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Haile Gebrselassie: From athletics to the boardroom
November 23, 2014 | 0 Comments

Gebrselassie wants new investors to come to Ethiopia Gebrselassie wants new investors to come to Ethiopia[/caption]

Haile Gebrselassie is the most famous man in Ethiopia. The double Olympic gold medallist and five-time world champion over 10,000m had a glittering athletics career and is now a successful and busy entrepreneur.

So when you manage to get an interview with him, you don’t want to be late. Imagine our dismay then as we arrived at the Alem Building, affectionately named after Gebrselassie’s wife, to be told that a power cut meant the lifts were not working and we had to lug our cameras and equipment up eight flights of stairs to the top of the complex. Fortunately we got there before he did (he was also apparently delayed by the broken lifts). When he does enter, wearing a charcoal grey suit and blue shirt, the 41-year-old smiles broadly and apologises for the power cut. He appears to be breathing normally, unaffected by the climb up the stairs. He laughs it off and reminds us that he has lived most of his life in Addis Ababa, the highest city in Africa, and by now he’s used to the high altitude and also the frequent power cuts. The panoramic view from his office of the city and the nearby construction sites prompts a few questions about the investment choices he has made, which have turned him into a wealthy businessman. He plays down the role of his property business though, saying it hasn’t yielded high returns. Using the winnings from his athletics career Gebrselassie first dabbled in real estate by building a multipurpose centre in Addis Ababa. New ventures However, he later chose to diversify his portfolio by buying land for a coffee plantation. Coffee is the mainstay of the Ethiopian economy. It is the country’s largest export commodity and more than 20 million smallholders are involved in the trade.

The sector is so lucrative that a commodity exchange was established a decade ago, through which farmers working in co-operative unions can sell to the New York market through facilitated deals.

For the “emperor of Ethiopian athletics”, coffee farming is a fairly recent venture, but it has already proven to be a profitable investment. “We have 1,500 hectares of land and we [used] 500 of that to plant full of coffee in two years,” he says. “Now we export organic coffee to other countries.” But he goes on: “That’s not enough, we in Ethiopia are rich in different resources.” Which explains his latest endeavour into the mining arena. [caption id="attachment_14354" align="alignright" width="624"]Gebrselassie set 27 world records and won Olympic gold in Sydney (pictured) and Atlanta Gebrselassie set 27 world records and won Olympic gold in Sydney (pictured) and Atlanta[/caption] However, with mining companies still prospecting for gold, it may be a while before anyone can assess the full potential of a new mining industry in Ethiopia. ‘I believe in action’ Gebrselassie is obviously proud of his success in business, but he says people who assume that opportunities came easily to him because of his fame would be wrong. Shaking his head, he refers to the earlier electricity cuts and says, “Me too, I am affected.” In addition, he says that he had to build the road leading to his coffee farm, because if he had waited for the government it may have taken five or six years.

Turning to athletics, I ask if it was hard to make the shift from the track to the boardroom. He admits that he needed to make some adjustments, especially because in business there is no instant success.

“I believe in action, running is action – running is just what you see… you win or not. In business you have to plan and wait.” He says his biggest challenge was working in a team and not being able to set personal goals. It’s been a humbling experience for the man who followed up his success on the track by setting world records in the marathon. “What I learnt is patience. A marathon is like two hours-plus of running. The 10,000m is less than 30 minutes. The same thing when I switch from running to business – I learn more patience.” Clear thinking Although he has now swapped his running shorts for a dapper suit he still finds joy in running and plans to compete in a race for people over the age of 40. Every day he jogs along the hills of Entoto, a mountainside town outside Addis Ababa. He says the morning air helps him think clearly. Interestingly, there have been moments in his business career when his mind wasn’t so clear. He recalls how 15 years ago, he decided to build the first ever cinema that would show locally made Ethiopian films, despite there being no local film industry. His architect questioned the sanity of the project. Gebrselassie laughs heartily when he remembers how it all happened. He found a freelance cameraman, commissioned him to write a script and after a few months an amateur film was made. The first screening had five customers, the next had 10, later 15 and thereafter another film was made. Just like that the local movie industry was born in Addis Ababa. He smirks and shrugs his shoulders, saying, “That’s how one creates something.” Japanese philosophy While the movie business entailed taking a risk, Gebrselassie is more measured when he considers what Africa needs to do in order to change the shape of local economies. Staring out of the window, looking at a city that’s rising from being a socialist-controlled economy into a free market, he makes a simple plea. “If you want to help Africa, don’t bring money. Rather, bring good ideas.” With that thought, the athlete-turned-businessman excuses himself, late for a leadership seminar taking place down the road. It’s a lesson about how to apply the Japanese kaizen philosophy in your business. He believes the session will help him streamline his thinking, his business and ultimately the country. He believes these are the lessons that will make Ethiopia function better as a frontier market that new investors are watching closely. *Source BBC]]>

