09 February 2014 News Briefs


Dr. Tedros thanked WIPO for its support to EIPO


Dr. Tedros thanked WIPO for its support to EIPO

Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, met with the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Dr. Francis Gurry, on Thursday (February 6).

Dr. Gurry noted WIPO’s readiness to work in close cooperation with Ethiopia in the areas of intellectual property, and said that despite the challenges of multilateralism, WIPO had been able to welcome the signing of the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performance and the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Visually Impaired due to assistance from counties like Ethiopia.

Dr. Tedros thanked WIPO for its support to the Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office (EIPO) and underlined the need to further strengthen the partnership between the two institutions.

He also discussed Ethiopia’s bid to join the World Trade Organization and the importance of close partnerships to expedite the accession process.

WIPO is supporting EIPO in the Industrial Property Automation System project in the Patents Registry, and currently, the Automation is being extended to the Trademarks Registry System.

WIPO has also supported the establishment of the Technology Innovation Support Center which is helping Ethiopians to access technological information among other initiatives.

The discussions also covered protection offered to genetic products and traditional knowledge.

Dr. Gurry explained the negotiation process of a treaty on protection in these areas. It also offers a database to help developing countries track abusers.

He also noted that countries could learn from others with genetic products on ways to control abuse by implementing export controls and improving design capacities to save products from illegal exploitation.



Premier: Ethiopia exerting efforts to get patent right for teff


Premier: Ethiopia exerting efforts to get patent right for teff

–  Ethiopia is exerting efforts to get patent right for teff, a local agricultural product and a staple food grain in the country, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said.

While discussing with World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Director-General Dr. Francis Gurry on Thursday, the Premier said efforts are being exerted to get the right.

The two parties discussed ways of getting patent right for teff, as Ethiopia is the source and producer of the product.

After the discussion, Dr. Gurry told journalists that WIPO will provide training for professionals in a bid to help the country improve the quality of teff.

He said WIPO will also provide capacity building assistance to organizations to minimize wastage.



World-first court trial begins as two WA farmers clash over canola


Two farmers are locked in a court battle over alleged genetically modified canola contamination.

Two farmers are locked in a court battle over alleged genetically modified canola contamination. Source: News Limited

THE Supreme Court civil trial between two farmers over alleged genetically modified canola contamination starts today.

Kojonup organic farmer Steve Marsh lost certification on 70 per cent of his property in 2010 when genetically modified canola seed and swathes were found on his property.

Mr Marsh is now suing his neighbour Michael Baxter for negligence, alleging it was from Mr Baxter’s farm that the GM canola blew from.

Law firm Slater and Gordon, who is representing Mr Marsh, said as far as it was aware, the case was a world-first to test the legal rights of farmers to choose how and what they farm on their land.

Mr Marsh is seeking damages and a permanent injunction to protect his farm from future contamination.

Mr Marsh will be one of up to 20 witnesses, including international experts.



Arabica Hits 9-Month High On Brazil Weather Worries


Coffee futures prices saw big gains and sugar also moved higher as markets fretted over potential crop damage amid soaring temperatures and drought in some of Brazil’s top growing areas. Meanwhile, South Africa’s platinum mine strike continues to have only limited impact on prices.

Arabica coffee prices surged to their highest since last May on the back of concerns about potential crop damage and lower output as parts of Brazil experience soaring temperatures and drought. January was the hottest month on record and rainfall was the lowest in more than 20 years, according to the country’s meteorologists. Brazil is the world’s biggest coffee producer and arabica exporter, with arabica coffee accounting for around 75 percent of its coffee production.

Arabica for March delivery touched 144.03 cents a pound in the ICE Futures U.S. exchange in New York on Feb. 6, a level not seen for a most-active contract in nine months and more than 15 percent up on last week’s close at 125.20 cents a pound.

