17 June 2014 News Briefs


Ethiopia, Israel keen to deepen ties


Ethiopia and Israel have agreed to further deepen all-round relations between the two countries.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman is in Ethiopia where he met with Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom (PhD). He is also scheduled to meet Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and President Mulatu Teshome (PhD) later today.

The two Foreign Ministers today signed a memorandum of understanding at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Addis Ababa.

According to Hilawe Yosef, Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Israel, the memorandum of understanding incorporates political, economic and security cooperation.
At a joint press conference held after the signing, Tedros said Israel’s Foreign Minister has reiterated the country’s readiness to strengthen its support to Africa in fighting terrorism.

The security cooperation between Ethiopia and Israel includes intelligence sharing, Tedros added.

“Today’s discussion is on how we can further deepen our cooperation,” Tedros said.

Liberman, for his part, said the two countries have agreed to hold regular consultations between their ministries.

“We are in the best page of our bilateral relations which goes as far back as two thousand years during the Solomonic era,” Liberman said.

The visit also aims to boost economic ties between the two countries. More than 40 Israeli private businesses from the Israel Export Institute also accompanied Liberman, who is visiting Ethiopia for the second time in that capacity.

The businesses are drawn from various sectors including agriculture and water technology, energy and mining, life science, information technology, banking, homeland security, infrastructure, consultancy and aviation.

Earlier the two foreign ministers opened an Ethio-Israel business forum at the Sheraton Addis. The two day forum, jointly organized by Israel’s embassy in Addis Ababa and the Ethiopian and Addis Ababa Chambers of Commerce and Sectoral Associations, are aimed at boosting business to business ties between Ethiopian and Israeli companies.

The Israeli foreign minister, who is on Africa tour, will also visit Rwanda, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Kenya.



Ethiopian, Israeli Business Discussing


The Israeli business delegation that accompanies the Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman has started discussion with Ethiopian business persons on possible partnership.

Speaking on the occasion, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Dr Tedros Adhanom said in spite of the age-long relation, the trade and investment tie between the two countries is low.

A number of multinational companies are being attracted to Ethiopia because of the successive economic growth of the country over the past decade, he said.

The government will extend support for Israeli companies with the desire to increase their involvement in the economy, he said.

For his part Minister Liberman said the economic cooperation between the two countries doesn’t improve as desired.

Ethiopia is among the strategic partners of Israel in Africa and he affirmed that he will exert maximum effort to lobby on Israeli companies to be able them engage in Ethiopia.

The annual trade relation between the two countries has reached 112 million USD in 2013 from 46 million USD in 2004.

The trade balance is in favor of Ethiopia. Ethiopia has exported items valued at 93.6 million USD, while the balance is import from Israel.

Sixty four of the total 200 licensed Israeli companies with an aggregate capital of 7.1 billion Birr to do business in Ethiopia have so far started operation, according to Fitsum Arega Director-General of the Ethiopian Investment Agency.

The companies are engaged in agriculture, particularly in sesame, horticulture and floriculture production, he said.

Israel is the second largest destination for Ethiopia’s sesame production next to China.

Arava Power Company is among the 50 companies accompanied the Foreign Minister to identify investment and business opportunities in Ethiopia.

The company is conducting feasibility study to develop energy from geothermal and solar with 300 million USD, according to Company Co-Founder Yosef Abramowitz.

The Company is engaged in similar investment area in Rwanda, the Founder said.

Mekorot Development and Enterprise is another company desirous to invest in Ethiopia. The company is interested to invest in Ethiopia in water technology, said the company’s business development vice president, Zvi Pinczowski.

The company is assessing the possibility to partner with Ethiopian businesses working in the area, he said.

Israeli companies are coming to Ethiopia to search investment and business opportunities in the country, according to Kebede Abera, Business Diplomacy Director General with the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Similar business delegation has visited Ethiopia three months ago to identify business and investment opportunities in the country.

The delegation led by the Israeli Agriculture Minister has shown interest to engage in the agriculture sector, he noted.


Liberman Says Israel Will Strengthen Trade, Investment Relations with Ethiopia


Liberman Says Israel Will Strengthen Trade, Investment Relations with Ethiopia

Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said his country will strengthen trade and investment relations with Ethiopia.

Memorandum of understanding was signed between the two countries.

Speaking at a joint press statement he gave with Ethiopian Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Avigdor Liberman, who is accompanied by 50 investors, said he would provide various forms of support to Israeli capitalists to invest in Ethiopia.

