MELDUNGEN VOM JULI 2017
Development and Humanitarian Issues
20.7.2017 Chinese NGO launches drought relief project in Ethiopia. Xinhua
Amity Foundation, an Independent Chinese social development organization, launched a four million yuan (591,000 U.S. dollars) drought relief project on Thursday that's expected to benefit 50,000 people in Ethiopia's Somali regional state.
Speaking at the launching ceremony in Ethiopia's capital city Addis Ababa, He Wen, Deputy General Secretary of Amity Foundation said the project, with funding from the Chinese government, is part of Amity's program to create a healthier and harmonious world. "The 4 million Renminbi will provide safe drinking water and hygiene kits for the drought hit Somali regional state in Ethiopia benefiting 50,000 people," said Counselor Lin Zhimin of the Chinese embassy in Ethiopia. Amity in 2016 alone received 200 million yuan, 80 percent of which came from China, to work on community governance, philanthropy, international expansion, innovative development, research and advocacy and institutional capacity.
13.7.2017 New Wave of South Sudan Refugees Coming to Ethiopia Due to Renewed Conflicts. Ezega.com
UN officials stated more than 5,000 South Sudanese have been forced to seek refuge in Ethiopia due to the renewed battle between the two warring sides. Many are expressing their concerns that the latest conflict near Pagak area could deteriorate the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. According to UN officials, Pagak hosts the headquarters of the opposition group led by former first vice president Riek Machar, a top UN official said.
David Shearer, head of the UN mission in South Sudan, told reporters Wednesday in Juba that the SPLA advance on the opposition headquarters in Pagak area will not serve the interest of peace in the world’s youngest nation. “The situation is Pagak is worrying because of the fighting that is going on. The fighting is displacing people and a number of people have withdrawn from Mathiang down to Pagak to seek safely,” he said. He pointed out the civilians who are living in Pagak area may cross the border to Ethiopia due to insecurity. “The hostilities should cease to allow people to go back to their homes. There is no reason for fighting in that area,” he said. The civil war in South Sudan has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than 3.5 million people, many of them to neighbouring countries.
10.7.2017 Ethiopia Humanitarian and Development Coordination Architecture. ReliefWeb, Humanitarian Response
ENCU: Emergency Nutrition Coordination Unit, FAO: Food and Agriculture Organization, HC: Humanitarian Coordinator, IOM: International Organization for Migration, MoE: Ministry of Education, MoH: Ministry of Health, MoWCA: Ministry of Women and Children’s Affair, MoWIE: Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, NDRMC: National Disaster Risk Management Commission, UNICEF: United Nations Children’s Fund, WFP: World Food Program.
Download organigram as PDF: https://www.humanitarianresponse.info/system/files/documents/files/coordination_structures.pdf
Politics, Justice, Human Right
29.7.2017 Corruption Crackdown, Tamiru Tsige, The Reporter
In what could be considered to be a major crackdown on corruption in the past few years, the Federal and Addis Ababa Police have apprehend some 39 government officials, brokers and businesspersons in the middle of the week and charged them with corruption, which involves more than 1.15 billion birr.
The detainees appeared before the Federal High Court Lideta Bench on Thursday and the investigators of the Federal Police and the Attorney General has been granted 14-day extension to conclude their investigation and level formal charges on the suspects.
This corruption operation is said to be instigated mostly by the reports of the Federal and the Addis Ababa Auditor Generals who have presented their reports to the Parliament and the City Council, respectively, months before alleging billions of taxpayers’ money being spent without proper documentation and following the procurement rules and regulations.
The list of detainees incorporated personalities like Fikade Haile (Eng.), former director general of the Addis Ababa City Roads Authority (AACRA) and two others from the same institutions including an Israeli Contractor Minash Levi, owner of Tidhar Construction. All in all, the suspects from AACRA are charged for 198 million birr.
On the other hand, ACCRA’s national counterpart Ethiopian Roads Authority also saw Bekele Negussie former deputy director general at the Authority and currently appointed to lead the newly established Infrastructure Coordination Authority as the most recognized name for an alleged embezzlement of 646.9 million birr along with his assailants. Meanwhile, from Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation, Wasihun Abate, head of the legal department of the Ministry for many years is another recognizable face from the list of the detainees. Also from MoFEC, Musa Mohammed is also among those who have held high position at the Ministry before he was arrested for corruption.
Apart from that, heads of finance and procurement departments at Methara and Tendaho Sugar Factories and officials from the Omo Kuraz V Sugar Project, which is yet to operational, are also included on the list.
Below is the list of all officials, individuals and brokers under custody: (…)
19.7.2017 EU Welcomes Ongoing Political Reform in Ethiopia. ENA
The European Union (EU) has welcomed the ongoing political reforms in Ethiopia. Head European Union Delegation to Ethiopia Chantal Hebbercht said “EU is very happy and welcome the ongoing political dialogue with civic society and political parties.” Ambassador Hebbercht, following the discussion between ambassadors of EU member states and Prime Minister Hailemariam, told reporters that this kind of direct dialogue with people and civic society is very important in the democratization process.
Economic and business issues in was also among the discussion points including Ethiopia’s efforts regarding job creation through the development of industrial parks, the Head said. The EU member states in Ethiopia are working to enable Ethiopia seize the opportunity in various areas including by attracting investors as well as supporting development endeavors. She said “I tell you that the 21 EU member states here in Ethiopia are doing their best to attract foreign investors here in Ethiopia.” Regarding support, the Head said that the EU member states are providing more than one billion Euros to the development activities geared towards poverty eradication and improving basic services such as health and education, among others.
Alongside its developmental endeavors and political reforms, Ethiopia is well known for its effort in ensuring peace was also praised by the body. The Head said “we have recognized Ethiopia as it is playing very positive role here in the horn of Africa.”
Noting that Ethiopia is working to address the root causes of migration through various mechanisms, the Head said EU is supporting the country in this regard. “We are really trying to support the government of Ethiopia to tackle the root cause of the migration in creating job opportunity and develop industrial parks,” she noted.
According to Teshome Toga, Ethiopian Ambassador to EU, the delegation was briefed by the Premier on the effort regarding the in-depth reform that the government has been pursuing and the political reform being undertaken through dialogue with political parties and civic societies. He assured that UE member states could follow the ongoing negotiation among the parties focused on various agendas.
Regarding the forums held with the public following the in-depth evaluation was fruitful, which enabled to come up the government with concrete efforts to intensify activities in creating more jobs and addressing issues of good governance, he added.
Ambassadors of EU member states residing in Addis Ababa each year hold dialogue on the partnership with Ethiopia in accordance with the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, signed in Cotonou, Benin in June 2000.
