Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ethiopia's Farms and finance

The government has a mission to use a strong state to build infrastructure and develop the industrial and agricultural sectors. It argues that it could repeat the rapid growth of East Asia in the 1990s, but critics warn about intimidation of the opposition and the risks of crony capitalism.

The rebel army that chased the Derg military regime out of power in 1991 inherited a time bomb that could easily have spun out of control. Massively poor, plagued with chronic food shortages and with a population explosion around the corner, Ethiopia sat in a region gripped by post-Cold War insecurity.

Today, the neighbourhood is not any easier. The population has almost doubled from 50 million to 92 million people.

Now, Ethiopia is mentioned in the same breath as the East Asian miracle and is perhaps on the cusp of massive state-driven take off.

The unassuming Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn tells The Africa Report: "Everyone is now talking about the Ethiopian renaissance".

Even institutions traditionally at odds with state-led models recognise the progress. In an October 2013 report, the International Monetary Fund praised Ethiopia's "strong growth performance and impressive progress in decreasing poverty and inequality".

World Bank Loans Ethiopia US$250 Million

Ethiopia has been given a $250 million loan from the World Bank to finance a job creation project.

The loan supports Ethiopia’s efforts to create new jobs in the manufacturing sector through the development of industrial zones in Addis Ababa and enhancing their links with the local economy.

State Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Ahmed Shide, said that the establishment of industrial zones will spur both foreign direct and domestic investments to Ethiopia.

Ethiopia deports MENA's manager in Addis Ababa

The Egyptian Embassy in Addis Ababa sent an official note to the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry to express its deep regret at the decision of Ethiopian authorities to deport the manager of Egypt's official Middle East News Agency in Addis Ababa for no apparent reason.

"The ministry has formally asked the Ethiopian authorities to provide explanations and clarifications for deporting [MENA's office manager] without notifying the Egyptian Embassy in Addis Ababa immediately once he was detained," spokesperson for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry Badr Abdel Aaty said.

El-Sisi called for further negotiations with Ethiopia

Former army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi answered questions about political prisoners, the Ethiopian dam and other issues in the second half of his third pre-election interview on Monday.

Three anchors from the privately owned TV stations Al-Nahar, Dream and Al-Hayat fielded questions at the frontrunner for two hours.

When asked if he would release those jailed for breaking the controversial protest law, El-Sisi said: "I will do anything that will help promote stability and social justice."

He emphasised that he was not speaking about the Muslim Brotherhood.

The former army chief spoke of a "Marshall" plan in the works for Egypt, similar to the US sponsored plan that rebuild Europe in the aftermath of World War II.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Visa pushes for more access to barely-tapped Ethiopia

May 26 (Reuters) - Visa Inc., which is piloting Ethiopia's first international debit card, is seeking to persuade the government to ease tight restrictions on banks in an effort to boost the use of electronic payments.

Ethiopia has one of Africa's fastest-growing economies bu

The government bars foreign banks, saying it needs to protect domestic lenders, and local debit cards have until now not worked abroad.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Man accused of torture, killing in Ethiopia faces sentencing in US for immigration crimes

DENVER –  A man who authorities say masked his identity as a brutal guard at an Ethiopian prison faces sentencing for immigration fraud.

Kefelgn Alemu Worku (kah-FEH'-lun ah-LEE'-moo WER'-koo) was convicted in October of identity theft and lying on immigration forms by denying he committed political violence.

Witnesses testified at his trial about torture and beatings they suffered at the hands of Worku at a prison in the 1970s during a government suppression campaign known as the Red Terror.

A former prisoner recognized him in Denver in 2011 and told authorities.

Ethiopia crackdown on student protests taints higher education success

Western backers of the Ethiopian education system should not ignore reports of violent clashes on university campuses
Over the past 15 years, Ethiopia has become home to one of the world's fastest-growing higher education systems. Increasing the number of gradu
ates in the country is a key component of the government's industrialisation strategy and part of its ambitious plan to become a middle-income country by 2025. Since the 1990s, when there were just two public universities, almost 30 new institutions have sprung up.

On the face of it, this is good news for ordinary Ethiopians. But dig a little deeper and tales abound of students required to join one of the three government parties, with reports of restricted curricula, classroom spies and crackdowns on student protests commonplace at universities.

Ethiopian Airlines receives latest Boeing Dreamliner

Ethiopian Airlines has announced the delivery of its seventh Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Ethiopian was the first in the world outside of Japan and the first in Africa to receive the super efficient 787 Dreamliner back in August 2012.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is the most technologically advanced commercial aircraft in the world, providing passengers the best possible on-board comfort with greatly reduced noise, higher ceiling, the biggest windows in the sky, better humidity and air quality, unique lighting and an overall enhanced travel experience.

Ethiopian’s B787s can be enjoyed on routes to and from the US, Canada, Africa, Europe, Brazil and China.

Ethiopian will take delivery of three additional Boeing 787 aircraft in 2014.

Tullow Oil finds water-bearing reservoirs in Ethiopia

OIL/GAS exploration firm Tullow Oil has found water-bearing reservoirs in its South Omo block, onshore Ethiopia.
Tullow operates the South Omo block with a 50pc equity interest - Africa Oil has a 30pc stake and Marathon Oil another 20pc stake.

"The frontier wildcat well encountered lacustrine and volcanic rocks including almost 100 metres of net sandstone reservoir within siltstones and claystones," Tullow said in a statement.

Trace thermogenic gas shows were recorded at 1,900 metres, it added.

Ethiopia’s Independent Publishers May Face Another Hurdle

In what appears to be one of a collection of measures to silence the press ahead of 2015 elections, Ethiopian authorities in the Communications Ministry are preparing a new system to control the distribution of print media. Privately owned newspapers and magazines, possibly the only remaining independent news sources in the country, would face more state control if the proposal is set into motion.

Originally proposed in February, the new measures are still at a draft stage. They aim to ensure that private newspapers and magazines are distributed through one company with links to the ruling party, according to local journalists.

The proposal, entitled "A Draft Document for Making the Print Media Accessible," claims that supporters of the opposition are mainly in control of the current newsprint distribution system, according to the draft proposal in my possession.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Women in Ethiopia struggle to survive without water

In the Konso Region of southern Ethiopia, the struggle for clean, safe water is a daily reality for women and young girls.

“Bringing the water is not a simple task,” says Mariam Bakaule, a mother standing at the edge of the mountaintop village of Jarso. “This is the essence of women. Water and woman are synonymous here.”

The village of Jarso, like many of the others in the area, overlooks a vast valley stretching towards the Kenyan border. Yet the relative greenery of the region is deceptive. For the 13,000 people in Jarso, lack of rain in recent years has caused crops of maize, sorghum and haricot beans to fail.

UN Expecting to Feed 6.5 Million Ethiopians This Year

GENEVA — The World Food Program will help to feed nearly 6.5 million Ethiopians this year, the U.N. agency said on Tuesday, with the country hit by locusts, neighboring war and sparse rainfall.

“We are concerned because there is the beginning of a locust invasion in the eastern part of the country, and if it's not properly handled it could be of concern for the pastoralist population living there,” WFP spokeswoman Elizabeth Byrs told a U.N. briefing in Geneva.

“And in the northern part of Ethiopia there has been less rain than average for the third or fourth consecutive year.”

Ethiopia is also dealing with growing refugee numbers due to the conflict in neighboring South Sudan, sapping WFP's budget for feeding new arrivals in the country, which is at risk of a shortfall as soon as next month.