19 April 2014 News Briefs



Gibe III hydro power project delayed




The completion of the Gibe III hydropower project scheduled to start production for September 2014 will not be realized as the dam is not ready to harvest water in the coming rainy season. 

Reliable sources told The Reporter that the Ethiopian Electric Power Service Enterprise board chairman and deputy prime minister Debretsion Gebremichael (Ph.D.) who reportedly is annoyed by the delay, called senior executives of Salini, the contractor and Deng Fang, the Chinese company undertaking the electro-mechanical work for an urgent meeting. 

According to sources, though the construction of the dam, the electro mechanical work and the power transmission line work are being carried out 24 hours a day, the concrete filling work will not be completed on schedule. Sources said the dam will be ready to harvest water during the rainy season (June-August) adding that the power plant will not be able to generate power the coming September as was stated recently by government officials.

Debretsion conferred with executives of Salini and Deng Fang on the possibilities that the plan could be revised there by making the dam ready for the coming rainy season. However, the officials could not arrive to a general consensus.

Energy experts claim that there are different industrial projects awaiting Gibe III to start generating power to start rolling. These experts said the government should look at other projects that could be finalized within a short period of time.

Gibe III is one of the three hydropower projects scheduled to be completed during the five year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) implementation period. Gibe III was scheduled to be completed at the beginning of the final year of the GTP, however, now it appears that the completion date should be pushed to the 2015 rainy season.

The Gibe III hydropower dam is built in the South Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Regional State bordering the Dawro and Wolaita zones. The dam, being constructed on the Omo River, has an installed generation capacity of 1870 MW. It has a width of 670 meters and a height of 240 meters. The dam is listed among the major concrete dams built in the world. The project includes the construction of two major tunnels and companies drawn from 24 countries are involved in the project.

Attempts to reach Debretsion and Aseb Worku (Eng.), CEO of the Ethiopian Electric Service Enterprise, were not successful.



EU donates €40 million to improve health in Ethiopia


The European Union (EU) donated a €40.2 million to the Federal Ministry of Health of Ethiopia and UNICEF through the “Enhancing Skilled Delivery in Ethiopia (ESDE)” project.

This new funding agreement signed in Addis Ababa on April 16, 2014,from the EU will be used to scale-up maternal health and new-born care for a three year period (2014-2016). Of this grant, €20 million is allocated to the MDG Pool Fund of the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) and the remaining half to UNICEF. 

This new maternal health initiative between the European Union, Federal Ministry of Health and UNICEF represents one of the largest grants to maternal health ever provided to Ethiopia.

Aimed at scaling up services to mothers and new-borns, the ESDE project will be implemented jointly by the Federal Ministry of Health and UNICEF, with the support of other development partners and health professional societies working in the area of maternal and new-born health.

At the project launch, Dr Kesetebirhan Admassu, Federal Minister of Health said, “The government of Ethiopia is rapidly expanding access to basic health services to communities to prevent maternal and new-born deaths. With the strong commitment of our government and the sustained support of all our partners such as the EU and UNICEF, we can speed up the reduction of maternal and new-born deaths even further.”

The ESDE project is expected to benefit 625,000 mothers and new-borns annually from improved access to maternal and new-born health services – a quarter of annual national deliveries. In the three year implementation period, the project will support close to 2 million mothers and new- borns.

The joint initiative aims to strengthen maternal and new-born health in Ethiopia by supporting the health system to achieve national targets and Goals of MDG 5 by increasing access to and utilization of quality maternal and new-born health services for mothers and new-borns in the coming three years.

While MDG 4 (reduction of child mortality) has already been attained three years ahead of time, MDG 5 (improvement of maternal health) remains the only health related MDG goal that is not on track as we approach 2015.

According to the Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey of 2011, Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) is 676 per 100,000 live births while the expected MDG 5 target is to reach the level of 267 per 100,000 live births by 2015.

Ambassador Chantal Hebberecht, Head of the European Union Delegation to Ethiopia, said, “While Ethiopia has made tremendous progress on most health indicators, improving maternal mortality rates remains a distinct challenge. I am therefore happy to announce that the European Union has made available a €40.2 million grant for Ethiopia to accelerate progress in maternal health by jointly working with the Ministry of Health and UNICEF.”

In Ethiopia, up to 15 per cent of mothers and new-borns suffer serious complications that require referral to facilities providing comprehensive emergency obstetric and neonatal care (CEmONC) services including caesarean sections, blood transfusions and emergency laparotomy.

