(Updated) 21 March 2014 News Briefs

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Israeli Company, Canadian Corporation Sign Potash Mining Accord

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The accord would help Ethiopia to introduce new fertilizer to

farmers and considerably increase productivity

The Israeli Chemicals Limited (ICL) Africa and Allana Potash signed partnership agreement to mine potash fertilizer and supply to farmers in Ethiopia and Africa as well as other countries. The accord would help Ethiopia to introduce new fertilizer to farmers and considerably increase productivity, the Ministry of Agriculture said.

State Minister Prof. Tekalign Mamo said that the partnership is a milestone for Ethiopia as the country has embarked on introducing new fertilizer like potash for the first time in its history of using chemical fertilizer which was limited only to UREA and DAP for about four and half decades.

The Ministry, in collaboration with the Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) has studied the nutrient deficiencies of soil in over 150 woredas and proved that over 50 per cent of these areas need potassium fertilizer to improve productivity. “It is a blessing for our work. It is a big beginning and we would like to see the partnership reach a higher level,” he remarked.

Prof. Tekalign said the Ministry has been working in cooperation with Allana Potash since 2013 to promote new fertilizer including potassium in various parts of the country. It is also working jointly with ICL Africa in soil mapping of 30 woredas and determining their fertilizer needs, the State Minister added. Over the last three years, the Ministry in partnership with ATA, and other federal and state stakeholders has been demonstrating new fertilizer in over 40,000 Farmers Training Centers (FTCs) and encouraging responses forthcoming, the State Minister said.

Allana Potash Senior Vice President Najib Aba Biya on his part said the partnership with the Israeli company would enable his company to get ample experience, establish the first potash mine in East Africa in the Afar State of Ethiopia and supply the fertilizer locally and to other African counties. “The partnership would also help us not only financially but logistically and technically as well. As agricultural production and fertilizer utilization are increasing in Africa, the Corporation has introduced its new strategy that emphasizes supplying potash for the continent first,” he added.

The government has been carrying out various activities aimed at utilizing fertilizer efficiently based on scientific study of the soil and the new partnership would give an alternative new fertilizer that can stave off potash deficiency in various parts of the country, he noted. Negib commended the government’s support in making the partnership a reality and the joint project practical.

Ethiopia has the third largest potassium deposit in the world next to Russia and Canada. The partnership project, which will have a duration of two to two and a half years, has already invested $25 million USD of its $642 million USD total budget and commence production with one million tonnes of potash per year.

Allana Potash is a Canadian publicly traded corporation with a focus on the international acquisition and development of potash assets. It is currently developing its previously explored, flagship property, in Ethiopia, the Dallol Potash Project.

The Israeli Chemicals Limited is a multinational manufacturing concern that develops, produces and markets fertilizer, metals and other special-purpose chemical products.

http://www.ethpress.gov.et/herald/index.php/herald/news/6346-israeli-company-canadian-corporation-sign-potash-mining-accord

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Nigeria, Ethiopia Provide Unique Business Opportunities – Lamudi

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VENTURES AFRICA – Unprecedented growth rate in emerging markets have shifted focus away from world economic giants who have been shunted by economic crisis slowing growth in the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China). Global businesses’ loyalty lie where there are opportunities for business growth; this they have found in some emerging markets.

Strong growth amidst difficult economic circumstance throughout the world, which many countries in the West have given in to, makes the potentials of four countries undeniable. They are called PINE (Philippines, Indonesia, Nigeria and Ethiopia), and the world is turning the spotlight on them as the new economic powers.

East African country, Ethiopia is one of the fastest growing of the PINE, with GDP growth of 7 percent last year.  In a similar fashion, Nigeria has been excelling, recording a GDP growth of 6.3 percent in 2013 despite several allegations of embezzlement and cases of unremitted funds. The growth is expected to continue growing at over 6.9 percent in 2014. These levels of GDP growths are stronger than that of Russia which expects economic growth of 2 percent in 2014; India, expecting 5.4 percent, and Brazil which expects 2.3 percent.

African emerging markets have experienced massive growth fuelled by attractive exports and improved business atmosphere and global businesses are exploiting the opportunities in these markets.

Leading online real estate marketplace, Lamudi is one of such global enterprise to leverage on the budding sectors of the markets.

