Monday June 23rd – Adama

The Ethiopian Justice System
Ato (Mr) Feyissa the CEO of our Ethiopian Hub picked us up this
morning and drove us down to Adama, a bustling town of 350,000 people
about 1 ½ hours south of Addis.  The first person we met at the Hub
was Fr Paddy, a Spiritan priest from Dublin who has spent the last
five years working with the Hamar people
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamer_people) in the south of Ethiopia.
Fr Paddy and Fr Kelly (Archie) are working in one of the remotest
parts of the country with people who’s basic life styles have not
changed in thousands of years. According to Wikipedia only 6 Hamar
people have ever completed secondary education!  The Spiritans have
established a computer training programme in one of the few towns in the
area and were picking 11 computers from our Hub that had been promised
last December.  It took them 2 days of driving over dirt roads to
reach us.

They rest of the afternoon was spent with Feyissa (CEO), Eyob
(Technical Director) and Taka (Technician) trying to understand better
the realities of operating a Digital Hub in Ethiopia.  A week before I
arrived thieves working through the night had used hammers and chisels
to break through two walls into the Lab and had stolen 2 laptops and
one flat screen monitor. Unfortunately one of the laptops held all our
ICDL testing software which means that programme is currently suspended.

The shocking thing for me was not the theft but the authorities
reaction to it.  After an initial investigation the police and
prosecutor’s office came to the conclusion that the job was carried
out by a local with some inside knowledge of the Hub – a reasonable
assumption.  They arrested the builder and night watchman of the
building site behind the Hub and both were thrown in prison for 15
days while the case was investigated.  They were subsequently released
and the case remains unsolved but the limited system of bail or
appeals in the Ethiopian justice system means that potentially
innocent parties often suffer harsh treatment for crimes they may not
have committed.

Tuesday June 24th – Adama

Irish – African Communications
Travel tip.  A good hotel to stay in Adama is the Bekela Molla.    It
is a cheap (ϵ10 per night), well located, boasts a breezy terrace
beside the main hotel and serves wonderful Ethiopian coffee.  It is
located on the outskirts of town on the main Djibouti road.

One of the biggest issues we face in Ireland is the poor
communications with some of our African Hubs – ‘Why haven’t they
replied quicker to our email requests for information?’ ‘Why did we
only learn of problems at the last minute?’  Our discussions with
Feyissa and his team suggested that our communication problems stem
primarily from two things: The first, Ethiopia’s power supply and
telephone/internet systems are much less developed than we have in
Ireland.  For example, Ethiopia is currently experiencing a severe
lack of rain and as 90% of its power generation come from Hydo
electric sources most of the country (and all the businesses) has been
living on one day of electricity for every two days without.

The second problem with communications is a cultural one.  I am slowly
learning that Ethiopians don’t like to deliver bad news, or tell you
about their problems.  They would rather deal with the problem
themselves, hope it goes away or suffer in silence.  As a result we
often hear about things when its too late to do anything about it.  As
a result a significant part of our meeting today was spent trying to
convince the local team that news – and in particular bad news – was
very important for us to receive and not to be afraid to deliver it.
I fear however that this will remain a cultural difference between us
and will require much more time and talking for us to bridge the gap.

Cormac’s Hotel Workout.  Contrary to popular belief I have always
managed to put on weight while traveling in Africa!  A beer or two
every night, plenty of pasta and chips and no access to a gym means
that my ongoing battle against an expanding waistline gets much harder
during these trips.  Therefore I have decided to design a strict
regime of press ups and sit ups and to include my progress in this
diary as a way of motivating myself by public declaration.  I warn
people not to try this at home.
Press-ups 220, Situps 150.