(Updated) 01 January 2014 News Briefs

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Ethiopia named top country to visit in 2014

If you like your holidays to come with a big slice of adventure, you might want to take note of a new top ten from no-nonsense travel publisher Rough Guides.

The holiday authority has named its best countries to visit in 2014 – a list headed by Ethiopia.

According to Rough Guides, a ‘boom’ in small hotels and restaurants is making travelling around this culturally rich east African nation much easier, giving adventurous tourists the chance to experience ‘untouched national parks, ancient cities, the world’s first coffee plantations, the largest cave in Africa and the continent’s greatest concentration of UNESCO sites‘.

Second on the list is also in the same neck of the woods. The Indian Ocean island of Madagascar merited inclusion due to its ‘exotic’ qualities and spectacular wildlife – more than 90% of its flora and fauna is endemic.

Third on the list is Brazil, a country that has been all over the top tens for 2014 – perhaps unsurprising given all the attention it has received surrounding the World Cup. However, that’s not to say it isn’t worthy of its place, with Rough Guides pointing to natural wonders such as the Iguazu Falls, which ‘blow Niagara away’, and charming old cities boasting crumbling colonial architecture.

Turkey placed fourth, with Rough Guides encouraging visitors to eschew the tourist hotspots in favour of the landscapes and historic sights of the interior ‘that offer the most surprises’, such as the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia and the ‘thought-provoking’ Neolithic settlement at Catalhoyuk.

Rounding out the top five is Georgia, which Rough Guides says you should enjoy before mass tourism takes over now that citizens of all EU countries can enter visa-free for up to 360 days. Things to do include experiencing ‘unspoiled’ hiking in the Caucasus mountains and visiting the ‘gorgeous’ old towns of Svaneti and Kazbegi.

The Rough Guides 2014 top ten is completed by Rwanda; Japan; Bulgaria; Macedonia; and the Philippines.  (opodo.co.uk)

http://www.waltainfo.com/index.php/explore/11879-ethiopia-named-top-country-to-visit-in-2014

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Health extension institution to be established

More than 85% of Heath problems in Ethiopia are related to HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and other communicable diseases.
Hence,the country has been fighting against by designing a health policy, to control and prevent the diseases; and Health Extension Program has contributed a lot for its proper implementation.
The program, Health Extension has enabled the country considerably reduce mother and child mortality.
Backing this the Ministry of Health announced that an International Health Extension Institution is going to be established in Ethiopia aiming to expand the program in a more organized way and multiply number of experts.
Public Relation and Communication Director to the Ministry Ahmed Emanu said more successful works can be done by providing trainings and education at institutional level, which used to be given in TVET institutions.
The institution will also train students in Pharmacy, Laboratory and other health disciplines besides Health Extension, and community based researches are also conducted in as well, the director said.
Even more, it will help respond to requests of some countries for Ethiopia’s  support to start the Extension program. There is also a belief that it would make the country obtain income from training foreigners.
Currently, a case team has been organized and discussing on the structure.
In Ethiopia, there are 137,000 health professionals, among them 39,000 are active health extension workers both in urban and rural areas of the country. (FBC)

http://www.waltainfo.com/index.php/explore/11881-health-extension-institution-to-be-established

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Govt, Private Sector Make Positive Steps At Forum

Excerpt:

“The government understands that this country has potential, but not capital. To address this, the existence of share companies is vital,” said Kebede. “The government understands that the way share companies are run is full of mischievous acts.”

“The government understands that this country has potential, but not capital. To address this, the existence of share companies is vital,” said Kebede. “The government understands that the way share companies are run is full of mischievous acts.”

Unlike during previous meetings between the private sector and the government, the recent consultative forum between the two parties, held last Thursday, December 26, 2013, seemed to have an air of tranquility. The agenda was focused on addressing the concerns of the private sector.

The discussions, which had been no more than lip service, now seem to have been scaled up to a stronger commitment. This will probably extend even to the amending of proclamations, directives and the Commercial Code, which has been serving as the major trade law since 1952.