“In our experience, both Ethiopia and the Nigeria are not only great places but exciting places to do business. We are looking forward to a very bright future in these locations and are convinced that the PINE markets offer the major business opportunity of the next decade,” says Paul Philipp Hermann, Co-Founder at Lamudi.

The company which sells and buys property online chose the web for its business because “traditional methods such as checking the newspaper and word of mouth are becoming non-existent”.

Lamudi promises to continue supporting the online shift throughout the PINE countries as it expands its business. It currently operates in 11 African countries.

Emerging African and Asian markets are expected to build on the successes achieved even when least expected to grow their economies as global businesses jump at the opportunities presented by the markets.

http://www.ventures-africa.com/2014/03/nigeria-ethiopia-provide-unique-business-opportunities-lamudi/

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UAE ups direct investment in Ethiopia

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE), has announced that it would increase its foreign direct investments in the Ethiopia’s agriculture sector, local radio reported on Friday.UAE’s decision came after a three-day business forum and bilateral talks held in Addis Ababa between officials of the two countries.

The UAE was represented by its Economy Minister, Sultan bin-Saeed Al-Mansouri who headed officials of about 20 UAE businesses, while Ethiopia was represented by over 80  industrialists.

Speaking during the event, the Ethiopian Minister of Industry, Ahmed Abitew said his country looked forward to a healthy return on foreign investments and make the country more attractive to investors.

Abitew said the country was encouraging the participation of private sector in infrastructural development which he said, was key in the country’s development policy.

He urged the UAE businesspeople to take advantage of Ethiopia’s quota and duty-free access to European and other markets and step up investment in the country.

http://en.starafrica.com/news/uae-ups-direct-investment-in-ethiopia.html

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ESL set  to bolster capacity to adjust to export increase

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After implementing the new system of moving goods from ports loading to the dry ports in Ethiopia,

the dwelling time at Djibouti Port is reduced from over 35 days to one week on the average

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The Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Enterprise (ESL) is determined to strengthen its service to meet the ever increasing export increase of the country, Enterprise CEO Ahmed Tusa said.

Opening Enterprise annual meeting with agents in various countries yesterday, Ahmed said Enterprise’s has now 13 multipurpose ships and two new tankers raising its global market share from 14 to 39 per cent. More service delivery strategies and facilities would be in place to ensure its global competitiveness and to adjust to the export volume of the country which is expected to show significant growth, he noted.

Ahmed said ESL is handling about 50 per cent of containerized cargo import with its present capacity, which was below ten per cent two years back. Though it was facing some challenges from the outset, the multimodal transport system is registering better results in terms of transit time and cost, he added. “After implementing the new system of moving goods from ports loading to the dry ports in Ethiopia, the dwelling time at Djibouti Port is reduced from over 35 days to one week on the average,” the CEO said.

Deputy Executive Officer Chief Engineer Alemu Ambaye on his part said the Enterprise has put supporting the export-led economy of the country at the forefront of its goals in accordance with the Growth and Transformation Plan(GTP). In addition to expanding ports and purchasing of various machinery, the Enterprise has increased its carrying capacity from 120,000 to 400,000 tonnes at present, he said.

“Even this capacity may not be enough to meet the service demand for export that might grow in the coming few years. We have to expand our service, support the sector with modern technology and proper management,” he added.

The Enterprise wants to create awareness among all stakeholders on the dire need to create a huge shipping company for the country in the shortest time possible, he said. As many development projects are underway in the country, the Enterprise has to increase the number of its own ships side by side with using slots.

A paper presented at the three-day meeting underway at Sheraton Addis briefed its agents drawn from about 40 countries on the Enterprise’s long and challenging journey to reach the present state and future prospects. The agents, who are scheduled to visit the Modjo Dry Port, are expected to discuss the partnership, the challenges faced and the future directions with the Enterprise.

http://www.ethpress.gov.et/herald/index.php/herald/news/6372-esl-set-to-bolster-capacity-to-adjust-to-export-increase

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Ethiopia welcomes EITI’s acceptance of its membership bid:  Redwan lashes out at HRW for opposing approval

Addis Ababa, 21 March 2014  – Ethiopia welcomes approval given to its bid for membership with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

Later on Wednesday the Oslo-based EITI approved the applications of Ethiopia, the United States, and Papua New Guinea for joining in the leading global initiative to combat corruption in the energy and mining industries.