18.7.2017 Budget Subsidy to Regional Governments Increased to Enhance Decentralized Federal System: MoFEC. ENA
The budget subsidy allocated to regional governments this Ethiopian fiscal year is boosted deliberately so as to enhance and strengthen the decentralized federal system, according to Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation (MoFEC). Finance and Economic Cooperation Minister, Dr. Abraham Tekeste said the budget subsidy for regional governments has reached 117 billion birr, showing an increase of 17 percent from the previous year. According to him, the total budget approved for the year will facilitate the ongoing economic transformation and ensure the continuity of the rapid economic growth.
The budget allotted to regional governments is 39 percent of the total 320 plus billion birr approved by the House of People’s Representative, he stated, adding that 7 billion birr is also allotted for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Dr. Abraham noted that the budget is inclusive, transparent and globally standardized as well as internationally evaluated.
Explaining the two main pillars of the budget, the Minister said it is to implement the policies and strategies and maintain a stable macroeconomic and fiscal system. Since our economy is not stagnant but a rapidly growing one, the 53.9billion birr budget deficit won’t be a threat, he underlined. Infrastructure development and education alone account to over 45percent of the federal budget expenditure, it was pointed out. The Minister explained that the allotment of the budget shows that due emphasis is given to scale up infrastructure and human development, which are vital to speed up the ongoing economic transformation.
14.7.2017 Political Parties Agree to Conclude Negotiations in Three Months. ENA
The national political parties, including the ruling party, have agreed to conclude their negotiation within three months. To realize this, the parties will meet 3 days in a week and each agenda would be covered in 5 days at a maximum. According to the negotiators, some of the agendas can be covered in a shorter period than the allotted maximum time.
Though few of the negotiating parties proposed to start negotiating on “national consensus” first, the majority opted to begin with the “proclamation for the registration of political parties”. Proponents of the latter argued that due attention should be given to the proclamation for it demonstrates their existence as a political party.
According to the agreement reached, the 12 negotiation agendas are proclamation for the registration of political parties, the election proclamation, code of conduct proclamation for political parties, anti-terrorism proclamation, mass media proclamation, charities and societies proclamation, organization and function of democratic and human rights institutions, organization and function of justice bodies, freedom of movement, living and rights of proprietorship of citizens, issues of lease proclamation and eviction, tax law, and national consensus.
The negotiation agendas were arranged in accordance with meeting the general objectives of the upcoming political negotiation, which is widening the political space through avoiding obstacles.
13.7.2017 Federal court rules opposition leaders to defend prosecutors’ charges, reduces Bekele Gerba’s terrorism charge to crime. Mahlet Fasil, Addis Standard
In what was seen as a key decision involving the high profile terrorism charges against 22 mostly opposition party leaders and members, the federal high court 4th criminal bench has today acquitted five of the 22 defendants, reduced the terrorism charge against Bekele Gerba to crime charges, and ordered the remaining 16 to defend terrorism charges brought by the federal prosecutors.
Among the 17 who will be defending both terrorism and criminal cases are high profile defendants including Bekele Gerba and Dejene Taffa, first secretary general and secretary general respectively of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC). Defendants Chimsa Abdisa Jaffer (aka Dejene Abdisa), Firaol Tola Dadi, Getachew Dereje Tujuba, Ashebir Desalegn Beri, as well as Halkeno Qonchora (The 7th, 9th, 10th, 13th and 22nd defendants respectively) were acquitted of all charges against them
Sixteen of the 17 will now begin defending charges of terrorism under Art. 7/1 of Ethiopia’s infamous Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (ATP). The terrorism accusations these 16 defendants are facing deals with “Participation in a terrorist organization.” The proclamation states that “whoever recruits another person or takes training or becomes a member or participates in any capacity for the purpose of a terrorist organization or committing a terrorist act, on the basis of his level of participation, is punishable with rigorous imprisonment from five to 10 years.” (…)
The voluminous 80 plus pages of document, which the judges began deliberating this morning and proceeded to this afternoon, is a critical part of the judges’ long awaited decision in a trial which was largely seen by many as one of the politically motivated trials against opposition members. The charges were first filed at the federal high court in April 2016, in the midst of a fast spreading anti-government protests in Oromia regional state. All the 22 defendants were first accused of being, among others, agents of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a rebel group labeled by Ethiopia’s ruling party dominated parliament as a terrorist organization, and inciting members of the public during the 2016 yearlong anti-government protests in Oromia regional state.
The court adjourned the dates to begin hearing defense statements from the 17 on August 14 – 18, 2017.
7.7.2017 Court refers Dr. Merera’s request to House of Federation, rejects the other. Mahlet Fasil, Addis Standard
The Federal High court 19th criminal bench has referred Dr. Merera Gudina’s request to get the list of prosecutors’ witnesses to the House of Federation (HoF). The court referred the request to the House for interpretation on whether the court has legal jurisdiction to give the list of prosecutors’ witnesses to the defense team. The court also rejected the other request from Dr. Merera asking the multiple criminal charges against him to be seen separately from the terrorism charges against two foreign based media organizations, OMN and ESAT.
According to Ethiopia’s proclamation no. 699/2010, a proclamation to provide for the protection of witnesses and whistleblowers of criminal offences, “witness protection is applicable with respect to testimony or information given or investigation undertaken on a suspect punishable with rigorous imprisonment for ten or more years or with death without having regard to the minimum period of rigorous imprisonment.” This proclamation also states that witness protection will be applied “where the offense may not be revealed or established by another means otherwise than by the testimony of the witness or the information of the whistleblower; and where it is believed that a threat of serious danger exists to the life, physical security, freedom or property of the witness, the whistleblower or a family member of the witness or the whistleblower.”
However, Dr. Merera, facing multiple criminal charges including an attempt to “violently overthrow” the constitutional order, told the court that he was a “prisoner of conscience” who is put to trial for merely “speaking up for the rights of the Oromo people, the rights of Ethiopians, for my struggles for justice and equality and a functioning federal system” . His defense team also objected the court’s decision to refer the request for legal interpretations at the House of Federation.
And according to Dr. Tsegaye R. Ararssa, of the Melbourne Law School, there is no need for witness protection “until the prosecutors demonstrate how the case threatens the safety of witnesses.” “To be given the list of witnesses is a fundamental right of all citizens”, he told Addis Standard in an e-mail, adding “it is part of the procedural right to confront one’s accusers.
Dr. Tsegaye is of the view that the court is taking it to HOF not because there is a “need for constitutional interpretation” but rather “to drag the proceedings and make the defendant suffer; and subject the case to be “tried” politically in a political house, i.e., HOF.”
