of Handicrafts in the Economy
The handicraft sector plays a significant
role in the development of the economy of the country.
and social life of
Ethiopians. These includes preserving cultural inheritance,
employment generation, transformation of local raw materials
into useful goods and supplies to meet the needs of both rural
and urban communities, income generation
linkage with other sectors.
Preserving cultural inheritance:
Ethiopia is a home of some 70
or more million people of diverse ethnic background and culture.
Handicrafts has been playing a great role in preserving the
culture identity of the various culture and ethnic groups by
adapting and promoting their traditional crafts to modern requirements
while retaining the essential indigenous characteristics in
them. Handicrafts are expression of Ethiopian age-old culture
as a commercial commodity handicrafts have become an important
component of the tourism industry. Handicrafts promotes the
culture identity of various nationalities by adapting and promoting
their traditional craft to modern requirements.
Manpower is the primary in-put in the process of production
of goods and rendering of services. This is especially true
among less developed countries where most of the manufacturing
establishments are labor intensive. In most developing countries
including Ethiopia, there exist a chronic and ever worsening
imbalance between the demand for and supply of labor. The reasons
for the abundance of labor in Ethiopia are several of which
scarcity of capital and high rates of population growth are
the major ones. According to ILO/JASPA report during
national workshops in 1985, the problem of unemployment the
country is facing is more acute on youth and women since the
number of new entrants joining the labor forces (that is those
who reach 15 years) is by far greater than those who leave the
labor forces due to retirement (those who are 55 and above).
In general, the handicraft sector provides the bulk of urban
employment, especially for migrants from rural areas, school
drop outs and for those women and youth that could not get the
opportunity to be employed in the industry sector.
Income provision: In Africa, millions of workers
earn their livelihood in the informal sector, and the incomes
they earn allow an additional 200 million children, out of school
youths, old people and the disabled to survive (JASPA, 1993).
The major element of informal sector is handicraft so that today
most of the urban society base their life on the income generated
from this sector. The sector requires only home based self-training
and generates alternative employment for the peasantry, women
at home or the handicapped thus giving families durable and
sustainable extra income.
with other sectors:
The handicraft sector has very important linkage among economic
sectors (Agriculture, industry and Tourism). The linkage to
agriculture is output linkage in which the sector provides the
agriculture sector with farming tools, equipment and services,
etc, the linkage with Industry is imput linkage to the sector
as it provides equipment, hand tools and spare parts; the linkage
to tourism is out put linkage as the sector supply handicrafts
especially souvenirs to tourists.
and Tourism: Based
on the Ethiopian Tourism Commission, the forecast for tourist
arrival was to grow at the rate of 4.5% from 1990 to 1995 and
at 5.5% from 1995 to 2000.Intra African tourism was to grow
by 36% in the 1990s reaching as high as 42% in 2010. South
and East Africa have the lion share of the increase. The basic
elements of Ethiopias culture are themselves an essential part
of the tourist products, also the variety of Ethiopian handicraft
products has been playing an important role in the development
of sustainable tourism at the national and regional levels in
which case it brings general economic benefits through poverty
alleviation and easing up of un-employment.
INDUSTRY PROBLEMS, CONSTRAINTS AND WAY FORWARD
To consolidate efforts directed at revitalizing the traditional
arts and craft meaningfully and in a lasting manner, there must
be concrete and extensive measures taken to the development of
handicrafts. Areas of interventions include product adaptation
and development, marketing, finance and training.
Marketing promotion: The
majority of tourists coming to Ethiopia are most likely those
who have developed a taste for high quality standards of handicraft.
Handicraft products therefore form part of the hospitality package
sold to tourists. Assistances in marketing are in the area of
organizing special handicraft exhibitions; orienting handicraft
production and selection of products based on trends analysis;
designing and adopting a prestige image; presentation and packaging,
etc.; set up coherent and advertising programs; establish net-works
between artisans and customers hence minimize the role of intermediaries
and speculators; and prepare catalogue and brochures for different
handicraft products with special feature and description.
Training: The main problem facing handicraft
producers is one of low productivity, in part, due to low skill
levels prevailing in the sector. Yet, evidence exists to show
that most handicraft sector producers have the potential to perform
at much higher skill levels than they currently possess. Projects
should, therefore be formulated to assist as many of them as possible.
The provision of facilities for technical and managerial training
to upgrade the skills of operators is an important requirement.
Provision of credit: In-accessibility
of credit to the sector is a major obstacle to the progress of
handicrafts. Formal credits are often inappropriate for the needs
of handicraft entrepreneurs. Establishing and expanding the micro
financing institutions is very important to ease the problem of
finance in the sector. Such types of financing institutions contributes
more to the economic development in most developing countries.
The Federal Government through the Federal Micro and Small Enterprises
Development Agency (FeMSEDA),
however, is implementing a number of interventions to promote
Micro and Small Enterprises in the Country. These interventions
are outlined in the MSE Development strategy as the Creation
of Enabling Legal Framework through the promulgation and proclamation
of the Law of institutional arrangement for MSEs; the Inter linkages
promotion law; the cooperatives promotion law; the Chamber of
Industry and trade proclamation and the Micro and Small enterprises
finance proclamation; Streamlining Regulatory conditions;
and Other specific Support areas/programs mentioned in
the strategy are access to finance; incentive
schemes; encouraging partnership (joint ventures/Link
up); training in entrepreneurship
skills and management; ; access to market; access
to information and advice; physical infrastructure; and institutional
Strengthening of private Sector Associations and Chambers.