Ethiopia’s Debt for the Construction of Adwa Pan African University
odds, Ethiopian patriots won a decisive victory over the aggressive
colonial Italian army at the battle of Adwa on March 1, 1896.
Consequently, the Battle of Adwa helped Ethiopia maintain its sovereignty
while inspiring other African countries that had been defeated and divided
by European colonizers. After the victory, Ethiopia served as a role model
for the entire black race, even inspiring other colonized countries
worldwide to repulse aggression with dignity and to assert their own
independence. For instance, Japan employed several of Ethiopia’s heroic
strategies from the Battle of Adwa to liberate itself from Russia’s
aggression in 1904 (Levine, 2014). More importantly, the Battle of Adwa
forced the Italian invaders to shed their long-held and false illusions
about the black race.
More than a hundred and twenty years have passed since the heroic
Ethiopians defeated Italian aggression at the Battle of Adwa. The town of
Adwa, which was then vibrant and often regarded as a sacred place of
common heritage within the black race, provided a spiritual victory for
all black Africans who suffered under the yoke of enslavement and
colonialism. Sadly, modern Adwa stands on the verge of decay. It has
neither a paved pathway to signify where the heroic battle was fought, nor
a historical museum to preserve historical artifacts and to commemorate
the pivotal victory (Ababya, 2008; Kinfe, (1996); Gorfu, 2007; Jonas, 2011
and Desta, 2011).
Given the countless lessons to be learned from the Battle of Adwa
and the many stories to be told, some concerned individuals have taken the
initiative to restore the town of Adwa to its former glory (Giorgis, 2015.
Bogale, 2018). Those individuals who are behind this initiative are
determined to transform the town of Adwa into a major academic and
cultural center in order to advance the causes and interests of the
African World (the Coordinating Committee, 2018).
April 24, 2017, a stone monument for Adwa Pan-African University (APAU)
was installed on 150 hectares of land near of the Abune Girma Church and
the burial site of Ethiopian hero Ras Alula (Aba Nega) to commemorate the
Battle of Adwa. Though the
future APAU expects to generate its funding from philanthropic and
non-governmental organizations, Ethiopia’s Federal Government has
already pledged 200 million Ethiopian birr
as seed money for the university’s establishment, (Bogale 2018).
Furthermore, APAU’s finance and budget is expected to come from the
Ethiopian Government for the first five years” (APAU, March 28, 2018).
that the agenda for the 21st century is based on
sustainability, Ethiopia’s government cannot fund this project on its
own. APAU must be a “green” campus that conveys conservation of
resources, energy, and water, and provides a healthy outdoor environment
for its students, faculty, and other visitors. Therefore, APAU must
solicit help from international organizations, African governments, and
individual philanthropists who share a passion for the Battle of Adwa and
its significance to the people of Ethiopia and Africa in general.
order to generate sufficient funds from philanthropic organizations, APAU
must communicate a crystal-clear vision, with mission statements, value
statements, and design action plans that connect the history of the Battle
Adwa with the fruition of a united Africa. A tentative action planning
process, drafted by the Ad hoc Committee of Adwa University on March 12,
2018, but modified by the author, follows:
APAU is a vibrant
platform for sharing and exploring the trusted history of the Battle of
Adwa—illuminating and unifying all people of African descent while respecting
and appreciating the experience of others.
APAU’s mission is
committed to inspire, to educate, to research, and to exhibit collections,
drawing together and engaging the broadest possible audience
to a) recognize and honor
Africa’s architects and heroes of resistance and liberation, b) engage
in a discourse of commonality and solidarity among the people of Africa,
c) preserve and present the compelling network of historic struggles
against all forms of exploitation, and, d) entertain Africa’s
Core values are
the basis upon which APAU makes decisions, plans strategies, and interacts
with its employees, visitors, students, and stakeholders. APAU
processes its core values through professionalism, openness, integrity,
creativity, and passion. As a dynamic and innovative institution, APAU
cognitive, affective, skill domains using Humanities, Social Sciences, and
an inclusive environment and welcoming, respectful, and open discourse
with staff, students, and visitors;
and retains top talent by investing in an engaging, productive, and
the latest technology to maximize student and visitor learning;
learners and visitors to actively explore and to publish literature on the
history of enslavement, colonialism, neocolonialism, and imperialism;
learners and visitors to examine its archives of Africa’s liberation
interdisciplinary research and interpretations;
with other African and global organizations in order to pursue its vision.
