(UPDATED) 17 December 2013 News Briefs


Gilgel Gibe III project to commence operation in September

The Gilgel Gibe III hydropower project would commence operation at the beginning of the coming Ethiopian New Year, the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy said.

In an exclusive interview with ENA, the Minister, Alemayehu Tegenu said 80 percent of the construction work on the project has already been done.

He said the project, which has a capacity to generate 1,870MW electric power would commence operation in September 2007 E.C.

The Minister said construction of main power projects such as the Genale dam and the Adama II wind farm are also well in progress.

The construction of power projects helps the nation secure additional revenue from sale of power as well as strengthen economic ties with neighboring countries, he said.

The recent launch of 100MW electric power export to the neighboring Sudan would enable Ethiopia to secure millions of dollars per year.

The installation of Ethiopia-Kenya power transmission line would be finalized in the coming two years, connecting Ethiopia to Kenya’s power grid, Alemayehu said.

In the first phase Ethiopia would export 400MW power, he said, adding, currently the Kenya town of Moyale is getting power from Ethiopia.



Demurrage law reduces time wastage, cost of freights

The Federal Transport Authority said the new Demurrage law, ratified by the House of People’s Representatives (HPR) would help reduce inappropriate time wastage during loading and unloading of freights and cost of freights.

In an exclusive interview with ENA, Authority Director General, Kasahun Hailemariam said trucks are forced to wait a long time to load and unload freights due to inefficient work process of suppliers, companies engaged in loading and unloading of freights, and government agencies.

According to the Director, the time wastage due to extended time of loading and unloading freights costs the sector millions of Birr.

A test carried out for one year before the endorsement of the law showcased that a truck requires up to 11.5 days in average to travel between Addis Ababa and Djibouti, he said.

The new system reduced this to seven days and the transportation cost by seven percent.

The law would also help trucks travel faster and reduce freights stay at ports, the Director said.

Suppliers, companies engaged in loading and unloading of freights as well as government agencies would pay fees to compensate the time the trucks wasted inappropriately.

The introduction of the law would also help the country transport import and export commodities to and from ports within short time and at low cost, he said. This would help the country save extra expenses pay for port rent.

According to the Director, the new Demurrage Law would be enforced as of January 2014.



House strengthens monitoring, evaluation on government agencies

The House of People’s Representatives (HPR) has said it would intensify efforts to strengthen its evaluation and monitoring activities on government agencies.

In an exclusive interview with ENA, House Speaker Abadula Gemeda said the House would strengthen these activities with a view to enable government agencies discharge their responsibilities and provide efficient service for the public.

Government agencies are showing progress in their service provision capacities owing to the continuous evaluation and monitoring activities, Abadula said.

The activities are mainly focused in the areas of good governance and anti-corruption struggle, as well as in the implementation of implementation of the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) and huge government projects.

The activities are aimed at improving the capacities of government agencies to provide efficient service, build good governance and fight corruption thereby enhancing the development of the country, he said.

HPR, through its 16 standing committees, is evaluating and monitoring performance of government agencies using the agencies’ reports, its observation and public opinion.



Priority to Promotion of Modern Agricultural Technologies

The Ministry of Science and Technology said priority should be given to promotion and release of modern agricultural technologies among farmers with a view to improve agricultural production and ensure food security.

The State Minister Mahamuda Ahmed made the remark on a field visit at Sodo Rural Technology Promotion Center, produces and disseminates new and improved agricultural technologies in South Ethiopia Peoples’ State.

He said releasing new and improved technologies widely will help to achieve the goal set to double agricultural output at the end of the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) period.

He said production and distribution of improved seed that provide high yield have been undertaken around the country to increase agricultural productivity, he said.

Together with distribution of improved seed, making modern technologies accessible among farmers will help to improve production and productivity thereby ensures food security, the Minister said.

Micro and Small Enterprises Development Agency Director-General, GebreMeskel Challa on his part expressed the need to give priority to work closely with micro and small enterprises to disseminate technologies among farmers.