Robusta coffee futures prices also moved higher, touching five-month peaks of $1,879 a tonne on NYSE Liffe this week on the back of the strong arabica rally as well as a lack of selling by top exporter, Vietnam, as the country enjoyed the Tet holiday (Feb. 1-5).

A number of analysts had lowered their crop expectations early this year for Brazil’s 2013/14  crop after heavy rains hit the country’s coffee-growing belt in December. Even so, before the hot, dry weather, many analysts still had expected Brazil to see another record coffee harvest in the current 2013/14 season (Oct. 1-Sept. 30) after record production in 2012/13.

However, some analysts now believe forecasts for the country’s 2013/14 crop may be looking a little high.

Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supplies pegged Brazil’s green coffee production at 49.15 million 60-kg bags, according to an International Coffee Organization (ICO) statement on Jan. 17. This estimate was comprised of 38.29 million bags of arabica and 10.87 million of robusta.  According to the ICO release, the Brazilian ministry put the final official Brazilian production figure for 2012/13 at 50.83 million bags, comprising 38.34 million bags of arabica and 12.28 million of robusta.

Bumper harvests in Brazil and elsewhere over the past several months have added to burgeoning global inventories of the beans,  miring the market in bearish sentiment for much of the past 12 months or more. Since the start of 2014, however, arabica has gained  30 percent in value.

The adverse growing conditions in Brazil also provided some support to sugar prices. Brazil is the world’s top producer and exporter of the sweetener.  Also helping prices is another deferral of a decision by India, the world’s second largest sugar exporter, on sugar export subsidies.

Raw sugar for March delivery on ICE Futures U.S. touched an intraday high of 16.38 cents on Feb. 4, the strongest for a most-active contract since Jan. 2. At midweek, ICE March raw sugar settled at 16.06 cents a pound.

Last week, raw sugar had dipped to a fresh three-and-a-half year low of 14.77 cents on Jan. 28 before finishing the week at 15.55 cents a pound.

Refined, or white, sugar futures, were also higher this week, with the March contract on NYSE LIffe settling at $439.55 a tonne on Feb. 5.  The March Liffe contract last week had dropped below $400 a tonne for the first time for a front-month contract since 2009.

Among other softs, cotton for March delivery settled at 85.52 cents a pound on ICE Futures U.S. at midweek, up 12 cents on the day but marginally off last week’s close at 85.83 cents a pound.

Cotton prices are being supported by tight supplies in the U.S, the world’s biggest export of the fiber. The market also is looking ahead to the next World Supply and Demand Estimates (Wasde) report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) which is scheduled for release on Feb. 10. The latest USDA data is expected to show a drop in U.S. stocks of cotton.

Cocoa traded at slightly lower levels after touching 28-month highs in New York and London last week, with March cocoa settling at $2,882 a tonne on ICE Futures U.S. at midweek, while London Liffe March contract finished at £1,846 a tonne.  The ICE March contract had reached an intraday high of $2,933 a tonne on Jan. 28 and Liffe March cocoa had hit £1,853.

Analysts said cocoa remains supported by ongoing supply/demand concerns with the market currently watching the dry weather conditions in top grower Côte d’Ivoire ahead of the start of the mid crop harvest which typically begins in that country in May and runs through to August.  Prolonged dry weather could lead to harvesting delays.