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Ethiopia to Take the Lead in Liberalizing African Skies
November 18, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Kaleyesus Bekele* [caption id="attachment_14238" align="alignleft" width="290"]Photo: Addis Fortune Ethiopia takes steps towards liberalising African skies. Photo: Addis Fortune
Ethiopia takes steps towards liberalising African skies.[/caption] Ethiopia is to take the lead in fully implementing the Yamoussoukro Declaration (YD) and liberalizing the African skies. In 1999 African Ministers responsible for civil aviation gathered in the Ivorian city of Yamoussoukro and adopted the Yamoussoukro Declaration that calls for the liberalization of African skies for African airlines. The declaration aims at establishing a single African air transport market by avoiding market restrictions imposed by bilateral air service agreements. The decision was adopted by African heads of state in 2000 with a two year grace period. However, after 20 years African states have not been able to fully implement the declaration. African skies are not open to African airlines. The African air transport market is still restricted by protectionist bilateral air services agreements. At the African Airlines Association’s (AFRAA) 46th annual general assembly held from November 9-11 in Algiers, Algeria the secretary general of the association, Elijah Chingosho (PhD), said that African states are expected to announce the full implementation of the Yamoussoukro Declaration at the African Union Summit to be held in Addis Ababa in January 2015. Chingosho said that in the coming few weeks champion countries will take the lead in announcing the full implementation of the YD. Speaking of the Ebola epidemic, Chingosho said that it is science not fear that should guide African nations. “We should tackle the problem together scientifically. We should not isolate the affected countries,” Chingosho said. Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO, Tewolde Gebremriam, who participated at the forum told The Reporter that Ethiopian is willing and ready to take the lead in liberalizing African skies for African airlines. “The plan is to establish a single African air transport market by 2015. By the end of 2015, bilateral air service agreements should be null and void,” Tewolde said. Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Togo, Nigeria are expected to be the champion countries to announce the full implementation of the YD before January. A recent study commissioned by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) lists the benefits African states could reap by liberating their air transport market. The study was conducted by an independent consulting firm, InterVISTAS, on 12 countries. The study indicates that the 12 countries could generate additional 1.3 billion dollars to their GDP and create extra 155,000 jobs by liberalizing their markets. The study indicates that Ethiopia could open additional 14,800 jobs and generate extra 59.8 million dollars GDP. An aviation expert that The Reporter spoke to at the AFRAA conference said that African states have been very slow in implementing the YD. “African states often speak of African economies integration but ironically most African states deny traffic rights to African airlines and grant it to non-African carriers, mostly to Gulf carriers,” the expert said. “This has to change,” he added. In a related development, AFRAA honored Ethiopian Airlines as the “Best African Airline of the Year” during the association’s annually general assembly. Tewolde Gebremariam, Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO, received the accolade. Ethiopian was crowned “Airline of the Year” for its exceptional results in 2013, consistent profitability, and sound strategy, which has enabled it to forge win-win partnerships with fellow sisterly African airlines. This is the third year in a row that Ethiopian has continued to receive the award from AFRAA. Upon receiving the award, Tewolde remarked: “We are highly honored for this recognition by fellow sisterly airlines in Africa. The award goes, first and foremost, to the more than 8,000 employees at Ethiopian, who work very hard every day to provide the best services on the ground and in the air to our valued customers. We also thank our customers for giving us the opportunity to serve them and for traveling on Ethiopian in great numbers. It is also a testimony of the soundness of our Vision 2025 fast, profitable and sustainable growth strategy.” Tewolde said although Africa is registering rapid economic and travel growth, this growth is primarily benefiting non-African carriers. “The times are really challenging for African airlines, whose very survival is at risk, unless two things happen very quickly. Firstly, African carriers must look inwards in the continent to leverage on the available internal resources to create synergy through collaborative partnership among themselves. Today, Africa has world class Aviation Training Centers, MRO facilities and management expertise. I am convinced that there are ample opportunities for deepened commercial, technical and other types of partnerships among African carriers. Secondly, Africa must become one single unified market without any restriction for African airlines. The continued fragmentation of our skies is only benefiting foreign carriers and will lead to our certain demise. African governments must act now and fast to unify African skies, which would also give great impetus to the continent’s economic integration.” *Source Allafrica]]>

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Ethiopia: Ark of Covenant Reported Stolen by Church Authorities
November 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

patriarch-460x307 Axum| The Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, His Holiness Abune Mathias, announced this morning that the most prized biblical treasure in the world, the Ark of Covenant, was stolen last night from the catacombs of the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion.  The guardians of the artefact were allegedly put to sleep through the use of chemical weapons, before the robbers entered the crypt and stole the precious Holy item. The criminal operation was reportedly executed by a team of 12 to 16 highly-trained professionals who travelled aboard two black military helicopters. They landed less than 500 meters away from their objective after allegedly arriving from the East. The men were dressed in black military-style uniforms and seemed to function as a well coordinated army unit. They were equipped with night-vision equipment and armed with high caliber weapons, giving them an incredible advantage over the local security forces. The 11 guards and armed volunteers present on the site to defend the Ark were neutralized by the thieves, using some high technology grenades that released a rare opium-based soporific gas. The  robbers then went into strenuous labor, using jackhammers and explosives to enlarge the corridors in various locations inside the catacombs  leading to the Ark, in order to be able to remove the large chest from its underground vault. The entire operation was over in less than an hour, an incredibly short time considering the number of obstacles that had to be overcome. This amazing efficiency suggests that the thieves had repeated the operation and had carefully prepared their crime. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church claims to possess the Ark of the Covenant in a chapel in the small town of Axum, in their country’s northern Highlands. It arrived nearly 3,000 years ago, they say, and has been guarded by a succession of virgin monks who, once anointed, are forbidden to set foot outside the chapel grounds until they die. No one except the Guardians are ever allowed to see the Ark, not even the Patriarch of the Church.

