Ethiopia’s years Journey of Kaizen

“Kaizen” landed in Ethiopia.  The term “Kaizen” became common to Ethiopian people, and Kaizen philosophy and technology have been implementing in many places of various sectors, private enterprises, public offices, schools and hospitals. This wide-range dissemination of Kaizen was made by different stakeholders, Ethiopian Kaizen Institutes (EKIs), City and Regional Kaizen Institutes (C/RKIs), Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutes/schools, together with high interest of policy makers and with the commitments of governmental leaders at different levels.

This paragraphs explains what three-phase JICA Kaizen projects were and how these projects contributed to the dissemination of Kaizen in Ethiopia.

The first contact of Ethiopia with the concept of “Kaizen” was made during High-level policy dialogue between the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and Japanese academics. They were discussing development issues and the Prime Minister came to understand that the Kaizen would be an important instrument not only for industrial development, but also for the transformation of the public sectors and the entire society of Ethiopia.  Then, the first phase of the Kaizen Project was launched in October 2009. The object of the project is to verify the effectiveness of Kaizen in Ethiopia, whether Kaizen could take root in Ethiopia.  The Kaizen Unit (KU) was established under Ministry of Industry (MoI) and Kaizen concepts and methods were introduced in 28 manufacturing companies.  Quantitative and qualitative assessment on these pilot companies clearly showed that the Kaizen improved quality, productivity, safety, reducing costs and lead time.  At the final stage of the project, the project developed Kaizen manual as well as National Plan, which consists of objectives and strategies for Kaizen dissemination.  The dissemination plan was taken into consideration in developing National Development Plan (GTP I) in order to formulate the modalities for supporting enterprises of various sizes.

With the successful verification of Kaizen transferability, the Kaizen Unit was upgraded to EKI in October 2011; and the second phase Kaizen Project started in November 2011 for four years under MoI.  This phase aimed to build capacity for the dissemination of Basic-level Kaizen for quality and productivity improvement.  The target was EKI consultants and TVET teachers.  The training provided was the combination of one-month Classroom Training (CRT) and six-month In-Company Training (ICT).  In the ICTs, 65 EKI trainees implement Kaizen in 65 large and medium-size enterprises (LMEs) with basic Kaizen methods and technologies, such as 5S, Quality Control (QC) and 7QC tools, Muda (Waste) elimination, and IE tools.  190 TVET trainees did so in 190 Small and Micro Enterprises (SMEs).  The results of the ICTs confirmed that significant improvement of working environment and working efficiency, which made better the productivity and quality level of the products of the entire enterprises.

The third phase Kaizen Project, which is currently going on (2015-2020) under Civil Service Commission (initially under Ministry of Public Service and Human Resource Development), aims to develop Kaizen practitioners in both private and public sectors through the Kaizen dissemination system led by EKI.  To this end, the project has been fostering Intermediate-level Kaizen consultants through 7-month training, including the ICT in the selected LMEs (so far 31 companies involved).  In addition, EKI provides the Master Course in Kaizen (Quality and Productivity Improvement) in collaboration with Mekelle University, to enhance the academic aspect of Kaizen practices (48 consultants graduated).  To enhance management capacity of EKI as well as the managers of the enterprises, the Project also has been providing the management skill trainings.   Further, in order to ensure the quality of consulting services, the system of certifying and registering the qualified consultants, so-called “CARS” (Certification, Accreditation and Registration System for Kaizen Consultant) was established in 2017. So far, the certification exams were conducted twice, qualifying 29 consultants.  Through different activities, the EKI and the Project attempt to response the diverse needs of Kaizen dissemination in terms of industrial type, geographical expansion as well as level of Kaizen technology.  Further, as the Center of Excellence (CoE) of Kaizen, EKI has been developing its capacity and providing supports to Kaizen dissemination in neighboring countries, such as South Sudan, Zambia and Djibouti.  Eventually, all the efforts will bear fruits in providing good quality of Kaizen consulting for Ethiopian companies, Ethiopian people, and furthermore, for other African countries.