IBM develops plan to enhance Ethiopia’s trade and streamline governance

IBM experts have recommended strategies for strengthening Ethiopia's livestock industry -- the primary source of income for the majority of citizens -- and making government more efficient.

Making the recommendations was a twelve - person IBM team hailing from 8 countries that spent 30 days in Ethiopia working with three government ministries as part of an IBM Corporate Service Corps engagement. This initiative sends IBM's top talent to provide pro bono problem solving services to non-governmental, government and small business groups in the developing world on issues that intersect business, technology and society.  

For the conclusion of the engagement, IBM developed a model to improve market access and profits for Ethiopia's already-robust livestock industry within and outside the country.  Presenting their findings to the Ministry of Trade, IBM's team recommended that the industry more fully participate in the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange, giving more farmers access to kiosks that provide accurate and timely pricing information, trends, weather forecasts, and practical agricultural advice.  

The IBM team believes that this industry could be even more competitive by standardizing and sharpening the collection and analysis of data related to livestock.  Such measures would also make livestock trade more transparent and secure. The team suggested a communications and marketing plan to more clearly articulate the benefits of such a framework to stakeholders.  

To put these plans into effect, the IBM team suggested that better technology and training be provided to employees at the Agriculture Transformation Agency. To that end, IBM worked with the Ministry of Agriculture to suggest stronger linkages with the country's Information Communication Technology Management Center (ICTMC).  At the same time, more aggressive training and recruitment programs would be required so that the ICTMC can better deliver technology services to the agencies that it supports.

"The engagement with IBM has helped us in accessing vast expertise and experience in integrating technology and innovation across our initiatives," said Dr. Abiyot Bayou, Director of e Government within the Ministry for Information Communication and Technology. "I was particularly struck by the quality of the job the IBM team delivered in this short period of time."  

In the same vein, the IBM team encouraged the government to define standard operating procedures and security policies for all agencies and data centers when it comes to technology that can help officials govern more effectively, efficiently and securely. Modern technologies such as cloud computing and virtualization can make vital information more readily available and protected. Over the long term, an energy efficient computer disaster recovery center outside of Addis Ababa could be useful, the IBM team said.  Ethiopia's National Data Center can also streamline and standardize the way it procures and manages support from commercial vendors.

The projects were coordinated with Ethiopian Ministry for ICT and the Digital Opportunity Trust.

“IBM is pleased to support the Ethiopian Government’s five-year Growth and Transformation Plan around enhancing livelihoods and to generate opportunities for private sector engagement in sustainable economic development,” said the IBM Middle East and Africa Public Sector Leader, Dr. Cameron Brooks.  

IBM's Corporate Service Corps deploys IBM employees from around the world with expertise in technology, scientific research, marketing, finance, human resources, law, and economic development.  Issues they address range from economic development, energy and transportation, to education and health care.  

By year's end, approximately 2,400 IBM employees based in 52 countries will have been dispatched on more than 187 Corporate Service Corps engagements, and undertaken 850 team assignments in 34 countries since the founding of the program five years ago, in 2008.  Over the last five years, the program has sent more than 638 employees on 56 teams to more than 11 countries in Africa, a growing market for IBM.  This was the program's first engagement in Ethiopia.

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