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Contractors Agree on Djibouti-Ethiopia Pipeline Deal
October 1, 2015 | 0 Comments

NAIROBI, KENYA— 001CA748-F45A-4B0A-A603-3209A6EA987B_w640_r1_sBlack Rhino, owned by funds of U.S. investment firm Blackstone Group, and a South African-based firm have signed framework agreements to build a fuel pipeline between Djibouti and Ethiopia, the contractors said on Wednesday. The $1.55 billion pipeline, due for completion in 2018, aims to improve efficiency and safety of importing fuel from the port in Djibouti to land-locked Ethiopia, whose economy is one of the fastest growing in Africa. The new link will deepen growing economic ties between the Horn of Africa nations. Ethiopia is building a new railway line to Djibouti, which is seeking to become a regional shipping hub. Djibouti also hosts U.S. and French military bases. “The pipeline will increase energy security, aid economic development and reduce harmful emissions,” Black Rhino chief executive Brian Herlihy said in a statement. The statement said the framework agreements meant the firms now had the official green light to proceed. Black Rhino’s partner in building the 550 km (340 miles) pipeline is MOGS Oil & Gas Services (BRM), a subsidiary of Royal Bafokeng Holdings. “The Horn of Africa project will sustain the momentum of economic growth and growing fuel demand in both Djibouti and Ethiopia,” MOGS Oil & Gas Services chief executives Errol Gregor said in the statement. The pipeline will transport diesel, gasoline and jet fuel from Damerjog, Djibouti to Awash in central Ethiopia. *Source VOA/Reuters]]>

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U.S. Businesses Visit Ethiopia As Part of Largest-Ever U.S.-Led Trade Mission to Africa
September 19, 2015 | 0 Comments

00191580-348b34461d0b0b6dee8577b88199e76e-arc614x376-w285-us1The U.S. Embassy to Addis Abeba, through its Foreign Commercial Service office, welcomed Ten U.S. Companies to Ethiopia this week as part of the largest U.S. government-led trade mission to Africa in history. The companies went through a day of meetings with Ethiopian government officials and area businesses, in an effort to facilitate new U.S.-Africa business deals. The Ethiopia visit was part of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Trade Winds – Africa trade mission, which is ultimately bringing more than 100 U.S. companies to eight Sub-Saharan African markets. “Ethiopia is at the forefront of Africa’s economic development,” said Patricia M. Haslach, U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia. “The country has shown its commitment to trade and investment through its Growth and Transformation Plan, and the United States government and the U.S. business community see Ethiopia as an important partner.” The Trade Winds mission is part of a concerted effort under the President Obama administration called ‘Doing Business in Africa’ campaign, under which the U.S. government has committed billions of dollars to development in Sub-Saharan Africa, and has facilitated billions more in U.S.-Africa business deals. “President Obama’s visit to Ethiopia was an important sign of how much the United States values Ethiopia as a partner,” Haslach said. “This mission is an important follow-up.” “I counsel many U.S. companies looking to do business here,” said Senior U.S. Commercial Officer Tanya Cole, who is based at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa. “The stable economic growth, low corruption, and prime location make this a very attractive market.” [caption id="attachment_20795" align="alignright" width="300"]United States Ambassador to Ethiopia, Patricia M. Haslach (Photo: U.S. embassy Facebook Page) United States Ambassador to Ethiopia, Patricia M. Haslach (Photo: U.S. embassy Facebook Page)[/caption] The delegation will travel to South Africa from Wednesday to Friday this week for business-to-business meetings and a business forum with regional leaders and U.S. and African companies including McKinsey, Sasol, and Ford Motor Company. U.S. commercial diplomats from more than 20 African countries will be on hand to provide market-specific counseling to attendees. Many of the U.S. companies are also visiting other markets on the continent. The trade mission will ultimately stop at eight countries: Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, and South Africa. At each mission stop, the U.S. companies meet with government leaders and potential business partners already based in Africa. All companies participating in the mission were vetted by U.S. Embassy staff to make sure their goods or services were appropriate for each market. The Commerce Department and Embassy teams expect to facilitate about 400 total business-to-business meetings during the trade mission. *Allafrica/Addis Standard]]>

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August 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

newsletter-special-brazzaville-2015-englishThe 11th Edition of the African Games is scheduled to take place on 4th to 19th September, 2015, in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. This edition will mark the 50th Anniversary of the African Games, since the 1st edition in 1965 that was also hosted by the Republic of Congo. Approximately 7000 athletes from 50 African countries will converge back to the birth place of the African Games in Brazzaville to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the African Union in the spirit of Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance.

This edition is also a milestone for the AU as it is the first one under the auspices of the African Union as the owner of the Games, following the dissolution of the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa (SCSA) as well as the integration of the functions of the SCSA into the AU. The integrated functions of the SCSA include the ownership, coordination and organization of the African Games.

