(Updated) 13 March 2014 News Briefs


Tesco emphasises ethics as plans to buy clothes from Ethiopia


(Reuters) – Tesco, the world’s third-largest retailer, expects to source more clothes from Ethiopia, but wants the nascent industry there to uphold high ethical standards as global chains seek to prevent factory disasters like those seen in Bangladesh.

“Ethiopia is a very exciting potential country to grow a supply chain but needs to grow up to be a well regulated, ethical new industry,” Giles Bolton, ethical trading director at Tesco, told the Retail Week Live conference on Wednesday.

Hennes & Mauritz, the world’s second-biggest fashion retailer, said in January it saw good opportunities for producing clothing in sub-Saharan Africa, as it seeks to diversify from relying on Asian sourcing.

The Swedish company is one of the biggest buyers of garments from Bangladesh, where the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory last April killed more than 1,100 people, drawing global attention to the poor conditions in many Asian factories.

Bolton said he hoped Ethiopia could blaze a trail in Africa in garment production, which he said could be a major driver of economic development for the continent as it has been in Asia.

Britain’s Tesco has already placed initial orders from factories in Ethiopia and Bolton said he had recently met with the country’s ministers of industry and labour to make sure the development of the sector was well regulated.

“We see that as strongly in our business interest to take that long-term view,” he said. “It’s fundamentally important to customers who want to be confident that everything they buy has not been sourced in poor conditions.”

Tesco is among 150 clothing brands and retailers working together to improve safety in the Bangladesh garment industry, with initial inspections published this week revealing serious safety problems at many factories.

Election-related violence in recent months has disrupted Bangladesh’s clothing industry, the world’s second biggest after China, while a shutdown by striking garment workers in Cambodia, another big supplier, has further squeezed global fashion firms.

(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Mark Potter)



Mining sector generates $1.95 bln. USD


The Ministry of Mines and Energy announced $1.95 billion USD has been earned from the export of mines during the last three years.

Minister Tolossa Shagi told journalist Monday that the stated amount was obtained from the export of 43,000kg gold, over 2,000 cubic meter marble, over 62,000 ornamental mines and 700 tonnes tantalum.

Currently, the nation is exporting 10 per cent of value added products, while 90 per cent are unprocessed.

The Ministry is striving to build the capacity of exporters with a view to increasing the amount of value added products supplied to the international market.

It is working in collaboration with universities to produce skilled manpower to held the sector supply value added products to the market.

The country earned $593 million USD from the sector in 2005EC.



Kenyan delegation lauds Bishoftu Authomotive Industry


Kenya has similar assembly and maintenance plants but Ethiopia has moved

a step forward by undertaking manufacturing and production of some automotive spare parts


The high level Kenyan delegation led by President Uhuru Kenyatta has commended the performance of the Bishoftu Automotive Industry following visit to the seven factories—assembly, overhauling, maintenance and manufacturing of commercial and military automotive and spare parts.

The works of the industry are impressive and exemplary in such a way that it can show the sub-region that it is possible to make a strong leap forward in the automotive industry by Africans themselves, Foreign Affairs Minister Amina Mohammed said.

She said the performance and products of the industry are indicative of the possibility of registering various achievements by African countries in general and an opportunity to cooperate and mutually benefit the people of Kenya and Ethiopia from the sector’s development in particular.

“This can be a potential area to work together when we implement the Special Status Agreement. We can learn from what you have achieved in the automotive sector. We can complement each other and there are also areas that we have done better and that you can draw lessons from us too. That creates a win-win scenario,” the Minister said.

Amina said Kenya has similar assembly and maintenance plants but Ethiopia has moved a step forward by undertaking manufacturing and production of some automotive spare parts. Kenya could benefit

sending some of its personnel in the sector for training and capacity building and purchasing automotive spare parts from the Ethiopian automotive industry, she added.

Ethiopian Ambassador to Kenya Shemsudin Ahmed Roble on his part said the visit of the delegation could inspire both countries to strengthen their commercial and military ties in the automotive sector. “We expect cooperation and consumption requests from the Kenyans both in the automotive and leather sectors. We are working together in the military field. What they visited from the industry could further foster our ties,” he said.