The Minister in Charge of Government Communications Affairs Office Redwan Hussein told Anadolu on Thursday that his government has been striving proactively to achieve waste-free, transparent and corruption free industrial system in line with its pro-poor development approach.

“Ethiopia is happy to join in international efforts to fight corruption in the energy and mining industries,” Redwan said in a telephone interview with Anadolu.

Ethiopia has been bidding for membership with EITI since 2010 while Human Rights Watch was lobbying to prevent EITI from approving the country’s bid on alleged human rights abuses. HRW was quick also to decry the Initiative’s approval of Ethiopia’s membership bid.

“Human Rights Watch’s opposition does not emanate from a true desire to stand watch for human rights, theirs is only ideological,” Redwan said.

“There have always been interest groups who have been trying to slander Ethiopia in connection with its human rights record and Human Rights Watch clearly has been under the influence of these groups,” the country’s top communication official commented.

“Their campaign is to falsify what has been going on in Ethiopia on the ground which is development and democratic system building,” Redwan said.

Ethiopia would be striving to build a sound industrial system that was fair and equitable, according to the minister. “Industries will catalyze Ethiopia’s endeavors towards fast-track growth.”

The New York-based Human Rights Watch, which had asked the EITI board to reject Ethiopia’s membership bid, reportedly said the EITI’s reputation had been damaged.

“Human Rights Watch people do not even know where in the globe Ethiopia is,” Redwan quipped.

Home to Sub-Saharan Africa’s second largest population, Ethiopia is among the continent’s fastest growing economies and its mining industry is increasingly adding value to the economy.

But the opposition and rights campaigners accuse the government of stifling dissent and maltreatment of political detainees, allegations the government strongly denies.

http://www.waltainfo.com/index.php/editors-pick/12713-ethiopia-welcomes-eitis-acceptance-of-its-membership-bid-redwan-lashes-out-at-hrw-for-opposing-approval

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UAE, Ethiopia to raise bilateral trade to $1 billion

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Addis Ababa – Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates have stressed their quest to establish vigorous joint investment projects in Ethiopia in the sectors of industry, agriculture, food processing, tourism, renewable energy and mining.

The intensive talks conducted by Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy, during his current visit to Ethiopia, shed light on the two countries’ desire to raise the level of bilateral trade, amounting to about one billion dollars, to higher levels in the coming years.

Al Mansouri started his official visit to Addis Ababa on Monday, leading a high-level delegation including Abdullah Bin Ahmed Al Saleh, Under-Secretary of the Foreign Trade Sector at the UAE Ministry of Economy along with about 55 people from government entities and both public and private sectors. The visit aims to monitor the promising opportunities to diversify its investments in the light of the agreements and investment partnerships between the two countries in a number of important economic sectors.

He held series of meetings with eight senior Ethiopian government officials, especially with President Mulatu Teshome, to discuss ways to promote economic and investment co-operation of trade exchange between the two countries.

Al Mansouri on Tuesday met with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Dr Tedros Adhanom, Minister of Foreign Affairs and State Minister of Finance and Economic Development of Ethiopia, Ahmed Shide.

He also held talks with the Ethiopian Minister of Industry, Ahmed Abtew. Al Mansouri opened the Emirati Ethiopian Business Forum, organised by the Ministry of Economy in cooperation with the UAE embassy in Addis Ababa and the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, in order to review opportunities for joint cooperation between the two countries.

According to Al Mansouri, talks focused during the two meetings on the importance of developing a joint future plan to benefit from the experience of the UAE in the field of government organisation and administration, legislation and laws governing the various economic sectors, especially with regard to cooperation in the field of small and medium enterprises.

He stated that Hailemariam suggested that the UAE might invest in the development of specialised industrial zones, to bring the names of UAE companies and factories not only to Ethiopia, but to all of East Africa.

He said Dr. Tedros Adhanom, spoke about the future directions between his country and the UAE, holding the first meeting of the joint committee between them.

