25 April 2014 News Briefs (UPDATED)


 Kenya, Ethiopia ink bilateral deal to enhance cross border transport


NAIROBI, April 25 (Xinhua) — Kenya and Ethiopia on Friday signed a bilateral agreement to develop a One-Stop Border Post at Moyale in northern Kenya to boost trade between the two countries.

A joint statement from Kenya’s transport ministry said the deal seeks to enhance transport services along the border crossing, strengthen trade in the region as well as reduce transit time for goods across the common border, including enhancing immigration processes.

“The two governments have formally inaugurated a Joint Transport Corridor Commission of ministers, which is expected to speed up the completion of projects within reasonable timeframe,” it said.

“This is expected to create the required seamless transport connectivity between the two countries.”

Trade volumes between Kenya and its northern neighbor are expected to rise from their current volumes. Kenya’s exports to Ethiopia in 2011 were worth 55 million dollars. The country in turn imported goods worth 4.25 million dollars.

Under the Special Status Agreement, Ethiopia also agreed to eliminate non-trade barriers for Kenyan companies by giving land on a lease basis, tax holidays and non-collateral bank loans making it very attractive to investors.

The country has the lowest electricity tariffs in the world costing 0.03 dollars per kilowatt-hour (KWH) and a youthful labor supply with a population of 84.73 million with an average age of 28 years.

Ethiopia saw steady economic growth of 8.5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2012 compared to Kenya’s 4.4 percent.

The country’s economy is agro-based and agriculture accounts for about 46 percent of the GDP and about 85 percent of total employment.

Kenya is facing a deficit in energy production and so the government has embarked on an ambitious electricity generation plan that will see the government add 15,000MW of electricity to national grid by 2030.

The agreement signed by Transport and Infrastructure Minister, Engineer Michael Kamau on behalf of the government and Ethiopian minister for Transport Workneh Gebeyehu would facilitate gradual removal of non-tariff barriers and improve railway services between the two countries.

The two governments seek to fast-track implementation of the Mombasa-Nairobi-Isiolo-Moyale-Addis Ababa transport and the development of Lamu-Isiolo-Moyale-Addis Ababa transport corridors.

Kenya and Ethiopia said they are determined to address bottlenecks relating to high transport costs, transit delays at entry and exit border points, inadequate infrastructure and poor management of transport systems.

The two have agreed to do away with bureaucratic procedures and devise mechanisms to enhance coordination along the Mombasa to Addis Ababa transport corridor.

The two countries in 2012 launched the technical corridor coordination committee at the principal secretaries’ level and soon after established a joint Kenya-Ethiopia Commission at ministerial level for the Mombasa to Addis Ababa transport corridor.

The latest agreement empowers the technical coordination committee to develop modalities on how to mobilize resources and implement the projects components to be undertaken jointly by the two governments.



PCDP-3 to benefit 2.6 mln people in pastoral areas


The Ministry of Federal Affairs (MoFA) said the 3rd phase Pastoralist Community Development Project (PCDP-3) will be commenced next month.
PCDP-3 is the final phase of a 15 year program and it will be implemented in Afar, Somali, Oromia, and Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Regional States with over 210 million US dollars.
It will be funded by International Development Association (IDA), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), regional governments, and beneficiary communities’ contribution.
PCDP reached a population of 600,000 in its first phase and a further 1.8 million in its second phase.
“PCDP-3 will reach an additional 2.6 million people in about 113 pastoral and agro-pastoral woredas of the four regional states ,”  Seid Omer, Acting Project Coordinator told WIC
The project is intended to empower pastoral communities to better manage local development in their respective areas, with the objectives of increasing incomes, improving infrastructure and access to public service, he said.
According to Seid, PCDP-3 is also designed to contribute towards meeting the objectives the national Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) of Ethiopia.
“The project will directly contribute towards meeting the GTP’s objectives of expanding access to and ensuring quality of education and health services, thereby achieving MDGs,” he said.



Paving The Way For Tsetse Eradication – Ethiopia’s Journey


VIDEO    –    Paving The Way For Tsetse Eradication – Ethiopia’s Journey 


Video Editor: Petr Pavlicek

The IAEA, through its Joint Division with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and its Technical Cooperation programme, supports 14 African countries in their efforts to combat the tsetse fly using the Sterile Insect Technique. One of these countries is Ethiopia.



Ethiopia to Improve Minerals Quality and Quantity


Ethiopia will be trying to improve its minerals quality as well as their quantity. This was said by Ministry of Mines on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 when discussing the Growth and Transformation Plan – Two (GTP-2).

The Ministry is going to explore based on the market. It will identify minerals that it can provide for the international market as well as the National Bank. And on the other hand, it will do the exploration based on the local market’s demand.

The Ministry has also laid its eye on what it calls developmental and capable investors. It plans to attract these inventors by creating a favorable environment for them. And as a consequence to its efforts, it expects to substitute imported minerals.

The draft GTP-2 document stipulates that the country expects the mineral sector to produce over 57,000 kilos of gold, 296,476 cubic meters of marble, over 220,000 tons of salt and 1,300 tons of tantalum.

In addition to this, the draft document envisions to collect a sales tax of 1 Billion Birr from minerals sold in the local market and 2 Billion dollars from the export of gold.

The document also incorporates a plan of exporting 650 Kilos of opal and 240 tons of tantalum to earn 16 Million dollars only from tantalum.

And with regard to oil, the draft states the Ministry will be drilling a 25 deep wells during the GTP-2 period.



Authority constructs, upgrades over 12,620 km road


The Ethiopian Road Authority (ERA) said it has built, repaired and upgraded over 12, 620 km of road with 19.1 billion birr during the last nine months of this budget year.
Authority Public Relations Directorate Director, Samson Wondimu told WIC the plan was to construct, maintain and improve 15, 251 km of road.

According to Samson, some 90 per cent of the total length of the road was built with asphalt, while the remaining 10 per cent was built with gravel, he said.
According to him, the authority has so far attained 68 per cent of the plan it has set to carry out during the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) period.



Two of PPESA’s nine companies attract bids


Two of the nine companies floated by the Privatization and Public Enterprises Supervising Agency (PPESA) attracted bids, the agency said.

The companies include Weyra Transport SC and a villa house registered under Batu Construction SC, Wondafrash Assefa, PPESA’s corporate communication director, said.

According to the director, Weyra Transport SC, whose index price was set at 266 million birr, attracted a bid from Trans Ethiopoia SC which submitted two million birr more than the floor price.

The villa house registered under Batu Construction SC attracted four bids – Bedru Mohammed, Dr. Abate Bane, Adera Medical Center and Sister Anchinalu offering 11.99, 11.8, 9.5 and 7.9 million birr, respectively, Wondafrash disclosed.

“The agency’s board will meet soon to pass a decision,” Wondafrash told WIC adding that PPESA will refloat the enterprises which failed to attract any bidders.

These enterprises include – Kombolcha Textiles SC, Agriculture and Mechanization Services Enterprise, Bahir Dar Textile SC, Natural Gum Processing and Marketing Enterprise, Transport Construction Design SC and Shebelle Transport SC.

A bid document submitted for Ethiopian Mining Development SC by the Israeli Elenilto
Group, the sole company which showed interest, failed to indicate price and was found to be incomplete – leading the agency to reject the document, Wondafrash said.



Closing Africa’s agricultural gender gap


Melinda Gates







Melinda Gates


SEATTLE – Africa’s GDP is now growing faster than any other continent’s. When many people think about the engines driving that growth, they imagine commodities like oil, gold, and cocoa, or maybe industries like banking and telecommunications. I think of a woman named Joyce Sandir.

Joyce is a farmer who grows bananas, vegetables, and maize on a small plot of land in rural Tanzania. When I met her in 2012, she had just harvested her first crop of maize grown from a seed specifically adapted for Tanzania’s climate. Even during a bad crop year that caused many of Joyce’s vegetables to wither and die, her maize crop flourished. Without it, her family might have risked going hungry. Instead, the maize harvest ensured that Joyce’s family had enough to eat – and even enough extra income for Joyce to pay her children’s school fees.

As Joyce’s story demonstrates, agriculture is crucial to Africa’s future. Farmers make up 70% of Africa’s workforce. They are the foundation of its economy, and the key to triggering its broader growth. Research shows that increasing agricultural productivity is the most effective way to reduce poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.

In fact, agriculture offers the continent its best opportunity to turn a vicious cycle of poverty into a virtuous cycle of development. That is why leaders and policymakers from across the continent have declared 2014 Africa’s Year of Agriculture and Food Security.

Joyce’s story is relevant for another reason, too. She is important to Africa’s future not only because she is a farmer, but also because she is a woman.

At the Gates Foundation, I spend a lot of my time understanding the many ways that women and girls drive development forward: by investing in their children’s nutrition, basic health, and education – and also by providing farm labor. What I am now learning is that if Africa hopes to spark an agricultural transformation, countries will first need to remove one of the main barriers holding the sector back: a pervasive gender gap.

This gap is not about the number of women farmers. In fact, roughly half of Africa’s farmers are women. The gap is one of productivity. Across the continent, farms controlled by women tend to produce less per hectare than farms controlled by men.

The world has had evidence of this gender gap since at least 2011, but only limited data about its scope, shape, and causes. To help us better understand the problem, the World Bank and the ONE Campaign recently conducted an unprecedented analysis of the challenges facing women farmers.

Their report highlights one stark fact from the start: The gender gap is real, and in some cases it is extreme. When we compare male and female farmers with similar land sizes across similar settings, the productivity gap can be as high as 66%, as it is in Niger.

Previously, experts believed that women’s farms produced less because women have less access to inputs like fertilizer, water, and even information. But we now know that the story is much more complicated. With the new data in hand, we can see that, surprisingly, the productivity gap persists even when women have equal access to inputs. The precise reasons vary from country to country – but many of them stem from entrenched cultural norms that prevent women from reaching their full potential.

For example, the report found that women face obstacles mobilizing the labor they need to help their farms flourish. Women usually have more childcare and household responsibilities than men, which make it difficult for them to devote as much time to farm work, or even to supervise hired labor. The problem is compounded by the fact that women are also likely to have less income to hire laborers in the first place.

Fortunately, the new data do not just map the complexity and depth of the problem; they also point to concrete opportunities to develop gender-responsive policies that will help unlock the promise of all of Africa’s farmers.

In some places, that may mean teaching agricultural extension workers how to make their messages more relevant to female audiences, or encouraging them to visit when women are most likely to be at home. In other places, it may mean increasing women’s access to markets, or introducing labor-saving tools to help them get the highest yield from their land.

It may also require establishing community childcare centers, so that women farmers have the option to spend more time farming. In every case, it will require African policymakers to start recognizing women farmers as the essential economic partners that they are.

This June, leaders from all over Africa will meet in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, to set the agenda for agricultural policy in the next decade. If Africa’s agricultural sector is to achieve its promise – and if Africa’s economic growth is to continue – policymakers should take into account the needs of farmers like Joyce. Hers is a success story that can – and must – be replicated across the continent.

Melinda Gates is Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates



Enat Bank Announced Special Interest Rate for Women


enat-bankEnat Bank announced special interest rates for women at press conference it called at its headquarters on Wednesday April 16, 2014, Fortune reported.

Women will benefit from a 5.5 percent interest rate starting from end the of April, with the intent to empowering women, according to Bertukan Gebrezgi, vice president of the Bank, who chaired the briefing with the Bank’s president, Wondwossen Teshome.

“Otherwise, the Bank could have set it at 5.2 percent, which would have helped it become more competent in the market,” Bertukan said.

The Bank has also announced that it has shortlisted three companies for the supply of CORE banking solution. Twenty companies including Temenos, Oracle Financial Software, Infosys Technologies, Sopra Banking System, had initially responded to its invitation five months ago. However the banks declined to disclose the name of the shortlisted companies, according to Fortune. The Bank said it will pick one of the three by June 2014, following site visit to banks where they have installed the technology.

The bank has allocated 25 million Ethiopian birr for the core banking system and other related technologies, it was disclosed at the press conference.

Enat Bank has so far opened 6,972 saving accounts. The number of accounts held by women is 4,044.

“Even though a large portion of the saving account is dominated by women, the amount of deposit in the Bank is still dominated by men,” Bertukan said. “We will work to rectify this and increase women’s share.”



Ethiopia targets two digit economic growth


The Ethiopian government says the country’s economy will grow by 11.3 percent this year.


 Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn


Ethiopia’s economy grew by 9.7 percent during the 2012/13 financial year and missed the 11 percent target set by the government.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Thursday said the agriculture, manufacturing and service sectors would drive the economic growth.

According to a report on the performance of the economy presented to parliament on Thursday, agricultural production in the first three quarters of the 2013/14 fiscal year increased by 15 percent.

During the same period last year the sector grew by 8.6 percent. The government said manufacturing and the service sectors had grown by 21.4 percent and 10 percent, respectively during the first quarter.

“For the past 10 years, the country has registered an average 10.9 real GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth rate and this trend has shown us that the country is in high economic growth trajectory,” Hailemariam told MPs.

In contrast, other sub-Saharan African economies grew by an average of 5.4 percent during the same period.

Hailemariam said his government was encouraged by the country’s sustained growth over the years.

“Our prediction for the current Ethiopian fiscal year is for the country to register an 11.3 economic growth,” he said.



Representatives from Sakai Heavy Industries Visited Ethiopia


sakaiRepresentatives from Sakai Heavy Industries PLC visited Ethiopia to introduce the company’s newly designed road stabilizer machine, The Reporter reported.

A team of four Sakai representatives, led by Ryohsuke Watanabe, managing director for international business headquarters of Sakai, presented the advantage of the new road stabilizer machine to Ethiopian officials at the residence of Japan’s Ambassador, Sazuhiro Suzuki.

Yasutsugu Kanamori (Ph.D.), deputy general manager of the technical laboratory at Sakai, said the new technology is handy for full depth reclamation and soil stabilization of subgrade and base of roadways.

The machine is suitable for both urban and rural roads. It multi tasks different activities such as cutting, mixing and crushing asphalt emulsion, lime with sand and cement along other additive multi tasking capabilities, according to The Reporter.

Asnake Negash, director of road maintenance at the Ethiopian Roads Construction Corporation, said the features of the machine are essentially important to Ethiopia. He further noted that, a machine that can multitask would reduce construction time and traffic jams. He added reusing and recycling asphalts that are damaged at a minimum cost makes the machine desirable.

Asnake has invited for further discussion the officials of Sakai to his office. Nevertheless, Asnake is skeptical about the hefty price of machine. Watanabe told The Reporter that a unit price of PM550 upto US$ 800 thousand depending on the optional features the buyer desires.

The visit by Sakai representatives, is linked to the recent state visit of Premier Shinzo Abe, according to Ambassador Suzuki. With a handful of Japanese companies, Abe’s mid-January visit to Ethiopia encouraged Japanese companies to revisit the capital.



‘Mobile reading revolution’ takes off in developing world


Unesco study reports huge growth in adults and children reading books on phones in Africa and the Indian subcontinent


Reading from a mobile phone

On the move … young Kenyans read from a mobile phone. Photograph: Siegfried Modola /Reuters

Unesco is pointing to a “mobile reading revolution” in developing countries after a year-long study found that adults and children are increasingly reading multiple books and stories on their phones.

