Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) expressed dissatisfaction with regional leaders and Dine for Ethiopia project managers for unrealistically expanding the scope of beautification projects planned in three places handpicked by the PM himself.

When reviewing the progress of the design and mobilization of finance of the projects at the Office of the Prime Minister on December 16, 2020, Abiy said there are tendencies to expand the projects beyond the original scope because of failures to capture the project objectives.

The PM initiated the projects in August 2020, to develop three potential tourist attraction sites in Oromia, Southern and Amhara regions.

The three sites originally selected to be developed by monetary contributions from various sources include the Wonchi Lake and surrounding areas in Oromia region, Koysha in the Southern Region and Gorgora in Amhara region. These selections were made based on the tourism potentials of the locations.

According to the PM, the development of the three locations would serve as an entry point for private investors who want to develop tourist facilities at the said locations.

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“Our focus is to create an attractive destination so that the private sector can follow suite,” the PM said.

He pointed out the monetary aspect of the projects was not satisfactory and was in a manner that does not fit the ambitions of the regional governments and project managers.

In Oromia, the original plan was to develop only Wonchi but the plan presented to the PM expanded it to include Dendi Lake and the route between the two lakes that covers about 35 kilometers.

Similarly, the PM complained about the expansion of the Koysha project in the Southern region that came to include areas in Dawro. The same interests were seen in Amhara to expand from Gorgora to Gondar town.

These interests should be supported but need not be expected to be part of this specific initiative, Abiy told the main committee established to lead the projects and mobilize finance.

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“But the aspirations need to be matched with the reality; what we envision is to start small and go bigger,” said the PM.

“This project is the federal government’s project until it is concluded; it is not the regions’ project. You will give us the support we require from you and we will hand you the keys to the projects when completed. Until then, you can’t intervene and you are not allowed to intervene as this would cause delays,” the PM stressed.

The PM said that the interests displayed in the concept designs are not reflected in the amount of money mobilized to finance the development of these tourist attraction sites.

It was initially indicated that the projects would require a total of six billion birr out of which three billion birr is expected to be generated from public fundraising. The rest would be matched from unnamed sources.

Apart from this, there are tendencies that this project is to be built by money from the government’s coffers rather than being financed through cooperation, Abiy indicated.

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In addition, Abiy said while the aim was to bring all the money mobilized to a central pool and equally allocate budget to all of the three projects, some regions wanted the money collected from their region to be used for developments in that region.

Although Shimelis Abdissa, President of Oromia Region, Agegnew Teshager, President of the Amhara Region and Ristu Yirdaw, Vice President of the Southern Region, were in attendance, along with project managers and members of the national committee, none of these attendees spoke out on points the PM had raised. After each region made presentations of the conceptual designs as well as the potential investment alternatives in those selected attractions, the media were removed from the meeting hall and the PM took the stage to chair a discussion on it.

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