Al Mansouri also explained that his meeting with the Ethiopian Minister of Industry, which was attended by four ministers of state, highlighted the need of briefing the UAE on investment sectors, the Ethiopians’ desire to be part of it, especially the UAE’s investment funds seeking to invest in the sectors of agricultural, animal and food industries, because of their of importance to support the policy of the UAE in its orientation towards achieving food security.

http://www.waltainfo.com/index.php/editors-pick/12698-uae-ethiopia-to-raise-bilateral-trade-to-1-billion

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Ethiopia: Emerging On the Sourcing Skyline

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Move over Bangladesh, make way for Ethiopia. Following the latest buzz around Ethiopia as an emerging textile and apparel sourcing country, one may indeed think that Ethiopia is headed the Bangladesh way. FashionUnited has taken a closer look at the country’s parameters.

Like Bangladesh, Ethiopia has a high population and is with 93.8 million people the second most populous African nation after Nigeria. Similar is also that both countries have a young population with over 40 percent aged 15 and younger in Ethiopia and 34 percent in Bangladesh. More than 50 percent of the population thus fall into the 15-64 age bracket in Ethiopia and more than 60 percent in Bangladesh. Low wages are also common, with Ethiopia hovering around 25 US dollars a month.

From 2004 to 2009, Ethiopia showed 10 percent economic growth per year, which made the country one of the fastest growing economies in the world according to the IMF. In the last five years, this growth has slowed down 7 percent due to less external demand and a private sector that is not yet open enough for international activity. A high inflation rate has plagued the country between 2006 and 2013, averaging 20 percent and reaching a record high of 64 percent in July 2008, but seems to be on track now with a current rate of around 8 percent.

Ethiopia is one of the most promising African nations 

With all these factors working in its favor, it is not surprising that Ethiopia is emerging as one of the most promising African nations in terms of resources, growth, potential and investment opportunities for international companies.

Currently, Ethiopia’s economy is largely dependent on agriculture, providing 85 percent of total employment and close to 47 percent of the gross domestic product. Efforts are underway to change this situation with government incentives in place and the country’s textile and apparel industry a key priority sector. In fact, the government’s Growth and Transformation Plan envisions textile export revenues of 1 billion US dollars by 2014-15 and creating 40,000 new jobs.

For the current fiscal year 2013-14, the government targets an export revenue of 500 million US dollars, which seems ambitious given last year’s exports of 99 million US dollars and first quarter exports reaching 29 million US dollars (compare that with Bangladesh’s garment exports of over 27 billion US dollars in 2013). However, in the first quarter, only 58 of the country’s 110 textile companies were operational. Industry experts expect production capacity to go up during the rest of the year to come closer to the target.

Fassil Taddesse, president of the Ethiopian Textile and Garment Manufacturers’ Association (ETGMA), feels that the government’s export target is higher than the capacity of the textile sector. Add to that the teething problems that plague the Ethiopian textile and garment sector like regular power cuts, poor infrastructure, the need for the import of costly equipment and rising future costs and it seems indeed doubtful if the target can be reached.

However, the potential is there and is the attracting factor for international buyers. For example, the Ethiopian textile and garment industry can take advantage of high quality cotton that is grown in the country and duty free access to US and EU markets. “We have three million hectares available to grow cotton but we are using only about 6 to 7 percent of this resource.

You can imagine the potential that we have in this segment,” confirms Seleshi Lemma, director general of the Textile Industry Development Institute (TIDI) in a report by just-style.

With a vision to become a world-class institute by 2024, TIDI wants to plant itself firmly on the map. Its mission is to “enable the Ethiopian textile industry to compete globally by providing sustained investment promotion, consultancy, training, research, laboratory and marketing support and services”.

Coupled with an offer to provide competitive prices, the Ethiopian textile and garment industry has garnered quite some interest among international players. British retailer Tesco, Irish textile discounter Primark, US retail giant Walmart and Swedish fast fashion company H&M are already sourcing clothes from Ethiopia. Having learned their lessons from Bangladesh, they want to do this by ensuring beforehand that factory conditions are up to par or by raising them if need to be.

“We always do a risk assessment before we enter into a new purchasing market. In Ethiopia we made extensive such analysis where we looked at human rights and environmental conditions in the country. Dialogue with the International Labor Organization, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and local organizations were part of the analysis. We lean against authorities such as the UN and follow EU trade directives,” said spokeswoman Elin Hallerby about H&M’s entry into the new market.

The company is said to be looking at sourcing about one million garments a month from Ethiopia and placed test orders with Ethiopian suppliers last year already. Proximity to markets is key for this move: “As a growing global company we have to look at how we guarantee that we have the capacity to deliver products to all our stores where we have a rapid pace of expansion,” said H&M spokeswoman Camilla Emilsson-Falk. “We are doing that by increasing production in our existing production areas and also by looking at new ones.”