Nearly 5,000 people in seven countries – Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan and Zimbabwe – took part in the research, the largest study of its kind to date, which found that 62% of respondents are reading more, now they can read on their mobile phones. One in three said they read to children from their mobile phones, and 90% of respondents said they would be spending more time reading on their mobile phones in the next year.

The study, says Unesco in its report, found that “people read more when they read on mobile devices, that they enjoy reading more, and that people commonly read books and stories to children from mobile devices”.

“The study shows that mobile reading represents a promising, if still underutilised, pathway to text,” says the report, for which Unesco partnered with Worldreader – a global not-for-profit organisation that works to bring digital books to readers around the world – and Nokia. “It is not hyperbole to suggest that if every person on the planet understood that his or her mobile phone could be transformed – easily and cheaply – into a library brimming with books, access to text would cease to be such a daunting hurdle to literacy.”

The report’s author Mark West said that the key conclusion from the study was that “mobile devices can help people develop, sustain and enhance their literacy skills”.

“This is important because literacy opens the door to life-changing opportunities and benefits,” said West.

Reasons given by respondents for reading on mobiles were convenience, affordability and lack of access to books. In Zimbabwe, for example, Unesco said the cost of reading a book on a mobile was between 5 and 6 cents, while a paperback bestseller would cost around $12 (£7); in Nigeria, a mobile book would cost around 1 or 2 cents, based on a mobile broadband rate of $13 per 500 MB of data, while a child’s book would cost between $1 and $5.

Unesco pointed to data from the UN, which shows that of the seven billion people on earth, more than six billion now have access to a working mobile phone. “Collectively, mobile devices are the most ubiquitous information and communication technology in history,” says Unesco. “More to the point, they are plentiful in places where books are scarce.”

The most popular genre for readers was romance, the survey found, with the “romance” icon on Worldreader Mobile receiving 17% of all 730,787 clicks during the research period. Nineteen of the top 40 books read during the study period were romance novels, with Ravinder Singh’s Can Love Happen Twice? the most popular book, followed by the Mills & Boon title The Price of Royal Duty in second, and the Bible in third.

Kwame Nkrumah’s The Great African and Nnedi Okorafor’s The Girl with the Magic Hands were also among the most read books between April and June 2013, with the most popular search terms over the period “sex”, “Bible” and “biology”. Chinua Achebe came in fourth, with “Things fall apart”, ahead of “love” in fifth. Religion was the second most popular genre, said Unesco.

The survey also found that mobile reading is a “huge tool of empowerment for women”, said Worldreader’s Nadja Borovac. While 77% of mobile readers in developing countries are male, women spend an average of 207 minutes per month reading on their mobile phones, compared to men’s 33 minutes. Unesco’s report points out that in sub-Saharan Africa, a woman is 23% less likely to own a mobile phone than a man, with the gap widening in the case of data-enabled phones. “Men use mobiles for reading most, but the most active readers are women,” said Borovac.

Almost two-thirds (60%) of respondents cited lack of content as the primary barrier to mobile reading, and a third said they were keen to read to their children from their mobiles if there were more child-friendly material available.

One respondent, Charles, a teacher in Zimbabwe, said he reads to his class from his mobile, and cited lack of printed content as his main reason for turning to his phone. “We live in a remote area where there are no libraries, and the books I have in my own small library are the ones which I have already read. So this is now giving me a chance to choose from a variety of fiction titles,” he said.

Borovac said that mobile reading was “not a future phenomenon, but something which is happening today”.

“It can really change people’s lives,” she said. “We work in countries where there is a serious shortage of books but where cell phones are plentiful … We are hoping people will realise the potential of mobile reading [as a result of the report], and that governments and partners will get behind not only us but other organisations using mobile technology to help provide learning and books, and help improve literacy skills.”




Tags: , , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: