05 December 2013 News Round Up


Sudan, Ethiopia inaugurate electricity line linking two countries

Sudanese President Omar al- Bashir and the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Wednesday inaugurated the inter-connecting electricity line between the two countries in Geddarif State in eastern Sudan.

Sudan’s Minister of Electricity and Water Resources Osma Abullah, addressing the inauguration ceremony, said that “the inter-connecting electricity project constitutes a new lifeline for the peoples of Sudan and Ethiopia.”

Abullah explained that the cost of the project amounted to 70 million U.S dollars with a fund from the India Funding and Import Bank and a considerable contribution from the two countries’ governments.

He noted that the capacity of the line is 350 megawatts and extends for 321 km, reiterating the project tends to achieve an increase in the stability of electricity supply in the Sudanese and Ethiopian electric networks.

“We are working to enhance the two countries’ ties and leverage the commercial side with 100 to 150 million dollars annually to decrease the thermal generating and provide electricity for the border villages,” he added.

Ethiopian Minister of Water and Energy Alemayehu Tegenum for his part said that the benefit of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam would not be for Ethiopia alone, but for the whole region as was confirmed by the International Panel of Experts on the dam.

Meanwhile, Sudan is to begin importing and purchasing the electricity from Ethiopia as of Wednesday, where the two countries agreed that Sudan would purchase 100 megawatts during the first phase subject to increase.

The project avails for Sudan to purchase electricity from Ethiopia to fill in an expected gap in electricity in Sudan.



Sudan-Ethiopia Higher Committee holds meeting

Sudanese President Omer Al-Bashir says meetings of the Joint Sudan-Ethiopia Higher Committee are regarded as a step forward towards achieving a comprehensive vision for firm relations and co-operation between the two countries and a contribution to regional and international efforts to confront the challenges in Africa.

Addressing the opening session of meetings of the Joint Sudan-Ethiopia Higher Committee in Khartoum on Tuesday, President Al-Bashir said that Sudan looks forward for consolidating its cooperation with Ethiopia and prevalence of a more secure and integrated region.

President Al-Bashir said that the framework agreement expected to be signed by Sudan and Ethiopia would be conducive to establishing strategic bilateral relations in all fields, pushing ahead the co-operation between the two countries to encompass wider horizons, meeting the aspirations of the two peoples and establishing joint projects for the interest of the two peoples.

President Al-Bashir voiced appreciation for the responsible democratic practices, the high economic growth rate and the infrastructural and industrial projects being established in Ethiopia and lauded the role being played by Ethiopia in boosting the peace process in Sudan, referring to the presence of UNISFA (United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei) forces at the joint border between Sudan and South Sudan to keep peace and stability at the area.

The Foreign Ministers of Sudan and Ethiopia, who met earlier, submitted the report on the outcome of the Joint Sudan-Ethiopia Ministerial Committee to joint higher committee which is co-headed by President Al-Bashir and Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn.

The report, presented by Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Karti at the opening session, reflected the vision of the two countries for consolidating their bilateral relations and the cooperation in the political, economic and social fields within the framework of the fraternity and solidarity between the Sudanese and Ethiopian peoples.

Karti said the framework agreement in the economic and technical fields complied with the vision of the leaderships of the two countries for establishing strategic economic relations and co-operation.

He pointed to the spirit of co-operation and fraternity which prevailed at the joint ministerial committee, affirming keenness of the Sudanese and Ethiopian Foreign Ministries to work for re-activating the follow-up mechanisms and to boost implementation of the agreements.

Karti disclosed that the ministerial meeting approved 13 agreements and memorandums of understanding in the trade, economic, technical, legal, criminal, aviation, local and federal government, passenger transport, security, railways, combat of human trafficking, women, children, youth, banking, customs and general education fields.



Africa could feed the world, but smallholders will be key

Smallholder farmers will be key to Africa’s efforts not only to feed itself, but also to become a major food supplier for the rest of the world, Africa Progress Panel claims.

Chaired by Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, the ten-member panel advocates for equitable and sustainable development in Africa.

According to the panel, Africa’s agricultural potential is clear. With large amounts of uncultivated arable land, roughly 60 percent of the global total, it has plenty of space to lift production.

Productivity can also be boosted. African cereal yields are just over one-third of the developing world average, for example, linked to the fact that as much as 80 percent of Africa’s agriculture still depends on rain not irrigation.

