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Page 20             C O M M E N TA R Y                                                                    Fortune Vol. 21 No. 1070 Nov. 1, 2020

 Financial institutions should be proactive and find innovative ways to accommodate women. The glass ceiling is thick and tough. The
GERD is only one way of weakening the hold. Access to finance is the other, write Atsede Woldie and Brychan Thomas, professors at the

                                                          University of South Wales.

Female Entrepreneurship: As Much Matter of Access to Energy as Finance
As the most important project
        for Ethiopia in recent              The GERD in itself will only go so far in                     by women and men differently.             Consequently, this discourages
        times, the Grand Ethiopian                                                                        Lastly, and most importantly, there       women to seek external finance even
        Renaissance Dam (GERD)               creating opportunities for women. The                        is solid evidence at the micro level      when they are in need, which makes
is expected to generate considerable                                                                      supporting the presence of gender         them use less debt finance than men
electric energy to ameliorate major       government and financial institutions need                      disparities putting women at a            holding other characteristics equal,
developmental problems apparent                                                                           disadvantage and thus reducing their      as it was shown in the study "SMEs'
in the country. These include                                to be engaged.                               growth potential.                         access to debt finance: A comparison
difficulties with employment, health                                                                                                                of male-owned and female-owned
care, education, access to water and      business opportunities that will                                It is crucial to examine to what          businesses in Ghana," by African
food security.                            benefit women. Of course, to ensure                             extent the gender financial barrier in    researchers Joshua Yindenaba Abor
                                          that they make use of the increased                             terms of accessibility affects women.     and Nicholas Biekpe. In addition,
It is without question that these         opportunities open to them, they                                This can be done by examining if          SMEs owned by women are relatively
challenges fall heavily on women.         will need access to finance as well                             SMEs owned by women are more              small at start-up, because the owners
Projects such as these that               as education and employment.                                    constrained in accessing finance          choose to engage in sectors that do
provide major benefits will create                                                                        than those owned or managed by            not require considerable funds.
opportunities for the emancipation        The gender gap in countries like                                men in terms of the “perceived
of women’s socioeconomic                  Ethiopia has been reported to be                                gender financial barrier.”                It does not help either that female
conditions in Ethiopia.                   more severe, women struggle to start                                                                      entrepreneurs are significantly
                                          new ventures and access finance                                 Gender and access to finance from         less likely to seek external credit
In essence, GERD will enable cost         from formal banking institutions.                               formal financial institutions, mainly     than males because they have
effective use of energy. Through          It should be a matter of concern in                             banks, has raised discussions in the      an internalised fear of rejection,
access to electricity at home, this will  Africa for several main reasons.                                literature, because SMEs owned by         according to a 2012 study,
help women to gain better education.                                                                      women are growing and are starting        "The impact of gender on SME
It will also involve up-to-date drilling  Primarily, there is the private                                 to represent a considerable share         characteristics and access to debt
technology for water provision with       sector. In agriculture and informal                             in the small business sector. Since       finance in South Africa." A possible
better use of freshwater in wells,        businesses, there is a high degree                              female entrepreneurs are also             reason could be because they do
and improved health care facilities       of involvement by women. In                                     believed to be more risk-averse, it       not have enough networking and
will also become available through        Africa, over a third of businesses                              is likely that they will have a lower     connections like men. Nevertheless,
access to energy. The outcome of          are actually owned by women, but a                              demand for credit than men.               regarding access to finance, the
all of these actions will make itself     majority of them are in the informal                                                                      same study did not really find
felt in greater income generation         sector, according to the African                                There are conflicting arguments           any significant differences in the
for women.                                Competitiveness Report.                                         and evidence as to whether SMEs           availability of debt between both
                                                                                                          owned by women face gender-               sexes, thus they concluded that
A better supply of electricity will       There is also the matter of the                                 specific problems while seeking           women have equal access to debt
result from improved energy               ability of women to grow their                                  external bank finance. Some               when they apply. It is an indication
provision for the service sector          businesses, to increase productivity                            researchers argue that women              of what is likely to be the main
and existing industry, enabling           and job creation, which is hampered                             face greater difficulties dealing         cause of why women are placed at
greater capacity and the opening-         by existing institutional and legal                             with banks, and there is a possible
up of industries. Through this,           barriers that affect SMEs owned                                 perceived discrimination that gives                             (Continued on PAGE 24)
there will be employment and                                                                              a preference to male entrepreneurs
                                                                                                          while seeking finance.

By Aaron Tesfaye                                                                VIEWPOINT

Ethio-Egypt Relations: Avoidable Conflict, Inexcusable Words
United States President
         Donald Trump’s brazen                                                     Egypt has been busy    degradation. While the impacts of         will help manage floods during rainy
         remarks — made on                                                        building “facts on the  these factors vary from country to        seasons. Ethiopia has also indicated,
         October 23, 2020, during                                                 ground” as bargaining   country, the bottom line is that the      on several occasions, the whole
the announcement of a breakthrough                                                                        quantity of the current water flow        purpose of the Dam will only be to
in the normalisation of relations                                                      chips in future    of the Nile, which is tied to rainfall    generate electricity.
between Israel and Sudan — adding                                                       negotiations.     levels in the Ethiopian highlands
that Egypt will “end up blowing [the                                                                      and the equatorial regions, will          Meanwhile, Egypt has been busy
Grand Ethiopian Renaissance] Dam          Within two decades of the Dergue’s                              decrease rather than increase in          building “facts on the ground”
of Ethiopia,” should be condemned.        ousting, construction on the Great                              the foreseeable future. The need          as bargaining chips in future
The President’s inexcusable statement     Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)                                to negotiate and institutionalise a       negotiations. Egypt is in the process
is not in the interest of the people of   began under late Prime Minister                                 comprehensive water regime is             of building a new administrative
Egypt, Ethiopia or the US, who are        Meles Zenawi.                                                   imperative.                               capital in the desert, dozens of miles
in the thick of combating the Novel                                                                       There is no international water           east of Cairo, which will need more
Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.          But such plans were to fly in the face                          law applicable to the specific            water from the Nile River. Egypt also
The Nile River, which stretches           of colonial-era agreements to which                             circumstances of the Nile matter          plans to reclaim part of its Western
for over 6,600Km, is a finite water       Ethiopia was not invited and allocated                          for the simple reason that no             Desert through its mammoth New
resource shared by 11 countries and       most of the water from the Nile either                          two river basins are alike. The           Valley Project, which will demand
millions of people. Eighty percent        to Egypt or Sudan. It has created                               International Law Commission              more, not less, water.
of the Nile water that gets to Egypt,     resentment among other Nile states,                             (ILA) had established several
including the soil, emanates from         and calls for changes to the pact have                          covenants on equitable distribution       Whatever their differences, however,
Ethiopia. These are facts that should     abounded. It was already rejected in                            of transboundary water resources:         there is no alternative to a peaceful
have elicited a more considered           the 1960s by many African states,                               The Helsinki Rules (1966), The            negotiation between Egypt and
and thoughtful response from the          due to the Nyerere Doctrine, which                              UN Convention (1997) and Berlin           Ethiopia, including the other riparian
President.                                does not hold colonial agreements                               Rules (2004), which are not without       countries, over the waters of the Nile.
The historic process damming the          sacrosanct.                                                     problems.                                 But President Trump’s statement
Blue Nile has waded through deserves                                                                      The Commission has created a              is highly revealing and indicates
some reflection. In the past, several     The building of the GERD was funded                             framework that includes the principle     he has failed to become an honest
Ethiopian governments had taken           entirely by Ethiopia through no                                 of “equitable distribution,” which        broker in his attempt to help Egypt
nominal steps to develop the Nile         outside help. It is getting closer to                           Ethiopia has adhered too, and the         and Ethiopia cut a deal over their
Basin. These were unsuccessful            completion, and the first filling of                            principle of “No harm” to protect the     disagreement regarding the GERD.
because of Egypt’s importance to the      its reservoir during the last rainy                             interests of downstream states.           The US president’s statements on
West, especially its close relationship   season has proven that it does not                              Egypt claims the waters of the Nile       Egypt “bombing the Dam” are
and strategic importance to the United    significantly affect Sudan or Egypt.                            are existential to its national security  unbecoming of a leader of a great
States and the bearing the country has                                                                    and that the GERD will affect the         power, who instead should seek a
on Middle Eastern politics.               It is true, of course, that most                                volume of water flowing down the          peaceful resolution to the dispute.
Beginning in the early 1990s, things      Nile Basin countries are facing                                 Nile. Ethiopia has indicated the water
started to change as Ethiopia emerged     water scarcity, which is driven by                              will not be significantly reduced by      Aaron Tesfaye (PhD) is chair and
after years of famine and civil war.      environmental and demographic                                   the GERD, and in fact would be an         professor of political science, legal
                                          changes, desertification and land                               advantage to Sudan and Egypt as it        & urban studies at William Paterson
                                                                                                                                                    University in New Jersey.
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