The Special Status Agreement signed during Prime Minister Haile-Mariam’s official visit to Kenya in 2012, is expected to be ratified and implemented via the joint technical committee expected to be established soon, the Ambassador said.

President Kenyatta’s state visit to Ethiopia is the first to an Africa country since he assumed power, shows the strong emphasis his government has given to work and cooperate with Ethiopia, Shemsudin said.

Members of the delegation who visited most parts of the Bishoftu Automotive Industry, one of the industries under the Metal and Engineering Corporation(METEC), expressed their admiration on the works and encouraged workers for more achievements. Presently, the Bishoftu Automotive Industry is engaged in assembling, upgrading, overhauling and localizing various commercial and military automotive parts in its seven factories.



Ethiopia gives green light to Kenyan banks to open office


Ethiopian Parliament passed the Special Status Agreement between the governments of Ethiopia and Kenya on March 11, 2014, which among others gives green light to Kenyan banks to open their offices in Ethiopia.

The agreement signed by the Heads of States of the two nations in November 2012 was already approved by Kenyan parliament earlier. Ethiopia’s latest move now gives Kenya special access to the Ethiopian 90 million people economy in sectors which have been closed for foreign investors.

Approval of the 12 pages and 14 articles Special Status Agreement by the Ethiopian parliament coincided with the three days official visit of Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and his business delegation to Ethiopia.

It was in March 1, 2012 that the former leaders of the two nations, the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya have agreed on the need of Special Status Agreement.

Facilitation of investments on selected sectors, facilitation of trade, infrastructure development between the two nations, establishment of economic development corridors and formation of joint private investment council are some of the cooperation areas listed the Special Status Agreement.

After completing the legal process of the parliament the law is expected to be published in Negarit Gazet of Ethiopia to be fully operational.



Ethiopia dam to start yielding power by late 2015: Official [Turkish Press]


ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia’s multibillion-dollar hydroelectric dam project will become partially-operational by September 2015, according to Zadig Abraha, head of the project’s supervisory committee.
Initially, Abraha added, the mega-dam will be able to produce 750 megawatts of electricity. When finalized in 2017, it will have a 6000-megawatt production capacity, according to government sources.
Abraha went on to say that the Grand Renaissance Dam would yield annual revenues of some $2 billion while providing countries of the region – such as Kenya, Djibouti, Sudan, Yemen and South Sudan – with a new source of electricity.
“Revenue will also be subject to growth as [electricity] production increases,” Abraha asserted at a Wednesday press conference.
Ethiopia is determined to build a series of dams on the Nile River in order to generate electricity, both for local consumption and export.
The project has led to heightened tensions with Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, which fears the potential reduction of its own share of Nile water.
Addis Ababa, however, insists the new dam will benefit downstream states Sudan and Egypt, both of which will be invited to purchase the electricity thus generated.
The total cost of the dam, which remains under construction, is estimated at $4 billion, according to official reports.



Institute conducting research to use acacia plant for food


The Tigray Agricultural Research Institute said it has been conducting a research on acacia tree with a view to use it for food.

Institute Natural Resources Director Niguse Hagazi told ENA that the research is being conducted with the cooperation of World Vision Australia.

The aim of the project is to cultivate the tree in areas with low amount of rainfall in the State, namely Kilte Awlalo, Atsibi Wenberta and Saesa-tse’ada Amba woredas.

The project will help to use the plant for food and animal fodder, thereby improve the food security in those areas, he said.

Some 22 farmers in those woredas are cultivating the plant and used it for fodder. It also helps to preserve the environment by protecting soil erosion and degradation.

Natural Resources Advisor with the World Vision Australia, Tony Rinando said the enriched with protein, vitamin and calcium, the seed can be used as food.

Some seven species of acacia tree are being used for food in Australia, he said, adding, the organization is working in Kenya, Uganda and Niger to ensure food security using the plant for food.

Technology Expert with the Food, Medicine and Health Care Administration and Control Authority, Mesfin Mezemr on his part said the research has been conducting on five acacia species to decide whether the plant can be used for food.



Current fistula trend declining



For over 40 years, Addis Ababa Hamlin Fistula Hospital has been a salivation to women victims of harmful traditional practice of early marriage and prolonged labour. It has been offering medical and psychological treatments as well as providing rehabilitation services and as such the number of victims is declining.