He said transferring modern technologies among farmers in accordance with the respective environment and undertake strong evaluation will contribute for increase in production.

Center Representative Tadesse Abera said the Center has been producing and releasing technologies that help farmers increase agricultural production with fair price.

He said the Center is working closely with micro and small enterprises, technical and vocational training institutes and other stakeholders to widely release new and improved technologies.



USAID Opens Bishoftu Farm Service Center

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said the Bishoftu Farm Service Center (FSCs), the first of six such centers established to provide training to rural entrepreneurs, to create Ethiopian-owned retail farm supply and service centers was opened on Tuesday. According to a press release issued by the USAID, these private, retail supply and farm service businesses will serve as innovative models in Ethiopia and throughout Africa.

In addition to Bishoftu, FSCs will be opened in Ambo, Dodola, Fiche, Nekemte and Shashamane towns in Oromia State.

In addition to highly trained staff that provide services and training at each location, the FSCs provide a complete range of supplies such as quality seeds, fertilizers, plant protection products, and veterinary products; information; and marketing links for Ethiopian smallholders, allowing them to make the step from subsistence to commercial production.

“Having taken just one look at the supplies and services available at the Bishoftu FSC, it is clear to see how the model will achieve the overall program goal of improving smallholder productivity, food security and income through the development of sustainable, private-sector driven agricultural input supplies and services,” said USAID Ethiopia Mission Director Dennis Weller at the opening ceremony.

Implemented by CNFA, formerly the Citizens Network for Foreign Affairs, the USAID Commercial Farm Service Program provides grants and training to rural entrepreneurs, both men and women, to create Ethiopian-owned retail farm supply and service centers. Following a competitive application process, each of the six Ethiopian-owned enterprises received a 40,000 USD grant that requires a minimum of 1:1 match on behalf of the entrepreneur to ensure that the FSC owner is invested in the enterprise. Major Alemayehu A/Mariam, owner and operator of the Bishoftu FSC, highlighted the fact that agriculture is one of the most important sectors in the country. He stated “Our professionals at the Bishoftu Farm Service Center look after the farmers and understand the heartbeat of each customer.”

The Commercial Farm Service Program is a two-year pilot activity of USAID supported by President Obama’s Feed the Future Initiative. Through Feed the Future, USAID is helping vulnerable households participate in economic activities and generate demand for products. These activities bring jobs and income opportunities for rural households.


Nation to harvest 95m quintals of crop through irrigation

Some 95 million quintals of crops, vegetables, fruits and spices is expected to be reaped during the current harvest season from irrigation development, the Ministry of Agriculture MoA) said.

According to Tefera Tadese, Natural Resource Conservation and Utilization Director with MoA, the stated amount of output is expected to be harvested from over 1.6 million hectares of land.

Over nine million farmers are developing the stated area through irrigation. So far, over 500,000 hectares of land has been covered with various seeds.

Some 1.6 million quintals of improved seeds, fertilizers and anti-pests would be used to develop the stated area.

The Ministry has prepared irrigation action plan to improve production and productivity, the Director said.

Some 1.8 million hectares of land has been developed through irrigation over the past three years.



UN Utilizing Financial Inclusion Programs to Fight Rural Poverty

ADDIS ABABA — Several United Nations agencies are investing heavily in so-called financial inclusion programs, designed to bring financial services to the poor and make them less aid-dependent. Although the efforts made so far have been sizable, observers are beginning to wonder if the programs can succeed on their own

The idea behind financial inclusion is making financial services such as credit, savings and insurance available to everyone – including poor people in Africa’s rural areas who live on just two dollars a day. It is believed that if these services reached the rural poor, their lives could improve tremendously.

Ertharin Cousin of the World Food Program said that financial inclusion should not be seen as another aid program.

“The goal is to create an opportunity where we begin a program that ultimately becomes a full agricultural value chain improvement that outlives WFP’s participation,” explained Cousin.