[caption id="attachment_14172" align="alignright" width="300"]Few signs of the crime were visible this morning on the site, but a lot of damage was reported inside the catacombs under the building. Few signs of the crime were visible this morning on the site, but a lot of damage was reported inside the catacombs under the building.[/caption] The story is told in the Kebra Negast (in Ge’ez language, Glory of the Kings), Ethiopia’s chronicle of its royal line: the Queen of Sheba, one of its first rulers, traveled to Jerusalem to benefit from King Solomon’s wisdom; on her way home, she bore Solomon’s son, Menelik. A few years later, Menelik went to visit his father, and on his return journey was accompanied by the firstborn sons of some Israelite nobles—who, unbeknown to him, stole the ark and carried it with them to Ethiopia.
When Menelik learned of the theft, he reasoned that since the ark’s frightful powers hadn’t destroyed his retinue, it must be God’s will that it remain with him.  It was then presumably kept in the islands of Lake Tana for about four hundred years and finally taken to Axum, where it was kept safe for more than two thousand years.
The disappearance of the Ark is certainly dramatic news for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, as much of its prestige came from the possession of the relic and many of its rituals were centered on it. His Holiness Abune Mathias was visibly emotional when he made the announcement many of the journalists and faithfuls present for the press conference, burst into tears when they heard the news.
  *Source worldnewsdailyreport]]>

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Ethiopia: Boeing Aircraft Turned Into a Restaurant
November 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Berhanu Fekade* Ethiopian Airlines-owned property – a Boeing 737 aircraft – has been sold and turned into a hotel and restaurant business here. [caption id="attachment_13992" align="alignleft" width="290"]Photo: The Reporter The new aircraft hotel and restaurant located in Burayu town, Ethiopia. Photo: The Reporter
The new aircraft hotel and restaurant located in Burayu town, Ethiopia.[/caption] Guttama Gutta, the owner of the new aircraft hotel, told The Reporter that he invested some 30 million birr for the purchasing, refurbishing and decoration of the aircraft, which is now located in the town of Burayu, some 15 km west of the capital. Guttama said that he made the investment in the hope of creating a type of recreational center in Burayu. The construction and installation of the aircraft, and having it ready for catering services, took two years, Guttama said. When asked why he wanted to set up an aircraft restaurant in the town, he explained that his intention was to upgrade his previous business and by doing so the aircraft business came up. The engineless aircraft is said to provide both indoor and outdoor service where the Boeing 737 aircraft will host 60 individuals at a time for food and drinks.

Guttama added that the restaurant will provide services for weddings, birthdays and meetings. In addition to selling the old aircraft, Ethiopian, according to Guttama, has provided decorative items and paintings. The new restaurant will officially be inaugurated today and will begin operations next week. Ethiopian currently operates more than 67 aircraft out of which 20 are B373. Recently, Ethiopian agreed to purchase an additional 20 B737 MAX from Boeing for its growing operations worldwide. *Source The Reporter/Allafrica]]>

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Ethiopia targets $1bn coffee yield
November 8, 2014 | 0 Comments

Tinishu Solomon* [caption id="attachment_13892" align="alignleft" width="480"]PHOTO©REUTERS PHOTO©REUTERS[/caption] Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome says the country’s coffee industry has to increase exports to reach a $1 billion annual revenue target. Despite a steady increase in coffee production in recent years, Ethiopia’s supply to the global market has not exceeded a target of 200,000 metric tonnes. Speaking at the 3rd International Ethiopian Coffee Conference, Teshome said in 2013/2014 exports were lower than in 2010/11 where coffee exports reached 196,118 metric tonnes and the country earned close to $842 million. Official statistics show that the amount of coffee exported in the 2013/14 Ethiopian fiscal year was 190,837 metric tonnes. “We must now break this one time export income record by supplying more quality to the global market surpassing the near 200,000 metric tonnes registered so far and generating export income reaching $1 billion,” he said. The annual conference is focusing on how to promote and increase the quality of Ethiopian coffee. Research shows that about 10 percent of Ethiopia’s coffee production comes from the age old practice of gathering wild coffee beans in forests, while 35 percent comes from partially tended wild bushes, and 50 percent is produced in small plots as a secondary crop. While the growth of Ethiopia’s coffee industry in the past few years has largely been attributed to its modernisation, only five percent of the East African country’s coffee is produced on plantations dedicated to coffee production. Officials of United States say they are keen to support the cofee sector in Ethiopia. “The U.S. is working to help identify new markets and private sector partners and investors, including from the U.S.,” US deputy chief of mission, Peter Vrooman, said. “Our dual purpose is to not only ensure the expansion of the coffee industry in Ethiopia but also the greatly improved livelihoods of a legion of small coffee growers whose entire families will benefit. Ethiopia exports 24 Arabica coffee varieties to a limited number of foreign destinations. Seven countries, including Japan, Georgia, Germany, Saudi Arabia, USA, Belgium and France, alone buy over 70 percent of Ethiopia’s coffee. *Source theafricareport]]>

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Ethiopia to Generate 300MW Solar Energy
October 29, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Neamin Ashenafi 00130961-c188610cd70029ec35252b291f69b45a-arc614x376-w290-us1The Ethiopian Electric Power headed by Engineer Azeb Asnake signed on Oct.14 a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a US-based company Green Technology Africa Inc. (GTA) to generate 300 megawatts of solar energy. The partnership signifies the collaboration of the government and the private sector which aims at supporting Ethiopia’s green development strategies with the underlined expectations and demands of the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), Dereje Mesfin, CEO GTA Inc, told The Reporter. The CEO also told The Reporter that based on the signed MoU GTA had agreed to deliver 300 megawatts of solar generated photovoltaic system as a turnkey project in areas such as Dire Dawa, Kombolcha and Desse areas of the Amhara Regional State. The proposal of the project was submitted to the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy about a year ago and the generated 300 megawatts of solar power will be linked to the national grid. The company has completed the pre-feasibility study to implement the project and the signing of the MoU will grant GTA the ability to start a full and complete feasibility study on specific region. The project is estimated to be worth USD 600 million and, according to the MoU, GTA is expected to set up shop in Ethiopia within the next six months.

