03 March 2015 News Briefs


Amhara distributing 300 mln qtls of fertilizer for 2007/8 harvest season


Addis Ababa, 3 March 2015 –

The Amhara Regional State Agriculture Bureau said it is distributing 300 million quintals of fertilizer for the 2007/8 harvest season.

Bureau Crop Development and Technology Promotion Business Process Owner, Dr. Shimelash Yeshaneh, told WIC today that the fertilizers being distributed to farmers are urea and sulfur-coated urea.

Some 1.5 million of the total number of quintals of fertilizer are urea, he pointed out.

According to Dr. Shimelash, DAP fertilizer will be fully replaced by sulfur-coated urea and won’t be utilized this harvest season as it was proved less productive.

Wide-ranging activities are underway to develop various crops on more than 4 million hectares of land in the 2007/08 EC harvest season, Dr. Shimelash indicated.

More than 3.6 million farmers are expected to participate in the development activities, he said.



Dr. Tedros meets Prince Fahad Bin Mugrin Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia


Addis Ababa –

Dr. Tedros held discussions with a delegation led by Prince Fahad Bin Mugrin Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia and owner of Recon International Africa Company.

The delegation included Emrullah Turanli, Chair of Tasyapai, Turkish giant in construction and infrastructure development.

Prince Fahad on the occasion noted Recon International Africa and its partner Tasyapai’s interest to invest in Ethiopia in infrastructure development particularly in rail way, airports and road construction.

In addition, the two partnering companies are interested in hydroelectric power generation, hospitality sectors.

Dr. Tedros in his remark noted the historical and unique relations between Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia and emphasized the need to further strengthen it through trade and investment.

Dr. Tedros said “despite an increase in Saudi investment it is not as one would expect it to be given the historic bilateral relation and geographical proximity between the two countries.” He added that Ethiopia’s fast growing economy and its around 90 million population combined with countries of the region provides huge market opportunity for investments in Ethiopia.

He said Ethiopia is making huge investment in railway; road and power generation because of its firm belief that developed infrastructure would make the economy more competitive.

He underlined that the sectors chosen by the two companies are key areas of development stressing that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other relevant offices would avail support to bring the projects to a successful end.

Dr. Tedros highlighted that despite an increase in Saudi investment it is not as one would expect to be given the historic relationship and geographical proximity between the two companies.

Recon International Africa is currently making huge investment in Djibouti, South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya and Uganda in construction of roads and building of houses.

The delegation is undertaking discussion with Ministry of Transport on ways to engage in the construction of the new airport in Mojo, Oromia Regional State.



Manufacturing: Ethiopian unit of Dutch brewer Bavaria to start sales


By Aaron Maasho in Addis Ababa
File Photo©ReutersEthiopian greenfield brewer Habesha, majority-owned by Dutch brewer Bavaria NV, said it plans to start selling beer in the second quarter of this year to tap rising domestic demand that has attracted global brands.


Bavaria NV is the latest beer maker lured by Ethiopia’s expanding middle class over the last five years and will compete with breweries owned by Heineken and Diageo.

We expect to start selling beer in the second quarter of 2015

The world’s leading brewers have turned their focus on emerging markets such as Africa as consumer demand in Europe has stagnated and the United States offers limited expansion opportunities.

“We expect to start selling beer in the second quarter of 2015. Say two or three months from now,” Thijs Kleijwegt, Habesha Breweries finance director, told the Reuters Africa Investment Summit.

Ethiopia’s average annual beer consumption of less than five litres per capita is about half the average for sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa, offering scope for expansion among the population of 94 million, more than 60 percent of whom are Christian.

Bavaria NV bought a stake in Habesha Breweries in 2012, and has since increased its holding to 60 percent.

Habesha’s plant in Debre Birhan, around 120 kilometres (72 miles) north of Addis Ababa, will have a capacity to produce 350,000 hectolitres once it is completed, although production will start before then.

Heineken’s $130 million brewery near Addis Ababa is the largest in Ethiopia with a capacity of 1.5 million hectolitres.

The Dutch firm also owns the Bedele and Harar breweries it purchased from the state for a combined $163 million in 2011.

Diageo acquired Meta Abo Brewing in 2012 for $225 million, while Ethiopia’s BGI considered the market leader in the country “was bought by French drinks company Castel in 1990.