With a population of more than 84 million people, and more than 80 percent of them living in rural areas, Ethiopia was chosen for a three-day work visit on financial inclusion by the three U.N. food agencies: the World Food Program, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

Seeds and fertilizer are provided to participating farmers by the FAO. Local cooperatives then purchase the harvest with funds that are indirectly provided by the IFAD. Meanwhile, the WFP gives schools budget help so they can buy locally made products for their school meal programs.

Organizers hope to make the programs self-sufficient, and there is a willingness among the farmers and the cooperatives to make it work. Alemetu Yohannes, the chairman of a women’s cooperative that received loans to purchase haricot beans, stressed the importance of self-reliance.

Alemetu said that local people want to create their own jobs and provide for themselves. She said they will stop taking the donations once they are no longer in need of help.

However, it is not yet clear if the rural poor can truly be self-reliant, because these projects have so far been run only on a very small scale.

Another part of the program focuses on financial literacy – educating those living on a few dollars a day of the potential gains from using not using all their money for daily expenses, but to save or invest a percentage of it as well.

Queen Maxima, the U.N.’s Special Advocate for Financial Inclusion, said that financial literacy is important to help people start saving to provide funds for future investments.

“Eventually, you should unleash domestic savings because of the domestic resources that should be put back in to productive loans so that people can actually make the investment, grow the production, increase employment,” said Maxima.

Ethiopia’s financial infrastructure is still very minimal; only eight percent of the population has a bank deposit account. While mobile banking has contributed to economic progress for the rural poor in other African countries, Ethiopia has only recently allowed a pilot project with mobile banking.



Ethiopia to Improve Trade Facilitation

Today the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority (ERCA) and the Investment Climate Facility for Africa (ICF) have signed an Agreement worth US$ 7.3 million to establish an electronic Single Window (eSW) system for international trade.

The main objective of this project is to set up a Single Window System that will facilitate international trade by reducing export, import and transit procedures and reducing the time and costs of   clearance document preparation. The system will help to make the country’s businesses more competitive, attractive to investment opportunities and stimulate the country’s economic development.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Ato Beker Shale, Director General of the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority said:

“I am confident that, this project will definitely have a prominent impact on the overall trading activity of the country. The impact of the project will be substantial and far reaching along several aspects and measures. We believe that the system will readily be welcomed by the trading community and all stakeholders and be optimally utilized.”

The Director General also reaffirms the Government’s and ERCA’s for the project and appreciated and gave thanks for the support provided by ICF.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, William Asiko, ICF CEO, said:

“ICF is pleased to be in the forefront of helping Ethiopia improve its business environment. The support we are providing to improve trade facilitation will help to make the country competitive and more attractive to investors.”

This is the second time that ICF and ERCA are working together on such selected projects with the aim of improving Ethiopia’s investment climate. The first project was completed in 2012 and focused on modernizing the tax administration system and it created an online filing system for large tax payers and also established a call centre in ERCA’s headquarters.

Notes to the Editor:

The Investment Climate Facility for Africa (ICF) is a donor funded, private sector focused development institution whose purpose is to enhance the economic prospects of African society by working with businesses and governments to improve the investment climate in respective African countries. ICF works with African governments to create a conducive legal, regulatory and administrative environment for businesses, both big and small, to invest, grow and create jobs.

Apart from trade facilitation, ICF also provides support in the areas of property rights and contract enforcement, business registration and licensing, commercial justice, tax and customs, financial markets, infrastructure facilitation, labour markets, competition, and corruption and crime. ICF is supported by development partners and the private sector. Additional information on ICF is available at http://www.icfafrica.org

The Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority (ERCA) is an institution that was newly established in 2007 by merging three institutions that were operational in the area. The Authority now employs about 9,000 staff and is found in a wave of reforms and transformation. It has been a leading organization in Ethiopia in the introduction of Business Process Reengineering (BPR) and Balanced Scorecard (BSC) systems. It is also one of the public organization in introducing and widely using IT systems and resources.