In relation to the significance of the project, the CEO told The Reporter: “In addition to generating 300 MW of renewable energy that will fill in the gap of energy supply deficiency in Ethiopia, GTA will also help create jobs and offer global expertise that will increase the “know-how” in green energy for local experts.” The CEO added that the project is owned by the Ethiopian government and the role of GTA is to undertake the overall activities of the project and in relation to the issue of the management of the project the Ethiopian Electric Power has not yet decided. “If they have the qualified professionals to manage and administer the project after its completion we will hand over the project, if not we will also engaged in the management,” the CEO said. However, he added that it is not yet decided and it will be decided in the future. Regarding the source of finance, the CEO told The Reporter: “We are planning to find and facilitate the finance from various sources mainly from President Barack Obama’s Power Africa Initiative and transfer it to the government of Ethiopia and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED) will approve the finance once we find the finance from various sources. The duration of the overall project will be determined after six months which is included in the MoU and, according to the CEO, the issues related to finance and other matters are expected to be finalized within the coming six months and if things go according to the plan the CEO told The Reporter that they will sign a contract after six months and that will determine the overall duration of the project. GTA provides engineering consulting and management services for transmission, distribution, industrial and generation clients. It is also engaged in the process of evaluating the transmission grid deliverability, applying for interconnection, and coordinating design, engineering, procurement of renewable generation facilities. *Source allafrica]]>

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Ethiopia’s ‘African tiger’ leaps towards middle income
October 22, 2014 | 0 Comments

People wait for a bus in Addis Ababa. The government has launched an ambitious modernisation plan in the Ethiopian capital. Photograph: Giorgio Cosulich/Getty People wait for a bus in Addis Ababa. The government has launched an ambitious modernisation plan in the Ethiopian capital. Photograph: Giorgio Cosulich/Getty[/caption] It is now three decades since Ethiopia experienced the infamous famine that cost the lives of more than a million people. The tragedy prompted the BBC’s Michael Buerk to describe it as “a biblical famine in the 20th century” and “the closest thing to hell on Earth”. In sharp contrast with that devastating poverty, Ethiopia is now widely considered to be one of a pack of “African tigers”, with ambitious plans to become a middle-income country by 2025. The nation has, “like the proverbial phoenix, managed to rise from the ashes to become Africa’s fastest-growing non-energy-driven economy”, a senior tax adviser at KPMG Kenya recently noted. The changes that have taken place in Ethiopia since the 1984 famine are commendable. Despite some dispute over the figures, there is consensus that Ethiopia has registered impressive economic growth for the past decade of somewhere between 8% and 10%. One effect of the progress is a greater capacity to cope with drought, preventing the descent into famine conditions that have occurred in the past. Ethiopia’s development efforts are also praised internationally for meeting some of the millennium development goals, particularly universal primary education and a reduction in infant mortality. The government’s investments, the main engine of growth, abound, from building a road network to expanding basic social services, and making a big push in the energy sector. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile, an impressive, self-funded hydropower project heralding the country’s rebirth, will be the continent’s largest upon its completion in 2017. Changes are equally visible in trade and investment. Exports have diversified and the country has become a major shipper of oil seeds, flowers, gold and, increasingly, textiles and leather products. This has been enabled by a steady growth in foreign investment, particularly into floriculture and manufacturing. It is indeed astonishing to see Ethiopia fast becoming a popular destination for global giants such as Chinese shoemaker Huajian and H&M, the world’s second-biggest clothing retailer. The spectacular change in Ethiopia has been enabled by the relative peace and stability it has enjoyed over the past two decades, which in turn has allowed its regional diplomatic influence to increase. Although there are still low-level insurgencies in some parts of the country, the ruling coalition has generally governed effectively. This has been buttressed by its allocation of more than 60% of the national budget to sectors of the economy, such as agriculture, education and health, that favour poorer people. Its predecessor spent most of the treasury’s coffers on the military. Ethiopia’s big push, like previous surges by the “Asian tigers”, also has costs that cast doubt on its sustainability. Although the government labels it a “democratic developmental state”, the political-economic order that the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front follows resembles those Asian models, which delivered rapid economic growth in an authoritarian environment. Yet unlike nations such as Singapore and China, whose economic transformation occurred within a closed political system, the EPRDF operates in what is formally a liberal democracy. This ideological entanglement has created structural tension, evident in the restrictions on political and civil rights that are, in theory, enshrined in the constitution. Growing economic inequality also threatens to undermine the political stability and popular legitimacy that a developmental state acutely needs. Who benefits from economic growth is a much-contested issue in contemporary Ethiopia. Although the government argues that the suffering caused by rapidly rising living costs is a transient phenomenon inherent in developing economies, the emergence of new economic elites through rentier activity and clientelism has exacerbated the sense of relative deprivation, particularly among urban poor people. Additionally, Ethiopia’s economic ambition has a cost for sections of its huge rural population. The country’s five-year growth and transformation plan, begun in 2010, includes tapping into the “abundant extensive land” in the lowlands for large-scale commercial agriculture. These peripheral areas – such as South Omo and the Afar region – are where ethnic minorities with a weaker political voice live. The government’s policy of urging these communities to shift away from livelihoods such as pastoralism to sedentary farming, while incentivising foreigners to invest in the same areas raises human rights issues, such as the right to choose a lifestyle and livelihood strategy which are included in the country’s constitution. These are particularly controversial in Ethiopia’s new federal political order, which claims to ensure ethno-cultural justice. Whether Ethiopia will attain its ambitious goal of becoming a middle-income country in the next decade depends how it manages the transition from public investment-driven growth to a dynamic, private sector-heavy model. It will also hinge upon its attempts to mitigate the many political and social costs of the transition. Notwithstanding these challenges, it has already been a long, arduous and successful journey from a land of “biblical famine” to one of the brightest economies in Africa. *Source The Guardian .Dereje Feyissa Dori is the Africa research director at the International Law and Policy Institute, a research fellow of the Alexander Von Humboldt Foundation and adjunct associate professor at the College of Law and Governance, Addis Ababa University]]>

