Ethiopian Ambassador to United States, Mr Fitsum Arega and Villedge Solutions Incorporation founder & entrepreneur, Mr Steve Johanns paid a courtesy visit to Arba Minch University and held bilateral talks with AMU President, Dr Damtew Darza and others for possible collaboration to develop smart village that will naturally unleash corresponding developments for the welfare of community.Click here to see the pictures

Entrepreneur, Mr Steve, on idea of developing rural smart villages and innovating, said, I am personally convinced that it will unlock new ways to innovate in this new era and we will learn more, then we teach from the villages. He adds if universities focus on United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in their education practices; there are billions of dollars to get invested in addressing those 17 UNSDGs. So you must evaluate how you are educating, promoting, putting entrepreneurs and businesses in place by using roadmaps; it will make you most regarded university in the world

Furthermore, he said adding that we are here to help you out, you have UNSDGs in front of you; you can measure your impact on those, wherein investors and government can see it happening and you can set the bar and become sought-after university in the world. The biggest issue people have with getting into the last mile called ‘marginal cost of delivery’ so further you go, where cost go up and people just stop for they just can’t afford and there is no economic value where marginal cost of delivery gets exponentially high in rural community. If you club innovation, capabilities and services, you can make that ‘marginal cost of delivery’ go down and can go further in delivering value to the citizen.

Ethiopian Ambassador to America, Mr Fitsum Arega, sharing his view, said, Mr Steve as an entrepreneur is hungry to solve our problems, he has a vision to transform rural community and contribute to unlock potential by providing cost-efficient solar power, internet, water and other infrastructures. It will have bottom-up approach beginning from village then connecting with city. So, we need to understand and open our eyes, be active to learn, retain knowledge, act aggressively and engage from the beginning.

He revealed that different US universities are ready to partner with Ethiopian universities and resolve problems; therefore, we must show willingness as there is a program from State Department - USAID to support universities in Africa. He adds university must have International Relations Officer to handle such global ties. Here you have wonderful people and we want your apples, honey, bamboos, crocodile skins, etc must fetch desired value. And you got to be in the field that will transform the community if you have innovation, incubation, employment centers and free internet where students will learn to become self-reliant, then you are on the right track, he added.

AMU President, Dr Damtew Darza, informed the dignitaries that AMU rests on three pillars - teaching-learning, research and community service wherein research is core of everything. Solving problems of community is the central theme of every project we approve and we are achieving a lot in that direction. However, now quality of education, churning community-friendly technology and transferring them back to people is our main agenda wherein we need to make more effort and such collaboration will be boon for us.

Similarly, Research and Community Service Vice President, Dr Simon Shibru, told to dignitaries that AMU in its capacity is striving to serve community via different avenues and myriad humanitarian endeavors; he said, yet we understand that’s not enough, we have to grow for which we are ready to walk extra miles. And we are ready to align with your visionary ideas to develop smart village. However, we have community service, technology transfer, etc. yet partnering with US entrepreneur Steve Johanns will give wings to our desire, hence, I am optimistic to talk and join hands for better future.

Gamo Zone Administration delegate, Mr Mahe Bodda, Omotic Group CEO, Mr Eyassu Wossen, AMU’s Water Technology Institute’s Scientific Director, Dr Abdella Kemal, Mr Tuma Ayele and others were in attendance.

(Corporate Communication Directorate)