The assistance singed at this time to introduce eSW is believed to further modernize and enhance ERCA’s service delivery with significant and wider impacts on investment facilitation and the economy. The Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority already runs two major automated systems, i.e. Standard Integrated Government Tax Administration System (SIGTAS) for domestic tax administration, and Automated Systems for Customs Administration (ASYCUDA++) for Customs procedures facilitation.

For more information, please contact Ato Efrem Mekonnen at efremm2@revenue.gov.et and tel. 0911 790092



UN to Resettle Thousands of Refugees in Ethiopia to 3rd Country

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) have revealed that plans are underway to resettle over 3,000 refugees in Ethiopia under the UNHCR’s resettlement program, according to a report by Sudan Tribune.

Over the past 2 years, Ethiopian officials say the number of refugees entering the country has more than doubled. According to the UNCHR, there are about 400,000 refugees currently living in Ethiopia.

The UNHCR say this year a record number of requests for resettlement have been made at refugee camps in Tongo, Bokolmanyo and Barahle in Ethiopia. According to reports, the requests—about 3,800—exceeds the UNHCR’s 2013 resettlement target by over 20%. In 2009, the UNHCR recorded its highest number of total resettlement requests at 128,000.

The third country resettlement program was launched in 2006 by the United Nations refugee agency in coalition with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and several governments including the Ethiopian government. The scheme was specifically developed to assist refugees who, for some reasons, cannot return to their home countries. Thousands of political prisoners and other refugees are reported to have been resettled to countries in North America and Europe through this initiative.

Despite the reportedly large number of Ethiopians who head to Arabia, Asia and Europe yearly in search of better employment opportunities, Ethiopia is seen as a safe haven and a land of opportunities by many. Thousands of people, fleeing persecution or violence, are reported to make their way to Ethiopia from surrounding nations yearly. This has forced Ethiopian authorities to maintain refugee camps across the nation’s borders to deal with refugees from countries such as Eritrea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Djibouti, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and even Arabian countries such as Yemen and Palestine.

UNHCR officials note that it is unlikely all the 3,800 applicants will be resettled this year. Meanwhile, the agency has vowed to continue supporting refugees in Ethiopia through livelihood projects and other economically and socially empowering initiatives.

Currently, refugees in Ethiopia receive allowance from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Development and Inter Church Aid Commission for Refugee and Returnee Affairs. However, many complain the sum in insufficient, but without education and legal status it is difficult to land a proper job.

Last month the French government pledged to donate about £ 500,000 to the UNHCR to assist Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia. Eritreans are reported to make up a majority of the refugees in neighboring Ethiopia. Many Eritrean refugees report that they migrated from their homeland to escape repression and military service.

The European Union has also vowed to release more funds and create conditions to entice European nations to accept more refugees under the third country resettlement program. Currently, the United States of America is reported to take in the largest amount of refugees yearly.



Somalia strongly supports Ethiopia’s desire to join AMISOM: Ambassador

Ambassador of Somalia to Ethiopia, Permanent Representative to AU and IGAD, Ahmed Abdisalam Aden, said his country strongly supports Ethiopia’s desire to join the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
In an exclusive interview with WIC today, he said Ethiopia’s decision to join AMISOM is welcomed greatly by the people and government of Somali as the Ethiopian forces will strengthen the capacity of the regional peacekeeping mission.
“Ethiopian forces are familiar with the culture, people and situation of Somalia than any other countries so we expect them to play more effective role in building the ongoing peace process in Somalia,” he said.
The union of Ethiopian forces with AMISON will help achieve the peace process meant to bring long-lasting peace for the people of Somalia within a few months.