At the earliest meeting between the two parties, which was co-chaired by Kebede Chanie, Minister for Trade, and Mulu Solomon, president of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce & Sectoral Associations (ECCSA), the parties reached a consensus that selected issues particularly connected to the law. This was after it was identified by a research financed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – the private sector arm of the World Bank Group.

The study identified five different points, with a number of the details discussing the legal ground of share companies. This included their establishment, the laws that the companies should abide by in their structures and the rights of shareholders, as well as the general assessments about how the share companies should be handled.

The members of the private sector, who accounted for about 140, also forwarded their queries in a very calm manner. This was unlike the other days, which were full of accusations and complaints. The participants raised questions, which included the issue of trade names.

The points were mainly those on which the existing laws are either silent or do not go in line with the current economic scenario. The issue of trade names, for instance, is addressed by the registration and licensing proclamation no. 686 and, of course, some directives recently put into effect by the Ministry. This is as well as the Ethiopian Intellectual Property Offices (IEPO).

The directives do not allow any company to own collective nouns or descriptive adjectives. As a result of this, the business community spends days looking for trade names, which it expects are acceptable by the Ministry. This was witnessed during the business license renewal that was undertaken up until last week.

To solve the problem, the experts at the MoT usually suggest trade names which are the abbreviated forms of the first letters of the names of the owners . This creates a business scenario clearly against the business principle, according to Mulu.

“Some of the names given by the will of the experts at the ministry are hard to remember, not only by the customers but also to the owners themselves,” said Mulu .

Apart from challenges emanating from cumbersome bureaucracy and implementation failure, the forum also discussed the legal issues that need to be addressed by amending a proclamation. These include the way share companies are established and run. That was the prime area of discussion between the two parties.

Attendees also requested amendment to the part of the law that declares share companies should give shareholders their money back if the company cannot begin operations within a year.

“What does it mean?” Asked a participant from the private sector. “To receive land alone takes three years.”

The private sector also demanded the need to allow stock market holding companies, and claimed that a merger should not to be seen as capital gain, among others.

The officials at the MoT, led by Kebede, admitted that some of the concerns are proper and timely, promising to address them soon. But they made it clear that the concerns should best be addressed phase by phase. The Ministry is training its experts at the Registration & Licensing Division, so that the issue of complicated trade names will be addressed soon, according to the minister.

To address the other serious concerns of the private sector, a committee consisting of the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE), the Documents Authentication & Registration Office (DARO), the Ethiopian Investment Agency (EIA) and the ECCSA itself – which is the representative of the private sector – will be organised within a week. They will review which issues should be addressed and how they should be addressed.

The committee, which will be presided over by the MoT, is expected to review not only those issues raised at the discussion on the forum, but also other issues members of the private sector send through to the Chamber within the week.

Apart from organising temporary committees to identify the problems hindering the business of the private sector, the Ministry will also establish an arrangement – probably a directorate – in charge of rectifying the establishment and handlings of share companies in particular. That was, in fact, the first issue the forum emphasised.

“The government understands that this country has potential, but not capital. To address this, the existence of share companies is vital,” said Kebede. “The government understands that the way share companies are run is full of mischievous acts.”

Share companies have been increasing in sheer numbers, but have continued being problematic, particularly when it comes to the interests of the shareholders, the research paper presented on the forum indicated.

Even more than the share companies, private limited companies (Plcs) have increased alarmingly, the paper indicated.

“This is because of the disappointment of shareholders over the share company’s successfulness,” it argued.

Most of the share companies formed until 2005 often have only around five members. It was only since roughly 2005/06 that share companies started selling shares to the wider public, thereby creating a larger shareholder base. By the 2011/12 fiscal year, 37 share companies were formed through the initial public offer of shares.

Following the establishment of the directorate, a number of new elements to the trade policy are likely to come from the Ministry. It has already promised the private sector representatives to work on the trust of share companies, at least in the banking and insurance sectors, which are comparatively safer.

“The banking and insurance sectors are riskier than the others,” Kebede said. “But people prefer to buy shares in these sectors for it is better monitored than the others. That is what we want to happen.”