Ministry to execute over 2 bln USD WASH Program


The Federal Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy announced that it would execute water supply and sanitation software and hardware activities at a cost of 2.411 billion USD in the One WASH National Programme (OWNP) throughout the country.
Opening the 6th Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Multi-Stakeholders Forum held with the theme: “Innovative One WASH for Sustainable Development”, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy Alemayhu Tegenu said here yesterday that the programme would be the main instrument for the universal goals that are to achieve 98.5 per cent, 100 per cent, 77per cent and 80 per cent in water supply, basic sanitation, hand washing and open defecation free status respectively.
He noted that an additional 20,000 artisans, experts, technical groups, consultants, contractors and specialists as well as 5,000 junior health professionals are required to undertake water supply and hand sanitation activities in the One WASH Program.
As regards obtaining the huge financial and human resource requirement of the program, he called for development partners, stakeholders and the public at large to play their respective roles towards achieving the program.
UNICEF Ethiopia Representative Dr. Peter Salama, as one of the partners in WASH sector said: “We have now formalized the first ever pool fund for water and sanitation sector in Ethiopia.” The implementation of the ONE WASH National Program would provide a vehicle to reach both the Sanitation and Water for all (SWA) and MDGs Commitments.
At the two-day Multi Stakeholders Forum, State Ministers of Education, Health, Finance and Economic Development Ministries as well as representatives of potential stakeholders of WASH and others delivered keynote speeches.
In connection with the Forum, an exhibition that displays various types of materials and chemicals for the use of purifying water was officially opened to the public.



Investing in a country that doesn’t exist: Somaliland’s hard sell



Photo: Somaliland troops march past during a parade to mark the 22nd anniversary of Somaliland’s self-declared independence from the larger Somalia, in Hargeisa May 18, 2013. REUTERS/Feisal Omar.


Somaliland, the self-declared republic, is desperate for someone to find vast mineral reserves under its soil. But without international recognition – and the probability of legal battles in the future – it’s a big risk for any country to take. Somaliland too should be careful. Having dodged the aid curse, will they fall victim to the resource curse instead? By SIMON ALLISON.

At the recently concluded Mining Indaba in Cape Town, Somaliland’s energy minister Hussein Abdi Dualeh had possibly the hardest sell of all. It was his job to convince the assembled mining bigwigs that his country was a viable, risk-free environment in which to invest millions and millions of dollars – all on the hope that there might be base and precious metals hidden somewhere under its drab scrubland.

He tried hard. “We have also a unique geographical location,” the minister said in his speech at the conference. “If you have a mineral deposit and if you exploit it, it will be very cheap to take to market…it’s definitely much less costly than a really getting fantastic deposit the middle of continent, which will cost you really huge amount of money to export it…even the small deposit is commercially viable considering the logistics involved in taking the minerals to market.”

It was a good effort, but will it be enough? There are, after all, a few other factors which mitigate against Somaliland becoming Africa’s next mining hotspot.

The biggest problem is that Dualeh’s country is not actually a country. Officially, legally, Somaliland is a territory of the Republic of Somalia. A rogue territory at that, one which refuses to answer to the writ of the central government in Mogadishu. It considers itself independent, and operates accordingly, with all the trappings of sovereignty: the flag, the currency, the national anthem. Dualeh himself is part of Somaliland’s government, which is chosen in free and fair elections every five years (some say Somaliland is the most functional democracy in the Horn of Africa, and there’s substance to this description).

This de facto autonomy is no bad thing: while Somalia proper has been mired in civil war and violence for the last two decades, Somaliland has been stable, secure and relatively prosperous; its self-declared independence a conscious attempt to isolate itself from Somalia’s chaos, and, by and large, it has worked.

But as Somaliland seeks to develop this independence – not formally recognised by anyone else in the world – it is also held back. As miners contemplate entering Somaliland, they have to first ask and answer some tough questions about whether the government in Hargeisa has the authority to grant exploration licenses in the first place; and, once granted, if those will be honoured if and when Mogadishu is in a better position to assert rights of its own.

Already, these problems have crippled Somaliland’s oil sector. For years, oil exploration was dormant as companies fought over ‘legacy contracts’ (those granted in the late 1980s by dictator Siad Barre’s Mogadishu-based regime) and new contracts issued by the Somaliland government. Exploration has now started, but getting to this point was a long and complicated process.

Minister Dualeh claims there are no legacy contracts that could influence the mining sector – but that doesn’t mean there won’t be problems in the future between the two competing centres of power.

Somaliland’s lack of formal independence has also cut it off from another lucrative source of income: aid money. Almost all international aid to Somalia is all channeled through Mogadishu. With the exception of a few minor United Nations programmes, Hargeisa gets nothing.