“It is an interesting beer market,” Habesha Breweries’ Kleijwegt told Reuters. “I think the potential in Ethiopia is huge.”



Government hints diminishing interest in beverage industry


The expansion project was carried out at an outlay of USD 119 million

The expansion project was carried out at an outlay of USD 119 million


CEO of Diageo Global delighted over investment in Ethiopia

Following the coming of giant international breweries to the country, the beverage industry in Ethiopia has been showing growth in the past couple of years which in turn is attracting international business figures like Ivan Menezes, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Diageo Global, seen here schmoozing  –  http://www.thereporterethiopia.com/index.php/news-headlines/item/3225-master-brewer-mingling-with-locals  – who were in town this week to oversee his subsidiary in Ethiopia. However, this fast-paced expansion exhibited in this industry might no longer be the case in the foreseeable future.

Asked by The Reporter about the current situation in the beverage sector, Minister for Communication and Information Technology and Coordinator of the Finance and Economic Cluster with the rank of Deputy Prime Minister, Debretsion Gebremichael (PhD), hinted that his government may no longer continue incentivizing the industry the way it has been doing in the past few years due to the belief that local consumption should be discouraged to maintain a healthy society.

However, acclaiming the linkages the beverage sector has brought about between the manufacturing and agriculture sectors, the Deputy PM echoed his government’s stance about discouraging alcohol dosages; rather saying export is more preferred. Yet, the growing beer business in Ethiopia has been acclaimed for creating more new jobs and sustainable markets for smallholder farmers. Diageo alone has a contractual agreement with six thousand smallholder farmers to supply barely to the brewery.

While attending the inaugural ceremony of Diageo’s expansion project in Sebeta town of the Oromia Regional State, some 23km to the west of the capital, the Deputy PM said that he conferred with Diageo’s Ivan Menezes that they need to redirect their focus on the export side. He further noted that the government is prepared to push players in the industry to do the same.

In their VIP talks, Menezes and aides requested the government “not to penalize Diageo” that according to Debretsion translated into asking the government not to withdraw incentives dreading the fall of the expanding beer sector. Debretsion comforted Menezes saying that it’s too early to do so, yet he reiterated that the government has an intention to shift the benefits breweries are enjoying currently towards prioritized industries such as textile, leather and the like.

In a related news, Menezes said that Diageo has spent a total of USD 344 million in the past three years. Back in 2012, the multinational alcoholic beverages company, acquired the then state-owned Meta Abo Brewery for USD 225 million. Later on, Diageo embarked up on additional USD 119 million expansion program to triple the plant’s capacity of bottling 1.7 million hectoliter per year. Three years back, the production capacity was somewhere around 500 thousand hectoliters.

Asked about Meta’s biggest fear, Francis Agbonlahor, CEO of Diageo Ethiopia, said that his company has nothing to fear in its future activities. “I have no fear; not at all. The per capita consumption in Ethiopia is less than five liters. But, its 28 in Kenya, 50 or so in South Africa and in above 30 in Nigeria. Hence, beer consumption in Ethiopia is way below the average in Sub Saharan Africa,” Agbonlahor said.

Though Debretsion says that Diageo and the like rarely export their products, Agbonlahor argues that currently Diageo’s products are making ways to the US, Israel, Germany, France and South Sudanese markets; Meta Abo is set to sign a contract with UK’s distributor for a new brands destined for the UK market.

The total beer production volume tends to be at some six million hectoliters per year exceeding the government’s target way ahead of the schedule set in the five year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP). There are some seven breweries operating and two others in the pipeline.



First test shows Kenya’s huge water find too salty to drink – TRFN


By Katy Migiro and Chris Arsenault

lotikipiNAIROBI/ROME, Feb 27 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) –

Tests on a vast aquifer found in Kenya’s drought-wracked Turkana region show the water is too salty to drink, a government official said on Friday.

The 2013 discovery of underground lakes the size of the U.S. state of Delaware, according to satellite imagery, was hailed as a chance for the arid northern region to finally feed its people.

At the time of the discovery, Kenya’s water minister said the “newly found wealth of water opens the door to a more prosperous future for the people of Turkana and the nation as a whole”.