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Ethiopia Shows Developing World How to Make a Green Economy Prosper
October 18, 2014 | 0 Comments

By James Jeffrey* uganda-365x365Addis Ababa — Ethiopia has experienced its fair share of environmental damage and degradation but nowadays it is increasingly setting an example on how to combat climate change while also achieving economic growth. “It is very well known by the international community that Ethiopia is one of the front-runners of international climate policy, if not the leading African country,” Fritz Jung, the representative of bilateral development cooperation at the Addis Ababa German Embassy, tells IPS. This Horn of Africa nation has learned more than most that one of the most critical challenges facing developing countries is achieving economic prosperity that is sustainable and counters climate change. According to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “maximum and minimum temperatures over equatorial East Africa will rise and … climate models show warming in all four seasons over Ethiopia, which may result in more frequent heat waves.” Ethiopia has also recognised how its abundance of waterways offer huge hydro-electric generation potential. Today, massive public infrastructure works are attempting to harness this potential to lift the country out of poverty. In Africa, the primary concern is adapting to the negative impacts of climate change. Though the report recognised Ethiopia as one of the countries that have “adopted national climate resilience strategies with a view to applying them across economic sectors.” Along with China and India, Ethiopia provided a case study for researchers conducting a year-long investigation into issues such as macroeconomic policy and impacts; innovation, energy, finance and cities; and agriculture, forests and land use. Ethiopia’s Climate-Resilient Green Economy (CRGE), a strategy launched in 2011 to achieve middle-income status by 2025 while developing a green economy, “is proof of Ethiopia’s visionary engagement for combining socio-economic development as well as environmental sustainability,” Jung says. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), a German government-backed international enterprise for sustainable development, partnered with Ethiopian government organisations to tackle environmental issues. One programme has been the Sustainable Land Management Programme (SLMP), launched in 2008. Northern Ethiopia suffered significant soil erosion and degradation — with farmers driven to cultivate the steepest slopes, suspending themselves by ropes — before attempts were made to counter ecological destruction. Since then approximately 250,000 hectares of degraded land in Ethiopia’s highland areas of Amhara, Oromia and Tigray — in which over 50 percent of Ethiopia’s 94 million people live — has been restored to productivity. This has been achieved through promoting sustainable land management practices such as the use of terracing, crop rotation systems, and improvement of pastureland and permanent green cover, benefiting more than 100,000 households. “SLMP with its holistic approach increases water availability for agriculture and agricultural productivity and thus contributes directly and indirectly to an increased climate resilience of the rural population,” Johannes Schoeneberger, head of GIZ’s involvement, tells IPS. One particular example of this, Schoeneberger says, was the introduction of improved cooking stoves combined with newly established wood lots at farmers’ homesteads reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pressure on natural forests. It also reduced households’ bills for fuel wood, he notes.

Ethiopia has also recognised how its abundance of waterways offer huge hydro-electric generation potential. Today, massive public infrastructure works are attempting to harness this potential to lift the country out of poverty. “[This] bold action in anticipation of future gains is something countries need to focus on,” Getahun Moges, director general of the Ethiopian Energy Authority, tells IPS. “I believe every country has potential to build a green economy, the issue is whether there’s enough political appetite for this against short-term interests.” When it comes to countries working out effective methods to enact, Ethiopia finds itself somewhat of an authority on achieving sustainability due to past experiences. “Ethiopians can give answers whereas often in industrialised countries people aren’t sure what to do,” Yvo de Boer, director general of Global Green Growth Institute, an international organisation focused on economic growth and environmental sustainability, tells IPS. “Ethiopians should be asked.”
The result of that research was a report called the New Climate Economy (NCE) released last month in Addis Ababa and New York. NCE is the flagship project of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, established in 2013 — Ethiopia was one of seven founding members, and the Ethiopian Development Research Institute participated in the global partnership of leading institutes informing the NCE — to examine whether lasting economic growth while also tackling the risks of climate change is achievable. And the NCE has concluded that both goals are possible. “The notion that economic prosperity is inconsistent with combating climate change has been shown to be a false one that doesn’t hold,” Helen Mountford, director of economics at Washington-based World Resources Institute and future global programme director of the New Climate Economy, tells IPS. “It’s an old-fashioned idea.” This turnaround has been made possible by structural and technological changes unfolding in the global economy, and by opportunities for greater economic efficiency, according to the NCE. By focusing on cities, land use and renewable and low-carbon energy sources, while increasing resource efficiency, investing in infrastructure and stimulating innovation, it is claimed a wider economy and better environment are achievable for countries at all levels of development. Although Ethiopia is by no means out of the woods yet. “Climate change together with other challenges like demographic growth and competing land use plans continue to threaten the great natural resource base and biodiversity of the country,” Jung says. But Ethiopia appears to have heeded past problems and chosen to follow a different, and more sustainable, path. And according to those behind the NCE there is reason for optimism globally on how to achieve a more sustainable future. They hope that the NCE’s findings will encourage future agreement and cooperation when nations discuss and implement international climate change policies, allowing the ghosts of the Kyoto Protocol and the Copenhagen Accord – previous efforts judged ineffective – to be laid to rest. But others, such as environmental economist Gunnar Köhlin, director of Sweden-based Environment for Development Initiative, point out that previous sustainability initiatives have struggled to achieve tangible results, especially in Africa. “Sub-Saharan Africa has still not invested fully in a mature energy generation and distribution system,” Köhlin tells IPS. “There are therefore still many choices to be made in supplying households with energy that is both not aggravating climate change and at the same time is resilient to the impacts of climate change.” In light of this and the failure of previous projects, Köhlin suggests, the NCE begs the question: What will be different this time? “In the last 10 to 15 years new policy developments have started to take hold,” Mountford says. “Yes, there have been failures, but there have been many successes and so we have taken stock of these – now we are at a tipping point, with the lessons learned from these recent experiences and significant technological innovations giving us new opportunities.” The true test of the NCE’s merit will come at the next major convention on climate change due in Paris in 2015, when world leaders will wrestle with, and attempt to agree on, international strategy. “Let us hope Paris might bring about historic decisions and agreements, and this report might contribute to that end,” Moges says. *Source All Africa . This is part of a series sponsored by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN).]]>

