Jimma University Hosts Panel Discussion on Strategic Imperatives

In a profound panel discussion held at Jimma University on October 10, 2023, experts discussed the imperative task of safeguarding Ethiopia’s national interests in the face of an evolving global landscape dominated by great power competition. The event, titled “Securing Ethiopia’s National Interests in the Emerging Great Power Competition,” was presided over by Dr. Jemal Abafita, President of Jimma University.
Professor Ann Fitz-Gerald, a renowned expert on International Security, Director of the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo, Canada, and one of the panelists, provided invaluable insights into the role of Ethiopian Higher Education Institutions and scholars in this monumental undertaking. She challenged Ethiopian scholars and institutions to rise to the occasion and actively participate in securing their nation’s interests on the global stage.
She also emphasized the significance of strong institutions, where information should be treated as a critical strategic asset and the importance of projecting a predictable image. She also highlighted the need for multilingual communication to educate people about institutions, their intentions and the country.
Prof. Ann also stressed the need for Ethiopia to develop a clear strategic vision and policy, prioritizing key areas while avoiding the influence of various memberships and loyalties. She outlined a macro-strategic framework encompassing security, economy, politics, and social development, with specific critical priorities, such as defining borders, unifying the armed forces, empowering regional police, fostering social capital, and maintaining academic autonomy.
Dr. Idris Yeba of Jimma University, one of the panelists, emphasized the critical need for a comprehensive understanding of emerging power dynamics and their ramifications on Ethiopia’s core national interests. Drawing poignant parallels to historical events, he underscored the profound consequences of past great power competitions in the Horn of Africa region. He advocated formulating a grand strategy with win-win principles in our coexistence with neighboring countries and the development of a proactive policy to benefit from emerging competitions. He added that a tailored strategy o Ethiopia’s unique national interests and strategic depth would serve as a guiding compass in mitigating potential negative impacts and harnessing the positive aspects of the emerging great power competition.
Dr. Jemal Abafita, concluded the event with a pledge to continue providing evidence-based arguments and well-informed policy ideas that will contribute to decent policymaking. He assured the audience that Jimma University would take steps to institutionalize this initiative by establishing a dedicated unit as well as revitalizing the culture of academic discourse through periodic lecture series and panel discussions. This move underscores the university’s commitment to promoting a strong culture of discourse on pressing national agenda.

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