But the first test results from Lotikipi, the largest aquifer which is close to Kenya’s border with South Sudan, have been disappointing.

“The water is not fit for human consumption,” said Japheth Mutai, chief executive officer of the government-owned Rift Valley Water Services Board, which is responsible for providing water in the region.

The underground water would have to be desalinated — an expensive and energy intensive process — before it could be used for human consumption, livestock or irrigation, Mutai said.

The test well, drilled 350 metres underground, showed salt levels seven times higher than the safe limit allowed by the World Health Organization (WHO), he said.

“The numbers don’t look good,” Mutai told Thomson Reuters Foundation on Friday. “It is causing a lot of anxiety.”

More than a third of Kenya’s 41 million people have no access to clean water.

The country’s north is particularly poor as droughts regularly decimate livestock which traditional nomadic herders depend on for survival.

Currently one in four people in Turkana — 135,500 people –require food assistance due to repeated poor rains and conflict, the World Food Programme’s spokeswoman Challiss McDonough said. Malnutrition rates are above the emergency level of 15 percent.

A stable water supply from the 250 billion cubic metres of water thought to be in Turkana’s underground lakes could help mitigate these recurring hunger crises.

The government is “still holding out hope” that other wells in Lotikipi will find cleaner water, Mutai said, and more drilling is underway.

The U.N.’s scientific and cultural agency, UNESCO, which backed the initial satellite imaging that led to the discovery of the water, is seeking funds for a national groundwater mapping programme.

“What we did is only a small part in Turkana and the government would like to expand the mapping for the whole country,” said Abou Amani UNESCO’s regional hydrologist.



Companies eye oil shale in Ethiopia


oilForeign oil and gas companies have expressed their keen interest to tap into oil shale deposits in Ethiopia, it was learnt. 

Reliable sources told The Reporter that two foreign companies recently approached the Ethiopian Ministry of Mines and are holding discussions to acquire oil shale exploration concessions in south western part of Ethiopia. The sources declined to reveal the names of the companies saying that the negotiations are at an early stage.

Oil shale also known as kerogen shale is an organic-rich fine grained sedimentary rock containing kerogen (a solid mixture of organic chemical compounds) from which liquid hydro carbons called shale oil can be produced.

Ethiopia has a huge reserve of oil shale in different localities. Delbi Moye, Illubabur zone in the Oromia Regional State is one of the localities known for rich oil shale deposit. According to the Ministry of Mines, the oil shale reserve in the south western part of the country is estimated at one billion tons.

Some years back oil shale production was not considered as a viable solution for the oil thirsty world as the price of fuel was low and the oil shale production technology was expensive. However, while the price of oil sky-rocketed and was hovering around 115 dollars a barrel, companies came up with a new oil shale production technology called “fracking” which is cost effective.

Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) is a well stimulation technique in which rock is fractured by a hydraulically pressurized liquid made of water, sand and chemicals to release oil from the rocks.

In the past four years American companies have been producing increasing amount of oil shale and this plumped the price of oil in the global oil market. Drilling shale oil wells is cheaper and takes less time. It takes at least two month and 50 million dollars to drill a regular oil well while it takes only a week and 1.5 million dollars to drill an oil shale well. In a recent mining conference held in Addis Ababa Kestela Tadesse (PhD), petroleum licensing and administration director with the Ministry of Mines, said that North American and European countries are producing gas and oil from oil shale by applying modern technology. “There is no reason why Ethiopia can’t produce petroleum products from the oil shale,” Ketsela said.



Ethiopian health minister: We will discuss EU support, but we take no prescriptions


Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu [Georgi Gotev]

Ethiopia is the champion of country ownership in development. A program designed in Brussels may not necessarily fit into the local context in Africa. This is why Ethiopia doesn’t accept prescriptions from its development partners, Ethiopian health minister Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu told EurActiv in an exclusive interview.

Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu has been Minister of Health of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia since 2012. He has many years of work in Ethiopia’s health sector under his belt, has overseen its reform, and has led the implementation of the country’s flagship program, the health extension program.

He spoke to EurActiv’s Senior Editor, Georgi Gotev.

Can you describe Ethiopia and its main challenges in the field of healthcare?

Ethiopia is one of the oldest countries in the world. We have a population of 90 million people, which makes my country the second most populous in Africa, after Nigeria. Ethiopia is also one of the fastest growing economies in the world. It has recorded double digit growth over the last ten or so years, and now it is the fourth largest economy in Africa.

When it comes to health, our system is organised in three tiers. At the base of the pyramid we have what we call a primary health system. It is comprised of one health centre and five satellite health posts, for a population of 25.000 people. Over the last ten years, we have massively expanded the access to primary health care. We constructed around 16,000 health posts and 3,500 health centres.

This means that on average, 95% of Ethiopians live within 30 minutes of walking distance from a health facility.

Do Ethiopians need to pay for medical treatment?

We have two systems in place. (The first is for) those who can afford pay out of pocket, but we are trying to change this in the near future. We are testing a community-based health insurance scheme which is been piloted in close to 200 districts around the country, covering a population of around 20 million. We have a long way to go before we reach the entire population, but the preliminary results are very encouraging.

The second system is that we have a set of services that are exempted from user fees, for instance family planning, immunisation, treatment for malaria, for TB and HIV. Regardless where you live, the government provides the budget for these services, and of course development assistance through various mechanisms also helps pay for those services.

At the same time, we have a system to protect the poorest of the poor. If you are categorised as an individual living under the poverty line, you are entitled to free services at all levels of the system, and it is the local authorities who pay for the services you receive.

But we believe we need to change this and we need to bring the insurance system in place. Two years ago, our parliament passed a proclamation introducing an insurance scheme for citizens in the formal employment sector. All citizens in this sector contribute 3% of their salaries, and the employer also contributes 3%.

In Ethiopia, the biggest employer is the government. But Ethiopia is a rural country, and a majority of Ethiopians work in the informal sector. We need to cover this significant portion of the population and this is why we started this pilot program.

What challenges has the Ethiopian health system dealt with recently?

Ethiopia has done remarkably well in achieving all the health-related MDG goals. Ethiopia has reduced new HIV infections by more than 90%. At the peak of the HIV epidemic at the end of the 90s Ethiopia had really suffered from high incidence of HIV infections. But because of the concerted efforts we have made, new HIV infections have gone down.

Malaria has been a huge problem in Ethiopia, causing a lot of deaths in the past, but over the last ten years we didn’t have a single epidemic in the country.

We have also reduced TB, which has been one of the top killer diseases in Ethiopia. We have also done very well in improving child survival, in fact Ethiopia has achieved its MDG goal three years ahead of schedule and child diseases have been cut by more than two third. We have also reduced maternal mortality by 69% for the last 20 years.

All this was possible because of the innovative health service delivery model we have introduced in the country, which is considered by many as a model for Africa and the rest of the developing world.

One example: training doctors takes a lot of time, training nurses and midwives can take four or five years. The best way to avail services and have a huge return on investment is to train low-level heath workers who can provide some of the basic services such as immunisation, family planning and treatment of some common diseases.

That was why the country decided to introduces its new cadres, called the health extension workers. We have trained and deployed 38,000 health extension workers. Those are government-salaried high school graduates with one-year training in essential health skills, and they are recruited from the same communities where they go back to serve. And all of them are females. Introducing a female health extension worker in every village has helped the country improve health outcomes.

If you take, for instance, family planning, in 2000, only 6% of married women were using modern family planning services. Today, 42% are using modern family planning methods. I can give you a number of examples of achievements thanks to these health extension workers.

You mentioned innovation, and this reminded me that actually you are called Mr. Innovation.  How was it possible to achieve such results in such a short time?

In Ethiopia, there are a few things we do differently. The first one is that we are the champions of country ownership in development. Even though it is with good intentions, there are things that are designed and prescribed to poor countries like in Africa, but a program designed in Brussels or Paris or New York or London may not necessarily fit into the local context in Africa. So we don’t accept prescriptions from our development partners, regardless of whether they are well intentioned or not. We truly believe in country ownership, meaning countries designing their own strategies, coming up with their own ambitious plans.

Country ownership is translated into primarily national plans. In Ethiopia, when we develop our national plans, we engage all our development partners. We set targets and we are always told: these are too ambitious, they cannot be achieved. But we always say that if we put all our efforts in these ambitious plans, we might end up achieving those ambitious goals.