The opening ceremony will take place on 4th September, 2015, and will be presided over by H.E. Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo, and attended by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, H.E. Dr Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, Commissioner for Social Affairs and H.E. Martial de Paul Ikounga, Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology. The African Games will be preceded by the Bureau Meeting of the Specialized Technical Committees on Youth, Culture and Sport and a Sub-Committee of the STC Ministers of Sport on 3th September, 2015.

During the games, the AU will rally the continent around the spirit of Pan-Africanism through its key message i.e. “I am African, I am the African Union” and through its 50 year Agenda 2063 development framework. Agenda 2063″ is an approach to how the continent should effectively learn from the lessons of the past, build on the progress now underway and strategically exploit all possible opportunities available in the immediate and medium term, so as to ensure positive socioeconomic transformation within the next 50 years. The agenda will assist the continent achieve its vision, i.e. an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena.

“Because of the power of sport, we see this event as an important milestone on the road to achieving the objectives of our continental vision and action plan, which Africa has christened Agenda 2063: the Africa We Want”, said AU Commission Chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

SOURCE African Union Commission (AUC)

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Artificial Intelligence Catches Fire in Ethiopia
August 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

Christina Galbraith* [caption id="attachment_20123" align="alignleft" width="320"]Young Ethiopian with robot whose AI software was created in his country. (courtesy of iCog Labs) Young Ethiopian with robot whose AI software was created in his country. (courtesy of iCog Labs)[/caption] Ethiopia has come a long way from its nightmare past of famine and war. It still has splendid 12th century rock churches carved into the ground, the plateaued Simian Mountains, the ancient city of Gondar and of course, the human ancestral fossil Lucy, its oldest hominid ambassador. But now computer science is thriving in its capital, Addis Ababa. And Ethiopian artificial intelligence R&D is on fire. The driver for this unexpected artificial intelligence (AI) industry sector is the autocratic government’s massive multi-billion dollar, ultra-high tech, industrial plans and its fervent development of higher education to support them. Today, there are over 30 official universities and 130 or so polytechnics, most of them emphasizing technology. Many of them are in the capital and, in 2012, the Ministry of Science and Technology established its own university and a $250 million dollar tech park nearby. Despite all the tech glitz, however, Ethiopia’s economic reality remains grim. Less than 2% of citizens have access to the Internet. Only 34% of Ethiopian children get as far as the equivalent of 9th grade. Early adult literacy is approximately 35%, child labor at 27%, girl marriage an appalling 41%, and the country still ranks near the bottom of the UNDP’s World Index for quality of life. But in Addis Ababa, education rates have soared above national averages. With 70% of the population under the age of 29, an urban sub-culture of keen young, software engineers is emerging. Among its best private sector opportunities are to program for the outside world. And program they do, at a fraction of the cost elsewhere. Today, the Ministry of Trade and Industry identifies more than 700 companies in computer technology and 95 software businesses serving customers worldwide. At the hub of this tech growth is an AI group, iCog Labs, co-founded in 2012 by a young Ethiopian roboticist, Getnet Aseffa Gezaw, and an American AI pioneer, Ben Goertzel. With a team of twenty five Ethiopian software engineers, iCog pursues full-on ‘Strong Intelligence,’ the conviction that computers can potentially emulate the entire human brain, not just aspects of it. The ambitious lab has a bold mission: to create software that not only simulates the brain, but pushes the envelope of what the brain can do. The lab also focuses on a host of practical applications for clients around the world, including humanoid robots for Hanson Robotics, makers of the renowned Robot Einstein; AI-driven automated pill dispensers and elder-care robots for a Chinese company, Telehealth; and mapping the genetics of longevity for two Californian corporations: Age Reversal Incorporated and Stevia First. iCog also delves into ‘deep learning’ algorithms for vision processing and object recognition (used in drones, satellites and security systems), machine learning algorithms to predict patterns in everything from agriculture to electricity consumption, and algorithms that react to English and a host of African languages. iCog’s humanitarian work includes developing software for AI tablets for children–distributed to Ethiopian villages–with games that help children teach themselves elementary coding, mathematics and English. The endeavor builds on One Laptop per Child’s initiative which earlier distributed thousands of tablets to rural children to help them learn computer programs in the language Squeak. iCog recently doubled its office space and has collaborated with Addis Ababa Institute of Science and Technology to form the first post-graduate AI program in the country. It is also a major contributor to the OpenCog foundation, the largest open-source AI group in the world, co-founded by Goertzel and based in Hong Kong. Other labs are laying a foundation for AI developers to work in Ethiopia’s native Amharic language. EthioCloud created the first advanced Amharic code programming language, which runs on Microsoft’s .NET and C# platforms. The company also developed an optical character recognition program to convert Amharic paper documents into editable text and an Amharic text-to-speech conversion system. The government is zealously inserting robotics and advanced algorithmic intelligence elements into a variety of mega-industrial projects, part of its massive, big brother-sounding 5 year Growth and Transformation Plan. In part, it has to maintain the multi-billion dollar flood of foreign investment on which it relies to stay in power. And given that it sits on a goldmine of minerals and clean energy potential including ample geothermal power, it is ardently soliciting sophisticated technology partnerships from countries like China, India and Saudi Arabia, aiming to become a major exporter. Current AI ventures and supporting infrastructure projects, which will all be Ethiopian-operated, include a $1.4 billion mobile phone deal for Ethiotelecom to install network-quality-assessing robots in moving vehicles for mobile calls; advanced Chinese-built QoS (quality of service) ambient intelligence for the communication networks in its massive $4 billion electric Light Rail project, the largest in East Africa; French/US machine-learning self-diagnostic intelligence software to support the Blue Nile’s $5 billion Grand Renaissance Dam, the largest hydro plant in Africa (which will also come with its own tech park); cement loading robots, quality assessment robot technology and a robotics lab for Dangote Cement, the largest cement plant in East Africa; and self-diagnostic intelligence for power grids of the Ethiopian Electric Corporation and the Ashegoda Wind Farm, the largest in Africa. The stage is also ripe for AI to go into other mammoth projects including a $4 billion US-Icelandic geothermal plant, one of the world’s largest; two deep space telescope observatories coupled with multi-billion dollar satellite plans; integration of intelligence into the country’s own fleet of locally manufactured drones; and factory robotics into its rapidly growing, $10 billion dollar industrial tax free zone, primarily for Chinese companies seeking to outsource labor from $30 a day per worker in China to $1 per day in Ethiopia. Today, the country has become Africa’s 3rd largest recipient of foreign investment and its largest recipient of developmental aid. “Technological leapfrogging” is a term that proudly buzzes around the ministries and tech community of Addis Ababa and other African cities: the notion that advanced technology in developing nations can help them bypass the bureaucracy of older systems elsewhere. The concept is hugely attractive, but if basic human conditions don’t improve, all this high-tech, artificially intelligent economics will end up as just artificial, neocolonial circuitry hubris. The country needs rapid progress in health, education, representation, labor rights, and private sector GDP growth (now the 6th lowest in the world). It needs to end the forced relocation of entire communities, with little to no compensation, to accommodate the government’s mega-plans. These real challenges still starkly face what could be one of the most promising economies in Africa. Ethiopia has a uniquely rich history of pioneers. It is the presumed birthplace of Homo sapiens as well as Africa’s oldest independent country, and the cradle of culturally-advanced, fiercely-independent kingdoms dating to the 8th century BC. It is one of first 24 members of the United Nations and the first African country to join the League of Nations, the protector of some of the most important heritage sites and a multitude of record breaking scientists, Olympians and marathoners. If the Ethiopian people can progressively claim their country, they may help mankind leap from Homo sapiens to homo cyborg and beyond. *Source Huffpost]]>