He added that his country would focus on strengthening ties in trade and investment sectors in particular to improve the historic ties that have long existed.

The minister pointed out that the 50 investors that accompanied him are engaged in different sectors and have made huge contributions to the economic growth of Israel.

The investors and the companies have plans to share their technical knowledge and establish trade ties with Ethiopian commercial institutions, according to Liberman.

Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom said on his part Liberman’s initiative to visit Ethiopia accompanied by a business delegation would have huge contribution to strengthening the diplomatic relations between the two countries with economic ties as well.

He added that the people-to-people relationship should also be further consolidated, even if it is good.

According to Dr. Tedros, the two ministers have discussed the possibility of establishing  museums of Ethiopian Jews in Gondar and Shire towns.

The construction of the museums would help strengthen the relations between the two countries, according to the minister.


President Says Ethiopia’s Membership to EITI Would Ensure Transparency



Ethiopia’s membership to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) would help the country ensure transparency in the extractive industry, President Mulatu Teshome said.

Speaking in meeting organized in connection with the acceptance of its candidature application, the President said the country has been working to be member of the Initiative.

Establishing a 15-member steering committee consisting of representatives from the government, extractive companies, civil societies in 2002E.C was one of them, he said.

EITI has accepted Ethiopia’s candidature application in March 2014, considering the commitment of the government, he added.

Mines Minister Tolosa Shagi for his part said implementing the standards of the Initiative will consolidate the democratization process and ensure transparency.

According to the EITI Standard and transitional arrangements, the country must produce its first EITI Report within two years from becoming candidate and validation will start within three years.

Ethiopia has large untapped reserves of minerals that could help the country diversify its agriculture-centered economy. The country has reserves of gold, tantalum, potash, platinum and copper.

In 2010 the mining sector’s production value was less than one per cent of the GDP. In the 2013/14 fiscal year the nation is expecting 777 million USD from export revenues.

Gold is the main mineral export. Export values of gold reached 602 million USD in 2012, a more than hundred-fold increase from 2001. The largest gold mine is in Lege Dembi.

Several multinational mining companies are currently undertaking exploration in the country.

Small-scale mining is an important employer in Ethiopia. Approximately one million Ethiopians are directly engaged in artisanal mining activities.’s-membership-to-eiti-would-ensure-transparency&Itemid=260


EU – Ethiopia On Track to Meet MDG’s


EU ambassador to Addis Ababa, Chantal Hebert told reporters that Ethiopia has become effective in eradicating extreme poverty, reducing child and maternal mortality; and making primary education accessible to children, controlling malaria, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and in sustainable environmental protection .

According to Ambassador Chantal Herbert, Ethiopia is on the right track to meet most of the Millennium Development Goals before 2015 .She also indicated that Ethiopia has become successful in job creation and in encouraging entrepreneurial ventures and improving lives of its people. Allocation of 70 percents of the nation’s budget to poverty reducing sectors such as education, health and infrastructure has helped to the achievement of the success; she added .

She also reminded that if the economic growth of the country continues with the current pace, Ethiopia will be able to achieve a middle income nation status by 2025. According to the ambassador EU had provided 680 million Euros worth development support to Ethiopia from 2008 to 2013. It has also approved a development support of 745 million Euros from 2014 to 2017. Accordingly, EU provides Ethiopia a development support of 200million Euros annually.



Minister Observes Big Improvement in Justice Organs


Minister Observes Big Improvement in Justice Organs

The role of justice organs in building a democratic system and ensuring the prevalence of good governance has shown big improvement, according to Ministry of Justice.

A consultative meeting that evaluates the performance of the ministry and regional justice bureaus during the GTP and discusses the plan for the coming five years is underway here in the capital.

Speaking during the opening ceremony, Minister of Justice Getachew Ambaye said justice organs are helping create a stable system by ensuring the supremacy of law and respecting and ensuring the respect of the constitution and the constitutional order as well as reducing crime.

Improvements have been witnessed with respect to making the economic growth of the country and peace become reliable, and good governance prevail in the justice system, according to Getachew.

Justice organs are in particular showing improvement from time to time in providing fast and localized justice for the public, he noted.

Justice State Minister Birhanu Tsegaye said on his part that justice organs were able to register satisfactory results by involving citizens.

Though impressive achievements are registered in delivering efficient justice and in ensuring the supremacy of law, rent seeking is observed in some quarters, he pointed out. In this respect an integrated system should be put in place to stop the practice, Birhanu underscored.

