Established in 2001, the Ethiopian Knowledge and Technology Transfer Society (EKTTS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to mobilizing educational resources, including books and computers, to support the development of Ethiopia. Working with Ethiopians in the diaspora, international donor organizations, EKTTS has brought more than 1.5 million books and 4,200 computers valued at more than USD 44.3 million to millions of students all throughout Ethiopia.
The idea was initiated by two old-time friends, Berhane Abate, a civil engineer and Syioum Gebeyehou, an electrical engineer and Ethiopian American. EKTTS was first formed in the State of California (USA) in on July 2001 as a Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation Law for charitable purposes within the meaning of Section 501 (C)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. It was soon re-established in February 26, 2002 in Addis Ababa as a non-profit local NGO under as an indigenous NGO under the Provision of Civil Code of Ethiopia of 1960 and the Association Registration Regulations Legal Notice # 321 of 1966.
The objective was to organize and coordinate knowledge and technology support from national and international organizations overseas in support of its development endeavors. This was a time when the new EPRDF Government launched a National Rehabilitation and Reconstruction program to recover from the economic crisis following the 17 years of military regime.
Knowledge and technology transfer as a concept is a recent development that has been gaining increasing popularity in recent years. Today, the subject has become an important point of discussion in major international, regional and national forums and among experts, scholars and politicians all over the world.
Knowledge and/or technology transfer is often discussed in association with brain drain and third world developing countries but it has also become a matter of interest to the developed nations as well as they are the main beneficiaries of brain drain.
The world is shrinking into a small village of nations and peoples thanks to development witnessed in communication technology.
Unlike the conventional methods of education and training, modern knowledge and/or technology transfer connotes the use of much easier, faster, inexpensive but effective ways and means of receiving, giving and sharing new ideas, know-how’s, experiences and technologies between and among nations, organizations, groups and individuals.
Ethiopia has been one of the victims of brain drain in the African continent with over 1.5 million people (40% of which are considered knowledge workers) living in the industrial countries.
Continued drainage of the limited human power resource for such an extended period of time has created huge deficit of qualified manpower in the country retarding national economic and social development.
There has been growing interest among the government and in the diaspora in recent years to work together and collaborate in national development. The government has taking a number of important policy measures to make the come back of the Diasporas very easy and attractive.
As an organization, EKTTS has tried over the years to establish contact and engage the diaspora in the knowledge and technology transfer initiative. The outcome of such efforts has been generally encouraging although much more remains to be done in terms of identifying how, where and how diaspora organizations could be located and where they can fit in the national development agenda.
Thanks to the combined efforts of the media, press and organizations like EKTTS, who took the lead in trying to create a network with the diaspora and initiated the idea “Knowledge and Technology Transfer Initiative”, the two have become major issues of discussion. The number of national NGOs working on Diaspora issues has been on the rise over the past few years.