Monitored by the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE), the banking and insurance sectors are currently the most secure sectors, which shareholders prefer to buy shares in confidently, according to various studies available in the area.

Such a commitment came only recently, when the two parties started to question the contribution of such forums. Following the agreement, the two parties signed a memorandum of understating, in 2010, to establish a forum designed to steer dialogue between policymakers and private sector leaders by bringing them together in face-to-face dialogue. The two parties hold a meeting chaired by the prime minister each year.

This does not mean, however, each and every issue will be addressed, particularly those related to the law and proclamation.

“Changing the proclamation is not easy,” claims Manalegne Ferede, advisor to the minister. “Amendments to the proclamation aimed at addressing the problems that are hindering the country’s global competitiveness are sure to come.”

Yet, the private sector currently views a more meaningful effect from the forum, as it has already availed it the opportunity to more openly and fairly review and address the issue of amending the laws. This is so as to address the obstacles currently blocking better business inEthiopia, promised in recent times.

“We have been shouting from the one side, while the government was shouting from the other,” says Mulu. “Now, we don’t have to do that. We rather conduct dialogue over facts.”

The confidence of the Chamber president on whether the issues will be addressed entailed a number of the attendees to submit their inquiries to the desk through written forms. This trend will also continue at the Chamber’s office in the current week, before the committee, organised from the five institutions, sit to decide upon which issues to address in what way.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201312310207.html?viewall=1

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New Commercial Code to allow formation of holding companies

The Nation’s commercial code has not been touched for over half a century. Now that is about to change.

The government announced that it is modifying the former law to allow for the formation of group and holding companies in the new commercial code. At the third Public Private Partnership Consultative Form, (PPPCF) organized by the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association (ECCSA), held on Thursday December 26, on the issue of ‘challenges and solutions on the formation of share companies’ government representatives said they are working on a new law to modernize the system.

In the past, the government said it was going to develop the aging code that was ratified in 1960, but other than partial amendments that affected only some businesses, nothing substantial had ever been passed. According to experts, even though the 53 year old commercial code has noble themes, it has some limitations that fail to address changes of modernity.

At the event, the PPPCF office presented the limitations and challenges of forming businesses and suggested recommendations to modernize the scheme. The paper argues that share companies have to be strong and expand because Ethiopia is on track to join the World Trade Organization. If share companies are not strengthened then it will hinder international trade, especially when public enterprises are transferred to the private sector. The paper suggests that, in order to accomplish this, laws that govern the formation of share companies must be better developed.

One of the topics raised in the study paper is the process at the Document Authentication and Registration Office (DARO). The paper stated that the document authentication and registration process takes unnecessary time and money when shareholders are forced to sign to form share companies and to amend the decision of the board and general assembly. For the share company formation it suggests that based on the country’s commercial code, the process should be undertaken by two major shareholders, the chairman of the general assembly, the secretary of the general assembly and relevant bodies. In relation to the controlling system and the legality of the formation of the share company, the paper stated that there is a legal framework gap to govern the share company and a lack of institutions that exclusively follow the share companies. It recommended that a specific institution to closely follow the share companies be formed under the Ministry of Trade.

“Establishing an auditing framework that can audit the expenses of the share company once it is under formation is mandatory,” the paper stated. The paper also recommended that there should be a clear law that allows founders of the PLC to form a board to manage the company. The paper stated that lack of a clear law allowing PLC founders to form a board to manage the company is affecting the company’s shareholders. “Mainly foreign investors are affected,” the paper stated. “The absence of a law that allows them to form a group company, holding company and lack of clear definition about sister companies is a barrier and limitation to organize different companies that are owned by a similar owner. This limitation forces the business owners to assign different managers for every business, so they are unable to control different businesses under a single umbrella and this affects the expansion of businesses in different sectors,” the paper continues.

