18 Sept 2014 News Round-Up


Ethiopian delegation in Toronto meets founder of Legendary MegaCorp

The Ethiopian delegation met with Hector Reyes, Founder of Legendary MegaCorp on Tuesday (September 16) in Toronto, on the sidelines of Canada-Africa Business Summit and Ethio-Canada Business and Investment Forum.

The Legendary MegaCorp, based in the United States, is a global development firm focusing on the financing, design, building and operation of medium to large-scale infrastructure and development projects in public and private sectors.

Discussion focused on identifying possible areas of business and investment cooperation on the basis of mutual benefit.

Reyes said his company was willing to engage in Ethiopia’s investment and business areas, including education, health, hotel, infrastructure, housing, power and energy, bio-refinery, and the service sector.

The Ethiopian delegation welcomed the company’s readiness to invest in Ethiopia, and promised to provide support.

The meeting was attended by Alemayehu Tegenu, Minister of Water, Irrigation, and Energy; Fitsum Arega, Director General of the Ethiopian Investment Agency; Ambassador Taye Atske-Selassie, Director-General of American Affairs in Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry; the Ambassador of Canada to Ethiopia and Djibouti, Ambassador David Usher; and the Ambassador of Ethiopia to Canada, Ambassador Birtukan Ayano.



Ethiopia, Russia keen to build economic ties



Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn held talks on Wednesday with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov.

On the occasion, Prime Minister Hailemariam expressed Ethiopia’s keen interest to build closer economic and investment ties with Russia.

This, he said, would further consolidate the age-old historical and diplomatic relations between the two sisterly nations.

Foreign Minister Lavrov also conveyed Russia’s desire to forge economic cooperation with Ethiopia.

He commended Ethiopia’s positive role in continental and regional affairs.

Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom told reporters after the meeting that Prime Minister Hailemariam and Foreign Minister Lavrov had fruitful discussions.

He said the discussions would help strengthen bilateral relations.

The two countries have agreed to connect Addis Ababa and Moscow with direct flights, Dr. Tedros said.



and from the Russian MFA….


official site

Comment by the MFA Information and Press Department on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Ethiopia


On 17 September Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will pay a working visit to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. He will hold talks with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and his Ethiopian counterpart Tedros Adhanom in Addis Ababa.

The sides will pay special attention to discussing the development of mutually beneficial and multifaceted relations between Russia and Ethiopia, our long-time partner in Africa. Among the issues to be discussed is also trade, economic and investment cooperation, in particular, the implementation of major joint projects on energy, hydrocarbon production, agriculture and transport infrastructure in Ethiopia, and assistance in the training of Ethiopian personnel. The sides will also review further steps on improving the bilateral contractual and legal foundation.

They will also focus on key international issues, the situation in different African regions and the prevention and resolution of crises.

In Addis Ababa, Mr Lavrov will also meet with Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. They will discuss ways of promoting cooperation between Russia and the Union, in particular, on urgent international and regional issues. The sides will exchange views on the situation in Africa’s hot spots, primarily Mali, the Saharan-Sahel region, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the African Great Lakes, and Somalia.

The sides will sign a memorandum of mutual understanding on the mechanism of political consultations between the Russian Foreign Ministry and the African Union Commission. They will also concentrate on discussing prospects of Russian-African trade and economic cooperation, with an emphasis on creating favourable conditions for investment activities of Russian companies.




Al Ghurair Group to set up aluminum factory


Al Ghurair Group to set up aluminum factory


Al Ghurair Group, UAE-based business group is going to set up an aluminum factory with 50 million USD jointly with Tracon Trading, a local company.

After discussing with President Dr. Mulatu Teshome, owner of the Group, Majid Saif Al Ghurair told reporters that preparation has finalized and operation will commence in the near future.

Previously, the Group has been supplying aluminum to Ethiopia jointly with Tracon Trading, he said.

The government has decided to provide 25,000 hectares land, of the total 60,000 hectares land needed for the project for the time being, he said.

The factory would help to satisfy the local demand for aluminum and export to Eastern African countries, according to Elias Nur Tracon Trading Deputy Manager.

The factory is expected to commence operation within a year, Elias said.

President Dr. Mulatu Teshome affirmed that the government will provide support for speedy operationalization of the factory, according to a high level official who attended the meeting.

He expressed his expectation that the knowledge and expertise of the Group will help to improve human resource in Ethiopia and enter global market.


 New information service revolutionizes agricultural extension in Ethiopia



A new information hotline is giving smallholder farmers across Ethiopia access to best practice agronomic advice revolutionizing traditional agricultural extension.

In collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), and Ethio Telecom, the 8028 hotline was created by the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), who placed the extension information typically provided to agricultural Development Agents directly on a technology platform that can be accessed by anyone at any time.

Twelve weeks after its launch in the Oromia, Amhara, Tigray and SNNP regions, the hotline has received nearly 1.5 million calls from 300,000 farmers.

The Interactive Voice Response (IVR)/Short Message Service (SMS) system currently provides smallholder farmers free access to information on cereal, horticulture, and pulse/oil seed crops, as well as a wide range of agriculture-related activities.

Currently 90 service lines connect smallholder farmers to automated and voice-recorded information on pre-planting, planting, crop protection, post-harvest, fertilizer application, processing, irrigation and weather content.

A push-based voice and SMS alert system also notifies extension workers and smallholder farmers of any pertinent agriculture issues.

Khalid Bomba, Chief Executive Officer, ATA, attributed the success of 8028 to the unique two-way functionality of the service, “Farmers can “pull” practical, real-time advice available in their regional language by calling 8028 as often as they like.

At the same time the hotline administrator can “push” customized content (such as in cases of drought, pest and disease) to callers based on crop, geographic or demographic data captured when farmers first register to use the system. For example, there is currently a concern about the possibility of wheat rust in certain parts of Ethiopia. With this IVR system,

we have been able to send voice recorded messages to all wheat farmers registered on the system about strategies that they can use to minimize the impact of wheat rust on their crops.”

“The mandate of the ATA is to support the implementation of targeted interventions that will have an immediate impact on the agriculture sector. With over 35,000 calls made daily to 8028, this initiative is one of several interventions in the Agricultural Transformation Agenda that is having a quantifiable impact in assisting smallholder farmers every day,” said Ato Khalid.

Tefera Derbew, Ethiopian Minister of Agriculture, is delighted with the popularity of the hotline, “Many smallholder farmers are benefiting significantly from this new service which gives them information they would otherwise have only got through extension workers, whom they may only meet with periodically. With this system farmers can access the information they need at their convenience and as often as necessary.”

“The IVR system offers users information relevant to the key cereals and high value crops, but I envisage that in the near future there will be the opportunity to upscale the service to include content relevant to all of the major agricultural commodities in the country, including livestock,” he said.
Andualem Admassie, Chief Executive Officer, Ethio Telecom, remarked that development of the hotline presented a unique opportunity for three distinguished organizations to work collaboratively for the benefit of Ethiopia. “This is a landmark initiative and one that has tangible benefits for farmers and their communities. Ethio Telecom is proud to be part of this project and assist where there is a real need in our country,” said Andualem.

Additional support from the ATA’s development partners, The Royal Netherlands Embassy, and the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) Canada, was critical to the success of the project.

“The 8028 information service is the first initiative of its kind in Ethiopia,” stated Lidi Remmelzwaal, The Netherlands’ Ambassador to Ethiopia. “That it received 1,000,000 calls during two months of operation is indicative of the project’s impact potential on the country’s agriculture community in the months to come.”

David Usher, Canadian Ambassador to Ethiopia added, “The content made available through this project is vital in assisting Ethiopia’s farmers to maximize productivity, improve income earning potential and transform livelihoods.”

The ATA is currently working with the Ministry of Agriculture, Ethio Telecom and other partners to scale up the initiative. Plans are underway for the deployment of a further 30 service lines and expansion of the hotline content to cover all aspects of agricultural information pertinent to Ethiopia’s smallholder famers.



Tired soils put future food availability at risk



The increasing degradation of earth’s peak soil through over cultivation and nutrient mining is putting pressure on food production with researchers warning that by 2050 agricultural production will dip by up to 30 percent even as population is expected to hit 9.6 billion, up from 7.2 billion last year.

This is already becoming evident in Sub Saharan Africa where soil degradation has hit unprecedented highs.
In East Africa, One of the most comprehensive studies on soils ever undertaken has confirmed that farming practices have leeched the soil of nutrients without replenishing them, to such a degree as to be halving many key crop yields, threatening the income and food security of over 85 per cent of East Africans.

Measuring the organic and mineral content of the soils, the researchers found that the levels of important soil minerals that sustain plant growth were low, and that the little fertility left was mainly from topsoil organic matter.
The researchers said the problem was made more severe in that East Africa has one of the lowest rates of fertilizer use in the world and a rapidly increasing population to feed.