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How Real is the Ethiopia Rising Narrative
August 19, 2015 | 0 Comments

By *

2015-08-13-1439502824-1157692-addis_Ababa_cityIf you ask “Is Ethiopia rising?” the answer will most likely depend on who you are asking. If you ask a regular follower of the country’s public media outlets, the answer will be an astounding yes! The same question posed to someone who gets his reports from the independent media and social media activists, will elicit a flagrantly different response, something to the effect that the country is not making any tangible progress and that it is rather engaging in huge infrastructural projects to camouflage and mask the underlying poverty.

The disagreement from these two groups often comes from misunderstanding of what economic growth represents and how it differs from development.

Economic growth is simply an increase in the amount of goods and services produced in a country over a given period of time, it is commonly measured through Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Essentially, any activity that involves the transaction of values, however of no use or even harmful to human life, will have an increasing effect on the GDP. But, Economic development refers to the sustained improvement in living conditions, citizen’s self-esteem, meeting of basic needs and enabling of a free and just society.

Based on the above criteria, it is beyond argument that Ethiopia’s GDP has been growing at a notable growth rate over the past decade. A recent report by IMF also ranks Ethiopia among the five fastest growing economies in the world.

The objective of this article is to understand the sources of the growth and analyze whether the growth has been (or will be) translated into sustainable improvement in the wellbeing of citizens.

Why should we question the good news of fast economic growth? you may ask. The reason for maintaining skepticism is because history is replete with examples where economic growth was not followed by similar progress in human development. Instead growth was achieved at the cost of greater inequality, higher unemployment and weakened democracy.For example. a report by Save the Children has shown In Nigeria GDP per capita has increased by 51 per cent since 2000, but extreme income poverty has risen by 8 per cent, as has income inequality.

Two major factors are the key drivers behind Ethiopia’s recent growth success. When one takes a closer look at Ethiopia’s growth figures it is easy to spot that the most determining factor for such high growth rates — the very small size of the economy. In fact when the double digit growth rate started in 2004, the country’s GDP was a comparatively meagre $10 billion, which was much lower than the $13.4 billion thirteen years before in 1991. Factors such as poor policy environment as the incumbents then sought to consolidate power in the post-civil war era, border conflicts with Eritrea and droughts have combined to cause a long term economic recession. Thus, the initial few years of fast GDP growth represents recovery from this long period of recession.

