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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Hawassa has grown explosively in recent years. After 30 years of its establishment, Hawassa is serving as the capital of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples State (SNNPS) since 1991. The 57 years old town consists of eight sub-cities and 32 kebelles. The total population of the town is estimated to be 350,000.
The Ethiopian Herald recently conducted an exclusive interview with Mayor of Hawassa Town Administration, Yonas Yosef on the development progress of the town. Hawassa has been undertaking various projects aimed at reducing poverty. The administration has given prime attention to the development of infrastructure, construction, trade, and social services among others.
Yonas noted that Hawassa town has got its name from the name of “Lake Hawassa.” 'Hawassa' means 'big' in Sidama language. Hawassa was chosen as urban centre due to its natural beauty and attractiveness of the area around. Before 1960, the place was not inhabited by many people, but pastoralists used to graze their cattle around the lake. The existence of water throughout the year and the availability of grass for grazing the cattle steadily appealed the highlanders to visit the area regularly and at the same time people from different surroundings began to settle in the area now become Hawassa.
As far as educational facilities are concerned, Hawassa has 87 kindergartens, 81 primary schools, eight secondary schools, 12 preparatory schools, one university and eleven colleges. These schools are meant to produce citizens with strong sense of responsibility to provide quality education locally and nationally. According to Yonas, higher level educational institutions in the town work to identify and address gaps in skills and competencies of students.
Hawassa also has various health institutions. The number of hospitals has reached five while the number of clinics is 50. There are also seven governmental health centres. The health institutions play an important role in promoting and improving healthcare delivery within the community. The health centres work to address the needs of the community and to build a strong, integrated healthcare service delivery. They help improve the well-being of patients and communities by delivering compassionate, patient and family-centred healthcare, enriched by education, science, and technology, says Yonas.
Concerning road development, Yonas explained that Hawassa has 61.55 Km asphalt, 81.36 Km cobblestone and 312 Km gravel roads. The emerging cobblestone construction industry in Ethiopia is proving to be a major role player not only in increasing the road networks but also in creating job opportunities. Cobblestone roads are expanded to inter-city roads, walkways, car parks and inter-community links.
To increase the growth of tourism development, the town council plans to add the number of tourist accommodation facilities to meet the needs of the ever growing number of tourist flow in to the town. The town has become an ideal transit spot for tourists who travel between Addis Ababa, Moyale, Hawassa, Arba Minch Jinka and Hawassa, Wolayta Sodo, Jimma and Mizanteferi roads.
Among the main tourist attractions in Hawassa area, Mt. Alamura which is a small mountain situated at the south-western end of the town, enables tourists to enjoy a partial view of the town and the lake stretched below it.
The other tourist attraction is the south-western lake shore locally known as 'Amora Gedel'. This place is a perfect spot for birds watch. Gudumale is also a special place in the lake area where the Sidama cultural and spiritual holiday “Fiche” is annually celebrated.
Lake Hawassa is also the most beautiful lake which attracts thousands of tourists each month. The lake is rich in different kinds of fish species like Barbus, Telapia and cart fish for tourists who care to indulge in leisure fishing and consumer fishing for the dwellers. The breezing of cool air in the morning and evening hours rolls the lake with gentle tides and washes millions of plankton to the shore to be devoured by fishes and fish birds.
Moreover, there are three natural heritage sites (spring waters) in the surrounding of the town. Among these, one is Burqito Hot Spring. Located twelve km in the south-eastern direction of the city, Burqito is used for taking baths for it is believed to have a curative nature.
Wondogenet which is located 39 kms from Hawassa was established as a recreation centre in 1970 by Princess Tenagnework Haile-Selassie. It is now run by the Wabe Shebelle Hotels Administration. It is one of the tourist attractions in the surrounding.
Hawassa town has parks as well. Among the major parks, Tikur Wuha Park was previously owned by Ras Andargachew Mesay who was a high ranking official in the 1960’s. It was handed over to the Hawassa Municipality in the 1970’s and was designated as a park ever since. Its total area is estimated 475,037. sq. meters.
The other park is Amora Gedel. The park occupies about 261.910 sq. meters. It is found near the main fish market. It was reserved as the peoples’ recreation park under the municipality.
Apart from being a tourist hot spot, Hawassa has also become one of the leading areas in the country in terms of attracting investors. This is because the town offers investors comparative advantages.
The strategic location of the town along the international highway of Addis Ababa -Moyale, the availability of well developed social and economic infrastructure facilities such as modern telecommunication, electric power, higher education and financial institutions, the presence of abundant, easily trainable and inexpensive labour force in the city and surrounding rural area; and the presence of Textile, Sisal, Ceramics and Flour factories are included give investors coming to the town a comparative advantage.
In order to develop the trade system in the town, activities are being carried out to create market linkage for those organized in associations and engaged in manufacturing. According to the Mayor, the administration mainly focuses on the quality of products and it is undertaking wide-ranging activities in technology transfer and experience sharing to help them produce quality products and become competitive in the market. The enterprises are being encouraged through the provision of loan services and other supports from the government so that they can implement their business ideas. According to the Mayor, the enterprises are producing better quality products compared to imported ones. The administration also organizes bazaars and exhibitions to assist enterprises in creating market linkages with each other.
The other important infrastructure which is expected to further boost the development of the town is the airport which is under construction. According to Yonas, the airport construction also includes maintenance of the old airport and the construction of a new one. The maintenance of old airport will be completed soon and will start service by the end of this year, while the new airport may be completed in the middle of next year, Yonas said.
Hawassa can be considered as one of the best developed towns in Ethiopia. So far there is remarkable progress in socio-economic development through the integrated efforts of government bodies, residents and other organizations.
The Mayor called upon local and international investors to invest in hotels, real estate, horticulture, and marketing centres among others and take advantage of the favourable investment climate and sustainable peace and security in the town in particular and in the country as a whole.