Some African governments see the efficiencies of large-scale commercial farming as a means to fulfil this potential.

But Africa cannot increase its food production, create jobs, and reduce poverty on the scale required without unlocking the potential of smallholder agriculture, Africa Progress Panel argues.

Nearly two out of three Africans depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Indeed, Africa’s rapidly growing youth population makes job creation an urgent matter for many of the continent’s governments.

In countries such as Ethiopia and Kenya, agricultural growth has been shown to reduce poverty twice as fast as any other sector.

African leaders and their partners must all do more to shape the continent’s mighty farming potential, Africa Progress Panel urges.

One day Africa could feed the world. But first it must feed itself. And smallholder farmers must be part of the solution.



Ethiopia spearheads green energy in Africa

From the sky, the 84 glimmering white turbines at Ashegoda wind farm shoot up from the ground like massive spokes, standing out high amid vast expanses of yellow wheat.

Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, mostly populated by cattle farmers who grow the country’s staple grains, is an unlikely site for a modern French-run wind farm, let alone sub-Saharan Africa’s largest.

With its multi-billion dollar projects in wind, hydropower, solar and geothermal energy, Ethiopia’s pioneering green energy efforts aim to supply power to its 91 million people and boost its economy by exporting power to neighbouring countries.

“Ethiopia stands alone in Africa as using green energy for transformative growth,” said Ahmed Soliman, from Britain’s Chatham House think tank.

Current energy production capacity stands at 2,177MW, with ambitions to reach 10 000MW by 2015.

Ashegoda’s turbines, which tower above young boys in tattered clothes watching over their livestock, have a total capacity of 120MW, making it the biggest on the sub-continent.

The project was built by France’s Vergnet Group, and is the first of several planned wind farms in the country, including a 204MW Chinese-built site under construction in the southeast.

Ashegoda, 780km from Addis Ababa, is part of ambitious plans to transform Ethiopia into a middle-income, carbon-neutral country by 2025.

The $313m wind farm, funded by the French government and several private French banks, is an indication of growing interest from European companies in Ethiopia, where Chinese, Indian and Turkish investments are also growing.

Both France and Ethiopia’s government are “very enthusiastic to reinforce even more links”, said Romano Coutrot, site manager at the wind farm, adding Ashegoda is one of Vergnet’s “most important” projects globally.

The project took four years to complete and became fully operational in October, but faced several hurdles along the way.

Soaring up to 80m high, the turbines had to be driven to landlocked Ethiopia on semi-paved roads from Djibouti, which posed a major challenge.

Completion was further delayed to relocate the site 5km north after the aviation authority said it was interfering with its airspace.

Coutrot admitted that doing business in Ethiopia can be challenging, with infrastructure shortfalls and crippling bureaucracy.

“The taxation system, customs, the relationship with authorities, it’s sometimes a bit difficult,” he said, speaking from his office on site amid the imposing turbines.

Ethiopia ranks 125 out of 189 countries on the World Bank’s ease of doing business index.

“Government services like customs, land issues, other government services are improving,” said Minister for Water and Energy Alemayehu Tegenu, insisting the government was committed to improving conditions for investors.

The government says its investment in green energy is a central pillar of its development plan, crucial in a country where the majority of people live on less than $2 a day.

“Health, education, communication, water supply, industry, these all need sustainable and reliable power supply,” Alemayehu said.

Only 53% of the country currently has access to electricity, with large swathes of Ethiopia’s rural regions in the dark and relying on firewood for basic household needs.

“Unless you have this kind of ambitious plan, the pace of population pressure will take over and you won’t see any change,” said Belay Simane, professor of environment at Addis Ababa University.

The country is already exporting power to Djibouti and Sudan, with a line to transport energy to Kenya under construction.

Soliman said it will solidify Ethiopia’s role as a leader in green energy in the region.

“Ethiopia will have a competitive regional advantage, not having to rely on economically and technically less-feasible sources of energy such as gas or oil to meet growing demands, which many East African countries are doing,” Soliman said.

The hard currency earned from these power exports will go toward increasing the number of renewable energy projects in Ethiopia, according to the government.

Heavy investment in the green energy sector extends beyond economics: the country is keen to avoid the mistakes of countries such as China or India, that experienced rapid economic growth but with grave environmental costs.

“If we invest in these resources, we can develop in a green way without affecting the environment like they did in Europe,” said Fisseha Gebremichael, Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation’s Ashegoda project manager.

