In Opinion pieces,Workshops

Enhancing Ethiopia’s Cultural Heritage: A Strategic Imperative

By Xanthippi Kontogianni*&  Mina Morou**

Ethiopia’s rich cultural diversity and heritage are cornerstones of its global identity, steeped in historical significance and natural wonders. However, preserving and managing this invaluable heritage necessitates meticulous planning and collaborative efforts at both national and regional levels.

In Ethiopia, a federal state divided into 14 regions, the responsibility for safeguarding this heritage lies with the Ethiopian Heritage Authority at the national level and the Culture and Tourism Bureaus distributed across the regional landscape. HERITΛGE, recognizing the pivotal role of regional involvement, embarked on a mission after its inaugural in-country workshop in July 2023 in Addis Ababa. This mission focused on augmenting the strategic planning capacities of Ethiopia’s Culture and Tourism Bureaus, fueled by HERITΛGE’s mapping results.

Led by Ethiopia’s Project Manager, Xanthippi Kontogianni, the HERITΛGE team has meticulously navigated Ethiopia’s heritage landscape since its inception in January 2023. Their dedicated efforts encompassed an exhaustive mapping exercise, identifying training needs and gaps in heritage management across the nation. This inclusive process, involving networking meetings, expert interviews, and a comprehensive online survey, unveiled Ethiopians’ deep pride in their regional cultural and natural heritage assets. Yet, it also highlighted critical challenges: deficient planning strategies, limited community awareness, and substantial gaps in documenting and preserving local heritage.

The workshop on “Strategic Planning for Heritage Managers” emerged as a pivotal response to these concerns. Conducted online from November 24 to 27, this engaging session drew participation from heads, directors, and experts representing regional bureaus of Tigray, Somali, Oromia, and Amhara. Despite connectivity challenges faced by potential attendees due to internet and electricity shortages, Mrs. Selamawit Getachew, Director of the Conservation Department of the Ethiopian Heritage Authority, played a key role in the workshop.

Over three days, the workshop provided comprehensive insights into strategic concepts, encouraging participants to reflect on their bureau’s mission and vision. Utilizing tools like SWOT and Porter’s analysis, they dissected micro and macro environments, identifying critical success factors for effective strategy development and implementation. The workshop concluded by inspiring participants to craft strategic business plans for their respective Culture and Tourism Bureaus, fostering collaboration among team members.

Dr. Atsbha Gebreegziabher, Head of Tigray’s Culture and Tourism Bureau, reflected on the workshop’s impact in the post-war period: “The workshop intensively encouraged me to be more critical in developing strategies, especially during our re-operational phase.” Mrs. Selamawit Getachew praised the participatory approach, acknowledging the instructor’s adeptness in facilitating discussions.

The workshop, spearheaded by Dr. Alexandros Papalexandris, an experienced strategist from the Athens University of Economics & Business, was a HERITΛGE initiative supported by the Humanities in Place Program of the Mellon Foundation.

In conclusion, this strategic intervention signifies HERITΛGE’s commitment to empowering regional bureaus and strengthening heritage management strategies across Ethiopia. Through collaborative efforts and strategic planning, HERITΛGE endeavors to preserve Ethiopia’s remarkable cultural legacy for generations to come. The workshop not only catalyzed strategic thinking but also ignited a shared vision among participants for a more robust future in heritage management. HERITΛGE remains steadfast in advancing strategic initiatives that safeguard and celebrate Ethiopia’s diverse cultural heritage.

*Xanthippi Kontogianni is HERITΛGE’s Ethiopian Programs Manager

**Mina Morou is HERITΛGE’s Africa Programs Manager

Newsletter Sign-up