According to him, building a justice army and introducing structural changes as well as establishing a nationally integrated justice system are the tasks ahead in the coming years.

The three-day consultative forum is expected to assess the performance of the strategic plan of regional justice bureaus.


Over 5.6 Billion Tree Seedlings Readied for Planting Across Nation


Over 5.6 Billion Tree Seedlings Readied for Planting Across Nation

Assosa June 17/2014 –  More than 5.6 billion tree seedlings are readied for planting across the country this rainy season, according to Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

State Minister of Environment and Forestry, Qare Qewecho, who attended the International Environmental Protection Day observed at a national level in Assosa city as a guest of honor, made the remark while visiting the GERD.

He said consolidated forestry development works would be carried out this season as in the others in order to restore the natural resources of the country.

According to the State Minister, over 5.6 billion tree seedlings are readied to be planted across the country during this rainy season.

Planting has already started in some localities, he added.

Qare noted that GERD is a heritage we pass to generations and the environmental protection project is meant to safeguard it from silt.


Draft customs proclamation proposed



A draft customs proclamation aimed at establishing a modern legal customs framework which encourages development of manufacturing industries and investment has been proposed to the House of People’s Representatives.
The draft proclamation replacing the current 622/2001 customs proclamation is expected to provide effective and speedy service in the facilities of the authority and give the Director General of the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA) more power.
The new proclamation will also introduce structural adjustments in the functions of the authority and its human resource management. It also ensures the ‘free movement of goods for those organizations identified as Authorized Economic Operators (AEO), eases Post Clearance Audits (PCA), and decentralizes the activity of the authority.
The amendment introduces new ways in which customs officers can go to inspect the place where the goods are. Such practice saves costs and time and will help to further fuel the booming economic achievements of the country reads the clarification of the proclamation.
The proposed proclamation also gives the director general of ERCA the mandate not to institute criminal charges based on various conditions. The draft proclamation states that if the alleged offender cannot follow the proceedings due to old age or chronic disease, if it is believed that the proceeding of the case in court will harm national interest or international relations, if instituting proceedings may cause an unbalanced side effect or if the charge has not been instituted in time and thus has lost its relevance the director general may decide that criminal charges not be instituted.
The proclamation will also help to bridge gaps observed in the customs proclamation the country has been using over the last five years. The need for a more modern customs legal framework to support development of industries and investment has made the introduction of the new proclamation necessary.
The draft proclamation was referred to the Budget and Finance Affairs, and Law and Administrative Affairs Standing committees for further discussion.



Sudanese factory in Ethiopia inaugurated


A Sudanese factory worth $ UD 5million built in Addis Ababa was inaugurated (June 12). The factory is engaged in manufacturing of electric poles, adhesives, water tankers, and dishes among others and created employment opportunity for 300 peoples. Speaking at the inauguration of the factory, State Minister for Industry Dr. Mebrhatu Melese said the factory, built by Albaz Industrial Company, will have a big share to enhance infrastructure and construction works in the country. The state minister noted that with the establishment of the factory the country will save over 2 million USD foreign currency annually. According to Dr. Mebrhatu the Ethiopian government has been providing production sites and multiple forms of assistance for both local and foreign investors. On his part, the owner of Albaz Industrial Company, Mohammed Hassen expressed his plans to expand the factory.



Kessem sugar project takes farmers, private sector under its wing


Kessem sugar development project underway in Afar regional state is expected to boost Ethiopia’s sugar production when completed at the end of this year, but beyond that the multi faceted development project has taken local farmers and private businesses under its wing.

When completed, the sugar factory will produce 260,000 tons of sugar annually when it starts operating at full capacity. The projects will cultivate 20,000 hectares of sugarcane plantation in Kessem and Bolhomon areas.

So far over 5,500 hectares of land has been covered with sugarcane plantations, according to Miruts Weldai, deputy head of the project’s farm operations. They plan to cover another 7,000 hectares of land during second round plantations expected to commence this month.

The project has brought unique opportunities for local farmers and private farms. In March 2014, Ethiopian Sugar Corporation, who owns state financed sugar projects in the country, signed the first ever out-grower agreement with a private company – Amibara Agricultural Development plc.

Based on the deal, Amibara, a private agriculture farm, will supply sugarcanes to Kessem sugar development project for three years. The company, whose farm is located in close proximity to Kessem project, will cover 6,000 hectares of land with sugarcane plantations.

Since the deal was signed, over 3,300 hectares of land has been covered with plantations, Miruts told WIC.