I can give you an example. In 2003, we had a huge malaria outbreak in the country. And many people died. In Ethiopia, malaria is seasonal, meaning it happens just after the rainy season, when farmers have to harvest their produce. So having a generalised epidemics costs not only the lives of people, but it also affects the economy.

In 2005 we said OK, we are going to scale up the delivery of mosquito nets to every household in the country. So the target was to distribute 20 million mosquito nets to 10 million households, two at least per house.

At the time, we had no committed money, we had no infrastructure to deliver so many mosquito nets throughout the country, but we believed that by having such a massive intervention, we would be able to significantly reduce the epidemic.

Some partners said that this is silly. But at the end of the year, we managed to distribute 18 million mosquito nets, two million short of the target, but nevertheless a massive achievement in its own right.

A similar example is when we said we will construct 3,500 health centres in the country in just five years. People were asking, “How is that possible?” After five years, we constructed 3,000 health centres, 500 short of the target, but again, it was a massive achievement.

We told our partners, the European Development fund, GAVI, the World Bank, if you help us raise capital for 1.500 health centres, we will be able to mobilise resources to match those numbers. That was how it was possible to construct this massive number of facilities in such a short time.

But what makes Ethiopia unique is that we engage communities. We organise people, particularly women, to build on the social and cultural networks we have. Three years ago, we started a new initiative called the ‘Health Development Army’. This is an army of 3 million women volunteers across the country, that is organised in small groups, to talks about their health, to talks about the health of their children and how they can rally support to improve the health of the community members.

By using this army of women, we managed to increase the uptake of critical services around the country, especially those who for historic reasons have not been well taken care of, like (being able to) give birth in health facilities. Five years ago, only 5% of women were giving birth in health facilities. Why? Because of tradition, because of culture and religious reasons, women like to give birth at home. But in rural Ethiopia, the likelihood of a woman dying from pregnancy-related complications is very high.

Despite all the efforts we made, the service didn’t really pick up. But when we introduced this Health Development Army, the innovations came from them. In Ethiopia women have coffee ceremonies during labour, have a porridge-eating ceremony after birth. Unless these things are availed in the facilities, they believe something wrong can happen to the baby and the woman. So the women from the Health Development Army said, “If you let us avail these cervices in the health centres, women will come.” And this innovation is now working.

You said “we don’t accept prescriptions”, but you work with donors. Since we’re having this conversation in Brussels, can explain what your relationship with the European Commission is?

We work with donors. Ethiopia has received unprecedented support from its development partners. When you deliver, when you demonstrate that plans you have developed, the strategies you have set in place, the policies you have designed to deliver, donors always support you. This is what we always try to demonstrate whenever we discuss with donors our track record. We deliver, we account for every support we have received, and we are also accountable to the community we are serving.

I’m here as part of the ACP health ministers’ meeting. We have deliberated the progress ACP countries have made toward the MDG goals, we have discussed the post-MDG health-related issues, what should the priorities should be, and how we can further increase our collaboration.

I have also met with Commission officials to discuss bilateral support. The EU has been supporting the Ethiopian health system, particularly during the emergencies in the past, but two years ago they, also started supporting maternal and child programmes in Ethiopia. We are discussing support for the health sector in the eleventh EDF. We will continue to work with officials here to support our own plan.

When the EU provides sector support, it means there are no prescriptions. Your plan is good enough to be supported, and what we expect to deliver is results. So it’s a result-based financing arrangement we are discussing to put in place.



Bridge built over Awash River inaugurated


Addis Ababa, 28 February 2015 –

A new bridge built over the Awash River along the Ethiopia-Djibouti road at a cost of 240 million birr obtained from the government of Japan inaugurated today.

Transport Minister, Workneh Gebeyehu, said at the inauguration ceremony that the new bridge will play a significant role for the mobility of goods to and from Port Djibouti.

Ethiopian Roads Authority Public Relations Director, Samson Wondimu, on his part said the new bridge, which replaced the old one, has 9.3 meters width and 145 meters length.

According to Samson, the bridge was constructed by Japanese based Sato Kiyo, with the consultancy of Central Construction, which is also a Japanese firm.

With a capacity to carry out 40.8 tons and allow two vehicles to cross at a time, the new bridge serves 22, 000 vehicles daily, it was learnt.


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