Not that Hargeisa minds. Dualeh argues that the lack of aid has actually worked in Somaliland’s favour. “That is a blessing in disguise. Aid never developed anything,” he told Reuters’ Ed Stoddard on the sidelines of the conference. “Aid is not a panacea, we’d rather not have it… How many African countries do you know that developed because of a lot of aid? It’s a curse. The ones that get the most aid are the ones with the problems.”

Intrigued by this counter-intuitive position, the Daily Maverick contacted Minister Dualeh and asked him to elaborate. “There wasn’t really any aid opened to us because we weren’t recognised,” Dualeh explained in a telephone interview. “We’re not like Kenya that get 40% [of its budget from] aid money; tangible aid hasn’t been coming our way because of our political status. Aid comes with strings attached but we don’t have any of that. We don’t owe anything to anyone.”

In practice, Dualeh believes that this leaves Somaliland free to make its own decision, unbeholden to any external backer that might not have the territory’s best interests at heart. “We have our own organic solutions to our problems; we have no outside influence; I think a lot of the good things that have happened to us are because we have found our own solutions.”

As an example, Dualeh cites the original decision to break away from the then-Federation of Somalia in 1991. This, he argues, was Somaliland taking its destiny into its own hands. In Somalia proper, on the other hand, decades of foreign meddling has just made the situation worse. “The difference between us and Somalia is that we sat down under the proverbial big tree and we basically stated our independence and tried to find our own solutions through uniting; we found a solution that has resulted in power right now, with no war or conflict.”

Somaliland may have avoided the aid curse, but as Dualeh seeks to drum up investment in the mining sector he would do well to recall the lessons of other African countries, where the curse of vast mineral wealth has proved just as devastating. Dualeh dismisses these concerns. “The resource curse is just a cliché. We’re not taking it lightly, we are trying to avoid it by making sure that we have good governance and good legal regimes to make sure that everything gets sorted ahead.”

In the Horn of Africa – a part of the world not famed for good governance or tight legal regimes – this might just be the one thing that Somaliland has going for it.  DM



Read more:

  • Somaliland blessed by dodging aid ‘curse’ on Reuters


Africa needs to link mining with development plans



Susan Shabangu, South African Minister of Mineral Resources and Jonathan Moore, Mining Indaba MD 


On the margins of Africa’s largest annual mining conference, Mining Indaba, multilateral development organizations have called on the private sector to join forces with them in ensuring the revenues from mining are reinvested in people.

Issued on the newly created Africa Mining Vision Day, the call comes amidst a downward trend in commodity prices and in particular minerals, which has raised uncertainty on the momentum of the continent’s sustainability agenda.

For instance, during the first four months of 2013, mining stocks fell nearly 20%.

Industry leaders, ministers, policy-makers, members of academia and international organizations will be urging the private sector to play a stronger role in fast-tracking the implementation of the African Union (AU)’s Africa Mining Vision, which aims to ensure the extractives sector can boost social and economic development across the continent.

“AMV Day 2014 would be the first of a long term process of dialogues and partnership building with a view to increasing mutual understanding on how to promote sustainable development in the extractive sector in Africa and the need for mutual benefits between host country and mining companies,” said the hosts and partners.

AMV Day is hosted by the African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC), housed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), in close collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It is supported by Australian Aid and the World Bank.

Nearly one quarter of Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is now based on extractive resources, the highest ratio among all regions. Between 2000 and 2008 alone, the value created from natural resources in Africa rose from $39.2 billion to $240 billion.

The extractives sector is expected to play a catalytic role for development in many African countries. To that end, the resources from mining need to be reinvested in infrastructure and further growth, while opening opportunities for economic diversification and transformation.

Management of mining revenues will entail the creation of more effective public-private partnerships and closer involvement from other stakeholders, including local communities and governments.

