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A conference that gathers great minds from round the world to identify solutions and call for actions to curb child poverty and inequality in Africa was convened from 23 to 25 October 2017 at the UN ECA Conference Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 

Named as ‘Putting Children First: ‘Putting Children First: Identifying Solutions and Taking Action to Tackle Child Poverty and Inequality in Africa’, the conference aims to bridge the gaps between policymakers, practitioners, civil society and researchers in recognition of the importance of and opportunity for using knowledge and evidence generated from well-focused research on children in poverty in Africa to inform policies and to address the multi-dimensional and complex challenges of poverty. 

In her impressive keynote address, Dr. Agnes Akosua Aidoo, International Board of Trustees, African Child Policy Forum said: “Poverty affects children in lifelong ways, from malnutrition, poor health, lack of success in school, harmful labour and an overall poor quality of life. Not only is this extremely damaging for children and their families, but it has a lasting and detrimental impact on the prosperity and the wellbeing of their countries. Child poverty is everyone’s problem, and national governments should make addressing it their absolute priority.”

 ‘Putting Children First’ encompassed presentation of and discussion on a number of research outputs organized around four overarching themes:

1. Setting the Scene: Who and Where are the Poor Children?

2. Child Sensitive Social Protection: Making Social Protection Work for Children

3. Ensuring Access to Basic Services for All: Reaching and Linking the Poorest and most Marginalised

4. Supporting Secure Transitions to Adulthood

Ultimately the conference aims to ‘make evidence matter’ for the poorest and most marginalised children. This is in order to inspire action and mobilise champions among policymakers, politicians, civil society and other key decision-makers throughout African societies. 

This international conference engaged more than hundred policy makers, practitioners and researchers in identifying solutions for fighting child poverty and inequality in Africa, and inspiring action towards change. It offered a platform for bridging divides across sectors, disciplines and policy, practice and research. 

The conference started with very inspiring speeches and welcoming remarks delivered by: Ms. Leila Pakkala, Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, UNICEF; Thokozile Ruzvidzo, Social Development Policy Division Director, UNECA; Dr. Agnes Akosua Aidoo, International Board of Trustees, ACPF; and H.E. Ms Demitu Hambisa, Minister Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, Ethiopia.

The three-day Conference was hosted by a unique partnership of the Ethiopian Centre for Child Research (ECCR) at Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI), the Comparative Research Programme on Poverty (CROP), ESRC-DFID Impact Initiative for International Development Research, the Ethiopian Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MoWCA), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the Global Coalition to End Child Poverty, including African Child Poverty Forum (ACPF), Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Partnership for Economic Policy (PEP), Save the Children, UNICEF and Young Lives 

The Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Ethiopia Office, held their second High Level Forum of the Phase III Policy Dialogue on Industrial Development on the 7th of November 2017 at the Sheraton Addis, Ethiopia. 

While the first round’s forum of Phase III Policy Dialogue, held in February 2017, focused on issues of income inequality, polarization and youth unemployment based on East Asian counties’ experiences during their early stages of industrialization, this round’s forum turned its center of attention into ‘productivity’. Presentations based on research undertakings in the contexts of Ethiopia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam served to create platform for insightful discussions and experience sharing relating to issues of ‘productivity’. 

Presented in the forum are papers on ‘Productivity Enhancing Measures Adopted in Ethiopia and Sri Lanka: a bilateral comparison’ by Prof. Kenichi Ohno from National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) of Japan; ‘Productivity Determinants in Textile and Garment Industries in Ethiopia’ by Dr. Tsegaye Gebrekidan from EDRI; ‘ Productivity and Earnings in the Metal Working Sector in Ethiopia’ by Dr. Girum Abebe from EDRI; ‘A Literature Review: Wage-labour Productivity Nexus on the Ethiopian Manufacturing’ by Dr. Kidanemariam Berhe from the Policy Studies Research Centre (PSRC) of Ethiopia; and ‘Labour Productivity in Vietnam: Data Analysis and Policy Recommendation’ by DR. Nguyen Duc Thanh from Vietnam Policy Economic Research (VEPR) of Vietnam National University. 

The forum gathered high-level officials from different ministries, agencies and institutes in Ethiopia; professors from GRIPS and Addis Ababa University; researchers from EDRI and Vietnam National University; experts and mission members from JICA; and other stakeholders.

While H.E. Mr. Ahmed Abtew, Minster, Ministry of Industry and Mr. Ken Yamada, Chief Representative, JICA Ethiopia Office, opened up the forum through their welcoming remarks, H.E. Mr. Mekonnen Manyazewal, Executive Director, with the rank of Minster, of EDRI chaired the forum and gave closing remarks.

The present forum was held as part of the on-going policy dialogue on Industrial Development between the governments of Ethiopia and Japan since 2009.

EDRI organized a one day workshop that aims at disseminating the results of the baseline survey on MSEs (Micro and Small Manufacturing Enterprises) conducted in ten major cities in Ethiopia on the 24th of October 2017 at the Hilton Hotel, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 

As disclosed in the workshop the baseline survey was conducted on 8174 MSEs that are found in such major cities in Ethiopia as: Adama, Bahir Dar, Dessie, Dire Dawa, Gondar, Jigjiga, Jimma, Hawassa, Mekelle, and the capital, Addis Ababa. The survey was carried out with the aim of filling the critical gap pinpointed in evidence-based knowledge relating to entrepreneurship and small business development, a sector given prominence in the country’s GTPs (Growth and Transformation Plans).

The workshop started with the opening remarks delivered by Dr. Gebrehiwot Ageba, Director of Programs at EDRI; Dr. Paul O. Okwi, Senior Program Officer for the Think Tank Initiative based at IDRC's Regional Office for Eastern and Southern Africa, Nairobi; Dr. Hailesilassie Medhin, Director of the Environment and Climate Research Center at EDRI; and H.E. Dr. Mebrahtu Meles, State Minster, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Industry, who officially declared the opening of the workshop. 

In the workshop seven papers were presented. While the first presentation, by Dr. Mulu Gebreyesus, Coordinator of the Research Program on Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development in Ethiopia and Senior Research Fellow at EDRI, provided the audience with an overview of the research program, the second presentation, by Dr. Girum Abebe, member of the Research Program and Director of the Micro and Sectoral Development Research Centre at EDRI, focused on sharing with the participants the potentials and limits of the existing micro and small enterprise data set as well the methodological departure in the entrepreneurship and small business development in the current survey.  Given by Mr. Abebe Ambatchew, Associate Researcher at EDRI, the third presentation emphasized on disclosing the main features of the MSEs baseline survey. 

The presentations that succeeded shared the participants of the workshop with valuable findings and insights on the topics: ‘Who are growth-oriented entrepreneurs?’; ‘Innovation, Productivity and Growth performance of MSEs’; ‘The Role of Small Business Sector on Creating Productive Employment’; ‘Determinants of Micro and Small enterprises Use of Energy Efficient Technologies in Ethiopia’, which were treated respectively by Dr. Girum Abebe, Dr. Tigabu Getahun, Dr. Berihu Assefa, and Dr. Seid Hassen, research fellows at EDRI. 

Apart from the space provided for discussions following each presentation, a session was organized to entertain the reflections of each region’s experiences and insights on MSEs development.

The workshop gathered multiple stakeholders, such as, policy makers and practitioners in the federal and regional governments, NGOs, entrepreneurs, researchers and academia.

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