Secondly, Ethiopia’s fast economic growth is owed to the unprecedented level of public investments in infrastructural schemes and public enterprises. According to the World Bank, Ethiopia’s public investment rate is the third highest in the world, while private investment rate is the sixth lowest. So far, growth has been dominated by public investment driven by a combination of foreign aid, easy access to foreign borrowing particularly from China and non-tradable services in particular construction, transport, and hotels and retail stores.

The public investment-led development has delivered high growth rates in the past and will continue as a key driver to maintain the trend. The federal government recently approved an $11.1 billion budget for the 20015/16 fiscal year, up by nearly 25 per cent from the previous year. Similarly the Addis Ababa city administration has approved $1.6 billion budget which is also 14 per cent higher than the year before. When combined, these total of $3 billion increase amount to about 6 per cent of the country’s current GDP. Aided by more investments by State Owned Enterprises, the government can almost guarantee, with or without any increase in investment or productivity from other sectors, that the high growth rate will continue.

Growth, Transformation and Sustainable Development

The government’s developmental state model is said to be taken after the East Asian tiger’s experience. East Asian countries grew rapidly by replicating, in a much shorter time frame, what today’s advanced countries did following the Industrial Revolution. They turned their farmers into manufacturing workers, diversified their economies, and exported a range of increasingly sophisticated goods.

As impressive as Ethiopia’s growth is, it has not been accompanied by transformations that can translate into sustained poverty reduction. The Ethiopian economy is still dominated by agriculture. Slight change in structure has emerged due to the growth in services, rather than the growth that was hoped for in industry, particularly manufacturing.

Agriculture accounts for 80 percent of employment and 70 percent of export earnings. Even after twelve years of fast growth, manufacturing only accounts for 4.2 percentof the GDP and in 2011 only 8 percent of the labor force is employed in the industrial sector. The country’s major export items are still its famous coffee and fresh cut flowers.

Experience shows that manufacturing as a share of GDP typically climbs from about 20 percent in the low income phase of development to about 40 percent during the middle-income phase.

To accelerate the transformation process the government targets export-led industrialization through exposition of labor intensive low skill manufacturing industries. Although encouraging work has been done in terms of attracting foreign investment, a lot more is needed to be done to bring tangible change on with regards to the structure of the economy.

The government’s attempt to over sell the growth success has raised the younger population’s expectations of good jobs without expanding the capacity to deliver them. A report by The World Bank shows, in 2011 only 1 in 12 households had at least one member engaged in the industrial sector.

the issue of equitable distribution of gains is no different. So far the gains from the growth seem to be concentrated in the hands of the few. A research firm based in South Africa reported, the number of US-dollar millionaires in Ethiopia rose by 108 percent between 2007 and 2013 – faster than in any other country in African.Similarly, The Ethiopian customs and revenue department recently reportedthat nearly 65 percent of Ethiopia’s tax revenue came from fewer than 1,000 individuals in 2014.

On the other hand, despite a reported decline of the poverty headcount ratio at $1.25 a day (PPP), equivalent to $0.6, from 44 percent in 2000 to 30 percent in 2011, many continue to have incomes very close to the poverty line, leaving them vulnerable to poverty due to shocks from droughts, job losses, and illness. 72 percent of the population still lived on less than two dollars a day in 2010.

The dramatic rise in the price of major consumer products particularly in 2005/6 and 2010/11 has made the poor’s life very difficult leading to struggles to keep their children in school. A report quoting The Ministry of Education has reported Grade Five to Grade Eight drop out of schools more than ever before. About 40 percent were dropping out because “they could not continue classes due to poverty-related reasons.”

Another major reason to question the “Ethiopia rising” narrative is the role of democracy and good governance in the process. Despite being endorsed as a democratically elected government by Barack Obama during his recent visit to the country, the Ethiopian government has been criticized for being increasingly autocratic and designing a systems that reward party members and affiliates to the exclusion of dissidents.

These concerns are also shared by citizens. A poll published in 2008 by Gallup reveals, fewer than 3 in 10 Ethiopians express trust in the national government, and the judiciary fares as poorly, eliciting confidence from about one-quarter of respondents. But participatory politics prompt the lowest levels of trust, as only 13 percent of Ethiopians have confidence in the honesty of elections. There is no much evidence to suggest citizen’s confidence and trust in their government and institutions have improved since.

In conclusion, the fast economic growth that has been witnessed in Ethiopia so far is a good reason to be hopeful. However, it is too early to call it a miracle. There is a lot of homework to be done if this growth is to be sustained and more importantly translated into development. Improving the bureaucratic environment to make doing business easier should be a top priority, so should introducing a transparent and accountable business environment to control tax evasion and corruption. The government should also provide more space for the private sector to take the lead in the industrialization process.

Finally and most importantly, building national consensus to move forward as a nation is a must. As the former mayor-elect of Addis Ababa and now a rebel leader Professor Birhanu Nega once said “if you can’t get your politics right, you can’t get your economy right. A country may obtain short-term goals but without inclusive, broad-based Political structure, growth isn’t sustainable”.

*Source Huffpost

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Ethiopian Opposition Leader Travels to Eritrea to Lead Rebellion
July 24, 2015 | 0 Comments

By * untitledThe leader of a U.S.-based Ethiopian opposition group relocated to Eritrea to organize civil and armed resistance against the government in the capital, Addis Ababa, a movement spokesman said. Berhanu Nega, a U.S. citizen, traveled to Ethiopia’s northern neighbor following the merger of his Ginbot 7 group with the Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front this year, spokesman Tadesse Kersmo said. Renewed tensions between the Horn of Africa nations, which fought a two-year war that ended in 2000, come before next week’s visit by Barack Obama to Ethiopia, the first by a sitting U.S. president. “We are following a kind of merged strategy, blending peaceful resistance with non-peaceful resistance,” Tadesse said by phone from London on July 21. Attacks on security installations seek to inspire Ethiopians to engage in non-violent opposition, he said.

Ethiopia has fractious relations with Eritrea, which became independent from its larger neighbor in 1993 after three decades of armed struggle. Sections of the border remain militarized after a failure to implement a 2002 United Nations ruling that awarded disputed territory to Eritrea. Both governments back insurgencies against each other. Sporadic attacks by anti-government militants haven’t stopped Ethiopia’s economic growth, which is forecast by the International Monetary Fund to exceed an annual rate of 8 percent over the next two years. Ethiopia’s government classes Ginbot 7 as a terrorist group and has sentenced Berhanu to death in absentia. Berhanu’s deputy, British citizen Andargachew Tsige, is on death row in Ethiopia after being captured in Yemen en route to Eritrea in June 2014 to negotiate the merger, Tadesse said.

‘Appropriate Action’

Ethiopian security forces and the rebel coalition clashed in the northern Tigray region last month, Tadesse said. On July 8, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn warned Eritrea he would take “appropriate action” if regional destabilization continued. Ethiopia says it last conducted strikes inside Eritrea in 2012. Ginbot 7 is militarily weak and Berhanu’s move is a “publicity stunt,” Getachew Reda, a special adviser to Hailemariam, said Thursday by phone. “The only way they can galvanize support among a dwindling following is by concocting some kind of drama.” Ginbot 7 comprises former members of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy, an opposition grouping that made unprecedented gains against the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front in 2005 elections.

Eritrea Deal

Protests occurred after the CUD claimed victory, leading to almost 200 people being shot dead by security forces. Opponents were jailed en masse for treason before being pardoned and leaving Ethiopia. Opposition parties won one seat in parliamentary elections in 2010; this year the ruling coalition took all 547 constituencies. The merged rebel group’s only deal with Eritrea is using it as a base, Tadesse said. President Isaias Afewerki rules a one-party state that’s banned private media and was accused of possible crimes against humanity by UN investigators last month. The government says wartime powers, including indefinite national service, are necessary because of the threat from Ethiopia, whose population of 96 million is about 15 times larger than Eritrea’s. The report of clashes “strengthens the hand of securocrats in the government that have wanted to see a more robust military approach towards” Eritrea, said Michael Woldemariam, assistant professor of international relations and an expert on African politics at Boston University. “The situation is volatile, and the potential for heightened conflict is real.” *Source Bloomberg]]>

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Ethiopia Launches 10-Year Strategy and Plan of Action to Increase Access to Medicines by Transforming Local Pharmaceutical Industry
July 17, 2015 | 0 Comments

Demeke Mekonnen Demeke Mekonnen[/caption] On 14 July 2015, His Excellency, Mr Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia, launched an ambitious 10-year national strategy and plan of action to develop local pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity in order to increase access to locally manufactured, quality-assured, medicines. The World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with the European Union Commission, provided technical assistance to the Government of Ethiopia in the development of this strategy, the first of its kind in the country. The launch took place at a high-level event organized in Addis Ababa, during the third Financing for Development Conference.   Dr Kesetebirhan Admasu, Ethiopia Minister of Health, welcomed participants at the launching highlighting, “The new strategic plan will not only improve access to essential medicine, but will also contribute to building a knowledge economy, harnessing research and development…., exerting a positive pressure on the country’s educational system.”   “Access to medicines is an integral component of universal health coverage,” said WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan. Dr Chan invited all development partners to join WHO in supporting the implementation of this strategic action plan over the next 10 years. African Union Chairperson, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, commended the Ethiopian government for launching this strategy, which is a translation of the African Union Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa at country level.   At the event Dr Mustapha Kaloko, African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs, presented the African Union Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan of Action for Africa, which envisions an “African people with access to essential, quality, safe and effective medical products and technologies.”   Prof Tsige Gebremariam of Addis Ababa University School of Pharmacy, while presenting an overview of the National Strategy and Plan of Action for Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Development in Ethiopia (2015-2025) pointed out the seven key objectives of this ambitious plan. The Strategy and Plan of Action aims to: •    Improve access to medicines through quality local production – implementing GMP roadmap •    Strengthen the national medicines regulatory system •    Create incentives designed to move companies along the value chain •    Develop human resources through relevant education and training •    Encourage cluster development and production of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) •    Create a research and development platform •    Attract foreign direct investments (FDIs) in the pharmaceutical sector The Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia, at the launch of the national strategy, emphasized that “This national strategy and plan of action will contribute significantly to the country’s economic growth and social development,” and called on all partners present and beyond to strengthen partnerships to support the Ethiopian efforts to significantly reduce poverty and become a middle income country by 2025.   Ethiopia’s increased investment in the health sector in recent years has resulted in an impressive 95% potential health coverage. The health indicators have remarkably improved towards achieving the health-related MDGs.   WHO Director General Dr Margaret Chan, UNOPS Executive Director Ms. Grete Faremo, GAVI CEO Dr Seth Berkley, World Bank Senior Director of Health, Nutrition and Population Dr Timorthy Grant Evans, Global Fund Against AIDS, TB and Malaria Executive Director Mr Mark Dybul, African Development Bank Vice President Mr Steve Kayizi Mugerwa, UNIDO Director General Mr LI Yong, UNDP Administrator Mrs Helen Clark, UNFPA Executive Director Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Luiz Loures, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Ms Yoka Brandt, US Ambassador Ms Patricia M Haslach, India Ambassador Mr Sanjay Verma, Brazil Ambassador Mrs Isabel Cristina de Azevedo Heyvaert, and Cuba Ambassador Mr Pedro Luis Pedroso Cuesta commended the Government of Ethiopia for developing such a comprehensive national strategy and plan of action, which is indeed a visionary programme of action. If implemented from a value chain perspective, and with commitment to ensure sustainability – by making the required investments and forging strategic partnerships – it could transform the pharmaceutical sector in the country over the next 10 years, and inspire change in Africa. *Source APO/WHO]]>

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Obama to visit Ethiopia, African Union in July
June 20, 2015 | 0 Comments

San Francisco (AFP) – US President Barack Obama will in late July become the first sitting American leader to visit Ethiopia and the headquarters of the African Union, the White House said Friday.
  [caption id="attachment_18780" align="alignleft" width="300"]US President Barack Obama will in late July become the first sitting American leader to visit Ethiopia and the headquarters of the African Union, the White House said (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb) US President Barack Obama will in late July become the first sitting American leader to visit Ethiopia and the headquarters of the African Union, the White House said (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)[/caption]

Obama’s trip to Addis Ababa will come directly after an already announced trip to Kenya, his first as president to his father’s homeland, press secretary Josh Earnest announced.

Obama will meet both the Ethiopian government and AU leaders, for talks on how to “accelerate economic growth, strengthen democratic institutions and improve security.”

The election of the United States’ first black president — and the first with an African parent — raised high hopes on the continent, but Obama has been a cautious friend.

In August last year, the White House hosted a huge Washington summit of African leaders and the upcoming July trip is intended to build on progress towards closer economic ties.

A presidential visit to Kenya had been put on ice while President Uhuru Kenyatta faced charges of crimes against humanity for his role in 2007-2008 post-election violence.

The International Criminal Court has since suspended that prosecution, citing a lack of evidence and Kenya’s failure to cooperate.

Human rights groups have questioned the visit to Kenya, but are also asking why Obama is visiting Ethiopia so soon after a contested election.

Africa’s second most populous nation held a vote in May that was described by many independent observers as flawed.

The governing party, which has ruled for over two decades, won a landslide, amid opposition allegations of intimidation and vote rigging.

“The decision by President Obama to travel to Ethiopia, which has seen three opposition party members murdered this week alone, is very troubling,” Jeffrey Smith of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights told AFP.

Smith said the timing, and the symbolism of Obama’s trip, would “further solidify the image that America stands behind Africa’s autocrats.” The White House stressed that it frequently addresses issues of democracy and political rights with countries in the region. “We regularly, both in public and in private, communicate our concerns about some of the issues,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.

“I don’t think that is going to stop because of this visit.”

Ethiopia and Kenya have both been on the frontline of the fight against Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-allied militia Shebab, and have been important security partners to Washington.

Shebab units have been hunted by African Union troops and US drones inside Somalia — but have outflanked the Kenyan contingent in Somalia to mount a string of gruesome cross-border raids.

In April last year the group attacked a university in Garissa, Kenya killing 148 people — most of them students.

*Source AFP/Yahoo

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Africa's Richest Man Commissions $500 Million Cement Plant In Ethiopia
June 6, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Mfonobong Nsehe* [caption id="attachment_18548" align="alignleft" width="252"]Aliko Dangote Aliko Dangote[/caption] Dangote Cement, the cement producer controlled by Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, has commissioned a $500 million cement plant in Ethiopia. The cement plant which has an installed capacity of 2.5 million metric tonnes per annum (mmtpa) was inaugurated on Thursday at a ceremony in Addis Ababa that was attended by several Nigerian business leaders and government officials from Ethiopia led by the Ethiopia Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegne. The plant is located in Mugher, an industrial hub in Ethiopia’s western district, about 80 kilometers from Addis Ababa. Aliko Dangote told guests during the event that his company is looking to build more cement plants across Africa to actualize its ambition of reaching an annual production of 62 million tonnes by 2017. The company currently produces more than 40 million tonnes annually. The Ethiopian plant will initially produce 2.5 million metric tonnes a year to keep up with Ethiopia’s market, as a construction boom in the country has led to a shortage of cement. But Dangote told guests his company plans to double its production in the near future. The plant will produce 42.5 cement grade and will create about 7,000 jobs.

Apart from its plants in Nigeria, Dangote Cement has factories in South Africa, Senegal, Zambia and Tanzania. It is currently building a $400 million factory in Kenya.

Aliko Dangote is Africa’s richest man with a fortune estimated at $17.8 billion according to FORBES.

*Source Forbes


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Dynamic US-Africa Partnership Lauded at African Day Celebrations in Washington,DC.
May 29, 2015 | 0 Comments

Rev Jackson and Ambassador Teitelbaum in a group photo with African Ambassadors in Washington,DC. Rev Jackson and Ambassador Teitelbaum in a group photo with African Ambassadors in Washington,DC.[/caption] In celebrations to mark the 2015 African Day  in Washington, DC,  dynamic ties between the USA –Africa hailed by the Ambassador of Egypt Mohamed Tawfik. Speaking as co-Chair of the celebrations organized by the African Ambassador’s group, the Egyptian Envoy cited the last US-Africa’s Leaders’ Summit and the support that Africa continues to receive from the US in multiple forms. “The celebration is about Africa’s success”, said Ambassador Tawfik as he enumerated a litany of positive developments taking place in the continent. Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world he said, with life expectancy ticking up, and more children in school than at any other time. The continent is increasingly taking charge of its own security challenges and Egypt will be hosting a historic summit soon geared towards the creation of a broader Pan African free trade zone ,said Tawfik. In addition to Women serving as Presidents, and in parliament, Tawfik also cited the example of AU Chair Dlamini Zuma to highlight the progress made by women in the continent. Ambassador Donald Teitelbaum, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State at the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs delivered the keynote speech in which he highlighted the important role women have always played in the history of Africa. [caption id="attachment_18381" align="alignright" width="586"]Rev Jackson poses with members of the Ivorian dance troupe that animated the celebration Rev Jackson poses with members of the Ivorian dance troupe that animated the celebration[/caption] Celebrated under the theme “Women Empowerment & Development towards Achieving Africa Agenda 2063”, Ambassador Teitelbaum saluted the strides that have been made by the African Union and African countries. Africa’s biggest resource is its people Ambassador Teitelbaum and no country can get ahead if half of its population is left behind. Africa represents a growing a growing market and just this year alone, there have been some 316 million new cell phone subscribers reported ,Teitelbaum said. Programs like the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, have been helpful in alleviating the health plight of women and children, said. Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana of Rwanda who heads the African Ambassadors Group in Washington, DC, also spoke on the importance of placing women at the center of development. With Maureen Umeh of Fox TV as MC, the celebration had as special Guest the Rev Jesse Jackson ,Founder and President of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.  Other guests from the African American Community included Melvin Foote from the Constituency for Africa, and Denise Rolark Barnes, Publisher of the Washington Informer. Sponsored by Chevron, Coca Cola, and Exxon Mobile, guests were treated to an art exhibition and entertainment performance of folk dances from Egypt, Rwanda and Ivory Coast.      ]]>

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Faces Of Africa: Rastafarians coming Home to Africa
May 15, 2015 | 0 Comments

cctv-come-home-to-africa-850x636During colonial times, many Africans were traded for slavery in America. When Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery, many started searching for their roots. For years, Rastafarians from Jamaica have gone to live in Shashamane Ethiopia, a land that the late Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia gave to them. Today, many are happy to be home!   *Source Rastafari tv]]>

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Ethiopian protests draw attention to racism in Israel
May 5, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Luke Baker*

[caption id="attachment_17899" align="alignleft" width="300"]Protesters, mainly who are Israeli Jews of Ethiopian origin, block a main road in Tel Aviv during a demonstration against what they say is police racism and brutality, after the emergence last week of a video clip that showed policemen shoving and punching a black soldier May 3, 2015. REUTERS/Baz Ratner Protesters, mainly who are Israeli Jews of Ethiopian origin, block a main road in Tel Aviv during a demonstration against what they say is police racism and brutality, after the emergence last week of a video clip that showed policemen shoving and punching a black soldier May 3, 2015. REUTERS/Baz Ratner[/caption]

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Images of Israeli police firing stun grenades are usually set in the West Bank and involve Palestinian protesters. But on Sunday the situation was quite different – riot police battling thousands of Ethiopian Jews in the center of Tel Aviv.