During the discussion chaired by Kebede Chane, Minister of Trade (MoT) and Mulu Solomon, President of ECCSA, and other relevant office representatives the suggestions and questions raised by the paper presented by the Forum and the private sector, were explained. Kebede said that the government is now working on the commercial code to go with the current situation and the country’s development. The national committee that has five sub committees is working on the new commercial code. He said that the national community that is led by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) would also develop procedures about the formation of share companies and a regulatory body that will follow the activities of share companies. Ali Siraj, state minister of MoT, told Capital that five committees comprised from different sectors are developing the new law. For the past month the five committees centered at Bishoftu (Debre Zeit) developing the new commercial code.

He said that the new law will go to parliament as soon as it finalized for amendment. He confirmed that the law will include new business structures that were not included in the half century old commercial code. The law will create the possibility that allows the business community to form a parent company that owns smaller companies under one umbrella. The possibility of forming a group company and a holding company will be included in the new commercial code.

During the discussion Kebede promised the formation of a special committee that includes ECCSA, DARO, MoJ, Ethiopian Investment Agency and MoT to determine barriers in the formation of share companies. The financial sectors have excellent experience forming share companies. “The new committee that will be formed by the five bodies and chaired by MoT will find conditions that will create clear procedures about the formation of share companies from the experience of the financial sector,” he said.

The economic growth and the expansion of private companies have been raising questions about the establishment of many types of companies. The current commercial code has created some obstacles for the business owners to organize and manage their businesses with a single entity. Recently, MIDROC Ethiopia, the biggest private business owned by the tycoon, Sheik Mohammed Hussein Ali Al Amoudi, asked the government about the possibility of forming a holding company to control all businesses he owns, that include mining, agriculture, health, chemical, construction, education, agro processing and other manufacturing sectors like steel and cement. When the business tycoon raised the question the government promised that it would consider finding a legal procedure about the formation of a holding company and other similar company formations. Since then the government has been working on it, facilitating conditions that allow giant companies and investors to form a holding group or other companies allowing them to control their business more easily than the current situation.

According to information obtained from MoT, the number of questions to form holding or group companies is now increasing. Sources at MoT told Capital that the founder of Sunshine Construction Samuel Tafesse, who is one of the major Ethiopian business actors involved in various large investments in the country, has also asked the ministry about the possibility of forming a holding company. Currently, the businessman has investments in the hotel, construction, real-estate and manufacturing sectors, among others.

A holding company is a type of business organization that allows a firm (called a parent) and its directors to control or influence other firms (called subsidiaries). This arrangement makes venturing outside one’s core industry possible and, under certain conditions, able to benefit from tax consolidation, sharing of operating losses, and ease of divestiture. A corporate group (or a “group of companies”) is a collection of parent and subsidiary corporations that function as a single economic entity through a common source of control. The concept of a group is frequently used in tax law, accounting and (less frequently) company law to attribute the rights and duties of one member of the group to another or the whole. If the corporations are engaged in entirely different businesses, the group is called a conglomerate. The forming of corporate groups usually involves consolidation via mergers and acquisitions, although the group concept focuses on the instances in which the merged and acquired corporate entities remain in existence rather than the instances in which they are dissolved by the parent.

Currently share companies that exist in the country have reached 659 and there are 9,878 PLCs. According to the report presented by the PPPDF office, the capital registered by PLCs as of 2011 was 52.32 billion birr and the capital from share companies reached 7.04 billion birr. Within the past two decades, investment including public enterprises is 184.5 billion birr and 28 percent has been invested under PLCs, while private share companies’ segment is four percent.

According to the study, public enterprises investment takes the lion’s share reaching about 57 percent of the total investment in the country. “The economic contribution (number of employees, investment capital and market share) of share companies is significant,” the paper stated. According to the paper, even though the amount of share companies’ capital is lower than other businesses; the country’s future is dependent on the enhancement of these share companies.

http://www.capitalethiopia.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3878:new-commercial-code-to-allow-formation-of-holding-companies-&catid=35:capital&Itemid=27

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Public Private Partnership to improve  Harari  water supply

Harari State, Vitens Evides International B.V. (VEI) and HEINEKEN Breweries S.C., the Ethiopian brewery owned by Heineken N.V. (HEINEKEN), have signed Public Private Partnership (PPP) to formally start a sustainable water services project in the state .