Besides offering job opportunities for locals, the project is providing trainings in sugarcane farming skills to local farmers.

The training aims to equip local farmers with the required skills which to cultivate sugarcanes on their plot and supply them to project’s crushing plant in an out-grower deal.

Farmers are being organized in cooperatives with whom the Kessem sugar factory will negotiate out-grower deals.

Such arrangements are not new for the corporation, in February 2014, Wonji-Shewa Sugar Factory struck its ninth out-grower deal with farmers’ cooperatives agreeing to purchase a quintal of sugarcane for 50 birr.

Kessem sugar plant, whose construction is being carried out by the Chinese Complant Group Inc, is expected to start crushing in November 2014. The irrigation dam on Kessem River is also nearing completion. The state owned Federal Water Works Construction Enterprise is carrying out the construction.



Albazz to manufacture chemicals locally



Joining hands with Falcon Chemicals LLC, Albazz Industries PLC plans to begin making construction chemicals primarily using local materials.
Albazz CEO Mohammed Hassan said most of the raw materials which will go into products like paint, coatings, adhesives and construction chemicals are found in Ethiopia. Producing these chemicals will create jobs, save foreign currency and reduce imports significantly.
He explained that the products can be used for factories such as Carpentry, Joineries, Furniture factories, Paper & Packaging Industry, Paper converting industries, Bottle labeling, Printing & Cigarette industry.
Mebratu Melesse, State Minister of Industry, said some of the products, like paint, will be used in the government housing program.
Falcon manager, Mitika Gocunlda also said that other products will be used as glass replacement plastics which will reduce costs of materials used in telephone poles by 50 percent.
Falcon Chemicals LLC was established in the United Arab Emirates in 1976. The company has diversified into several business sectors with a marketing network spread across the Middle East, Africa, India and the Far East.



Workshop Urged for Comprehensive National Logistics


During National Logistics Strategy Study workshop Mekonnen Abera, Ethiopian Maritime Affairs Director, urged for a comprehensive national logistics strategy for Ethiopia to achieve the aim of becoming a middle income country.

Mekonnen during the workshop noted Ethiopia is still highly inefficient despite making remarkable efforts to alleviate challenges in the logistics system. He continued and said the sectors underperformance is holding back the nation’s competitiveness.

According to the Director, the study is aimed at reviewing the overall logistics system, developing blue print for a more efficient and effective system, identifying required for transformation and desgining the implementation approach.

The workshop focused on reaching consensus among key players in the sector on the major bottlenecks identified in the first phase of the study.

The study was sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme and conducted by NATHAN Associates Inc. the firm presented its findings in the transport and road operation, port and corridor performance, railway operations and terminals and air cargo operations.

The findings revealed truck fleet in Ethiopia is old, inadequate by modern standards, slow and expensive to operate. It added for the new standard gauge Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway succeed, there must be convenient and cost effective connections for the shippers.

The study also indicated the general air cargo terminal at the Bole International Airport suffers from delay in removing goods.



European banks to finance Ethiopian railway constructions


European banks have decided to finance Ethiopian railway constructions.

According to the Reporter, Credit Suisse and the Turkish export and import bank (ExIm bank) are the two that have agreed to finance the railway lines.

Credit Suisse has helped in convincing and organizing the European banks to finance the constructions and on June 20, 2014 Credit Suisse is expected to sign an agreement with Ethiopian finance and economic development ministry.

The European banks have agreed to finance the 400 km railway line that stretches from Woldia to Awash which is part of the lengthy Mekelle to Djibouti’s Tajura port railway line.

The banks will finance 85% of the 1.7 billion dollar project cost and the remaining finance is expected to be covered by the Ethiopian government.

Some commented that the European banks agreeing to finance projects in Ethiopia have a huge significance for the country and such situations haven’t been seen in the country’s recent history.

The Mekelle-Djibouti railway line construction is divided into three parts. The first leg of the construction which stretches for 260 Kms from Mekelle to Woldia is to be constructed by the Chinese construction company CCCC with 1.5 billion dollar finance from the Chinese ExIm bank.
The second one being the Woldia-Awash line mentioned above and for the third and final leg of the construction from Awash to Tajura port of Djibouti finance hasn’t yet been secured.



DHL to build world class facility



DHL announced its plan to build a world class facility inside the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.

The logistics company is currently in negotiation with the Ethiopian Airports Enterprise and Ethiopian Airlines to build the facility within the premises of the airport.
“We are looking at a potential location. Once we do the necessary contracts, we then start the construction,” stated Charles Brewer, Managing Director of DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa. Once completed the facility is expected to feature a service center and country office.
“We are very committed to investing in Ethiopia. It is taking longer than we expect but we have to respect the environment we work in,” Charles stated.
“Ethiopian Airlines and Ethiopian Airports Enterprise have their own stand of what they want and where they want us to be. We are trying to make sure we find a marriage that works. It is going to be a big investment, millions of dollars. We don’t put up that kind of money unless we are sure it is a good investment,” he added.
DHL is currently upgrading all our infrastructure in several countries in Africa and Ethiopia is part of the jigsaw puzzle.
DHL stated that East Africa and Ethiopia are key regions for growth within Sub-Saharan Africa. For the past three year, the East African community has sustained a high GDP growth, outpacing a number of Sub-Saharan countries. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has forecasted a GDP growth of around 7.5 percent for Ethiopia in 2014.
“We have been very pleased with our progress over the last quarter, which is both a reflection of the country’s economic development but also of our employee’s passion for the business and taking it forward,” said Essete Gebriel, Country Manager for DHL Express Ethiopia.
She also stated that the company is doing significant work in increasing connectivity for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), helping them to understand the paperwork, legislation and expertise needed to grow beyond Ethiopia’s borders.



First Lady led Ethiopian women investors to Turkey


An Ethiopian delegation led by First Lady, Mrs. Roman Tesfaye consisting of women business persons’ is on tour in Turkey to share experiences with Turkish investors and create market link. The delegation paid a visit to two leather producing factories in Istanbul called Tergan and DeRman which are in the business for over 40 years. On the occasion, First lady, Mrs. Roman briefed the Turkish investors about Ethiopia’s potential in leather input, government incentives and cheap human labor. Both factories said that the briefing was insightful. The owner of Derman factory, Mr. Ibrahim Aidewan said Ethiopia is now on top of his list for investment. The representative of Tergan leather producing factory said he sees the opportunity to directly import inputs from Ethiopian Tanneries. The visit organized by office of the First lady of Ethiopia and confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey (TUSCON) aims to create market tie between Ethiopian and Turkish investors as well as enhance trade tie of the two countries.



Half of Turkey’s African investment is in Ethiopia


Ethiopia is now Turkey’s biggest African investment, Aykut Kumbaroglu who works with African Countries for Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. There are currently over 350 Turkish companies investing USD three billion in Ethiopia. This is half of the USD six billion the nation invests in sub-Saharan Africa.  Turkish officials say this has come as a result of their encouragement to invest in Ethiopia.
Aykut pointed out that the leaders of both nations have made reciprocal visits and their relationship is strong.
Ethiopia reopened its embassy in Ankara in 2006 and different Turkish offices have based their regional office in Addis Ababa including Turkey’s Anadolu News Agency.
Top diplomats in the Ethiopian Embassy at Ankara, told Capital that Turkish companies are now focusing on Africa. “Ethiopia is a gateway for their vision,” the diplomat explained.
The Ethiopian diplomat said that Turkey is now changing and they are transferring to the service sector from industry and because of this they are growing in Ethiopia.
“Our embassy and the government in Addis Ababa are aggressively lobbying Turkish companies to come to Ethiopia and this combined with the current Turkish investment in Ethiopia is creating a push, pull effect to enhance the already blossoming trade between the two nations,” the diplomat explained.
Ayalew Gobeze, Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Turkey, said even though economics is one of the main aspects of the two nation’s relationship there are other aspects as well.
Ayalew said that the number of Turkish investors asking to invest in Ethiopia is rapidly growing. “We are also working strongly to expand the number of Turkish investors in Ethiopia, because they will come into Ethiopia with benefits including new technology and knowledge,” the recently appointed ambassador and one of the top ruling party officials added.
“But when we encouraged the Turkish investment in the country we have to be responsible to facilitate the smooth bureaucratic process to expand the FDI,” he explained.
The interest of Ethiopian investors is also growing to work with the Turkish business community.
According to the 2013 data, the trade between the two countries has reached USD 420 million from USD 27 million in 2000.
Ethiopia is the first sub Saharan Africa country to begin modern diplomatic relations with Turkey at the start of the 20th century when Turkey opened its consulate in Harar.
Turkish officials say the two countries are working in many sectors including education, health and security.
Turkey has been training the Ethiopian Federal Police and several Ethiopian police officers are taking  training in Turkey.



LG Hope College to open in November



LG electronics announced that, LG Hope Technical and Vocational Education and Training College will begin operation in November this year.
Home and office equipment servicing, electronic communication and multimedia equipment servicing, and information communication technology are the subjects the colleges will give to its students. The college will also be supported by the Korean International Cooperation Agency and World Together NGO.
The three departments will have 25 trainers each and it will take three years to accomplish the training. Ten percent of the quota will be given to the Korean War Veteran decedents and low income groups for free of charge.
Executive VP of LG Kim Young said that the opening of the college will help the country by providing well trained personnel for the industry.
He also added, “the plan is to make the college one of the best academic and training centers of technology transfer and innovation.’’
The 12,000 sqm school is be located around the area commonly known as Summit and is expected to be completed in September.
In related news LG signed an MOU with the Foundation for Global Compact to strengthen its commitment to development challenges such as poverty, environmental degradation, and peace.
Kim said at the signing ceremony that “LG is committed to sharing its corporate social responsibility experience with the international community, and  encouraging other businesses to enhance their commitment to the UN Global Compact to tackle challenges to development through sustainable action.
LG is a global business enterprise with a 67 year history. It has played a significant role in the inception and development of Korea’s chemical and electronic industries. It has 200 offices around the world with 213,000 employees.



GERD coordination office to launch SMS lottery game


Office of the National Council for the Coordination of Public Participation on the Construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam said it will begin SMS lottery game soon to raise funds for the construction of the dam.
According to the office the lottery game is prepared for every Ethiopian to easily contribute to the dam.
Winners will be awarded a house, a car and other materials.
The car to be given for the winner has been provided by Nyala Motors, an exclusive distributor of motor vehicles and equipment.



eLearning comes as game changer for Africa’s education


Challenging the norms in East Africa, many young women are tapping into their entrepreneurial potential. From developing apps and software, to founding non-profit organisations, women in East Africa are attracting African and global attention for  successfully changing patriarchal societies.
Women in East Africa are often the key home care providers, juggling working, maintaining the family home, cooking and importantly, helping their kids to learn. Whether doing their best to ensure their children have access to education, or actually taking on the role of teacher themselves, there is no doubt that women are playing a central role in raising eastern Africa’s young people. Reach out to the Wives of the Soldiers (ROWOSA) is a project by women, for women. The Uganda-based organization assists wives of soldiers who lack employable skills and opportunities to earn a sustainable income, thereby securing their financial independence. Through technology-supported programmes, these women can learn a variety of skills including sewing, computer science, baking and farming. With lifelong skills, these women can not only ensure the effective financing of a household with a double income, but also pass the skills onto their own children, improving their future prospects.
From startup accelerator Nailab in Kenya, mobile communications enterprise Text to Change in Uganda and then north to elearning centre Camara Ethiopia, East Africa has a plethora of innovative operations opening up and changing lives in communities.
“The initial idea for the e-learning events was sparked in 2004 when I heard about optical fiber cables being laid in Ethiopia,” says Rebecca Stromeyer, founder and CEO of Integrated Communications Worldwide Events, which runs the annual elearning Africa conference.
The eLearning Africa Report 2014, launched this week by Edward Ssekandi, Vice President of the Republic of Uganda, claims that eLearning opens window on Africa’s education future.
“The mood of optimism among Africans is unmistakable,”says the Report. “Our survey… confirms that African eLearning professionals are feeling confident about the future. This is more good news for the continent because the combination of education and technology is clearly a powerful driver for growth.”
The report repeats the late Nelson Mandela’s view that “education is the key to everything”. It emphasises, however, that the prospects for African education will depend increasingly on good communications and connectivity.
“If education is the key to everything, the key to the education of the future is infrastructure”.



PM inaugurates two roads



Butajira-Gubre asphalt concrete road built with an investment of 800 million birr and Alaba-Alemgebeya-Welbareg that cost the government 712.7 million birr were both inaugurated by Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn. Construction of the Butajira-Gubre road was done by cutting through the 1,300 metre high Zebider mountain ranges by a local company Sunshine Construction indicated that local contractors’ capacity is growing, said the premier during the inaugural ceremony.
Ethiopian Transport Minister, Workineh Gebeyehu also appreciated the efforts of local contractors in saving the nation’s foreign exchange by winning more similar contracts these days.
The road shortens the former Butajira-Addis Ababa-Wolkitie 250 km distance to 82 km. Previously it was compulsory to cover a distance of 250km through Addis Ababa and Alemgena to travel from the eastern town of Butajira in Gurage Zone to reach the zone’s capital, Wolkitie.
Sunshine Construction Company General Manager, Samuel Taffese urged the government to continue encouraging and supporting local contractors.  The 82 km Butajira-Gubre asphalt concrete road is expected to make the economic and social contact of formerly isolated east and west Gurage communities easier.



Access to Potable Water, Sanitation Improving in Ethiopia


The Ethiopian Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy announced that access to clean drinking water and sanitation is being improved through the concerted efforts exerted over the past years.

The activities helped the government to raise clean water and sanitation coverage to 68.5 percent and 67 percent respectively. Over the past five years, the country has been working for the improvement of access to drinking water and sanitation in rural and urban areas. Hygiene Coordinator with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health, Dagnew Tadesse said that more than 39,000 health extension workers deployed across the country are working to increase knowledge of households in handling liquid and solid waste.

Access to potable water, Sanitation improving in Ethiopia The Ethiopian Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy announced that access to clean drinking water and sanitation is being improved through the concerted efforts exerted over the past years.

The activities helped the government to raise clean water and sanitation coverage to 68.5 percent and 67 percent respectively. Over the past five years, the country has been working for the improvement of access to drinking water and sanitation in rural and urban areas. Hygiene Coordinator with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health, Dagnew Tadesse said that more than 39,000 health extension workers deployed across the country are working to increase knowledge of households in handling liquid and solid waste.



Vitamin-A Boosting ‘Special Banana’ To Undergo Human Trials In America.



VENTURES AFRICA – Australian-grown genetically modified bananas, targeted at combating Vitamin-A deficiency among children in East Africa, is set to undergo its first human trials in the United States.

The banana, which has been modified to have high alpha and beta-carotene that converts to Vitamin-A in the body, will help prevent thousands of East African children from premature death and early blindness as a result of Vitamin-A deficiency.

According to reports on the project, the genetically-modified banana portrays a darker orange colour than the regular cream colour bananas are known to have.

The project, led by Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Professor James Dale, was supported by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with $10 million.

Dale explained that although bananas grown in the highlands and East Africa usually posses largely reserves of Vitamin-A, this farm produce had low levels of micro-nutrients, particularly pro-vitamin A and iron.

Ugandan researcher Stephen Buah, one of the five Ugandan PhD students who has been working with other researchers at QUT says about 30 percent of children under the ages of 5 suffer from Vitamin-A deficiency.

“We’re aiming to increase the level of pro-vitamin A to a minimum level of 20 micrograms per gram dry weight,” Dale said.

If the experiment works out, there is a plan to start growing this special variety of banana in Uganda by the year 2020.

Farmers would start growing this special crop once constituted authorities stamp an approval for commercial cultivation. When field trials are in place, the same process could be applied to crops in other East African nations.

Researchers hope to get conclusive result on the project by the end of this year.



U-Turn Over Transport Companies’ Privatisation Ban


The deals will now be processed on the condition that priority is given to public projects


The Ministry of Finance & Economic Development (MoFED), last week, reversed its ban on the transfer of two state owned transport companies to private companies. The decision came on the condition that the new owners will give priority to public projects.

The ban came in response to the demand from the Ministry of Transport (MoT) to retain Bekelcha Transport S.C and Weyra Transport S.C under state ownership, in order to use their trucks for the transportation of imported equipment for ongoing government projects, including housing projects, according to Wondafrash Assefa, public relations head of the Privatisation & State Enterprises Supervising Agency (PPESA).

“Following the call from the MoFED to cancel the sale of the companies, the Agency wrote a letter requesting that the Ministry allow the transfer of the companies since the decision is not good for the image of the Agency,” said Wondafrash. “We invested in the auction of the companies; it would be a loss for the Agency.”

It was in response to this request that the MoFED agreed to lift the ban. The Agency’s legal department is now working to include the precondition in the deal. It will require them to give priority to transport cargo for ongoing state projects, Wondafrash said.

Tikur Abay Transport S.C, an affilate TIRET, had a successful offer of 325.9 million Br for the acquisition of Bekelcha, which the PPESA’s board approved on March 29, 2014. The approval for the acquisition of Weyra Transport by Trans Ethiopia Plc, an affilate of EFFORT, for 268 million Br was pending at the board when the process was halted by the MoFED.

“Tikur Abay paid 35pc down payment for the company some days before the MoFED cancelled the ban, while the reminder has just been sent to Trans after the ban was lifted,” said Wondafrash.