Dr. Merera is facing three criminal charges: an attempt to violently overthrow the constitutional order in contempt of Ethiopia’s criminal code article 32/1 (a & b) which carries a sentence of life in prison up to death; an offense violating article 12/1 of the current state of emergency, which is punishable by up to five years in jail; and an act of disobeying article 486/b of the criminal code by giving a false and damaging statement about the government to a media, which carries a sentence of up to three years in jail.
The court has previously rejected Dr. Merera’s initial preliminary objection against all charges, and his right to a bail. The court adjourned the next hearing on July 31st.
7.7.2017 The Fraught Relationship Between Ethiopia's Capital City and Largest State. Endalk, Global Voices
At the end of June, the Ethiopian Council of Ministers revealed a bill that seeks to address questions of social services, language, education and culture involving the country’s capital, Addis Ababa, and Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest region within which Addis Ababa is located.
The government and its supporters say the law is needed to redress the historical injustices that the people of Oromia suffered since the establishment of Addis Ababa. Critics see the law as a tactic to disenfranchise the residents of Addis Ababa. Some go further in their allegation that the law is intended to worsen the already sensitive ethnic relations in Ethiopia.
Most of the debate about the bill has fallen along the lines of regional elites against more cosmopolitan elites, tradition against modernity, and ethno-nationalists against civic nationalists — divisions that are often a source of strife in Ethiopia.
On the map of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa is a stretch of high plains inside the state Oromia. With just 0.047 percent of the country's territory, Addis Ababa is the largest metropolitan area in Ethiopia. Numerous ethnic and religious groups from every corner of Ethiopia live in Addis Ababa; a significant number of Addis Ababa’s 4 million residents generally present themselves as cosmopolitan, liberal and post-ethnic.
Oromia, meanwhile, is home to the Oromo people, the single largest ethnic group comprising at least 34 percent of Ethiopia’s 100 million population, but which has also historically been politically marginalized. Addis Ababa is the seat of the current government — EPRDF, which is dominated by the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front — and although it is inside the state, Oromia does not control the city; the federal government does and has since 1991 when Ethiopia was transformed into a federation of nine ethnic-based regional states.
The Ethiopian constitution, however, accorded Oromia what the government called “Special Interest” over Addis Ababa when it was adopted in 1995 due to the city's unique location.
The purpose of the new draft law is to legislate the “Special Interest” provisions of the constitution and solve other problems that have arisen between Addis Ababa and Oromia, such as the possible expansion of the city's boundaries, which would have meant the eviction of Oromo farmers whose subsistence depends on farmlands that are located around the city.
The expansion, among other things, was at the heart of protests mounted by Oromo students from 2014 to 2016. The Ethiopian government cracked down on the movement hard; according to rights organizations, hundreds were killed and thousands were arrested before Ethiopian government declared a state of emergency in October 2016.
The proposed law is contentious, but many expect that it will be passed over the next few days.
Incorporating Oromo identity into Addis Ababa
There are about 13 “titles” in the bill, each dedicated to the “Special Interest” of the state of Oromia over Addis Ababa.
In its major provisions, the bill would incorporate Oromo (known as “Afaan Oromo”) as a working language of the municipality, mandate that the city government provide education for residents of Addis Ababa whose mother tongue is Afaan Oromo, and preserve Oromo cultural enclaves and buildings within the city. The bill also sanctions the use of Finfine (in Oromo language) as an alternative name of Addis Ababa and allows the renaming of streets, public squares, and neighborhoods in Addis Ababa with names memorializing Oromo culture and identity.
This part of the bill has been discussed widely on social media as it deals with the history, identity and language use of Addis Ababa.
Opponents fear it causes division and strife by appealing Oromo nationalists, and some have further claimed the problems these provisions claim to solve don’t actually exist.
However, many Oromo nationalists support this part of the bill, albeit with qualms.
Who owns Addis Ababa land?
Oromo nationalists, however, categorically oppose a different part of the bill that deals with the ownership of land in Addis Ababa.
In the current practice, the federal government owns the land and the bill explicitly asserts that Addis Ababa is a federal land. But the bill would warrant the state of Oromia to acquire and develop land for government activities and public services free of occupancy payment.
For critics, that doesn't do enough to grant Oromia its rightful and historical ownership of the city of Addis Ababa. As a guest author of the pro-government news analysis site the HornAffairs wrote:
The constitution clearly provides that territorially the Ethiopian State is structured into only nine regional states. The territory of Ethiopia comprises the territory of these member states.
Apart from the member states territory there is no piece of land belonging to the federal government or any other kind of administration. Any conception of Addis Ababa as an administration with its own separate territorial jurisdiction outside of Oromia or as a federal territory is ruled out from the beginning.
Anyone living in Addis is living in Oromia Regional State.
Non-Oromo opponents of the bill claim that this section will allow discrimination against Addis Ababa residents, who usually present themselves as post-ethnic and cosmopolitan.On Facebook, the former chairman of Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce, Kebour Ghenna, wrote:
Very soon, I will be celebrating my sixtieth birthday in Addis Ababa. My son was born in Addis Ababa. I was born in Addis Ababa. My father was born Addis Ababa. My grandfather also!
Last week’s EPRDF arbitrary edict, offering Addis Ababa an absurd affirmative action model has come as a surprise and shock to me… I am sure to many others too. This decree reinforces further the attempt of the government to divide of Addis Ababians according to ethnic lines, and disenfranchises a huge number of residents.
But Oromo nationalists argue back that they were forcefully removed from the land over the course of numerous bloody disputes, so it makes sense for Oromia to be guaranteed some level of influence over the city. In his response to Kebour Ghenna, Birhanemeskel Abebe wrote: No Armageddon! No Apocalypse at the return of Addis Ababa’s as an Oromia City and Capital!
Healthcare and jobs
Another important component of the bill deals with jobs, social and health care services.
Under current practice, all Ethiopians including Oromos in Addis Ababa are entitled to jobs, social and health care services. But the bill would institute opportunity structures for Oromo youth who live in and around the city of Addis Ababa, seeming to imply that there is discrimination against Oromos in Addis Ababa. Opride, a news analysis site wrote:
…the draft further alienates and excludes the Oromo people from the city by misconstruing basic constitutional and human rights as Oromia’s special interest. For example, a key provision on health care states that Oromos living in towns and rural areas around Addis Ababa can “access health care services at government hospitals and medical facilities like any resident of the city.” This is laughable. It implies that there is a law in place that currently prevents Oromos from seeking medical treatment at public hospitals and clinics in Addis Ababa. Or that Addis Ababa residents currently enjoy preferential access and treatment at public health institutions in the city.
30.7.2017 Spotlight: Chinese investment leads way as Ethiopia opens to outside. Xhinhua
As Ethiopia, the most populous nation in East Africa, is spreading its economic relations across the globe, investment from the world's most populous nation China is playing a prominent role. Ethiopia, with a population of some 100 million, is a country on the move with rail, air and road infrastructure projects and an ambitious industrialization plan.
Ethiopia keenly needs investment from industrial giants like China to give its burgeoning population, which is estimated to grow by 2 million annually, ample employment opportunities.
According to the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC), there have been 279 Chinese companies with more than 571-million-U.S.-dollars worth of investment, creating more than 28,300 jobs in Ethiopia between January 2012 and January 2017. Huajian Industrial Holding Company Limited, a Chinese company that has a long-term investment plan in Ethiopia, is operating two plants in the country. Yin Xinjun, Vice General Manager at Ethiopia Division of Huajian Industrial Holding Company Limited, says Huajian's decision to have its first plant in Ethiopia stems from the country's firm desire for industrialization.
In fact, a personal call for more investment by late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi during an August 2011 visit to China is what motivated initially Huajian to invest in Ethiopia, says Yin. According to Yin, Huajian's investment in its first African plant had overcome several challenges, including logistical ones. Huajian initially had to transport its goods through an overcrowded highway from the plant in landlocked Ethiopia to Djibouti port. The problem has been partially solved with the construction of the 85-km Addis Ababa-Adama Expressway funded partly by the Export-Import Bank of China (China EXIM bank) and built by China Communications Construction Company (CCCC). The 500-million-dollar expressway was inaugurated in May, 2014. Huajian also had to face intermittent power and water outages. The Ethiopian government later solved this problem through a special water and power line for the Eastern Industry Zone where Huajian's first plant is located.
Overcoming these challenges, Huajian currently employs more than 4,000 Ethiopians with a plan to increase employment to 50,000 people by 2022. Having established a plant in the Dukem industrial zone, 37 km south of Addis Ababa, Huajian is currently building a massive 138-hectare international light industry city in Addis Ababa. With the completion of the light industry city, Huajian foresees increasing its export revenue from 30 million dollars in 2016 to 4 billion dollars by 2022.
With Ethiopia-China trade reaching 6.15 billion dollars in 2015, growing 22.2 percent annually in the last several years, China has become Ethiopia's largest trading partner. However Western critics warn Ethiopia of being trapped in a neo-colonial relationship and some Ethiopians wonder if the Ethiopia-China relationship comes at the expense of other countries.
Gedion Jalata, Program Manager of Africa China Dialogue Platform at Oxfam International, says both views miss the mutual beneficial and sovereignty respecting aspect of the bilateral relations. Jalata points out that Ethiopia is one of the beneficiaries of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative. Proposed in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa on and beyond the ancient Silk Road routes. It comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Ethiopia has joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). China is the largest shareholder of the AIIB with 27.5 percent of voting rights.
"Ethiopia's foreign policy is multifaceted, with anti-terror fight collaboration with the west, and the country receives development assistance in soft infrastructure such as education from the UK, on health related issues from the U.S., on hard infrastructure from China and on sugar development from India," he says. Jalata also argues that both Ethiopia and China have similar development process, which adds to the mutual understanding of their needs and capabilities. "China in recent living memory was a poor country, with people aspiring to be developed and rich and it still has infrastructure need, so China understands the infrastructure need of Ethiopia's development," adds Jalata.
INDUSTRY PARK A GAME CHANGER
While Ethiopia is attracting massive Chinese investment in infrastructure projects, the Ethiopian government has set its sight in particular on Chinese involvement in industry parks. Ahmed Shide, Ethiopia's Minister of Transport, says the country plans to utilize Chinese built infrastructure to boost its industrial exports.
Shide is especially keen on the 4.2-billion-dollar Chinese built and financed 756 km Ethiopia-Djibouti electrified rail line to boost its industrial exports. The electrified rail line, the first trans-boundary electrified rail line in Africa, is expected to start commercial operation in October. Once the electrified rail line starts operation, it's expected that average transportation time to reach Djibouti port from the Ethiopian hinterland will be cut from two days to 10 hours. "The industrial parks lying on the path of the rail line will be a game changer for both countries and in general for the region, enhancing economic transformation and easing transportation of goods," says Shide. Dire Dawa and Adama industrial parks, which are under construction and lie on the path of the electrified rail line, are part of Ethiopia's focus to have a development belt that sees the country's industrial goods being transported efficiently by rail to Djibouti port for exports. Dire Dawa and Adama industrial parks locate 446 km and 99 km east of Addis Ababa respectively. China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) is undertaking the construction of both industrial parks, which are expected to be inaugurated in September.
The development corridor will also encompass the Arerti industrial park being developed by the CCCC and the Modjo industrial park being built by Taiwanese firm George Shoe Company. With Arerti and Modjo industry parks located 140 km and 75 km east of Addis Ababa respectively, the Ethiopian government hopes to achieve its aim of becoming a leading light industrial hub in Africa by 2025.
Shide said the potential of cooperation with China is still growing. He pointed out that Ethiopia's national carrier has 95 international flight destinations, including five to China. Ethiopian Airlines' five destinations to China are Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Hong Kong and Guangzhou. These flights are part of the national air carrier's plan to be a global aviation hub between China and the African continent. As China is working to be an airplane manufacturing center, Shide said he foresees in the near future Ethiopia will be a customer of fully developed Chinese airplanes.
29.7.2017 Ethiopia allocates 3,000 hectares of land for flower investment, Xinhua
The Ethiopian Horticulture and Agricultural Investment Authority has announced that it has allocated 3,000 hectares of land for investors who want to engage in Ethiopia's flower farming sector.
A huge international interest in Ethiopia's horticulture development sector is said to be the major factor for the Ethiopian government to allocate the reported 3,000 hectares of land dedicated to the floriculture investment, according to the Ethiopian Horticulture and Agricultural Investment Authority. Investors from various countries, via their respective embassies and also in person, have shown interest to invest in Ethiopia's floriculture sector, Ethiopian state news agency ENA quoted Adugna Debele, Authority Deputy CEO, as saying on Friday. According to Debele, the Ethiopian government would give priority for interested investors who have come with their own initial investment capital. The east African country has also put in place various initiatives to lure large number of foreign investors in the horticulture development sector.