In August of last year, around 50 Turkish textile and apparel companies even announced their relocation to Ethiopia to establish an industrial zone around the capital Addis Ababa. The relocation would create revenues of 2 billion US dollars per year and provide jobs for more than 60,000 job people.

Though Ethiopia is still far away from becoming the new Bangladesh (or Africa the new Asia for that matter), the question remains why it took so long for the international garment industry to discover this untapped market, especially given the country’s stable economic growth and political situation. With the Ethiopian textile and garment industry planning to increase product diversity and product categories and to open access to this yet unexplored market, we can expect to see more apparel products “Made in Ethiopia” on store shelves soon. With Ethiopian designers like Fikirte Addis, Genet Mimi Kebede, Sara Abera and Liya Kebede reaching national and international fashion stages, this will also apply to the creative potential coming out of the country.   [FashionUnited]

http://www.ethiopiainvestor.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4888:ethiopia-emerging-on-the-sourcing-skyline&catid=74:top-story

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Ethiopia’s Clothes Firms Aim to Fashion Global Sales

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Ethiopian fashion designer Fikirte Addis kneels down and wraps a tape measure around the waist of a customer, before scribbling on a piece of paper on which the outline of a flowing gown takes shape.

The customer, Rihana Aman, owns a cafe in the capital, Addis Ababa, and went to Ms Fikirte’s shop in the city, Yefikir Design, for a wedding dress fitting.

The dress, however, is actually for her sister, who lives and works in London, but will soon return to her homeland with her English fiance.

Ms Rihana explains how she shares her sister’s figure, and that the cotton dress will be ready for when her sister arrives back for her “melse”, the Ethiopian wedding ceremony.

“I love the traditional aspect of the clothing,” Ms Rihana says of why she chose Yefikir. “So many dresses now are too modern, and use fabrics that lose what it means to be Ethiopian.”

Along with other designers, Ms Fikirte is drawing on Ethiopia’s rich cultural heritage while adding a modern twist to find success in the fashion industry at home – and increasingly abroad.

As a result, fashion design is proving to be one of the most successful Ethiopian sectors for small business and entrepreneurs, generating profit margins ranging from 50% to more than 100%.

Rich heritage 

Companies such as Yefikir have flourished in Ethiopia due to the absence of big chain department stores, and relatively low start-up costs, set against the high prices individuals are willing to pay for quality, traditionally made fashion garments.

All Yefikir designs are made by hand on weaving machines operated using techniques that go back centuries.

Flashes of color come from strips of tilet and tilf – intricately woven or hand-embroidered multi-colored patterns – which skirt hems, go around waists or course down backs.

It took Musie Teamrat, a 27-year-old embroider, 10 days to make three tilfs for one Yefikir dress.

As a result of such painstaking work, Yefikir’s custom-made dresses can sell for up to 15,300 birr ($850; £530), a sizeable sum, especially in a country where many toil for no more than 50 birr a day.

Despite such apparent inequities, many Ethiopians – especially those in its growing middle class – are happy to pay handsomely for tailored garments with traditional influences, says 25-year-old fashion designer Mahlet Afework.

She adds that Ethiopians take great pride in the country’s ethnic diversity – about 84 languages and 200 dialects are spoken – and in displaying allegiances through clothing at special events such as weddings and festivals.

Her clothing line, Mafi, specializes in ready-to-wear garments offering a notably funky take on the country’s ethnic melting pot, and one that has proved successful.

In 2012 Ms Mahlet won the Origin Africa Design Award, and showcased her work at African Fashion Week New York.

Home-spun skills

Ethiopia’s successful fashion designers are predominantly women who grew up surrounded by traditionally woven cotton fabrics, and did not need to be taught the tailoring and embroidering skills required to make beautiful and delicate clothing.

At the same time, a lack of formal fashion design education is preventing many Ethiopian designers from breaking out internationally, says Ms Mahlet, who is self-taught, and credits Google Search as her primary tutor.

She adds that those few Ethiopian institutions teaching fashion design run courses that are far shorter than the typical three-year fashion degrees taught in the West, and need to better impart the skills needed to compete internationally. Another problem in the international arena is conducting sales transactions.