Al-Shabab militants were divided into pieces and abandoned many parts of Somalia as a result of the joint attack by the Ethiopian and Somalia forces. The only thing the terrorist group can do now is to conduct hit and run tactics or commit suicide attack, he said.
Somalia is peaceful and better now thanks to the constructive help coming from Ethiopia. Somalia’s reconstruction process is going well. Somali Diasporas are returning to invest in the country, he noted.
As far as the relations between the two countries are concerned, he said the two nations have been enjoying robust all-rounded ties. “Both countries have good people to people and government to government relations. We are moving towards economic integration, which will contribute a lot in stabilizing Somalia and the region.”
Ethiopia plays very positive and constructive role directly and through IGAD in Somalia rebuilding process, he said, praising the efforts of Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom for his irreplaceable role in the efforts to create economic integration among IGAD member states.
Regarding Eritrea’s alleged support for al-Shabaab, he said the government of Somalia has well recorded evidence that show the Eritrean government’s continued support for the Islamist militant groups.
“The only country that did not recognize the TGF, national reconciliation process and rebuilding activities in Somalia is Eritrea so it is very easy to understand the regime is still playing its destabilizing strategy in that country and in the region,” he said.

Eritrea is playing destructive role in the region, thereby hindering the regional economic integration process, he said, calling on all concerned bodies to take the necessary measures against the regime in Asmara.
According to him, the sanction put on Eritrea by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has played significantly role in weakening Eritrea, which in turn has also weakened al-Shabab.
The assistance from the AU, IGAD, EU, USA and Ethiopia is also helping Somalia to have peaceful environment, however, more is expected from the international community to take part in the rebuilding process of Somalia, he added.



Sino-Ethiopia Associate Inaugurated Expansion Project

Sino-Ethiopia Associate (Africa) PLC, a capsule manufacturer in Ethiopia, inaugurated its expansion plant located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) reported.

The company’s new plant which is built at a cost of 100 million Birr has a capacity to produce 1.2 billion capsules annually, increasing the company’s total production capacity to reach 2.4 billion, according to ENA.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Zaf Gebre-Tsadik, the company’s Executive Secretary said, the factory is exporting its standard capsules to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Sudan and Yemen. The company’s product has also fully satisfied domestic demands for standard capsules.

Sino-Ethiopia Associate (Africa) PLC was founded 12 years ago, jointly by an Ethiopian and two Chinese companies to manufacture capsules.



Ethiopian Starts Services to Semera

Ethiopian Airlines, the fastest growing African airline, is happy to announce the commencement of services to Semera, the capital of the Regional State of Afar located in the North Eastern part of Ethiopia, starting from December 14, 2013. The new service will be operated thrice weekly with Ethiopian Q-400 Bombardier aircraft on, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

The Afar region is well known for its early hominid fossil finds including ‘Lucy’, an Australopithecus afarensis, discovered in 1974, who lived about 3.2 million years ago, and more recently the Grandfather of Lucy’ dubbed “Kadanuumuu”, which means “big man”in Afar language and which dates back from 3.5 – 3.8 million years ago.

Mr. Tewolde Gebremariam, Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines Group said: “As the national carrier of Ethiopia, we have a duty to establish extensive domestic network and air connectivity that enables the flow of tourism, business, investment and trade to all parts of the country. Today, Ethiopian Regional Services covers 18 domestic points, the largest domestic network in Africa. Now that Semera airport is ready, we are very happy to start our flights and to support the region’s economic development.”

With the region’s growing mining and tourism industry, passengers from the Afar region as well as Ethiopian extensive network in five continents, especially business and leisure travelers from Toronto and Washington DC making transfer flights to Semera, will be able to enjoy the smooth and hassle- free travel experience.

Ethiopian Regional Services is one of the seven strategic businesses units of Ethiopian Airlines Group and was established per Vision 2025 strategic roadmap with a view to cater to the growing domestic and regional travel needs.

Ethiopian is the recipient of the 2013 SKYTRAX award for “Best Airline Staff Service in Africa”; the Passengers Choice Award for “Best Airline in Africa”; and recently the African Airlines Association award as “African Airline of the Year”.



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