According to the Ethiopian Horticulture Producers and Exporters Association, Ethiopia, the fourth largest supplier of flower to the world market, is endowed with suitable weather condition for flower and other horticultural products. Amongst these initiatives put in place by the Ethiopian government is a mechanism to provide 70 percent of the capital required for investment from the Development Bank of Ethiopia on loan, based on the initial 30 percent financial amount provided. Ethiopia's flower industry sector has registered a steady growth over the past decade, making the country one of the top flower producers and exporters in the African continent.
25.7.2017 Ethiopia tax hike: gov’t says majority compliant, ready to address grievances. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban, africanews.com
Ethiopia tax authorities say tax hikes announced recently still stands despite protests by a section of affected business people. Contrary to earlier reports that Ethiopia tax authorities had withdrawn tax hikes that led to ‘silent’ economic protests in the Oromia region and parts of Addis Ababa, head of the revenue body says they were open to listening and addressing grievances.
According to the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA) Director-General, Kebede Chane, majority of the level ‘C’ taxpayers had already agreed with the ERCA’s estimations and were already paying the tax, state-owned FANA Broadcasting corporate reported. He confirmed that a little over 30% of the the affected businesses had officially lodged complaints against the estimations. Of the 148,000 businesses, 68% of them had no issues according to Chane. The silent protest which started in the Oromia state – one of the epicenters of anti-government protests in 2016 – had spread to the capital Addis Ababa, by late last week. Most shops had closed in protest to the tax hikes which they said were overestimated.
24.7.2017 Urban Job Creation Council Creates over 1.8 Mn jobs, Deputy PM Lauds Performance. Walta Information Center
More than 1.8 million jobs were created in urban areas during the just-conclude fiscal year. This was disclosed today at the annual evaluation of Urban Job Creation and Food Security Agency Development Council here in the capital city. In his report to the Urban Job Creation and Food Security Development Council, Urban Development and Housing State Minister Demisie Shitu said 91 percent of the plan to create jobs to 2.1 million citizens was achieved in the year.
Deputy Prime Minister and Chairperson Urban Job Creation and Food Security Development Council, Demeke Mekonen, praised the council for the impressive work it carried out in its first year of existence. Addressing the half-day meeting, Demeke said the over 1.1 million jobs created in micro manufacturing, construction, urban farming, services and trade areas are especially encouraging. The Deputy Prime Minister stressed, however, the need for more efforts to match the ever growing job demand by creating employment. (…)
23.7.2017 Alarmed by growing defiance government scraps presumptive tax for small businesses. Etenesh Aberry, Addis Standard
Following days of defiance by small business owners in Oromia regional state and in the capital Addis Abeba against the newly introduced presumptive tax system, Kebede Chane, Director General of the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ECRA), said the government was now scraping its implementation.
The revised presumptive tax system concerns category ‘C’ tax payers, which consists small businesses with an annual turnover of up to 100,000 Birr. It was conducted by ECRA in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation (MoFEC) and has come into effect as of the end of the fiscal year on July 07, 2017. However, the latest presumptive tax system saw disproportional tax amounts levied on small businesses. It was introduced after hundreds of tax assessors visited these businesses and came up with their tax estimates. Letters sent from ERCA to small businesses in Addis Abeba, as well as those in Oromia state show that traders of small businesses such as street side coffee vendors, barbers, internet cafes and small kiosks were asked to pay annual taxes as high as 50, 000 birr and in some instances more.
Kebede Chane of ERCA told the Amharic biweekly The Reporter that micro business owners including barbers/hair dressers, tailors, laborers, and street coffee vendors will be encouraged to pay “what they agree to pay”. He further said that authorities were reviewing complaints submitted by these businesses in order to consider scarping the taxes. The government would be happy if those sections of the society were simply self-reliant, the paper paraphrased the head of ERCA.
The new presumptive tax assessment was met with fury as small business owners in several cities and towns in Oromia regional state, which applied the same technique, and in parts of Addis Abeba, closed their businesses in protest. While majority of these business owners protested the move by simply shutting their shops, a few instances, such as the one in Ambo city, 120 kms west of the capital Addis Abeba, have seen protesters damage two state owned vehicles on Thursday July 13.
Kebede’s statement stands in sharp contrast to that of Nestanet Abera, ERCA deputy director for Addis Abeba tax division, who, on July 05, told journalists that the confusion was rather due to lack of understanding than the amounts levied. “We have not imposed such taxes. The confusion is due to lack of understanding and the tendency of considering daily incomes as taxes,” Netsanet said, “our assessments were based on fairness and are appropriate.”
19.7.2017 Businesses go on strike in Ethiopia's Oromiya region over taxes. Aaron Maasho, Reuters
Retail business owners in some towns of Ethiopia's Oromiya region have gone on strike over the imposition of a revised tax law, residents said, the latest unrest to plague a province that was shaken by violence for months in 2015 and 2016. (…) On Wednesday, business owners and residents in the town of Ambo some 130 kilometers (80 miles) west of Addis Ababa told Reuters almost all shops, hotels and restaurants there have now been shut after open-ended strikes were called on Monday. "The entire city is at a standstill. Everything is closed," one resident told Reuters. "The roads are empty apart from the large presence of police."
Residents in nearby Woliso and Ginchi said retail businesses there were also closed. The new rules had led to an increase in the amount of taxes to be paid by small businesses who want the tax repealed, they said. "We are being charged amounts we simply cannot afford," said Mohammed, a trader in Ambo who chose to only give his first name. "We have no choice but to oppose this."
Government officials said some vehicles belonging to public institutions have been attacked. "The government is holding consultations with businesses to resolve grievances. They have the right to appeal, but only peacefully," regional spokesperson Addisu Arega told journalists.
The developments highlight tensions in the country where the government has delivered high economic growth rates yet often faces criticism from opponents and rights groups that it has curbed political freedoms. The government dismisses charges that it clamps down on free speech or on its opponents and blames rebel groups and dissidents abroad for stirring up violence.
19.7.2017 Chinese companies top player in Ethiopia's investment landscape: official. Xinhua
Chinese companies, with close to 379 projects that were either operational or under implementation during the past five years, are on top of Ethiopia's investment landscape both in number and financial capital, an official at the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC) has told Xinhua. According to Mekonen Hailu, EIC Communications Director, 279 of the total 379 Chinese companies were set operational in Ethiopia with projects that worth over 13.16 billion Ethiopian birr (over 572 million U.S. dollars) from 2012 to 2017 period, while the remaining 100 are under implementation.
Ethiopia's manufacturing sector takes the first spot in attracting companies from China both in number and financial capital, with a total of 276 projects either under implementation or operational, he said. Construction, services and agriculture are said to be the other sectors hosting a great number of Chinese companies to Africa's second most populous nation.
