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News: Newly formed press secretariat sees the end of government communication affairs office

Yared Tsegaye

Addis Abeba, November 05/2018 – A newly formed Press Secretariat department at the Office of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was announced today, bringing the end of  the Government Communication Affairs Office (GCAO), a federal agency led until recently by Ahmed Shide, now finance minister, as the main channel of communicating government policies and statements to the media.

Headed by Billene Seyoum, and her deputy, Helen Yosef, two experienced media professionals, the office held introductory presser earlier today to local and international media representatives at the office of the Prime Minister. During the presser, Billene presented two talking points to members of the media: a one page planning dashboard containing the yearlong strategy of the government dubbed “Ethiopia: a New Horizon of Hope” and plans by the Press Secretariat to engage the media.

The performance evaluation system dashboard the new press secretary presented to the media is aimed at communicating the government’s plans and undertakings in eleven different areas to the public. These include, but not limited to, the government ‘s plan to improve lack of democratic governance and weak judiciary, improve export performance, plans to contain proliferation of illegal weapons trafficking and internal displacements, as well as plans to minimize  mounting external debt and improving domestic finance mobilization, among others.

Although Billene said further details on how to engage the media will be communicated from her office in due course, she announced that journalists working for media organizations which are registered at the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority will have permanent badges issued by the secretariat to attend media events and briefings at the Prime Minister’s office .

Shimelis Abdissa, who has replaced Fitsum Arega as the the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, will oversee the Press Secretariat. Shimelis is executive committee member of Oromo Democratic Party (ODP) and the ruling EPRDF. “There is nothing to hide behind the scene hereafter. We will be working with the media more transparent than ever,” Shimels assured the media.

A new twitter handle dedicated to updates from the Prime Minister’s office was also communicated by Billene from her own twitter account.

During the presser Billene announced the end of the Government Communication Affairs Office (GCAO), which has been the main channel between local and international media and the government. “We have a new structure now,” she said adding, the Press Secretariat has now taken over all the responsibilities of GCAO. All government communications will also be channeled through various social media outlets. AS


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