However, the availability of CEmONC has been limited with only over a hundred hospitals having the capacity to provide the service. The 2011/2012 Health Management Information System (HMIS) report of the Federal Ministry of Health states that only 20.4 per cent of women delivered in health facilities.

To increase access, the FMoH has committed to the improvement of services based on the Health Sector Development Plan (HSDP). The construction of over 800 new primary hospitals [one primary hospital per woreda (district)].

The construction of over 200 hospitals has already been initiated in the various regional states and is expected to be completed soon 2012/13 Annual Review Meeting (ARM) Report, FMOH. The hospitals need to be equipped with basic supplies and equipment to provide maternal and neonatal care including equipment for basic operation facilities and essential neonatal care equipment.



President urges envoy to strengthen Pak- Ethiopia trade ties


Islamabad – Imran Yawar, Pakistan’s ambassador-designate to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and permanent observer to African Union (AU), called on President Mamnoon Hussain at the Aiwan-e-Sadr on Friday and discussed matters pertaining to his diplomatic assignment.
Congratulating Yawar on his new assignment, the president said that Pakistan valued its close and cordial relationship with Ethiopia and urged the newly appointed ambassador to focus on further consolidating Pakistan’s bilateral relations with Ethiopia, particularly trade and commercial ties.
The president said that Pakistan’s relations with Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular were not commensurate with the real trade potential and existing goodwill and emphasised the need for more concerted efforts to strengthen trade and economic ties with African countries. The ambassador-designate thanked the president for reposing confidence in him and assured that he would concentrate on augmenting Pakistan’s bilateral ties with Ethiopia with particular focus on enhancing trade, business and economic ties.



The First Ethiopia Burundi Joint ministerial Commission meeting


The First Ethiopia Burundi joint ministerial commission was held on Friday (April 18) with respective delegations led by Dr.Tedros Adhanom, Foreign Minister of Ethiopia and Mr. Laurent Kavakure, Minister of External Relations and International Cooperation of Burundi. The ministerial meeting was preceded by a meeting of experts which was held from April 15 to 17.

On the occasion, Mr. Laurent Kavakure extended a warm welcome to Dr. TedrosAdhanom and his delegation. He said “your presence among us is a pertinent evidence of Ethiopian government’s commitment to reinforce the existing excellent bilateral relation and cooperation between our two countries.”

He indicated that in the past these relations have been developed within the framework of a number agreement on air service, cultural and scientific cooperation as well as the general agreement of cooperation signed between Ethiopia and Burundi. He also noted that the signing of these agreements concretizes the mutual understanding reached between the heads of government of the two countries to reinforce the friendship and cooperation.

On his part, Dr.Tedros expressed his appreciation for the warm welcome extended to him and his delegation and stressed the importance of the Joint Ministerial Commission in enhancing the bilateral cooperation in the political, economic and social areas. He said, It is a reflection of our historic friendship based on mutual trust and friendship”, said, the establishment of the Joint Ministerial Commission will revitalize the long-standing historic relations of the two countries. Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros indicated that the existing excellent relations between the two countries enabled both to cooperate in a number of areas including internal and regional conflict resolution. He said the strength of the defense cooperation between our two nations has been clearly demonstrated by our joint efforts to ensure sustainable peace and security in Somalia.” Foreign Minister recalled that the signing of the Cooperation Framework Agreement (CFA) was a “great step forward for regional development” and stated that we should make a concerted effort to get the remaining riparian states to sign, and encourage those who have signed it to ratify the agreement as soon as possible.”

In the Joint Communiqué of the first Burundi-Ethiopia Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) Meeting, both sides expressed their satisfaction with, the establishment of the JMC which further enhances the all rounded cooperation between the two sisterly countries and, the signing of agreements and MoUs during this meeting.

Agreements were signed for the establishment of Joint Ministerial Commission and a Memorandum of Understanding of cooperation between foreign affairs ministry’s of the two countries and agreed to revise the military cooperation signed in 2011.Furthermore, MoU’s are under consideration on other areas such as education, agriculture, tourism and trade.

The ministers agreed to hold the Joint Ministerial Commission meetings regularly with follow -up and consultation mechanism.



Sur wins 2 billion birr road construction project


The indigenous construction firm, Sur Construction, has won the bid floated by the Ethiopian Roads Authority (ERA) for the construction of a 53km asphalt road in the Tigrai Regional State. 