Achieving broad-based, sustainable development means establishing the right environmental safeguards, but also fulfilling a number of economic and social priorities.

For instance, participants will underline that the need to guarantee environmental sustainability, distribute the benefits from extraction effectively, create social safety nets, invest in skills and infrastructure and intensify agriculture to create jobs and bolster food security.

In December, ECA, AUC, AfDB and UNDP launched the African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC) to help implement the Africa Mining Vision.

The new hub will help implement the African Mining Vision, which aims to ensure Africa’s mineral resources can support economic growth and development. It will translate that vision into practical solutions for reducing poverty and involving people in development.

Experts and researchers will be made available to help countries implement the vision, advising governments, businesses and civil society organizations on issues such as licensing, geological and mining information systems, artisanal and small-scale mining and investments in diversification.

The one-day event will look at a diversity of topics, including private sector involvement, building local skills and establishing sustainable business agendas.



$75 Billion Investment in Ethiopia Infrastructure

border|22x20px Ethiopia, Approach into Addis A...Approach into Addis Abeba in the late afternoon

A $75 billion 5 year growth plan to invest in Ethiopia infrastructure means constant building in the city of Addis Ababa.  The challenge is to redevelop existing neighborhoods, many which are slums in a metro area that is expected to grow to 5 million in the next 10 years. Plans are underway to convert half of the slums to permanent housing within the next decade.

Related articles


Ethiopian irrigation minister invites Egypt for more ‘Renaissance Dam’ talks


Egypt’s irrigation minister Mohamed Abdel-Motteleb will go to Addis Ababa on Monday, but has already said that Egypt is not ready to compromise on its previous stance to the Ethiopian dam project


Renaissance Dam

Ethiopia’s Great Renaissance Dam is constructed in Guba Woreda, some 40 km (25 miles) from Ethiopia’s border with Sudan, June 28, 2013. (Photo: Reuters)

Ethiopia’s irrigation minister has invited his Egyptian counterpart to the capital of Addis Ababa for further talks on Monday, in hopes of ending a political impasse between the two Nile countries over a proposed hydroelectric dam.

Al-Ahram’s Arabic news website reported on Sunday that Egyptian irrigation minister Mohamed Abdel-Motteleb had accepted the invitation from Ethiopia’s Alemayehu Tegenu and will travel with members from his ministry’s Nile water sector as well as the country’s foreign ministry.
Ahead of the talks, however, Abdel-Motteleb announced that Egypt’s position on Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam “is fixed,” a harbinger that Monday’s negotiations may not offer the kind of compromise that Ethiopia may be hoping for.
According to Al-Ahram, Motteleb said that Ethiopia could still achieve economic prosperity without impeding upon Egypt’s access to the Nile.
When completed, the $4.2 billion dam will be the largest in Africa and number 10 in the world in terms of electricity production.
The two countries have been locked in a political feud since news of the dam was first aired on Egyptian TV in 2013, with Cairo arguing that the project will diminish its supply of the river’s water.
Last June Ethiopia’s parliament ratified an international treaty granting upstream countries the right to implement irrigation and hydropower projects without seeking Egypt’s approval.
For decades, Egypt held veto rights over all upstream projects thanks to a 1929 colonial-era agreement in which the UK gave Egypt and Sudan the majority of the Nile’s water rights.
Several rounds of negotiations over the dam have already taken place between Egyptian, Ethiopian and Sudanese water ministers in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum to study the dam’s possible effects and try to generate consensus.
However, the tripartite committee’s success was thwarted last December when Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir announced his support for the dam during a meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
Ethiopia has much to offer: Diplomat

Ethiopian officials welcome visitors at the Jeddah International Travel & Tourism Exhibition at the Hilton hotel. — SG photo