According to Hailu, the Ethiopian government has given due emphasis to the manufacturing sector, as the country is shifting to industry-led economy from the largely agricultural one, and the contribution of Chinese companies is immense. He said that the east African country has rolled out various incentives that include custom duty exemption, income tax holidays, and provision of land at competitive lease price to attract investors.
According to the Ethiopia's Foreign Ministry, Chinese companies have invested around 4 billion U.S. dollars in Ethiopia during the last two decades, creating job opportunities for over 111,000 Ethiopians on permanent and temporary basis. Meles Alem, Ethiopia's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, told Xinhua recently that Ethiopia has targeted to attract new and existing Chinese companies to invest in various sectors in the country, the manufacturing sector in particular.
The Asian country is Ethiopia's largest trading partner, registering a bilateral trade volume of 6.37 billion dollars in 2015. Trade grew at an average rate of 22.2 percent annually for the last several years.
13.7.2017 Ethiopia plans to have 15 industrial parks by June 2018. XihnuaNet
Ethiopia has planned to increase the number of its industrial parks to 15 by June 2018 as part of its efforts to boost manufacturing and export. Speaking exclusively to Xinhua on Thursday, Arkebe Oqubay Board Chairperson of Ethiopian Industrial Park Corporation (EIPC), said Ethiopia's aim in building more industrial parks is to enable the manufacturing sector to contribute to 20 percent of Ethiopia's GDP and 50 percent of the export volume by 2025.
Currently Ethiopia has seven operational industrial parks with Mekelle and Kombolcha being the latest additions commissioned earlier this month. Mekelle and Kombolcha industrial parks were both built by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) at a cost of 100 million U.S. dollars and 90 million dollars respectively.
"In January 2018 Kilinto Pharmaceutical and Bole Lemi 2 industrial parks will be commissioned, by May Bahir Dar and Jimma industrial parks will be operational, and in June expect Debre Birhan and Arerti industrial parks to start operations" said Oqubay. The Ethiopian government has already announced that two other industrial parks, Dire Dawa and Adama will be commissioned in September. The two industrial parks are also being constructed by CCECC at a cost of 190 million and 125 million dollars respectively.
"Industrial parks will initiate fast economic growth and enable structural economic change through a high tech manufacturing industry," said Oqubay. He further said with Ethiopia planning to sustain 14 years of double-digit growth for a decade in order to create 2 million direct and 4.4 million indirect manufacturing jobs, the bulk of them will come from industry parks.
13.7.2017 Ethiopia tops list of the world’s fastest-growing economies in 2017 – World Bank. Nazret.com
WEF – Ethiopia is the fastest-growing economy in 2017, according to the World Bank’s latest edition of Global Economic Prospects. Ethiopia’s GDP is forecast to grow by 8.3% in 2017. By contrast, global growth is projected to be 2.7%. The East African country’s accelerating growth comes on the back of government spending on infrastructure.
However, borrowing to finance Ethiopia’s large public infrastructure projects has led to a rise in public debt, which increased by more than 10% of GDP between 2014 and 2016, and now exceeds 50% of GDP. Many emerging market economies have high levels of public debt, and the World Bank says it is concerned about this because it could drag down growth. Worsening drought conditions could also affect Ethiopia’s growth, says the report. (…)
3.7.2017 METEC head goes on the defensive after scathing review. Arefayne Fantahun, Ethiopia Observer
Responding to damning reports of the Ethiopian house of people’s representatives last Wednesday, Kinfe Dagnew, head of the state-owned Metal and Engineering Corporation (METEC), also a military general, spent much of his time on the defensive. His corporation ventures the construction of numerous multi-billion sugar factories, securing them without any competitive bidding. Kinfe sees METEC’s role as an economical solution to the government’s plan to transform the country from a sugar importer to one of the top exporters in the world. However, it is increasingly becoming clear it is only a fantasy and questions are being raised about METEC’s capacity to execute such projects. So far, none of those projects were completed, though the project deadlines long overdue. The government Development Affairs Standing Committee of the House heard last week the two big projects Tana Beles I, Tana Beles II for which the state pumped billions of dollars are lagging behind, only 77 percent executed for the first one and 25 percent for the second one. The deadline for the completion of the projects were 2013. Another project, Omo Kuraz sugar project that was planned be completed by 2015 is at 93 percent, according to reports of the the project owner, Ethiopian Sugar Corporation.
METEC is criticized for project completion delays, breaches of rules and regulations, manipulating corporate and finance policies, violating its procurement guideline.Kinfe sounded defensive, saying he doesn’t regret a thing. “I believe that we are working hard to realize the projects, against all odds and making sacrifices for the development of the country,” he said.“We have done our best to speed up the projects. The work on the ground speak for itself.” he said. Yet, he also listed foreign currency shortages, regular power cut, METEC’s administrative problems as reasons for poor performances and delays. He also blamed last year’s political unrest impeding the progress of those projects.
“If anyone is to be held responsible, it is only me,” he told members of the House.
METEC was established in 2010 as a military industrial complex by the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, “with a view to providing impetus to lifting up the Ethiopian economy and achieving progress.” It incorporates close to 70 enterprises in the engineering sector, and it is getting notoriety for taking the stat’s megaprojects, despite poor execution so far.Some see this as dangerous trend of the military getting involved in the country’s private enterprise and strengthening its economic power. One of the regime’s powerful politicians, Abay Tsehay defended METCE saying that though it owned by the military, it operates as a civilian enterprise.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
20.7.2017 Biokaffee: Äthiopien dementiert Pfusch. Deutscher Ökokontrolleur hatte in der taz mutmaßliche Mängel bei Inspektionen kritisiert. Jost Maurin, tageszeitung
Äthiopiens Botschaft in Berlin hat die Kritik eines deutschen Biokontrolleurs an der Zertifizierung bestimmter Kaffeeplantagen in dem afrikanischen Land zurückgewiesen. Die taz hatte am 15. Februar berichtet, dass Europas Behörden die Kontrolle von Biolebensmitteln aus Nicht-EU-Ländern nur mangelhaft überwachten: Jahrelang habe die Europäische Kommission von Albrecht Benzing, Kochef der bayerischen Kontrollstelle Ceres, detaillierte Beschwerden über mutmaßlichen Pfusch bei den äthiopischen Niederlassungen der Prüffirmen Kiwa BCS und Control Union erhalten. Doch statt die Vorwürfe vor Ort zu überprüfen, seien die Behörden weitgehend untätig geblieben.