The spark was a week-old video showing two Israeli policemen punching, beating and trying to arrest an Israeli soldier of Ethiopian descent in what appeared to be an unprovoked attack.

The two-minute video is the latest in a string of incidents that have raised uncomfortable questions about Israel’s treatment of ethnic minorities and its struggle to integrate newcomers into broader society, whether Jews or non-Jews.

On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met the soldier, Damas Fikadeh, at his Jerusalem office and hugged him.

“I was shocked by the (video) footage,” he said on Twitter. “We cannot accept it, and we will change it.”

Some commentators have highlighted latent racism in a country that has absorbed millions of migrants over the past 60 years but still agonizes over differences between East European and Middle Eastern Jews, relations with its large Arab minority, and how to handle more recent arrivals from Africa.

“There is a problem, there are discrimination issues, there is racism in Israel,” said Fentahun Assefa-Dawit, the director of Tebeka, an advocacy group for Ethiopian Israelis, who number around 130,000, many of them born in Israel.

“We want the prime minister to take this matter into his hands,” he said moments before he was due to meet Netanyahu. “We urge him, we demand of him, to bring these issues to an end.”


In the run-up to Israel’s election in March and the weeks since there have been a series of violent incidents, comments by politicians and policy proposals that have fueled concerns the country has a race problem – not just when it comes to the 20 percent Arab population but to minority Jewish groups too.

Last week, an Ethiopian Jew said he was beaten by inspectors from Israel’s population and immigration authority because they thought he was a migrant from Sudan or Eritrea. The immigration authority said the man attacked the inspectors first.

On the day of the election on March 17, fearing he could lose, Netanyahu said “Arab voters are coming out in droves”, comments that offended the Arab-Israeli population and drew accusations of racism. The prime minister later apologized.

For months, Israel has been threatening to imprison thousands of illegal African migrants if they do not agree to be deported to third countries in Africa, despite the Supreme Court expressing deep reservations about the policy.

In the 1990s, Israeli officials confirmed that blood donated by Ethiopian Israelis had been thrown away out of fear that it could be infected by HIV and other diseases.

Racism in Israeli society is “far more commonplace and far more toxic than we dare tell ourselves,” leading political commentator Nahum Barnea wrote in Yediot Ahronoth on Monday.

“Hatred of the other, or of anyone perceived as being the other, is not only deeply rooted here, but it also receives encouragement from politicians on the eve of elections.”

Ben Caspit, a columnist with Maariv newspaper, said it was not up to Netanyahu to resolve how the Ethiopian community is treated but for all Israelis to wake up and address it.

“The people who are to blame for the terrible things that the members of this lovely community have been forced to undergo on a daily basis is us,” he said.

[caption id="attachment_17900" align="alignright" width="300"]Israeli police clashed with protesters from Israel’s Ethiopian community in Tel Aviv on May 3, after footage emerged showing two Israeli policemen beating an IDF soldier of Ethiopian descent. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the soldier, Damas Pakada, on May 4. Netanyahu also met various Israeli officials and leaders in the Ethiopian community, according to a Facebook post to his official account. In Tel Aviv, Israeli police used water cannons and smoke to disperse the crowds and arrested 43 people, according to reports. Credit: IsraeliPM Israeli police clashed with protesters from Israel’s Ethiopian community in Tel Aviv on May 3, after footage emerged showing two Israeli policemen beating an IDF soldier of Ethiopian descent. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the soldier, Damas Pakada, on May 4. Netanyahu also met various Israeli officials and leaders in the Ethiopian community, according to a Facebook post to his official account. In Tel Aviv, Israeli police used water cannons and smoke to disperse the crowds and arrested 43 people, according to reports. Credit: IsraeliPM[/caption]

“Those among us who turn up their noses when an Ethiopian family enters the neighborhood, those among us who are not happy to see Ethiopian children in their children’s classroom.”

Around 20,000 Ethiopian Jews, who trace their roots to the biblical King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, were brought to Israel on secret flights in the mid 1980s and early 1990s.

The offspring of those early arrivals have worked hard to integrate, many serving in elite units of the army with distinction. An Ethiopian woman won a recent Miss Israel beauty contest. But after mandatory military service, acceptance in the workplace has proved more of a struggle for many.

“When an Ethiopian applies for a job, as qualified and impressive as he might be, he is not going to be invited for an interview because he has an Ethiopian name on his CV,” said Assefa-Dawit of Tebeka, the advocacy group.

“Israel is our country, there’s no ‘us and them’. This is our home. The community is crying out for the government to resolve this.”

*Source Reuters/Yahoo


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