October 5 , 2019
By FASIKA TADESSE( FORTUNE STAFF WRITER )
After a fierce three-year battle, the central bank partially took over its training facility located in Aqaqi, which the University of South Africa (UNISA) has been using.
The National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) has notified UNISA to return the campus, which was initially designated to be the Ethiopian Academy of Financial Studies, in 2017, along with Addis Abeba University (AAU). The latter entirely vacated the premises a couple of months ago, while UNISA stayed. The two universities have been using the facility without covering rent, water or electricity bills.
"We've been very challenged to take the campus back from UNISA," said Yinager Dessie, governor of the central bank. "We finally warned them that we would bring the police to evacuate them from the campus forcefully."
As of October 3, 2019, the central bank has deployed security guards to the premises, according to sources close to the case.
After having a series of negotiations and letter correspondence, UNISA, which graduated 680 students until 2018, will start handing over the campus along with the facilities beginning on October 8, 2019.
"We'll only hand over the buildings that we are not currently using," said Tsige GebreMeskel (PhD), deputy director of UNISA.
The campus’s facilities include four villas, 160 dormitories, 52 one-storey guest houses, 40 fully furnished VIP rooms, one seminar room, a large conference hall and different sized lecture rooms.
UNISA began operating in Ethiopia in 2006, partnering with the government to work on human capacity development in the sphere of education. To bring a South African University to Ethiopia, the governments of Ethiopia and South Africa signed a G2G agreement in 2004. From the Ethiopia side, the deal was inked by the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
Two years later in August 2006, UNISA and the Office of the Prime Minister signed an agreement. In the agreement the government of Ethiopia pledged to give UNISA space for free, while UNISA also entered into other commitments.
UNISA signed another agreement with the Ministry of Education, letting the University use the current facility. Then the Ministry of Education signed an agreement with the National Bank of Ethiopia.
The remaining facility was also conferred to the AAU in 2007 in a five-year rental agreement signed by the late Prime Minister Meles when the University was under the stewardship of Andreas Eshete (Prof.).
After taking it over from the central bank, AAU placed four of its departments at the campus. The Institute of Bio-Technology, the College of Development Studies, the Ethiopian Institute of Water Resources and Capacity Building for Scaling up Evidence-Based Best Practices in Agricultural Production in Ethiopia, were the four departments that have been operating at the Aqaqi campus.
The campus was initially constructed 14 years ago to serve as a training facility for the financial centre. The centre currently hosts master's and doctoral degree programmes. The centre was established as the Ethiopian Institute for Banking Studies in February 1966 to train those in the Ethiopian banking industry.
The Institute for Banking Studies took its current form in 2007 after going through various restructurings. With its present name, it began providing courses grouped into four main categories: banking, microfinance, insurance and management development.
The central bank’s training centre runs over 150 programmes a year at its new building, the former Construction & Business Bank (CBB) and the Hidase building of the CBE located at Megenagna.
"The facility will help us in alleviating the current human capital problem in the financial industry," said Yinager.
UNISA will admit students for the new education year starting next January. Tsege declined to comment where the University will continue giving classes until then.
PUBLISHED ON Oct 05,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1014]
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