Banking restrictions mean there are no foreign banks in Ethiopia, and international customers are often suspicious of paying into African accounts, Ms Fikirte says.

Yefikir currently sells through Africa Design Hub, a US-based online store founded in 2013 by Western expatriates to showcase African designs while bridging markets.

Elizabeth Brown, the store’s co-founder, says: “After living in East Africa for several years we saw the potential of African designs in the global market, but also a gap in market linkages, and knowledge sharing, between the industry and global consumers.”

International arena

Yet global interest in Ethiopia’s fashion scene is undoubtedly growing.

“Ethiopia has some wonderful and interesting craftsmanship,” says Markus Lupfer, a British fashion designer who since 2010 has mentored young Ethiopian fashion designers in developing collections.

He adds that growing international recognition for Ethiopia’s designers is partly a result of increasing demand for ethically produced fashion designs.

Although for the majority of Ethiopia’s fashion designers, there is not yet enough of that recognition.

And while local demand remains buoyant – this year Ms Mahlet plans to open in-store Mafi fashion concession areas in Addis-Ababa-based boutiques; common practice in the West, but a new concept in Ethiopia – designers agree that international demand is essential for significant business growth.

Ms Fikirte and Ms Mahlet plan to bolster their companies’ online presences this year, with both sharing a goal of exporting their designs to overseas boutiques and online stores.

“Ethiopia’s fashion industry is changing the image of Ethiopia,” Ms Fikirte says. “It is showing the diversity and beauty of Ethiopian culture, and providing some of the world’s best hand-woven cotton fabrics.”   [BBC]

http://www.ethiopiainvestor.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4901&Itemid=88

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Over 225,000 condos to be built in Addis

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Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – The Ministry of Urban Development, Housing and Construction said that over 225,000 condominiums would be built in Addis Ababa over the coming two years.
Minister Mekuria Haile told ENA that financial and other inputs have been readied to launch the project.
Indicating that housing construction has been underway in different parts of the city, the Minister said that the planned condos would meet the housing demand.
Infrastructural facilities would be fulfilled before the condominiums are transferred to the public, Mekuria added.
According to Mekuria, as the demand for shelter cannot be met by the government alone, efforts would be made to engage investors in the sector.
Addis Ababa Housing Construction Project Office Head Yedinekachew Walelegn on his part said over 100,000 condos are currently under construction.
He said over 18,000 condominiums being built at Yeka Abado would, for example, be transferred to city residents for 90 per cent of the construction has already been completed.
The office has reportedly created jobs for over 13,000 micro and small-scale enterprises in 2004-2014.

http://www.waltainfo.com/index.php/explore/12706-over-225000-condos-to-be-built-in-addis

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Trade Relation between Ethiopia, Switzerland Reaches 60 Million USD

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The trade relation between Ethiopia and Switzerland has reached over 60 million USD, Switzerland Ambassador to Ethiopia Andrea Semadeni said.

The Ambassador told ENA that the trade relation between the two countries, which was very low a few years ago, has shown a huge development over the past three years.

Switzerland is striving to increase variety of trade items in a bid to further boost the bilateral trade relation. The trade relation between the two countries is restricted to a few trade items, namely coffee and pharmaceuticals. Ethiopia exports coffee to Switzerland and imports pharmaceuticals.

Switzerland supports various initiatives of the government of Ethiopia, including strengthening the federal system.

The two countries are also working on drought prevention, ensuring food security, refugees’ rehabilitation, climate change mitigation and fighting terrorism, the Ambassador said.

http://www.ethiopiainvestor.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4902&Itemid=88

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Ethiopia Sees Output at Africa’s Biggest Power Plant by 2015

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Ethiopia will begin generating electricity within 18 months from what will be Africa’s largest power plant, the government said.

The sale of 7.1 billion birr ($367 million) of bonds over the past three years to domestic investors, has contributed to the 27 billion birr spent so far on the 75.5 billion birr Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam hydropower project, said Zadig Abraha, deputy general director of the GERD national coordination office. The central bank in April 2011 ordered banks to buy government bonds equivalent to 27 percent of their loans to help fund infrastructure projects.

Ethiopia’s funding of the 6,000-megawatt plant represents “the golden age of our history as far as economic development and public participation is concerned,” Zadig said by phone on March 18 from the capital, Addis Ababa. “If we’re to meet the power demand we have to construct these mega projects.”

