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With the opportunity to celebrate both the Gregorian and Julian calendars’ new year in our fair nation, we also have the opportunity to reflect twice per year on how effective we are in doing our business and on what we can improve. The arrival of the new year will inspire many to realise that we have entered a new era indeed, in which Ethiopia is beginning to prosper and stand out in terms of development and growth. We have a full year ahead of us again, to lay the foundation for real change, to be remembered as a new beginning.
That sounds exciting and promising but just saying it is not going to make it happen. It takes action to make it happen and the way we have been doing things so far really need to change. It also takes the efforts of many to make it happen. The government alone cannot make it happen and neither can the private sector, the church, donor organizations or individuals for that matter. It needs a massive make over of the way we do things if you ask me. If we want different and better results, we need to do things differently. We cannot expect things to improve if we keep doing things the same way as before.
Over the past few years we saw a remarkable improvement in services and infrastructure in this city and I believe in other parts of the country as well. There is a danger however for this progress to deteriorate again and return to more frequent power cuts, poor road works and no progressive improvement in telecommunications and internet services to mention just a few. Interestingly enough these are essential ingredients to attract investors and to make the nation tick.
Last week for example I noticed workers erecting a barbed wire fence on the middle kerb of one of the roads in the city centre. The purpose I guess was to prevent pedestrians to cross the road over the middle section of the road, where tree seedlings were planted. The material used to support the barbed wire was short sticks or branches, stuck into the ground. I remember wondering how long this construction would last and indeed the next day a stretch of some 25 metres was already taken down. A week later, most of it has been destroyed. What a waste of money. Why do we keep on doing things in the same pathetic way and expect a good result? Also, every day on my way to work I used to pass a bridge, which was too narrow to accommodate the flow of traffic. It is for this reason that the construction of a new bridge began, next to the old one, promising better days to come. At a certain moment the construction came to a stand-still, while the old bridge was not maintained, causing more jams every day as its potholes got deeper and deeper. The way road users reacted to such developments was not encouraging either as they got more aggressive in pushing their way through. I have noticed a growing sense of selfishness in general as promises are not kept and the interests of others are ignored. It is “Me first, then you.” If these are the first days of a new year, things need to change indeed. So what can be done? What is it that needs to change? Here follow some suggestions – in no particular order of what I think can be done differently individually, socially and corporately.
dowingI could go on but looking over the table it is really all about respect, mutual benefit, efficiency and effectiveness instead of selfish short term gain. It is about making a choice, a conscious decision to want to make a difference and take responsibility so that we will get better results over time.

Happy new year!
Ton Haverkort