From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Wed Nov 11 2009 - 06:45:09 EST
“Eritrea is a land of opportunities for me,” Alemseghed Ghebrekidan
M. Negash, Jul 22, 2009
Alemseghed Ghebrekidan was born in 1971 and graduated in Urban Engineering
from the College of Urban Planning in Addis Ababa in 1992. He also attended
Masters in Housing and Inner City Revitalization from the Institute of
Housing and Urban Development Studies in Rotterdam, The Netherlands and Lund
University, Sweden in 2003. He is now teaching at the Eritrean Institute of
Technology at Mai-Nefhi. Shaebia.org interviewed him. Excerpts:
Q: What did you do right after your graduation?
I was then employed at the Ministry of Public works in Ethiopia, where I was
involved in preparing allotment and action plans and area plans in various
towns for two years. Following this I opened my own private firm where I
gave services in the fields of development planning and other related
In 1995, I came to Eritrea and voluntarily set up several development
planning works as part of my contribution to the overall national
reconstruction and development efforts that had been going on incessantly
Part of the works were in the form of proposals, research based studies and
working project plans related to urbanization, urbanism, conservation and
tourism development, housing and infrastructural planning, upgrading and
modification of slum areas and promoting awareness among society through
planning processes, experiencing in the use of local constructions materials
and traditional technology, as the case warranted.
I also continued the consultation services in exploring ideas of
collaboration in Urban-Rural Linkage interests, as well as exercising with
alternative planning agendas and processes that are targeted towards
improving quality of life through integrated planning approaches and
Q: In most of the third world, and especially in Africa, some people tend
not to return home after completing their studies, let alone to be willing
to give services in their communities. So what was the prime motive for you
to come to your homeland?
I think it’s a critical and sensitive question because there are lots of
professionals who come back home after completing their studies. But to deal
with the question, first of all I don’t have an interest to stay in any
other country; and of course I have benefited a lot from formal and informal
learning opportunities since my arrival here in 1995.
Q: In your opinion, how can Africans fight back the brain drain?
I think if every body truly recognizes himself in respect to his
socio-cultural values, brain drain could never be a big problem.
Q: What challenges did you face during your studies abroad?
My study in Europe was very challenging. Because I had some financial
constraints, I paid for my tuitions. I had planned to get financial support
from my firm and relatives, but there were some technical problems and I
couldn’t get the required amount. But I had every possible support from
relatives, friends and the Embassy of Eritrea in the Netherlands as well as
Eritreans residing in the Netherlands.
Q: Being raised in Ethiopia, how did you tackle or overcome the cultural
differences when you came to Eritrea?
My parents and especially my mother was the source of my cultural strength.
After losing my father at the age of 6, my mother taught us the significance
of Eritrean socio-cultural values. My involvement in several national
projects and the national service itself also played a significant role in
broadening my knowledge of the culture. So I tried to integrate myself in
Q: Can you briefly describe your experience in Eritrea vis-ŕ-vis that in the
Eritrea is a country that brought its dignity exerting maximum effort and
paying tremendous cost. It is a country free from external interference and
that it depends on its own resources and strategies. In this connection,
every Eritrean is proud of these irreplaceable values. Therefore, because of
the rebirth of Eritrea; Eritrea is reflected as a binding agent for its
Q: What do you think Eritrea will be in the coming few years?
Eritrea has not only a geographical importance and strategic location, but
also a reputation as being the centre of competence, a place of innovation
and an area of investment. Eritrea is booming in all its regions rich in
diversified resources and irreplaceable assets. It has preserved its
attraction and instantly recognizable quality.
Considering its experience from the struggle years and its self-reliance
strategy that it is still pursuing, it is not difficult to forecast
Eritrea’s future. It would have been impossible to predict Eritrea’s future
if it depended on the aid from others and operated on external agendas. So
as far as I am concerned, it is not very far to see a strong and prosperous
Q: You are an instructor at the Eritrean Institute of Technology (EIT). How
much do you enjoy the profession?
As I have said before, Eritrea is a land of opportunities for me. I am very
glad to teach in EIT. I served in EIT as a staff member and I’m still
working there part-time. I am not only sharing my experience in EIT, but
also other governmental sectors and organizations. I love sharing
Q: What are your plans for the future?
My plans include enriching my professional achievements and to work more on
the nation’s development strategies.
Q: What do you think should be the role of Eritrean intellectuals in the
Diaspora in the rebuilding of the nation?
>From what I see in the media and other events, I admire initiatives taken by
various volunteer Eritreans from the Diaspora in different important areas
like medicine, sports, and so on as part of the nation building processes.
Q: Do you have any messages for Eritreans in the Diaspora, and especially
the educated youth?
Time is running fast. Several multidisciplinary intellectuals are being
produced in the country. Thus my message to Eritreans in the Diaspora and
the educated youth in particular is to adopt their intellectualism within
the Eritrean context and to familiarize themselves with young intellectuals
in the country.
Q: Any thing you want to add …
If you contribute and work hard for your country, you are the primary
beneficiary of its rewards. Hence we should recognize the benefits of
contributing to, and working hard for the cause. And we should also
recognize others’ efforts and encourage better moves.
At the end, I would be grateful if you approached other nationals with
potential and who are committed and working hard on their duties and
responsibilities, but didn’t get an opportunity to share their story.
“It is not what we get. But who we become, what we contribute….that gives
meaning to our lives.” Anthony Robbins
© Copyright 2001-2008 Shaebia.org
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