According to information obtained from the authority, Sur won the international bid for the Abiadi-Tekeze asphalt road construction. The cost of the project is estimated at two billion birr. The authority said the project will soon be awarded to the company and, according to it, Sur is one of the local construction firms which demonstrated remarkable performance. 

Samson Wondimu, corporate communications head with ERA, told The Reporter that the number of local contractors participating in the country’s road sector development program was increasing. A decade ago there were only ten local contractors that participated in the bids ERA floated. The number of local contractors, which was only a dozen a decade ago, has reached 75. Samson said the authority was building the capacity of local contractors, adding that it was striving to increase the number of local contractors to 100.

During the current fiscal year, the authority will put up more road construction project bids. Adaba-Angato, a hundred km road construction project in the Oromia Regional State, the Guba-Begondi the 75.3 km gravel road  in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State (SNNPR), and Omo-Kuraz sugar project road construction projects are expected to be open for bid this year. The Omo-Kuraz Sugar project comprises two road construction projects. The first one is a 37.4 concrete asphalt road stretching from the Omo Bridge to factory six while the second one, which lies between factory four and six, is a 60.6km asphalt road. The other major road construction project that will be open for bid this year is the Ankober-Dulecha one, a 40km asphalt concrete road construction project. According to officials of the ERA, these tenders will be floated as soon as the required financing is secured.

ERA is acclaimed for expanding the country’s road network. It is also known for efficient fund utilization secured from donors. International financing institutions like the World Bank have provided a largesse support to the authority’s Road Sector Development Plan (RSDP.)

ERA has been implementing the RSDP during the past 16 years. Over the 16 years of the RSDP, physical works have been undertaken on a total of 80,630km of roads excluding routine maintenance work and community roads. The total budget for the planned works during this period amounted to 135.9 billion birr (USD 9.9 billion). The total amount disbursed in the same period is 142.12 billion birr (USD 10.2 billion.)  Physical and financial performance over the past 16 years of the plan is 87 percent and 105 percent respectively.



Japanese manufacturer to supply specialized machines for road construction


Ambassador Suzuki (left) briefed by Watanabe about the new machinery Sakai plans to introduce.

Ambassador Suzuki (left) briefed by Watanabe about the new machinery Sakai plans to introduce


Sakai Heavy Industries Plc sent a team of officials to Addis Ababa to eye the road sector to supply newly-designed machineries

and look for dealers in the capital to work with.

At the turn of the week, Sakai officials hosted representatives of government offices at the residence of Japan’s Ambassador, Sazuhiro Suzuki. Led by Ryohsuke Watanabe, managing director for international business headquarters at Sakai, a team of four officials presented the advantages of new road stabilizer machine, PM550 to representatives of the Ministry of Urban Development, Houses and Construction, Ethiopian Roads Authority and the city government.

The stabilization technology, according to Yasutsugu Kanamori (Ph.D.), deputy general manager of the technical laboratory at Sakai, the newly- designed PM550 machine, is handy for full depth reclamation and soil stabilization of subgrade and base of roadways. This machine typically works for both city and rural roads. It cuts, mixes and crushes cement, asphalt emulsion and lime with sand and other additive simultaneously. According to Kanamori, the PM550 machine has conical bits enabled to pulverize and mix elements in addition to its rotor unique system which shifts some 500 mm to the left and right.

Such features of a road stabilizer machine are essentially significant to Ethiopia, Asnake Negash, director of road maintenance at Ethiopian Roads Construction Corporation said. According to Asnake, having a machine that can do various jobs at a time could reduce both construction time and traffic jams in the country. Moreover, reusing and recycling the damaged asphalts with minimum additions make the Japanese machine unbeatable, Asnake said.

Convinced by the multiple advantages of PM550, Asnake invited Sakai officials to his office for further discussions. One thing Asnake was skeptical about was the the price of the machine. Watanabe told The Reporter that a unit price of PM550 goes from USD 700 to 800 thousand depending on the automation features the buyer may want to have built in. However, he argues that a full construction of a kilometer long road may cost USD 490 thousand. And a 60 to 75 percent recycling of base course road may cost USD 290 to 368 thousand per kilometer.