Both transfers could take place before the end of the fiscal year on July 7, 2014, according to Wondafrash.

There was no offer for two other state owned transport companies, Comet and Shebelle, both of which were offered for sale in the last round of tender for 2012/13.

In an unsuccessful privatisation year, the PPESA only managed to attract successful offers for five enterprises, including Weyra and Bekelcha, although its intention was to sell 20.

The PPESA is planning to make up for that through the aggressive promotion of the enterprises as a strategy.

A villa in the Bole District, owned by Batu Construction S.C, was also approved by the Agency to be sold to Abate Kone (MD), who offered 11.8 million Br. The Agency has also approved the transfer of Hamaressa Edible Oil S.C and Ethiopian Pharmaceutical Manufacturing S.C to buyers who have already made the down payment, although after a small delay,  Wondafrash said.

The Agency has another round of tender now in process, the fifth for the year, involving seven companies, five of which have previously failed to attract any buyers. Bilito Siraro Farm and the warehouse of the Ethiopia Fibre Products Enterprise are up for sale for the first time. The other five – the Ethiopian Mineral Development S.C, Bahir Dar Textile S.C, Kombolcha Textile S.C, Agricultural Mechanization Service Enterprise and Transport Construction Design S.C – are being offered for the fifth time within the same year. Financial opening will take place early in the next fiscal year, on July 23, 2014.



 Keeping Agricultural Revolution Mobile




Why is it easier for farmers to get mobile phones in some of Africa’s most remote areas than high-quality seeds or technical advice?

As the founder of a global telecoms company based in Africa, I know that setting up a business can be hard work. But the right combination of incentives, investment and regulation can unleash a revolution.

Today, there are more than half a billion mobile connections in Africa. In many respects, we lead the world in mobile growth and innovation.

But why haven’t we been able to do the same in agriculture? Why does Africa have a bumper annual food import bill of 35 billion dollars, instead of a bumper harvest?

A large part of the answers to these questions lies in removing the odds stacked against our farmers.

Africa’s farmers are entrepreneurs, just like their counterparts in the telecoms industry. Yet, they face even greater obstacles in getting their goods to market. This is particularly true of our smallholder farmers, most of them women.

The typical farmer cultivates a plot the size of a football field or two. She farms without the benefit of high-quality seeds, fertiliser, irrigation or access to credit. She often tills her land with little or no machinery, because her earnings are too low to make any investments.

Climate change means her crops are increasingly likely to fail. If she produces maize, her yields are set to reduce by a quarter.

Instead of helping our farmers overcome such obstacles, we have put more in their way, including excessive taxation, insufficient investment and coercive policies. The challenges facing African agriculture are great, but they can be overcome.

A new set of opportunities has made the possibility of achieving an African green revolution greater than ever before.

Soaring demand for food, especially in Africa’s rapidly growing cities, has attracted high levels of private investment in agriculture. Private sector players, which were previously absent, have now joined initiatives like Grow Africa, where over 100 local, regional and international companies work in partnership with governments to achieve growth targets.

Over the past two years, these companies have committed more than 7.2 billion dollars into farming investments. We are already witnessing an agricultural renaissance in many parts of Africa. And agriculture has the potential to reduce poverty twice as fast as any other sector.

When countries invest in agriculture, they generate rural growth. This helps create jobs. It reduces poverty and hunger.

But today’s farming gains remain fragile. African governments must recommit to their Maputo pledge of investing 10pc of their budgets in agriculture and rural development. They must give farmers roads, energy supplies, storage facilities and supportive policies, which rural areas need to thrive.

We need alliances in which the private sector, farmers’ organisations and civil society all work together for agricultural development. The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), one such mechanism, supplies high-quality seeds to millions of smallholder farmers.

Besides learning from the spread of mobile technology in Africa, we must tap into it directly; mobile phones could revolutionise our agriculture. Some African farmers already get valuable information, such as market prices, e-vouchers and credit, through mobile services. Many of these innovative practices are more advanced and available to African smallholders than to their American or European counterparts.

This year has been designated the Year of African Agriculture. Let us make it a turning point for Africa’s agricultural entrepreneurs.

Our farmers could double their productivity within five years. Let us give them a real chance – as we did to our mobile entrepreneurs – to catalyse a uniquely African green revolution that ushers in an era of shared prosperity.

Strive Masiyiwa Is a Member of the Africa Progress Panel (APP) and Founder and Chairman of Econet Wireless. He Is Also the Co-Chair of Grow Africa and Chairman of the Board of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (agra).








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