Africa’s second-most populous country after Nigeria is boosting electricity output to cater for increased demand as economic growth surges. The economy expanded at an average 9.3 percent over the past four years and the government is targeting growth of more than 10 percent, which may lead to annual increases in electricity demand of as much as 35 percent, Zadig said.

An increase in Ethiopia’s current generating capacity of 2,000 megawatts will also allow the country to reduce a trade deficit of $8.5 billion last year by selling excess electricity.

Power Exports

The government already exports power to Sudan and Djibouti. It’s also building a transmission line to Kenya and is in discussions with Yemen and war-torn South Sudan, Zadig said. Once GERD is finished, and other hydropower projects including the 1,870-megawatt Gibe III are on line, Ethiopia may earn $2 billion a year from the exports, he said.

The construction of GERD is opposed by Egypt, which says it will reduce the flow of the Nile, the world’s longest river that provides almost all its water. Egypt’s opposition to the project blocked Ethiopia’s access to foreign credit, he said.

“The only option on the table was to construct the dam by our own capacity,” Zadig said, adding that the state-owned Ethiopian Electric Power Corp. and public contributions would fund the rest of the project.

Sudan, the other affected nation, supports the project that’s scheduled for completion in 2018, partly because it will allow the country to import cheaper Ethiopian electricity. The dam is being built 18 miles (30 kilometers) from the Sudanese border on the Blue Nile River, the main tributary of the Nile.

Production Start

Two turbines at the plant will start producing 750 megawatts of power during the Ethiopian calendar year that begins Sept. 11, depending on rainfall patterns, Zadig said.

In 2012, Ethiopia invited an international panel of experts to study the project, which the government says will help curb flooding and improve water storage.

The panel concluded in June that further assessments need to be made on GERD’s regional impact. It also advised modifications to the design to strengthen it structurally. Efforts by Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan to form a committee to oversee the probes on the downstream effects have reached an impasse over the role of foreign experts.

Egypt wants construction paused while the studies are done on an issue that is a matter of “national security,” Badr Abdelatty, a spokesman for Egypt’s Foreign Ministry, said in a phone interview on March 15.

‘Serious’ Talks

“We ask upon the other side to be serious and to move forward to accept having international experts imported to assess the impact,” he said.  “Also for Ethiopians to provide more studies, more statistics.”

Ethiopia should also respect colonial-era agreements and a 1959 accord between Sudan and Egypt that allocates all of the river’s flow excluding evaporation to those two nations, Abdelatty said. By 2020, Egypt will require all of its assigned 55 billion cubic meters a year for vital use such as drinking, washing and sanitation, he said.

Nile riparian nations including Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda are in the process of ratifying a new agreement to create a joint commission to manage use of the river.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-19/ethiopia-sees-output-from-africa-s-biggest-power-plant-by-2015.html

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 Jackie Chan to Visit Addis, Hawassa

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The Hong Kong native Hollywood film star, Jackie Chan, is to visit Ethiopia for two days, arriving here in Addis on Thursday, March 20, 2014, the Food & Agricultural Organization (FAO) disclosed today.
Known for his acrobatic fighting style, with a bit of comic timing, Chan is invited by FAO to visit one of its programmes in Hawassa, 276Km south of Addis Abeba.
Copied from Brazil, FAO has Purchase from Africans for Africa (PAA), a programme that buys cereals and vegetables from smallholder farmers to supply feeding programmes made to schools. FAO and the World Food Programme (WFP) jointly run PAA in Boricha Wereda of the Southern Regional State, targeting 2,000 farmers. WFP distributes the food bought through this programme to 8,000 students in seven primary schools.
Chan, to be received by Tefera Deribew, minister of Agriculture, and Modibo Traore (PhD), sub-regional coordinator of FAO in East Africa, at Bole International Airport tomorrow, will meet some of the 1,334 students at Hanja Chefa Primary School, near Hawassa, the following day.
Chan has been acting since the 1960s and appeared in 150 of them, including his famous Rush Hour, where he acted alongside Chris Tucker. The film grossed 130 million dollars in the US alone, and made the actor a Hollywood star.

http://www.waltainfo.com/index.php/explore/12704-jackie-chan-to-visit-addis-hawassa

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