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Made in Ethiopia: The leather gloves keeping the world warm and stylish
October 16, 2014 | 0 Comments

Alex Court and Lillian Leposo* [caption id="attachment_12967" align="alignleft" width="640"]The leather industry is one of Ethiopia's biggest foreign exchange earners, and Pittards, a U.K.-based leather company, has seen the potential. The leather industry is one of Ethiopia’s biggest foreign exchange earners, and Pittards, a U.K.-based leather company, has seen the potential.[/caption] The steady hum of sewing machines fills the air inside a large glovemaking factory on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, the bustling Ethiopian capital. Patches of leather move through an array of working stations as busy laborers work feverishly to meet the company’s export quota: 5,000 gloves a day.

The operation belongs to Pittards, a UK-based company whose trading partnership with Ethiopia dates back to the early 1900s.

Here, hardy, durable cow hide is made into work gloves. These are ideal for builders and gardeners, and are mainly exported to the U.S.

And then there are the stylish designs — created from a different type of animal skin, these are made to keep fingers warm in Tokyo, Paris and Rome.

“The fashion glove is made of sheep skin which is unique to Ethiopia,” explains Tsedenia Mekbib, general manager at Pittards Products Manufacturing. “The durability, the stretch ability and the strength makes it popular for gloving leather specifically. That has been the one strength of Ethiopia and the leather sector.”

Sophisticated designs with decorative touches may be the hallmark of this type of glove, but they must also be practical. Ethiopia’s climate makes this animal skin effective at withstanding the winter chill — an essential selling point.

And this effective material is in abundant supply. Ethiopia’s 90-million cattle, sheep and goat population is one of the world’s largest, according to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.

Creative process

What slips onto the customer’s hand may be elegant, but the process to create the glove certainly is not.

[caption id="attachment_12968" align="alignleft" width="640"]The company has opened a manufacturing plant in the country, making some of its products from sheep skin, which is unique to Ethiopia. The company has opened a manufacturing plant in the country, making some of its products from sheep skin, which is unique to Ethiopia.[/caption]

It all starts in the tannery where workers — dressed in aprons and thick, elbow-high protective gloves — convert the raw animal hides and skins into finished leather through a number of processes.

Some of the steps include soaking the skin and fleshing it to remove any unwanted parts. A retanning process where the leather is colored is followed by a stage under a special vacuum dryer where the skin is dried and then stretched to increase its surface area.

Once all this has happened, another machine softens the leather to make it flexible — an important feature of gloves. The end product, ready for export, is pure sheep skin prepared to be turned into gloves — labeled with the thickness and the area it covers.

Export ban

In a move to encourage value addition and increase revenues generated by the leather sector, the Ethiopian government banned all exports of raw hides and skins in 1989. Between 2006 and 2012, the total value of Ethiopia’s exports of leather and leather products grew from $66 million to $112 million.

And it’s not just Pittards that have realized the opportunity to make gloves in Ethiopia. According to the Leather Industry Development Institute, two other factories in the country are focused on creating the hand garments.

Shoes is another major area which uses Ethiopian leather. The country is home to dozens of shoemaking companies, including local names such as Oliberte and international players like the Huajian Group, a Chinese company that has been exporting some 20,000 pairs of shoes a month since it launched its manufacturing facility outside Addis Ababa in 2012.

Business conditions

Despite a major focus to rapidly build its energy and transport infrastructure, Ethiopia is still struggling to provide the best conditions for businesses setting up shop in the country.

[caption id="attachment_12969" align="alignleft" width="640"]The Ethiopia-based factory exports around 20,000 pairs of shoes a month The Ethiopia-based factory exports around 20,000 pairs of shoes a month[/caption]

“The challenges that we encountered when we started business are from power cuts to logistics to foreign currency availability, to lead time in having available raw materials,” explains Mekbib. “Having the solutions to these challenges would allow us to be competitive as a country and as a company as a whole.”

Beyond these issues, international manufactures also struggle to recruit workers. Ethiopia’s population is growing at a rate of 2.89%, placing it among the top 15 fastest growing populations in the world, according to theCIA Factbook.

But a large workforce and a skilled work force is not the same thing. In fact, Mekbib says “bridging the gap between the rest of the world and the skills set in Ethiopia on the ground has been the greatest challenge so far.”

Another growth area, is the number of Ethiopians entering the middle class and showing a desire to buy high quality clothes. In a report published this month, the IMF said the country is on track to achieve its goal of reaching middle income status by 2025. The trend is so clear to Pittards that they are now targeting consumers inside the country.

But for Ethiopians, it’s not just the top quality of the leather products that makes them take out their wallets, it’s also access to a label they can call their own: made in Ethiopia.

*Source CNN


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Ethiopian Receives its 10th B787, the Largest Operator of the Aircraft in Africa
October 7, 2014 | 0 Comments

B787Ethiopian Airlines, the largest airline in Africa, is pleased to announce that it has received its 10th B787 Dreamliner dubbed “Niagara Falls” on 2 October 2014. Ethiopian, an aviation technology leader in Africa, was the first airline in the world outside Japan to receive and operate in August 2012 the B787 Dreamliner, the most technologically advanced commercial aircraft. The airline has chosen the B787 as its core fleet on its mid and long range routes such as Johannesburg, Lagos, Abuja and Harare in Africa; London, Paris and Frankfurt in Europe; Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, and Seoul in Asia; Washington D.C., Toronto and Brazil in the Americas. The Toronto and Washington D.C. routes are recorded as the longest non-stop routes using the B787. The B787 is ideal for mid and long range travel with unique features that enhance the customer experience such as greatly reduced noise, higher cabin air humidity, unique and adaptable lighting and biggest windows in the sky. It also enables the airline to reduce its carbon footprint with up to 20% less fuel consumption than similar aircraft in activity. Ethiopian CEO Group, Tewolde Gebremariam, said “We have chosen the 787 as our core fleet on our mid and long range routes as part of our commitment to our esteemed customers to give them the best possible travel experience. Today, Ethiopian has the youngest fleet in Africa with an average age of 7 years and in line with our long term, fast, profitable and sustainable growth strategy, Vision 2025, we plan to phase-in new and modern aircraft such as the B787s, B777s, A-350 and the B-737-8 MAX to support our fast expanding global network” Ethiopian is Pan-African global carrier serving 83 destinations across five continents from its main hub at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa. The airline currently has a fleet of 71 aircraft, including the Q-400 New Generation for domestic and regional routes, the B737 Next Generation with Sky Interior, the B787 Dreamliners, the B777-200LRs, the longest range commercial aircraft in activity, and the B777-300 ER with a capacity of 400 passengers. About Ethiopian Ethiopian Airlines (Ethiopian) is the fastest growing and most profitable airline in Africa. In 2014, IATA ranked Ethiopian as the largest airline in Africa in revenue and profit. In its operations in the past close to seven decades, Ethiopian has been a pioneer of African aviation as an aircraft technology leader providing the first jet service in the continent in 1962, and availing the first African B767 in 1984, the first African B777-200LR in 2010 and the first African and second only to Japan B787 Dreamliner in 2012. [caption id="attachment_12698" align="alignright" width="480"]Tewolde Gebremariam, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines says the company has chosen the 787 as its core fleet Tewolde Gebremariam, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines says the company has chosen the 787 as its core fleet[/caption] Ethiopian commands the lion share of the pan-African passenger and cargo network operating the youngest and most modern fleet to more than 83 international destinations across five continents. Ethiopian fleet includes ultra-modern and environmentally friendly aircraft such as the Boeing 787, Boeing 777-300ER, Boeing 777-200LR, Boeing 777-200LR Freighter and Bombardier Q-400 with double cabin. In fact, Ethiopian is the first airline in Africa to own and operate these aircraft. Ethiopian is currently implementing a 15-year strategic plan called Vision 2025 that will see it become the leading airline group in Africa with seven strategic business units: Ethiopian International Passenger Service; Ethiopian Regional Service; Ethiopian Cargo; Ethiopian MRO; Ethiopian Aviation Academy; Ethiopian In-flight Catering Service and Ethiopian Ground Service. Ethiopian is a multi-award winning, including SKYTRAX and Passenger Choice Awards in 2013 and has been registering an average growth of 25% per annum in the past seven years. *Source ethiopianairlines]]>

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Ethiopian Airlines Win Best Airline in Africa Award
September 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

00270009-fc7f04a478871184a40575f331495c08-arc614x376-w290-us1Ethiopian Airlines has won the Passenger Choice Award for “Best Airline in Africa” for the second time at the Airline Passenger Experience (APEX) EXPO, which was held from September 15-18, 2014, in California. The Passenger Choice Award was created by the US-based Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) to give a voice to airline passengers. It encompasses a survey of passengers in 13 languages, and it is the customers themselves who rate airlines based on their overall experience. The Addis Abeba Bole International Airport is the major hub for Ethiopian, and is one of the largest airports in Africa. The ultra modern airport terminal was constructed in 2003.

Bole International Airport is the busiest airport in East Africa, with a capacity to provide a world class passenger and cargo service to more than 6.5 million international and domestic passengers each year. Ethiopian won the SKYTRAX award based on the largest airport customer survey, and the Passenger Choice Award, for the first time, in 2013. The company has registered an average growth of 25pc a year over the past seven years. *Source allafrica]]>

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The Rastafarians' flawed African 'promised land'
September 12, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Chris Summers*

Forty years ago Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia was overthrown. It was a blow for all Rastafarians, who revere him as a god – and for those Rastafarians who had emigrated to Ethiopia, life suddenly got more difficult.

_75977294_paparockyafpIn 1948 Emperor Haile Selassie gave 500 acres (200 hectares) of land at Shashamene, 150 miles (225km) south of Addis Ababa, to black people from the West who had supported him in his struggles with Mussolini’s Italy. The first settlers to arrive were African-American Jews, but they soon moved on to Liberia or Israel. After them, in 1963, came a dozen Rastafarians, and the numbers swelled after Selassie made an emotional visit to Jamaica three years later. The Rastafarians’ adoration of Selassie stems from the words of black consciousness leader Marcus Garvey, who said in 1920, “Look to Africa, when a black king shall be crowned, for the day of deliverance is at hand”. When Selassie was crowned emperor, 10 years later, many thought Garvey’s words had come true. Another belief widely held by Rastafarians is that they will eventually return to Africa – the continent their ancestors left in slave ships long ago. And quite often, according to Erin McLeod – author of Visions of Zion: Ethiopians and Rastafari in the Search for the Promised Land – “back to Africa” is treated as synonymous with “back to Ethiopia”. Today there are up to 800 Rastafarians at Melka Oda, near Shashamene, as well as a few in the capital, Addis Ababa, and in the city of Bahir Dar. But how has life turned out for them in Ethiopia – and what do Ethiopians make of their Rastafarian neighbours? It has not been a love affair. In 1974, the communist Dergue regime overthrew and imprisoned Selassie – who died the following year – and began purging all vestiges of the imperial dynasty. Land was nationalised, including the land granted to foreigners at Shashamene, and some Rastafarians settlers fled. Even today, long after the fall of the Dergue, Selassie remains a controversial figure in Ethiopia, and many look askance at the Rastafarians who venerate him. “There are people who have extreme love for Selassie, the modernising leader who did so much for the country, but others say he was a representative of a colonial empire, was enamoured by the opulence of Europe and did not lead the country in an equitable way,” says McLeod. There have been other problems too. One is “ganja” – marijuana – considered a herb of religious significance by Rastafarians, who sometimes refer to it as the “wisdom weed” or “holy herb”. _75977290_ganjaapIn Ethiopia, by contrast, it is regarded as a dangerous drug, comparable to heroin or cocaine, says McLeod. Ethiopian police sometimes raid the Rastafarian settlement at Shashamene to search for it, she says – even though khat, a stimulant leaf that is widely chewed in the country, is held by some experts to be more harmful. It is also unfortunate that the land granted by Selassie is located in a region populated by the Oromo people, who say they have been oppressed for years by Ethiopia’s dominant Amhara commnity, to which Selassie belonged. According to McLeod, Selassie was for the “Amharisation” of Ethiopia. “On the local level, in Shashamene, the Rastas support the emperor, who, in the eyes of the Oromo people, represents a coercive central power,” agrees Dr Giulia Bonacci, an Italian Rastafarian researcher based in Addis Ababa. “In a region still marked by a history of alienation from land and economic and social dominance, symbols of imperial power are not appreciated.” The Rastafarians have, up to a point, integrated with the local Ethiopian population. Some have married Ethiopians, but on the whole these Ethiopian partners have not adopted the Rastafarian faith. “She don’t fight me about my faith. I don’t fight her. She’s a Protestant,” says Vincent Wisdom, a Rastafarian man with an Ethiopian wife. None of his five children share his faith either. “Two of them are Orthodox and one of them is Protestant; the others are too small,” he says. McLeod has met only one Ethiopian, Naod Seifu, who has converted to Rastafarianism. “I used to have dreadlocks but I have to trim them to work,” he told her. “In Ethiopia having dreadlocks is taken as bad behaviour and inappropriate.” He added that any Ethiopian who believed the king was divine was regarded as “mad”. The main Rastafarian sects or “mansions”
  • Nyahbinghi – the oldest of all Rastafarian orders. The name is derived from Queen Nyahbinghi who ruled Uganda in the 19th century and fought against the British Empire. They were the first to proclaim Emperor Haile Selassie as the incarnation of the supreme deity. The Nyahbinghi pushed for repatriation to Ethiopia.
  • Bobo Shanti – the name is derived from Bobo, which stands for Black, and Ashanti, a tribe from Ghana. It is believed most of the slaves brought to Jamaica were from the Ashanti tribe. Prince Emanuel Charles Edwards founded the Bobo Shanti order in Jamaica in the 1950s. He, along with his descendants and Haile Selassie, are seen as gods. Marcus Garvey is regarded as a prophet. The Bobo Shanti also believe black people should be compensated financially for slavery. They wear long robes and very tightly wrapped turbans, and avoid eating salt and oil.
  • The 12 Tribes – this sect was founded in 1968 by Dr Vernon “Prophet Gad” Carrington and is the most liberal of all Rastafarian orders. Twelve Tribes members are free to worship in a church of their choosing or at home. They consider themselves the direct descendants of the 12 sons of Jacob. They are divided into 12 houses which are determined by birth month and each house is represented by a different colour. Bob Marley was their most famous follower.
When McLeod first visited Shashamene in 2003, she was surprised by what she found. [caption id="attachment_11973" align="alignleft" width="300"]Brother Vincent Wisdom at his home next to the Rastafarian tabernacle in Shashamane Brother Vincent Wisdom at his home next to the Rastafarian tabernacle in Shashamane[/caption] “It was not at all the way it was described to me. It’s not a Rastafarian town. It’s 100,000 Ethiopians and only a few hundred Rastas living on the outskirts,” she says. Many more Rastafarians come to Ethiopia on holiday, either for a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage or for regular sojourns. “Some will come once a year or every couple of years and they describe themselves as having ‘one foot in Ethiopia’,” she says. Even those who live in the country long-term have mostly retained their British, American or Canadian passports to make it easier to travel abroad. But taking dual citizenship – and obtaining a second, Ethiopian passport – has never been possible. Talks on the issue had been due to take place with former prime minister Meles Zenawi, according to McLeod, but his death in 2012 put paid to the plan. Most Ethiopians still consider Rastafarians foreigners, or “ferenjoch”, she says. “We know God is Haile Selassie, Him Mighty God. Now Him save the poor earth right now, and Him save the people,” Bob Marley was quoted as saying in 1978, four years after the emperor was toppled. “True dat dem overthrow ‘im. In a sense, all a de people around him was really weird. But just how it go…” In the same year Marley visited Shashamene, While there, says political scientist Horace Campbell, he began to realise “the problems of translating a dream into reality”. His wife, Rita, has talked nevertheless about the family’s hopes of burying him in Shashamene. Ethiopia, McLeod says, will always remain the Rastafarians’ promised land. *Source BBC]]>

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