After establishing APAU’s mission statements, the
next step is to develop specific short-, medium- and long-term objectives
necessary to make the vision and mission statement a reality. APAU’s
coordinating committee is currently endeavoring to make the results of the
initiative specific (clearly identified), measurable (information is
collectable and detectable), achievable (pull the results), relevant
(applicable to the vision and mission statements), and timely (See
Community tool Box, 2018).
Once these objectives
are created, APAU outlines the steps or directions required to design
strategies (such as action steps, persons responsible, website, social
media, required resources, existing barriers, collaborators, priorities,
and organization structures) necessary to accomplish its objectives or
describe its processes.
outlined (March 28, 2018), APAU’s coordinating committee is
brainstorming to coordinate national and international members to
coordinate its Academic, Public Relations, Fund-raising, Historical
research, and Archives tasks. To enhance its historical records, APAU also
plans to collaborate with sister institutions such as Nkrumah, Senghor,
Mandela, and other global institutes. As stated in the Community Tool Box
(2018), each action step must specify: 1) which actions or changes will
occur; 2) who will carry out each action or change; 3) when the change
will take place and for how long; 4) which resources to employ (staff,
capital); and 5) communication (who should know what).
Fundraising Ideas: Debt-for-APAU
As mentioned earlier,
Ethiopia’s Federal Government has already allocated 200 million
Ethiopian birr for APAU’s capital expenditure. Nonetheless, with Ethiopia’s current rate of inflation, this
funding will unlikely be sufficient to sustain and operate the
institution. Therefore, after mapping out and preserving the Battle of
Adwa’s original historical landmarks and drafting its educational goals,
a plan must be set for raising capital and operating expenditure funds for
the years, to revitalize its economy and to rebuild large-scale
infrastructure and development projects, Ethiopia’s Government has
borrowed heavily from bi-lateral and multi-lateral organizations. As
estimated by the IMF, “…Public and
publicly-guaranteed debt is estimated to have been 54.2 percent of GDP in
June 2016, of which 30.2 percent of GDP corresponds to external debt”
address environmental challenges, several developing countries have relied upon the generosity of non-government agencies to buy
back foreign debt at substantially reduced prices. In other words,
creditor banks could write off the face value of the loans for taxable
deductions. By employing this method, Ethiopia could identify passionate
non-government agencies to buy Ethiopia’s non-performing external debt
at a discount rate or substantially less than the face value from the
external creditors. Then, the
Central Bank of Ethiopia could redeem or swap the total foreign loans and
issue local currency to fund the APAU project. If
the negotiation of the debt swap and the consequence of inflationary risk
are handled properly, this robust external debt swapping technique could
possibly serve as a pipeline to generate revenue streams for APAU.
Furthermore, in addition to giving bequest values to the
non-governmental agency or agencies, this strategy of resolving external
debt could go a long way toward alleviating Ethiopia’s rampant and
chronic unemployment; it could also reduce Ethiopia’s debt burden that
could cripple its ability to make internal investments (OECD, 2007).
To summarize, the proposed external debt swap is vital for the leveraging of additional capital expenditure for APAU—but by itself, it is not enough. The most challenging and rewarding task for APAU’s Board of Directors is to identify and invite passionate local philanthropists, family foundations, corporations, institutional funders, and various development agencies to participate in a capital campaign vital for the ongoing financial longevity of APAU.
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