenue Authority is now upgraded to Ministry of Revenues, under Adanech Abebe, former mayor of Adama (Nazareth).

Dagmawit Moges recently promoted to be deputy mayor of Addis Abeba was confirmed as Minister of Transport, replacing Aisha in the post. Dagmawit, who is currently perusing her second degree in public administration, was head of the communications affairs office of Addis Abeba City Administration and a university lecturer.

Samuel Hurko (PhD), a trained economist will lead the Ministry of Mines & Petroleum moving from his latest post as president of Welaita Sodo University. Samuel replaces Alemu Melese at the ministry.

Ministry of Culture & Tourism, which has been headed by women for the past four years gets Hirut Kassaw (PhD), as the new minister. Hirut has been a university lecturer at Bahir Dar University for the past decade and was head of Amhara Regional State Culture & Tourism Bureau.

Four portfolios remain unchanged: ministry of Education, Tilaye Gette (PhD); Health minister, Amin Aman (MD); Minister of Foreign Affairs, Worqneh Gebeyehu (PhD); and Minister of Water, Irrigation & Energy, Sileshi Belelle (PhD). Attorney General Brehanu Tsegaye also retained his portfolio.

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