Watanabe recalled that Sakai was present in Ethiopia during the military regime. Twenty years down the road, Sakai was forced to withdraw from supplying Ethiopia. The reason was the hefty exchange rate devaluation of the Yen – Japan’s currency. This time around, however, Sakai is seeking opportunities in the Ethiopian market. Now, Sakai heavy industries, the USD 30 billion paid-up capital venture, which was found in 1918, sent Watanabe and his team looking for potential dealers to make available various types of construction machineries and equipment. Abiy Tadesse, manager for machinery and project coordination department at Mitsubishi Ethiopia, was eager to facilitate the initial procurement of the machine on a grant basis.

The coming of Sakai, according to Ambassador Suzuki, is linked to the recent state visit of Premier Shinzo Abe. With a handful of Japanese companies, Abe’s mid-January visit to Ethiopia activated the confidence of firms to revisit the capital. One of the firms is Hiroki – a Japanese leather goods manufacturer. Since 2005, Hiroki has been importing Ethiopia’s fine sheep leather. Officials of the company have managed to secure valuable market share in the global arena for its leather jackets, overcoats and skirts made out of Ethiopian sheepskins. On that surface, the company decidedly came to Ethiopia to set up a manufacturing plant specializing in shoes made of sheep leathers.



Ethiopia doing particularly well at reducing extreme poverty



In a Q&A with Independent European Daily Express, AfDB’s chief economist, Mthuli Ncube, singled out Ethiopia as a country doing ‘particularly well’ at reducing of extreme poverty.

Here is the excerpt from IEDE

Q: Which sub-Saharan African countries are doing particularly well at reducing extreme poverty?

A: Ethiopia is the one that we can really highlight because it’s a large population, nearly 85 million, and they’re dealing with the reduction of extreme poverty as a problem. First, the big story about poverty reduction is sustaining growth, and Ethiopia’s had a wonderful growth rate for the past 10 years.

Second is making sure that it’s inclusive, shared and creates opportunity. It should create jobs and finance services for access to education, health, housing and so forth. All those are strategies for sharing wealth.

It’s also about social protection programmes that keep the people out of poverty and then allow them to make progress. Let me tell you this story about the Grinka Programme in Rwanda. You leave one pregnant cow to a poor household, and that cow will have a calf and another one and so forth. And if it’s a female calf, you pass that calf on to the next poor family and then the next poor family.

In the next few years, that programme is going to take about 300,000 families in Rwanda out of poverty. Why? These families can harvest the milk and consume it. Secondly, they can sell the milk and the manure, but also use [the manure] to grow vegetables, which they can then sell and make money. So you create a whole economic ecosystem around the cow.

I even suggested this for Somalia. Maybe there’s an asset-replacement programme that could cause similar results elsewhere. This is a case of what I would call productive social protection, because you’re giving someone an asset that produces something and it actually works.



New Age assesses exploration well potential


The British company that is prospecting for oil in the Ogaden basin, New Age, is assessing the oil and gas potential in the well it recently drilled. 

The well-dubbed El Kuran-3, in the Somali region of Ethiopia, has reached a total depth of 3,528 meters. Experts of New Age have noted oil and gas flows in the well. The experts are now trying to identify the amount of oil and gas found in the area. The company said it was trying to determine whether the hydrocarbon potential is economically viable or not.

“Currently the well is undergoing logging and evaluation prior to taking a decision on the way forward on the well. There have been numerous oil and gas shows in the well, which is a follow-up to a discovery made by Tenneco in the 1970s. There appears to be a significant amount of oil and gas in several intervals and the primary issues are the quality of the reservoir and potential commerciality given to the remote location,” the company noted.

Tenneco, the American company that was exploring the Ogaden basin in the 1970s reported several oil and gas shows in the El Kuran locality. An independent petroleum expert told The Reporter that the El Kuran locality is known for oil and gas shows. “The most important thing now is to determine the amount of the reserve and the commercial viability,” the expert said.

Sources close to the project told The Reporter that New Age will not drill another exploration well in the concession (Block 7 and 8) in the El Kuran locality. They said the company would remain engaged in analyzing the data collected from the well for the coming two years.

A Dubai-based company contracted by New Age drilled the El Kuran well using a drilling rig called Sakson 501. This company is now negotiating with another company, Falcon Petroleum, engaged in oil exploration project in South Wello zone of the Amhara Regional Sate. After conducting seismic surveys in the Wereilu locality, Falcon Petroleum is now preparing to drill the first exploration well in the concession. Sources said Falcon wants the Dubai based company to drill the first exploration well.





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