Benzing kritisierte zum Beispiel, dass einige zertifizierte Bauern den als Droge benutzten Khatstrauch mit konventionellen Insektiziden in Mischkulturen mit dem Ökokaffee angebaut hätten. Botschaftspressesprecher Tewodros Girma Abebe schrieb dazu nun der taz: „Beides kann nicht zusammen angebaut werden.“ Seine Begründung: „Kaffee liebt Schatten, während Khat viel Sonne braucht.“
Benzing entgegnete darauf: „Ich habe die Khatsträucher mit eigenen Augen zwischen den Kaffeebäumen gesehen, die Existenz dieser Mischkultur wurde auch von der Bauernorganisation, bei der wir das Problem festgestellt hatten, nie bestritten.“
Diplomat Tewodros warf dem Biokontrolleur einen „Interessenkonflikt“ vor. „In den vergangenen Jahren sind manche Bauern zu BCS und Control Union gewechselt“, während Benzings Kontrollstelle Ceres Kunden verloren habe.
„Wir beschweren uns, weil wir wollen, dass alle sich an die Mindestanforderungen halten. Wenn die zuständigen Behörden dies nicht sicherstellen, dann setzen sich logischerweise die Stellen auf dem Markt durch, welche die niedrigsten Anforderungen stellen“, so Benzing.
Tewodros erwähnte in seinem Schreiben an die taz ausdrücklich, „dass Äthiopien das Recht hat, einen der internationalen Zertifizierer auszuwählen und zu akzeptieren“ – obwohl niemand dies bestritten hatte. Auf Nachfrage erklärte Tewodros, dass Äthiopien keinesfalls plane, Ceres aus dem Land zu vertreiben. „Das ist ein freier Markt“, sagte er.
Benzing beklagte, die Botschaft sei nur auf einen kleinen Teil seiner in der taz zitierten Vorwürfe eingegangen. Er hatte zum Beispiel auch kritisiert, dass viele Bauern das Bio-Siegel bekommen hätten, ohne jemals inspiziert worden zu sein. Der Kontrolleur betonte, dass seine Kritik sich nicht gegen die äthiopischen Behörden oder die dortige Landwirtschaft gerichtet habe, sondern gegen die Aufsichtsstellen in der EU, die die Kontrollstellen nicht richtig überwachen würden.
5.7.2017 UNESCO nimmt Nationalpark Simien von Liste gefährdeten Welterbes. RTDeutsch
Der Nationalpark Simien in Äthiopien gehört nicht mehr zu den gefährdeten Welterbestätten. Dies habe das UNESCO-Komitee am Dienstagabend in Krakau entschieden, wie Sprecherin Katja Römer der Deutschen Presse-Agentur am Mittwoch mitteilte.
Die Welterbe-Experten begrüßten demnach erfolgreiche Schutzmaßnahmen in dem Park, wie den Bau einer Umgehungsstraße und Maßnahmen für nachhaltigen Tourismus in dem von Erosionen geprägten Gebiet. Zuvor war bereits der westafrikanische Comoé Nationalpark in der Elfenbeinküste von der Liste gefährdeter Stätten gestrichen worden.
Der Simien Nationalpark war 1996 wegen des Baus einer Durchgangsstraße, exzessiver Beweidung, intensiver landwirtschaftlicher Nutzung und einem Rückgang der Tierpopulationen wie des Walia Steinbocks und des Simien Fuches in die Rote Liste eingetragen worden.
Bis zum 12. Juli diskutiert das Welterbe-Komitee in Polen über gefährdete Orte sowie die Aufnahme von mehr als 30 neuen Natur- und Welterbestätten in die begehrte UNESCO-Liste. Vor dem Tagungsgebäude protestierten Naturschützer gegen die polnische Regierung. Sie kritisieren das mit Borkenkäferbefall begründeten Fällen von Bäumen in den Wäldern von Bialowieza in Ostpolen und fordern das Komitee auf, Experten hinzuschicken. Teile des Waldsystems von Bialowieza sind Nationalpark mit einer streng geschützten Kernzone, die auf der Weltnaturerbe-Liste der UNESCO steht. (dpa)
Media, Culture, Education and Health
15.7.2017 Academic Freedom in Public Universities. Yidnekachew Ewnetu, Ethiomedia.com
Ausschnitte aus einem langen Meinungsartikel:
The legislation of Wollo University states that freedom to teach and freedom to learn without interference is the basic right given to academic staffs and students. The importance of academic freedom is perceived in relation to the functions of universities. The three major functions of the university, as mentioned in its legislation are training skilled labor force, conducting researches and providing community services. (Wollo University, 2011) To fulfill these diverse educational and social functions, universities need to have a commitment to the spirit of truth and possess academic freedom. (…)
2. Challenges of Academic freedom
In a less developed country like Ethiopia, education is believed to be the core stone for the way out of severe poverty. Meanwhile, education coverage and education quality are always challenges in the Ethiopian education system. The current regime has accomplished a positive change in terms of coverage. More than 25 new public Universities have been introduced in the last 20 years causing a significant improvement in national student intake capacity. But it is believed to happen at the expense of education quality. Both the government and universities themselves have admitted that education quality is under question mark. The problem is that it is not yet possible to understand and openly speak the root causes of the continually declining education quality, as measured in terms of the graduates’ quality. (…) More than 98 percent of higher learning institutions in Ethiopia are owned by the government. The Ethiopian government has shown a growing interest to have full control over Universities, mainly for political reason. This ambitious interest has put academic freedom at risk. As in many other countries, governmental power has been used to turn the educational institutions into a system that largely serves the interests of state power-holders.
2.1. Failure to be autonomous
(…) the security of academic freedom in Wollo University depends on the political stability of the ruling government. The following evidences are presented to support the above discussion;
- Since the establishment of the University in 2006, five and seven different persons have come to the University presidency and vice presidency power, respectively. The university community doesn’t have any information on how and why it happened. It was all led by one director of Board.
- The top university managerial positions are all taken by political merit, not academic merit.
- The university’s student enrollment capacity is determined by the Board. Since its’ establishment, the university keeps accepting large number of students irrespective of available facilities and personnel. As a result, a single dormitory which was built for four is accommodating 16 students; 125 students are sitting in a classroom which was meant for a maximum of 50 students.
- So far, the government is a sole funder for all researches made by the university. As a result, the Board has engaged itself in filtering research themes made by academic staffs. It has been observed that only themes which get the will of the board will be funded.
- New study programs are also approved by the board led team without a thorough need assessment study.