The project is co-funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Sustainable Water Fund. The PPP’s objective is to ensure long term water availability in Harar where over 300.000 people are currently facing water shortages.

According to Web Wire, the partners that consist of businesses, governmental institutions and NGO’s share the goal to improve the long- term water availability for urban, rural and industrial consumers in Harar. The signing marks the official start of the project that has been running since April 2013 and will continue until March 2017.

Protecting water resources is a key focus area of HEINEKEN’s global sustainability programme

“Brewing a Better Future”. Part of HEINEKEN’s 2020 commitments is to aim for significant water balancing by its production units in water-scarce and distressed areas. Developing and actively participating in this PPP in Ethiopia underlines the importance to HEINEKEN of being a true partner and recognising the need for responsible water usage.

The project focuses on a number of targets, most notably the creation of water access for 50.000people, where HEINEKEN specifically takes responsibility for ensuring 25.000 people in rural areas get access to water by means of water buffering schemes and other water supply solutions.

The project will utilise an integrated approach to address some of the region’s most urgent water related challenges, such as the increasing pressure on Harar’s main water sources. It will also address the high failure risk of the current drinking water supply and the current water insufficiency.

Mr. Johan Doyer, General Manager of HEINEKEN in Ethiopia said: “Water is vital to our business, but it’s also vital for every person on the planet. We recognise the need for responsible water usage, even more so in areas that face water scarcity. We are proud to take part in the PPP together with the Dutch Government, the Harari State and other stakeholders”.

http://www.ethpress.gov.et/herald/index.php/herald/national-news/5395-public-private-partnership-to-improve-harari-water-supply

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Preventing factories from the scourge of HIV- the case of Metehara

 

Metahara Sugar Factory is one of the biggest sugar factories in Ethiopia. Currently, it has a total of 9,000 employees working on permanent and temporary and permanent basis. Apart from creating jobs for many people, it has also been providing health service both for its workers and the surrounding community.

The factory is found in the eastern economic corridor of the country, and there is a relatively higher movement of people from various parts of the country. As a result Metehara receives many guest going there in search of jobs. That has created a supply-demand gap in health sector services. This in turn is considered to have contributed the increase in HIV prevalence rate.

On the other hand, absence of recreational areas is another factor contributing to acceleration of the spread of the pandemic. Presently, the factory is working aggressively on HIV prevention and control. In line with this the factory alongside with awareness raising activities it undertakes, has established an AIDS Fund which will support its HIV prevention and control efforts.

Mamitu Fikre has been living with the virus over the past ten years. She has, therefore, been one among the beneficiaries of the fund in the past five years. She says the factory has giving all the necessary support especially for those who came out open about their serostatus and teach the public about the pandemic. The support provided to HIV positive employees includes choosing tasks that do not physically demand them. HIV patients in the factory and its environs are also made to get anti-retroviral drugs.

Until 2013 HIV organization’s HIV preventing activity was not broad-brimmed. According to Mamitu, even employees who came out open for the first time to teach the public were stigmatized and discriminated by their co-workers. This forced some of them to leave their jobs.

“However, today, every thing has changed,” Mamitu says. Factory workers and its management have got better awareness about the epidemic. She, however, said that the support being given to both people living with the virus and children who lost their parents to the disease should be strengthened.

Yesunesh Hailegiyorgis has been living with HIV over the past 14 years. She is also a member of an association called Life Endurance Ethiopia, an association established by people living with HIV in Metehara town. Though the association has been working to raise awareness of the public about the pandemic using formal and informal gatherings like, Idir, Equib etc.

Yesunesh also indicated that in the absence or reduction of awareness raising activities factory workers tend to show in practices that expose them to HIV and AIDS. Reluctance of some people to know their HIV status, and pregnant women’s negligence to know their statuses are among the factors that are increasing the prevalence rate of the virus.