The barren soils are the result of years of farming with insufficient replacement of nutrients by small-holders, mostly practising low-input agriculture. But the results now threaten future farming and the food and income of millions of people in the region.

“We know far more about the amount of oil there is globally and how long those stocks will last than we know about how much soil there is,” said John Crawford, Director of the Sustainable Systems Programme in Rothamsted Research in England in an earlier interview.

Demand for food and natural resources has led to aggressive soil mining and aggressive cultivation with overgrazing, and deforestation stripping the top soil of vital nutrients and beneficial organisms while reducing the soil’s ability to hold water.

According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 25 percent of agricultural land is highly degraded, while a further 8 percent is moderately degraded.

“If we keep treating our soil the way we do, we will have to convert about 70 percent of the earth’s surface into agriculture to meet demand for food by 2050 (from about 40 percent now),” Crawford said.
Emerging nations are also embracing Western diets that include more consumption of meat, which will add further to the strain on agricultural resources.

Food security became a hot topic after record high grain prices in 2008 marked the start of a period of volatility.
Agricultural markets are still unstable, after near-record prices in 2012 prompted increased production, which led to surplus.



WB to assist Ethiopia’s industrial development


WB to assist Ethiopia’s industrial development


World Bank will further continue to extend assistance to Ethiopia’s efforts in industrial development, the Managing Director, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, said.

After visiting the Bole Lemi industry zone, the Director said WB will continue to extend assistance in particular to the industrial development efforts of the country.

World Bank is preparing to support the second industry zone to be built at the Bole Lemi site.

The Director said the industry zones Ethiopia has built over the past years demonstrate the fact that the country is in the right development track.

She lauded the country’s efforts to transform the country’s agriculture-led economy into industry-led development.

Industry Minister Ahmed Abitew explained that the country recognizes the benefit for industries to be in the same area.

Factories being built at the industry zone are going to be finalized soon, he added.



VECOD launches second phase civil society project



Vision Ethiopia Congress For Democracy (VECOD), local charity organization, launched the second phase civil society project in three states and Addis Ababa City Administration aimed at creating open-eyed society and consolidating democracy through constructive discourse and civic engagement.

The project is a joint venture Ethiopia-European Civil Society Fund II here in the capital.

VECOD Executive Director Tadele Derseh said: “Ethiopia has abundant resource and human power which require effective and wise mobilization in democratic manner for the good of the nation. In this regard, the organization is jointly working with various governmental institutions and development partners to support the realization of the national development objectives.”

Project Director Bezawit Wondesen on her part said the project is expected to raise citizens active participation in the democratization process and sustaining the rapid economic growth afoot. It would also contribute to raise awareness on civic education, democracy, human rights, good governance and the nation’s Constitution.

Ethiopian Human Rights Commission Human Rights Protection & Monitoring Directorate Director Mitiku Mekonnen also said: “As the government is committed to elevate the civic society participation at large, citizens across the nation are expected to exercise their rights using the project as an opportunity.”

Ethiopia-European Civil Society Fund II Project Grant Officer Frew Behabtu said: “We need the project be realized in the respective states to promote human rights, democracy, good governance and civic education meaningfully.”

Amhara, Gambella, Benshangul Gumuz,Addis Ababa are where the project will be effected in three woredas in each state and the city administration.

Coordinators from each state assured VECOD that they would work vigorously with community leaders at grassroots level for the good of the citizens. The project would be active for 18 -22 months.



Ethiopia exporting 170 MW power to neighboring countries



The Ethiopian Electric Service (EES), a company leading the service delivery, said the nation is currently exporting 170 megawatts (MW) hydro-power to neighboring countries.

Sudan, Djibouti and Kenya are the three countries being provided with 100MW, 60MW and 10MW of electricity respectively, EES Executive Officer, Biteweded Gebrealif, told WIC.

Ethiopia’s current cumulative power generation capacity stands at 2, 370 megawatts, which according to the Officer is enough to meet the national demand.

The power disconnection that occurs in the country is not because of power shortage but it is due to problems in the installation of power carrying grids, he said.

The power is being exported at night, a time with no peak power requirements, and on the basis of a program designed not to jeopardize local consumption, he indicated.

In addition to generating foreign currency, the power export would further cement Ethiopia’s economic ties with neighboring countries, according to Biteweded.

Ethiopia began export of energy to Djibouti in May 2011 and Sudan in November 2012.

Ethiopia has the capacity to generate 45,000 MW from hydro, 10,000 MW from Wind and 5000 from geothermal.



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