The 5th Academic Networking event held at PSI

The 5th Academic Networking event held at the Policy Studies Institute (PSI) on March 27,2024.The event brought together esteemed researchers, policymakers, and industry experts for intellectual exchange and collaboration. With a rich history of hosting such gatherings, PSI once again demonstrated its commitment to fostering knowledge dissemination, promoting evidence-based decision making, and strengthening partnerships. The event served as a platform for sharing innovative research, discussing pressing issues, and exploring potential solutions to the challenges faced in various fields.

Mrs. Hana Woldekidan, who is a researcher at the PSI, moderated the session of the day. Her adept moderation allowed for active engagement among the presenters and attendees, creating an environment conducive to fruitful exchange of information and perspectives.

Mrs. Hana Woldekidan, Researcher at PSI

In his opening remarks, H.E. Prof. Beyene Petros welcomed the attendees to the 5th Academic Networking event and expressed his gratitude for their presence. He provided an overview of the history of the networking breakfast, which was launched in December 2022 and hosted by the British Embassy at that time. He mentioned that the Policy Studies Institute  has actively participated in the previous four events and had the honor of hosting the fifth edition.

H.E. Prof. Beyene Petros, DG of PSI

Prof. Beyene Petros then introduced PSI, describing it as a policy think tank in Ethiopia that conducts in-depth socio-economic policy research and analysis. He highlighted that PSI's research priorities are determined through consultation with the government, private sector, and other stakeholders. He emphasized PSI's commitment to evidence-based policy making and its role in providing policy advice based on scientific studies and research.

As a prominent policy think tank, Prof. Beyene emphasized PSI's dedication to achieving its vision and mission through a team of over 77 specialized researchers and 14 research departments. He acknowledged the importance of events like the academic networking breakfast in disseminating research findings, gaining insights, fostering collaborations, and advocating for evidence-based decision making.

Benedetta Musillo (Social Development Adviser at Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO))

H.E. Prof. Beyene recognized the significance of academic networks in enhancing research, policy analysis, and recommendations. He highlighted the benefits of networking, such as drawing on diverse expertise, organizing conferences, and forming strategic partnerships with academic institutions and other think tanks. He emphasized the importance of staff development and staying updated with the latest research findings and methods through participation in academic events and collaborations with academic institutions.

Regarding the practical implementation of academic networking, Prof. Beyene suggested developing a clear networking strategy aligned with PSI's mission and research priorities. He recommended active participation in relevant conferences, workshops, and online networking through social media and professional networks. He stressed the need for regular evaluation and assessment of the impact of networking to enhance research, policy influence, and partnerships.

Prof. Beyene concluded his speech by highlighting the theme of the event, "Firms, Trade, and Productivity," and expressed his pleasure in having distinguished researchers from the Trade and Regional Integration Research Department and a senior country economist from IGC Ethiopia presenting their innovative research work. He wished the attendees a stimulating and fruitful discussion and networking session, expressing his hope that they would find the event enriching and enjoyable. He once again thanked everyone for their presence and participation.

Dr. Habtamu Tesfaye, Researcher at PSI

Next, Benedetta from FCDO expressed her gratitude to Mrs. Hana, stating, "I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Hana for curating today's agenda. She has done an excellent job in selecting three amazing speakers that will help us to understand the issues around economic autonomy."

Following that, Benedetta welcomed everyone present, acknowledging the presence of newcomers. She mentioned that due to time constraints caused by an upcoming event and road closures, introductions would be skipped to save time. Benedetta explained that she aimed to conclude at 10:30 to accommodate the event, requesting all presenters to keep their presentations concise within a 15-minute timeframe, allowing for a subsequent discussion session.

Dr. Seneshaw Tamiru, Country Economist at IGC-Ethiopia

Benedetta reminded everyone that the academic breakfast sessions are not funded and operate on a rotating basis every quarter. The main objective of these sessions, she explained, is to promote the exchange of knowledge, methodological tools, and evidence among researchers. Therefore, it is acceptable to present research that is not yet fully developed, as the purpose is to engage in brainstorming and receive valuable feedback from fellow researchers. “We invite researchers from different academic fields so that we can cross fertilize each other and actively we also would like to promote female researchers. We are not doing so well again this time.” she said “Whenever you go anywhere, bring your female colleagues with you; try to shine them; be their ally, and showcase that work."

Dr. Abebe Ambachew, Researcher at PSI

Benedetta expressed her gratitude, saying, "I want to take a moment to sincerely thank all of you. The requests and encouragement from the dependents have been truly invaluable, and I couldn't agree more with you. Our main objective is to facilitate exchange among reserves and find common ground rather than solely focusing on influencing policymakers. We want to assess our impact and determine the best approach to address various issues by bringing together diverse perspectives. Moving forward, it would be beneficial to discuss whether we should engage more with policymakers and explore the most effective ways to do so. Thank you all once again."

During the academic session, three researchers presented their findings over the breakfast. The title of the first presentation was "El Nino and Firms: Impact of Food and Beverage Manufacturing Firms in Ethiopia." The research was conducted by Yohannes Ayele, Habtamu Tesfaye Edjigu, and Solomon Zena. Dr. Habtamu Tesfaye, one of the researchers, explained that El Nino refers to the warming of the ocean surface in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

Dr. Habtamu emphasized that El Nino is caused by climate change and is becoming more frequent and intense, leading to severe droughts worldwide. As an example, Dr. Habtamu mentioned that El Nino was responsible for one of the worst droughts experienced in the eastern, southern, and central regions of Ethiopia in 2015/16.

Dr. Habtamu further explained that the El Nino-induced drought resulted in the failure of two consecutive rainy seasons, causing a significant decline in crop production ranging from 50% to 90% in the affected regions. This, in turn, led to over 100 million people facing food insecurity. Additionally, the agriculture sector experienced a negative impact due to the drought.

Dr. Habtamu emphasized that despite the well-known effects of El Nino, there is limited evidence regarding its impact on the manufacturing sector. In particular, their study aimed to investigate the influence of El Nino on the performance of food and beverage manufacturing firms in Ethiopia. To conduct the research, various estimation mechanisms, including a difference-in-difference approach, were employed. The study utilized data from the Ethiopian large and medium manufacturing firms’ census, CHIRIPS Data, and primary survey data.

The findings of the study revealed that firms exposed to El Nino-induced drought experienced significant reductions in their performance compared to non-exposed firms. Specifically, these exposed firms witnessed a 47% reduction in sales, a 38% reduction in total factor productivity (TFP), a 33% reduction in labor productivity, and a 15% reduction in employment.

Dr. Habtamu also highlighted that the El Nino-induced drought affected firm performance by decreasing the availability and utilization of raw materials, particularly from domestic sources. Moreover, he mentioned that firms exposed to the El Nino-induced drought implemented several strategies to mitigate its negative impact. Additionally, Dr. Habtamu noted that the presence of adequate road infrastructure and irrigation systems played a crucial role in reducing the adverse effects of the El Nino-induced drought on the firms.

In summary, Dr. Habtamu highlighted that exposure to El Nino results in substantial declines in firm performance, particularly through reductions in sales. One of the primary factors contributing to this decline is the scarcity of domestically sourced raw materials caused by drought conditions. To mitigate the adverse effects, firms employ various strategies.

Additionally, Dr. Habtamu provided several policy recommendations aimed at addressing the challenges posed by El Nino. These recommendations include investing in infrastructure such as roads and irrigation systems, supporting firms in accessing raw materials, implementing interventions to enhance firm resilience and adaptive capacity, offering training programs, and utilizing advanced forecasting technology.

Overall, these policy measures are intended to strengthen the ability of firms to withstand and respond effectively to the impacts of El Nino, ultimately promoting their long-term sustainability and success.

During the event, an insightful paper titled "Impact of Climate Information Services (CIS) on agricultural productivity: The case of Ethiopia" was presented by Dr. Senshaw Tamru, who serves as the IGC country economist. The research study, conducted by Dr. Senshaw Tamru, Abonesh Tesfaye, Dawit Solomon, and Bart Minten, delved into the profound effects of Climate Information Services on agricultural productivity in Ethiopia. The presentation sparked great interest among the attendees, as it shed light on the crucial relationship between climate information and the agricultural sector, offering valuable insights for policymakers and stakeholders alike.

During his presentation, Dr. Senshaw delved into the motionless history of Ethiopian agriculture, highlighting its technological advancements, adoption patterns, and susceptibility to various factors throughout ancient times to the present day. He emphasized the continued significance of agriculture in Ethiopia, with it accounting for 33 % of the GDP, 80 % of exports, and employing 65 % of the labor force. However, Dr. Senshaw highlighted that the economy still heavily relies on weather-dependent agriculture, making it particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

To address these challenges, Dr. Senshaw discussed a range of mitigation mechanisms that can help safeguard the agricultural sector. These mechanisms include crop diversification, tree planting initiatives, engagement in off-farm activities, adoption of sustainable irrigation practices, and implementation of soil and water conservation measures. Additionally, he emphasized the importance of disaster management planning. Dr. Senshaw also highlighted the significance of protected area systems, reforestation programs, the adoption of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency measures, flexible livestock production, sustainable harvesting practices, and the integration of climate change education.

By outlining these mitigation mechanisms, Dr. Senshaw underscored the importance of proactive measures to enhance the resilience of the agricultural sector in the face of climate change. His insights shed light on the potential strategies and actions that can contribute to sustainable agricultural practices and the overall development of Ethiopia's economy.

In his presentation, Dr. Senshaw emphasized the pivotal role of Climate Information Services (CIS) as key adaptation mechanisms in addressing climate challenges. He provided a comprehensive definition of CIS, highlighting that these services encompass the production, analysis, packaging, and distribution of climate-related data and variables. In the context of Ethiopia, Dr. Senshaw explained that common CIS offerings focus on crucial aspects such as rainfall onset and cessation, extreme precipitation, flood and drought conditions, as well as temperature-related issues.

Dr. Senshaw further discussed the typology of climate services, highlighting the different actors involved in their generation, translation, and dissemination. The generation of climate services involves federal and regional meteorology offices, universities, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The translation of climate services is carried out by universities, research institutes, federal and regional agriculture offices, the Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), and NGOs. The dissemination of climate services involves various stakeholders working together.

The motivation behind the study, as stated by Dr. Senshaw, stems from the increasing recognition of the vital role of CIS in facilitating adaptation within the agricultural sector by providing valuable information to farmers and decision-makers. He noted that despite the demand for and utilization of climate services, there is a lack of comprehensive understanding regarding their contribution among providers, users, and donors, particularly in Africa.

Dr. Senshaw's insights shed light on the significance of CIS in informing decision-making processes and supporting climate adaptation efforts. By highlighting the need for better understanding and collaboration among stakeholders, he emphasized the potential for enhanced utilization and effectiveness of climate services in addressing the challenges posed by a changing climate.

In the study, Dr. Senshaw revealed that large-scale data from the Feed the Future initiative was utilized, incorporating information from five regions and three rounds of data collection, including baseline, interim, and end line surveys. The findings of the study focused on various aspects, such as the access to Climate Information Services (CIS) and the types of CIS that farmers receive. Additionally, the study explored the main dissemination modalities utilized by farmers and identified self-reported barriers to the use of CIS.

To analyze the data, panel data models were employed, allowing for a comprehensive understanding of the relationships and trends observed. Dr. Senshaw's conclusion highlighted the potential positive impact of accessing climate services on agricultural productivity. The study revealed that improved access to CIS could contribute to enhanced productivity in the agricultural sector, thereby benefiting smallholder farmers and the broader economy.

Moreover, Dr. Senshaw outlined the implications of the study, emphasizing the importance of analyzing different components of climate and weather information. He emphasized the need for proper and timely provision of climate information to ensure its effectiveness in supporting farmers' decision-making processes. Additionally, he stressed the significance of estimating the value that smallholder farmers derive from better seasonal climate forecasts, as this knowledge can inform the development of targeted interventions and policies that maximize the benefits of CIS for agricultural productivity.

Overall, the study shed light on the potential benefits of accessing and utilizing climate services in the agricultural sector. By highlighting key findings and implications, Dr. Senshaw provided valuable insights that can guide future research, policy development, and the implementation of climate information systems to support agricultural resilience and productivity.

Next, Dr. Abebe Ambachew Ayana presented a paper titled "Hunting and Nurturing High-growth Potential Entrepreneurs: Impact of Business Plan Competitions in Ethiopia." He highlighted that poverty alleviation, job creation, and economic growth are top priorities in low-income countries, emphasizing the crucial role of entrepreneurs, particularly start-ups and small firms, in driving transformative change. Dr. Abebe delved into the market failures faced by these entrepreneurs, as well as the interventions and policies designed to address those challenges.

The objective of the paper, as outlined by Dr. Abebe, was to examine the causal effect of an entrepreneur development program on startup business entry and expansion. He provided insights into the research context and data, utilizing administrative and survey data from Bruh and EDC, as well as the training status and the fuzzy RD model.

In his conclusion, Dr. Abebe highlighted that the beneficiaries of the business plan competitions did not outperform their rejected counterparts. However, he made it clear that this result does not necessarily imply the ineffectiveness of the program or the irrelevance of capacity constraints. Rather, he suggested that there may be valid reasons why capacity-building programs may not have detectable impacts, and he emphasized the need for future research to explore these reasons and design more effective interventions.

Dr. Abebe’s findings and insights provided valuable contributions to the understanding of entrepreneur development programs and their impact on start-up businesses. While the study did not find significant performance differences between beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries, it opened up avenues for further investigation and highlighted the importance of considering various factors in designing future capacity-building programs. The paper stimulated fruitful discussions among participants and inspired future research endeavors in the field of entrepreneurship and economic development.

Overall, the 5th Academic Networking event held at the Policy Studies Institute (PSI) was a resounding success, leaving a lasting impact on all participants. The event served as a platform for intellectual exchange, collaboration, and the sharing of innovative research findings.


Total Site Visitor to date

Articles View Hits

Contact Us

Follow Us On