Jun 3 , 2023

Public events in the capital foresee a regulatory framework as the Addis Abeba Mayor's Office works the legislative ground.

Officials at the Mayor's Office hope to ensure safety measures and crowd management procedures, including contractual obligations, requests, and approvals for hosting gatherings.

They called a first-round discussion with members from the hospitality sector three weeks ago to identify basic standards and safety measures that will work in tandem with security forces. Hotel managers and event planners forwarded feedback and critiques during the meeting held at Kena Hotel, Namibia Street (Bole Medhanealem).

Although the relevance of the framework was glared among participants, pressing issues that required clarifications from the authorities were put forth.

The Chairperson of the Addis Abeba Hotel Owners' Association, Aster Solomon, applauded the initiation of officials for active discussion.

"It's off to a great start," she told Fortune.

Aster owns Mosaic Hotel and has been heading the Association with 176 members for over a year and a half. She raised queries concerning the sort of events permissible in hotel venues and those that require pre-approval.

Although officials confirmed there will be a follow-up meeting in a couple of weeks, event organisers that were left out of the first discussion are dismayed they did not get to voice their concerns.

MICE Ethiopia (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions) is known to be an umbrella for business-related event organisers with 10 active members under its fleet, despite an estimate of over 170 licensed event organisers in the capital.

The President of MICE, Nebeyu Lemma, have witnessed prohibition event requests without a viable explanation or equivocal responses that needed further clarification. The Managing Director of Prana Events said his company usually makes requests to officials a year before with delayed responses.

"Most of the cases have occurred for outdoor events", he said.

Incorporated five years ago, Prana is an event management, marketing and consulting firm with 27 employees. Nebeyu observes private events hosted by the event organizers are usually overridden by the government despite notifications. Although he believes the framework may address some of the 'unsettling' enactments, the voices and comments of MICE should be considered.

"Our voice also needs to be heard," he said.

A number of notifications to organise public demonstrations and outdoor gatherings have witnessed frequent denials by the authorities. Officials believe permission for events depends on their purpose, setting, and the risk factor they impose while authorization entails depending on the interest of the public and the benefit they bring to society.

Getahun Abera, deputy head of the Addis Abeba Peace & Security Administration Bureau, indicated outdoor events are authorised if they align with the current socioeconomic climate.

According to Getahun, some events disrupted peace and security, prompting organizers and officials to see through their rights and obligations.

"A legal order needs to be created in order to delineate accountability," he said.

He also disclosed that outdoor gatherings are most likely to be prohibited because they impose a relatively high-risk factor. There is a strong chance that gatherings requested for Mesquel Square and Millennium Hall by the private organisers will face prohibition.

"They're purposely made for government concerning events," he told Fortune.

Legal experts are wary of a conflict between the regulation and the constitutional freedom to organise by holding meetings and demonstrations.

Getnet Yawkal, a commercial lawyer, warns against the contradiction of the regulation with the constitution entailing the right to assemble. However, he reasons that the public interest assumed to be protected by the government will always override private interest.

"Government has the right to override," he said.

PUBLISHED ON Jun 03,2023 [ VOL 24 , NO 1205]

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