Hospital Chief Nurse Tenadam Bekele recalled that most of the victims were from the rural parts of the country. As is well known, prevention is better than cure, the awareness creation work done has immensely contributed to the reversal of the trend. She noted health officers and midwives take the lion’s share. Moreover, most of the victims were getting the service at different Fistula Hamlin Centres—Bahir Dar, Mekalle, Yirgalem, Harar and Metu.

Ethiopian and Kenyan First Ladies Roman Tesfaye and Margaret Kenyatta Tuesday visited Hamlin Fistula Hospital to get first hand information on its activities. After the visit, Roman said that women victims of fistula face various hardships. To ease their pain the hospital provides treatment that could even enable some to give birth.

Moreover, Roman said: “ I have observed that the Hospital is providing notable service. In addition to ensuring maternal health, it is also rehabilitating the victims”.

Roman explained that her Kenyan counterpart Margaret Kenyatta has drawn lesson following her visit to Hospital and is keen to train Kenyan professionals at the Hospital.

Similarly, accompanied by International Atomic Energy and Health Ministry officials Roman also visited Black Lion Hospital’s Radio Therapy Centre. It is doing its level best to serve the community.



Regional States join hands to deal with Aflatoxin


The first regional workshop on the aflatoxin challenge in Eastern and Southern Africa opened in Lilongwe Malawi, Tuesday 11 March with over 100 experts in trade, health and agriculture coming together to develop joint action plans.


Malawi Deputy Minister for Agriculture Hon Bintony Kutsayira (2nd right) and COMESA Director of Gender Mrs. Emiliana Tembo (in blue) with delegates attending the regional aflatoxin workshop.

Malawi Deputy Minister for Agriculture Hon Bintony Kutsayira (2nd right) and COMESA Director

of Gender Mrs. Emiliana Tembo (in blue) with delegates attending the regional aflatoxin workshop.


The forum organized by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the African Union Commission (AUC) and other partners seeks to set regional priorities to mitigate aflatoxin and to develop a regional action plan to enhance intra-regional trade and consumer health.

Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya said during the opening of the event that Aflatoxin contamination of grains in the Eastern and Southern African (ESA) region has emerged as a major obstacle towards trade integration in the region.

In his speech presented by the Director of Gender and Social Affairs Mrs. Emiliana Tembo, he observed that Regional Economic Communities can no longer transact business as usual as there is a strong call to participate smartly to ensure that the region remains competitive.

According to World Health Organization, African States have suffered a reduction of 64% in food quality owing to aflatoxin contamination. This has presented a barrier to cross-border trade and economic growth as the presence of excessive aflatoxin levels causes grain exports to be rejected by importing countries.

The maximum concentrations of aflatoxin permitted in food for humans are less than 20 parts per billion (ppb). However, studies indicate that Aflatoxin contamination in foods in ESA region are occasionally above the internationally recommended limits with levels of up to 1,020 ppb of aflatoxin reported. Further, variations that exist in aflatoxin limits in ESA have also exacerbated the problem by disrupting smooth intra trade of some of the major food security crops such as maize and peanuts.

Aflatoxin is a poison naturally produced by strains of the fungus Aspergillus flavus and related species. Although aflatoxin contamination poses a global problem, the impact of the problem is higher in tropical climatic regions, between 40° North and 40° South of the equator, including the entire African continent. Aflatoxin contamination commonly occurs in maize, groundnut, and crops of regional importance in Eastern and Southern Africa such as sorghum, millet.

Aware of the rising threat, COMESA has entered into strategic partnerships to improve and harmonize policies and regulatory environment for aflatoxin control in its Member States.

“The key outcomes of the three days forum are to set regional priorities and begin to develop a regional action plan on aflatoxin mitigation to enhance intra-regional trade and consumer health,” Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya said during the opening of the event.

Human exposure to aflatoxins is limited by regulations owing to the serious food safety risks yet only 15 countries in Africa have such limitations. Besides, the existing regulations vary widely among these countries.

In his speech, Dr Phenas Ntawuruhanga of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) said regulations that prohibit the use of crops containing excess quantities of aflatoxins are not effectively enforced in Africa thus exposing humans to the food and safety risks.

Malawi Deputy Minister for Agriculture Hon. Binton Kuntsayira opened the workshop.



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