Alemeyahu said he hopes Ethiopia’s aggressive investments in wind and other renewable energy resources will persuade other African countries to follow suit.

“We don’t want to keep African populations in the dark for a long time, we have to run very fast to access light for industry and for social and economic development,” he said.



Sugar self-sufficiency within reach

Ethiopia is getting closer to cease importing sugar to satisfy its growing domestic demand as expansion works enabled existing sugar factories to boost production.

The country relies on import of two million quintals of sugar annually to supplement domestic production in order to meet local demands estimated to be around five million quintals.

The completion of expansion projects in Wonji Shewa and Fincha sugar factories, the nation has boosted its annual sugar production from the two factories from 2.35 to 3.23 million quintals, , according to data from Ethiopian Sugar Corporation (ESC).

At full capacity, Fincha Sugar Factory will produce 2.7 million quintals of sugar per annum, but the corporation expects the factory to produce two million quintals this year, nine thousand quintals more than last year.

Another 950 thousand quintals of sugar is expected from Wonji-Shewa Sugar Factory this year. The expansion project in Wonji-Shewa sugar factories, the oldest pair of sugar factories in Ethiopia, came after operations in these factories phased-out. With the completion of Metehara Sugar Factory, which is expected to produce 1.7 million quintals of sugar this year and Tendaho Sugar Factory, slated to go operational in two months, Ethiopia expects to have surplus sugar production of more than 5.4 million quintals.

Following the development, ESC has halted new orders for import of sugar and could start exporting sugar in 2014/15 budget year. The country has a long term vision of joining the leading global exporters of sugar as the government strives to complete the construction of ten new sugar factories currently underway in various parts of the country.



Over 150 Chinese firms to attend expo in Ethiopia

More than 150 Chinese enterprises will be participating in the first commodity expo to be opened here Thursday to showcase their products, technology and services.

The 2013 (Africa) China Commodities, Technology & Service Expo will be held till Sunday at Millennium Hall in the Ethiopian capital, where the Chinese enterprises are expected to put on display their products in the areas of agriculture, electricity, automobile, hardware, building materials, electrical appliances.

At a press conference on the premises of the Ethiopian Ministry of Industry on Wednesday, Han Shengjian, Deputy Director of Chinese Trade Development Bureau, said the Expo in Africa’s political capital serves as a platform for China-Africa cooperation.

It further deepens China’s comprehensive partnership and cooperation with Ethiopia and Africa in general, the official said.

In his congratulatory message in connection with the Expo, Gao Hucheng, Chinese Minister of Commerce, noted that China is keen to work with African counterparts to consolidate the progress achieved through the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

Gao said the Expo, held within the framework of FOCAC, provides a platform to display the Chinese products, technology and services, playing a crucial role in upgrading the Sino-African new strategic partnership.

“China is now willing to work with African counterparts to consolidate the progress made through the Forum, seize new opportunities, identify starting points for mutual benefits and common success, promote a comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable growth of bilateral business cooperation, carry out substantial activities to enrich this new strategic partnership, and make active, continued contribution to the economic development for both sides and the world economic recovery,” said the minister.

Han also revealed that Justin Yifu Lin, former chief economist and Senior Vice President of World Bank, Councilor of the State Council of China and Vice President of All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, has also written a congratulatory letter in connection with the Expo.

Justin Yifu Lin expressed hope that African countries draw upon the developing mode of China to identify and promote industries with latent comparative advantages based on their endowment structure, focus on their limited resources and efforts.

Justin also expressed hope that the Expo could establish a platform for the Chinese manufacturing sectors to combine their strength with corresponding sectors in Ethiopia and other African countries, supporting the growth of industries with comparative advantages in Africa, and achieving a win-win result for both Africa and China.

“Ethiopia and China are long-time reliable cooperative partners, ” said Hailemariam Desalegn, Ethiopian Prime Minister, in his message for the Expo. “The bilateral relation is faced with huge opportunities.”

The Prime Minister hopes that the Expo could become an important platform for China and Ethiopia to carry out economic and trade cooperation, and further promote the exchanges and cooperation between the countries industry and commerce circles thus achieving win-win cooperation.

Also in her message, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, said the Expo becomes a platform to promote the exchanges and cooperation between Chinese and African countries.