Saleh Fareed Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia have had long standing relations for many centuries in terms of business, tourism, religion and people-to-people contact, according to an Ethiopian Consulate official.
Speaking to Saudi Gazette at the 2014 Jeddah International Travel & Tourism Exhibition (JTTX), which took place from Feb. 4 to 6 at Jeddah Hilton, Deputy Consul General (Business Section) Sherif Keri Osman emphasized the strong historical relationship the two countries have shared since the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Describing the depth of his country’s historical and distinguished relations with Saudi Arabia, he said: “I believe we share so many things with Saudi Arabia and we still enjoy a close relationship despite problems that have occurred lately.
“However, both parties are working hard to improve ties.”
He noted that Ethiopians would not face any problems in the Kingdom as long as they respect and comply with Saudi laws.
He said the Ethiopian Consulate in Jeddah participated in a fair to promote the country as a potential tourist destination for Saudis.
“We wanted to sustain the strong influx of Saudi travelers to Ethiopia during our participation at the 2014 Jeddah International Travel & Tourism Exhibition. We are showcasing our nation’s tourism products globally, which has helped enable Ethiopia to promote its natural, cultural and historical attractions to the rest of the world,” he said.
Ethiopia has the potential to gain maximum benefit from the sector but has to do more to promote its tourist destinations, he added.
During the fair brochures and organic Ethiopian coffee were served to visitors at the Ethiopian stand and a discussion was also held with potential tourists and various local travel agencies.
Osman noted investment was also a growing area of cooperation between the two countries.
He said a growing number of Saudi businessmen have invested $369 million in different sectors in Ethiopia.



     Egypt, Russia Seal $2B Arms Deal 


Saudi Arabia and UAE foot the bill for sale of advanced defense systems, helicopters, aircraft and anti-tank missiles.

By Gil Ronen and Ari Soffer

Egypt has concluded an arms deal with Russia worth $2 billion, a senior official source told Egyptian daily newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm, noting that the Egyptian and Russian sides reached agreement on all details of the agreement over the past few weeks.

The source, who asked not to be named, said the two Gulf kingdoms of Saudi Arabia and the UAE played a “vital role” in sealing the deal.

The official revealed that the first tranche of Russian weapons to Egypt will be delivered before mid-2014. The delivery and payments will both be phased, he explained.

In November, Russia declared that it had received an Egyptian offer to buy advanced defense systems, military helicopters, MiG-29 aircraft and anti-tank missiles with a combined value of $2 billion. The overall cost of the purchase was in fact double, but cash-strapped Egypt would only pay half of that, according to the source. The apparent show of Russian largess was no act of altruistic generosity, however; the Kremlin has been aggressively capitalizing on perceived American weakness in the Middle East to – particularly over crises in Iran and Syria – to expand its own sphere of influence in the Arab world, which until recently was limited to Syria.

According to reports in a Kuwaiti newspaper late last year, one of the objectives of the arms deal was to enable a newly pro-Russian Egypt to achieve military parity with the United State’s closest ally in the region: Israel.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE, along with Kuwait, have been Egypt’s top Arab financiers following the overthrow of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, with financial and in-kind aid totalling about $12 billion. Since the overthrow of Morsi’s predecessor Hosni Mubarak in 2011, the north Africa state has seen its economy go into a virtual free-fall, and now relies heavily on foreign support.

Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan al-Saud, reportedly told European diplomats in October that his country plans to scale back its cooperation with the US in efforts to arm and train Syrian rebels, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The decision was said to be the result of Riyadh’s “frustration” with the Obama administration’s foreign policy in the Middle East, and reflects a growing sense of discontent by one of America’s staunchest Arab allies.

That statement came days after the Gulf Kingdom surprised observers by turning down a temporary position on the United Nations Security Council, in what it said was a protest at the Security Council’s ineffectiveness in solving regional conflicts.

Saudi Arabia is also said to be concerned about American overtures to its arch-foe, Iran, and alarmed at what they see as an incoherent and weak American Middle East strategy.

“The Saudis are very upset. They don’t know where the Americans want to go,” WST quoted a “senior European diplomat” as saying.







Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: