ADDIS ABABA — THE ETHIOPIAN HERALD Newspaper 26 May 2016: Foreign Affairs State Minister Ambassador Taye Atskeselassie met with World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary General Petteri Taalas yesterday to discuss practicalities and logistics of opening the organization’s African branch office in Addis following the decision to make Ethiopia the seat of the branch.
Ethiopia was chosen to be hub of the continental branch office after winning a race with Kenya, Nigeria and Egypt.
Mulugeta Zewde, Ministry International Organization Affairs Director General told the media that the visit of the Secretary General along with the Director of the branch office has to do with watching and assessing the place meant for the office and other logistics. And the other aim of the visit of the delegates has to do with the fact that when such decision is made to make a certain country a seat to an international organization there needs to be an agreement between the hosting country and the institution, Mulugeta added.
“So, in this regard, I can say that we have discussed many issues and topics and exchanged dialogues that would enable us to sign agreement in the next few weeks,” he said.
Mulugeta noted that it won’t take long to organize the Office and assign the needed manpower and hit the ground running considering that continental offices are already structured at the headquarters and it will only be a case of moving the office here.
Furthermore, the Director General said that Ethiopia got the vote of the organization to be the home of the Office winning against stiff competition from the nominee countries Kenya, Egypt and Nigeria, after a voting committee visited and undertook a thorough assessment on all the nominees.
Mulugeta said besides the expected benefits such us job creation and all, opening of the office in Ethiopia helps to elevate the meteorological capability of our country, because it brings opportunities for training, technical assistance and modern equipment. “And also, since the Secretariat has huge capabilities, we believe it will bring a better meteorological forecasting to our country and the continent.”
Secretary General Taalas for his part said that the office can help African countries improve their early warning system of natural disasters like drought, flooding, heat waves and severe storms.
“In addition, it is going to be economically important for African countries and the office will be a key player in this as the idea is to get externally funded programs from donor organization like the World Bank and others who are interested in investing in this field”. This is important as it allows the countries to have better preparation to face such disasters more often and prevent economic loss (which is typically ten times more than the money invested in such services) and even human life loss by investing in this field, Taalas added.
The Secretary General also mentioned the potential benefits that the setup will bring, saying there will be a transfer of a high-level know-how to developing countries, but most importantly, he stressed on the benefits the countries can get from investing in such services.
Finally, asked about nation’s Meteorological Services, Taalas said Ethiopia’s Meteorological service is very good. He noted as a case in point that it was able to predict last year the drought and flooding.
BY ROBEL YOHANNES
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