Netsanet Ashemo, another employee of the Factory over the past two years factory said the attention given to the prevention and control HIV and AIDS was very strong until the beginning of this year. Now every worker is contributing 0.5 per cent of his/her for the support of people living with the virus. HIV and AIDS has now been mainstreamed in the factory. Tedla Boka who worked in the factory for over 11 years agrees with Netsanet that HIV prevention and control effort was not sufficient in the past.

Obviously the factory cannot achieve its targets without having healthy workers. Without a healthy society even the development goals at national level will be in jeopardy.

Previously the HIV and AIDS prevention and control effort was dependent mainly on the support of various NGOs. Currently, both the factory and its workers are contributing some amount of money is – a step forward in preventing and controlling the virus.

Today there is a better level of awareness about HIV and AIDS. The factory community is supporting people living with AIDS (PLEWA) instead of discriminating them. People are using condom without any shame. Employees of the factory who the Ethiopian herald talked to believe that for the factory to continue be a strong institution with big contribution to the country’s development, it should further strengthen efforts of preventing and controlling HIV and AIDS.

Sisay Beyene also work in the factory over the past nine years regrets that in the past when the awareness level of the people was low many have died of AIDS for fear of being discriminated.

The factory is also providing voluntary HIV counseling and testing services. Unwanted behaviors exposing workers to HIV and AIDS have also reduced.

Dr. Leul Getachew is working in Metahara Sugar Factory as Anti Rretroviral Treatment (ART) Coordinator. He said, nowadays, pear to pear education is one among various activities taking place in the factory to prevent and control HIV and AIDS. Awareness raising education has been regularly given to all the employees of the factory.

Moreover, a training of trainers was given for over 64 factory workers on situations that expose workers to HIV virus and preventive mechanisms such as the use of condom. The factory has plans to continue its training programme, according to Dr. Leul.

Dr. Leul indicated right after the onset of 2013, the factory has been mainstreaming HIV and AIDS. Presently, nearly some 1, 171 workers of whom, some 508 are either workers or their family members, and the rest 633 are people living around the factory have been getting various supports. Some 787 of the people living the HIV in and around the factory have been on ART treatment.

According to Dr. Mesay Geleta, Metehara Sugar Factory Medical Director, the factory has established a task force that monitor activities taking place in the factory to stop HIV and AIDS vulnerability.

According to the medical director, the factory also provides support for those who need one together with partners. Until now, it provided various detergents to some 325 people. And it has been offering skill development training to over 100 PLWAs to help them engage in fund-raising activities.

With money obtained from the AIDS Fund, the factory has planned to provide meal, cloths, education and other assistance to children and pregnant women who are highly affected by the virus. Pear to pear health education among workers of the factory by using one to five organizational structure is also planned to be strengthened.

Over all, ever since the factory launched its HIV prevention and control activities preventing and controlling of HIV and AIDS, encouraging outcomes has been registered, as the Director indicated.

Sugar making process demonstration at Metehara Sugar Factory while World AIDS Day was marked there.

http://www.ethpress.gov.et/herald/index.php/herald/development/5384-preventing-factories-from-the-scourge-of-hiv-the-case-of-metehara

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Ethiopia creates close to 4m jobs in 3 years of GTP period

Close to four million jobs were created across the country during the first three years of the Growth and Transformation Plan period, the Ministry of Urban Development and Construction said.

In an exclusive interview with ENA on Tuesday, the Minister Mekuria Haile said the performance exceeded the target by over a million.

He attributed the success to the expansion of micro and small enterprises and a number of ongoing huge projects.

Some one million of the jobs created during the reported period were temporary, he said, adding, the Ministry is striving to make the jobs sustainable.

Town administrations have been facilitating loan service, land for manufacturing and marketing, and technical and vocational trainings for micro and small enterprises, the Minister said.

The government has decided construction of infrastructure facilities be labor intensive in a bid to create more jobs.

http://www.ertagov.com/news/index.php/component/k2/item/2175-ethiopia-creates-close-to-4m-jobs-in-3-yrs-of-gtp-period

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