It also serve as a platform to attract more Chinese enterprises, technology and services into Africa thus achieving common development by complementing the other with its respective advantages, said the chairperson.

Speaking during the press conference today, Sisay Gemechu, Ethiopian State Minister of Industry, noted that the Expo is an important occasion for the Chinese enterprises and also to the Ethiopian side.

The deputy director of the Chinese Trade Development Bureau noted that in collaboration with the Ethiopian side such Expo would be held on an annual basis here in Ethiopia.

He said Ethiopia has been the venue for the Expo because the country is the seat for the AU Headquarters and that of the UN Economic Commission for Africa.



Ethiopia Beckons Indian Tourists

With India set to be a crucial factor in the development of Ethiopia – the second most populous nation in Africa – as a world-class tourism destination, state-owned Ethiopian Airlines is set to fly into Chennai, its third destination in the sub-continent after New Delhi and Mumbai, a move that will also provide greater connectivity to central and west African nations, an official said.

India is a good source market for tourism. We expect to have a good share of this market, even one or two per cent of this is significant for us.” Ethiopian Airline’s senior vice president (Global Sales) Esayas Woldemariam said, alluding to the 13 million Indians who travel abroad annually.

The slogan for the campaign is ‘Come, visit Ethiopia’. Ethiopian Airlines has already hosted a group of tour and travel operators from India on a week-long familiarization visit to some of the country’s popular destinations.

Ethiopia is setting up a special tourism office in India and has already opened a cultural centre at its embassy in New Delhi to provide information about various aspects of the country. By next year, Ethiopia plans to establish tourism boards in New Delhi and Mumbai. There are also plans to set up several tourism promotional centres in major Indian cities.

Speaking about the new flight, Ethiopian CEO Tewelde Gebremariam said: “This route is a very important market for us because Chennai is the third largest city in India and there are many Indians living in Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, cote d’ivoire, Guinea and so on, which open greater markets. Investors as well as guest workers in these countries travel to their home countries at different times as well as for different purposes and we could benefit from that,” he added.

Ethiopian, which currently flies daily to New Delhi and twice daily to Mumbai, is also studying other points like Bangalore and Hyderabad. It also has a code sharing agreement with Air India.

“Africa being the investment hub and favoured by Indian investors as also the airline’s big network connecting India to Africa have added to the growing economic region,” Ethiopian’s senior vice president (Global Sales) Esayas Woldemariam said.

“With the large African network we have, we hope we will be in a position to benefit from India and it will definitely contribute to our revenues,” he added.



Ethiopia and WB sign a 2.4 Bln Birr Loan Agreement

Ethiopia and the World Bank sign a 2.4 billion Birr loan agreement here on Thursday.

Ministry of Finance and Economic Development Sufian Ahmed and World Bank Country Director Guwang Zo Chen signed the agreement.

The loan would be vsed to finance implemention of education quality reform program.

Sufian on the occasion said the government is exerting relentiess effort to ensure education quality and will work with development partners for the same cause.

WB country Director Guang Chen for his part said the World Bank will assist Ethiopia’s efforts to improve education quality.

The second Education quality ensuring program which has a four years life span would be implemented with budgets from development partners and the government.



Global conference on rural energy access in eradicating poverty kicks off

Addis Ababa, 5 December 2013 (WIC) – A three-day global conference which discusses rural energy access in eradicating poverty kicked off here Wednesday.

The Conference on Rural Energy Access: A Nexus Approach to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication is part of the follow up to the 2012 Conference on Sustainable Development or Rio+20. The main objective of the Conference is to provide an opportunity to strengthen capacities on policy, technical and entrepreneurial approaches to rural energy access for eradicating poverty and promoting sustainable development in rural communities.

Speaking on the occasion energy development and monitoring Director with the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy, Gosaye Nengiste said the country have been working hard to expand rural areas access to electricity.

Some 5,600 towns, villages and development centers have been electrified through the Universal Electric Access Program over the past seven years, he said.

Gosaye said the aggressive expansion projects helped the country to increase the electricity coverage to 53 percent from the previous 15 percent during the reported period.

The government has set target to increase beneficiaries of the electric service to 10,000 and raise the coverage to 75 percent over the coming two years. Close to 26,130 households in areas remote from the national grid system have also benefited from solar home systems, he said.

According to ENA, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA), in collaboration with Sustainable Energy for All, UN-Energy and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) organized the event.



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