In addition to the above formal involvements, the board has also a strong power in the recruitment and promotion of academic staffs. (…)
2.2. Political activities
It is not a secret that all of the four major parties, constituting the ruling party, are operating inside the main campus of the university. These parties share office and budget from the university, but have nothing to do with its mission. Instead, their presence is against the secularism values of the university.
Though it is not clear how and why these parties are operating inside the campus, the university community has observed them doing the following activities;
- Mobilizing and enrolling new party members
- Election campaigns
- Spying any individual or group political movements and opposing thoughts
- Creating and organizing ethnic identities and weakening any unity against the government or the ruling party
- Led the one to five pairing network of academic staffs and students (…)
2.3. Forced propaganda networks
Even though it was meant for education quality, it is understood that ‘one to five pairing of staffs and students’ is a high level political tool managed by the University Board. One to five pairing is a peer group where one leader and five members will constitute. It has an operation guide which sets rules on how it should operate. As a cover, it includes educational assignments, but it also includes a regular and mandatory discussion schedules on topics which will be cascaded from the board. The topics are usually politically geared and have nothing to do with academics.
Ten peer groups will have a leader who is assigned by the board. The leader regularly collects report from each group and channel up to the board. Despite of strong resistance by the academic staffs and students, the board is not yet flexible to dismantle this chain as it is found to be a reliable spying means. This is happening not only in Wollo University, but also in all Ethiopian public universities.
2.4. Weakened teachers’ association
(…) Teachers have frequently organized themselves and requested the university to get a legal entity as an association, but the university has denied it by responding nothing. Instead, it is observed that those individuals who took the leadership role in submitting the request are facing a lot of personal challenges. As a result, teachers have become voiceless and failed to speak for their rights as a group. (…)
2.5. Repression of academic staffs rights
(…) In the past years, teachers who were member of opposition political parties in Wollo are sent to jail in fabricated reasons. Others who spoke their political opinions openly are facing a lot of warnings, discrimination and administrative bureaucracies. As a result, many senior teachers have left their job fearing the ever worsening repression and academic freedom violations. (…)
14.7.2017 Ethiopian Musicians Charged With Terrorism for ‘Inciting’ Song Lyrics. Endalk, globalvoices.org
Seven producers and performers of a popular YouTube music video were charged in Ethiopia in late June with terrorism for producing ‘inciting’ audio-visual materials and ‘uploading them on YouTube’.
The group members were arrested in December 2016 and were held in detention without charges until last month.
Among those facing charges is Seenaa Solomon, a young female singer who critics say is a rising music talent to watch. The other detainees include the well-known songwriter, singer and music entrepreneur Elias Kiflu, two vocalists Gemechis Abera and Oliyad Bekele, and three dancers, Ifa Gemechu, Tamiru Keneni and Moebol Misganu.
This marked the second arrest for dancer Moebol Misganu, who in 2014 was arrested in connection with the students protest in Ethiopia’s largest region, Oromia. He was released in 2016.
Since December 2016, Seenaa and her colleagues have been held in Maekelawi— a prison notorious for its torture practices, recounted by past prisoners. Shortly after their arrest, online activist and diaspora satellite television director Jawar Mohamed wrote:
The regime has intensified its war on Oromo artists. Almost all singers are either in jail, forced to flee or had gone underground. Studios have been closed and their properties confiscated. Seena Solomon and Elias Kiflu, the duo known for their powerfully dramatized resistance songs are the latest victims.
The contentious political environment in which these arrests have occurred has grown out of the Ethiopian government's plan to expand Addis Ababa, the country's capital. In 2014, the ruling EPRDF party announced plans to expand the capital into adjacent farm lands of Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest region that is primarily home to the country's largest ethnic group, the Oromo.
When the plan led to wide-scale protests and a violent government crackdown, Afan Oromo (the region's language) musicians began to rise as a visible — and audible — source of inspiration for the opposition movement. Seenaa Solomon's group produced music videos in Afan Oromo during student protests that rocked the country from 2014-2016, creating something akin to a soundtrack for the movement.
In their coverage of the group members’ arrests, state-run Fana Broadcasting Corporation reported that Seenaa and her colleagues were producing music videos, poems and interviews with government critics in collaboration with a diaspora political organization based in Australia.
According to their charge sheet, their audiovisual materials were “inciting” and “complimentary” of the student protesters and others who demonstrated between 2014 and 2016.
They are not the first musicians to face such repression. In January 2016, Hawi Tezera, another Oromo singer who comforted and inspired protesters through her songs, was imprisoned. In February 2017, Teferi Mekonen, an Oromo singer who asserted Oromo cultural identity and challenge the legitimacy of Ethiopia’s ruling party in his songs, was arrested. Hawi was later released, but Teferi's fate remains unknown.
As the visibility of political singers has risen, Ethiopian authorities have intensified their crack down on musicians whom they perceive sympathize with opposition. But this has not necessarily made the musicians less visible or less popular. Resistance music continues to flourish on YouTube. Despite the fact that its performers are in jail, the YouTube channel for Seenaa Solomon's group maintains an impressive tally of more than 3,525,996 views.
Horn of Africa and Foreign Affairs
25.7.2017 Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam a threat to downstream Nile states, including Egypt. Daily Maverick
The government of Ethiopia is currently constructing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Once complete, the dam will be the largest hydropower facility in Africa (about 6,000 MW) – nearly triple the country’s current electricity generation capacity – and represent a potential economic windfall for the government. By Zachary Donnenfeld for ISS TODAY
The benefits for Ethiopia and for many electricity-importing countries in East Africa from the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam are clear. However, the implications for downstream countries aren’t all positive – and need to be better understood.
In 2016, about 30% of Ethiopia’s population had access to electricity and more than 90% of households continued to rely on traditional fuels for cooking. Traditional fuels can cause respiratory infections, and according to the World Health Organisation, acute lower respiratory infection is the leading cause of death in Ethiopia.
So the benefits of better access to electricity in Ethiopia are clear. But creating a larger supply doesn’t mean demand will automatically follow. In Ethiopia, where 70% of the population lives in rural areas and relies on subsistence agriculture, the government must also invest in developing human capital to increase incomes and stimulate the demand for services. The standard of living needs to improve before Ethiopians can consume additional electricity – unless it’s completely subsidised by the government.
The government may also anticipate a boost to revenues through electricity exports from the dam. Several power purchase agreements have already been signed with neighbouring countries, including Djibouti, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan and Tanzania.
There is a need for more rapid progress along various dimensions of human development in Ethiopia, as highlighted in a recent ISS report produced for the United States Agency for International Development. But there are concerns about how this dam will affect downstream states, particularly Sudan and Egypt.
Although Sudan was initially opposed to the dam’s construction, the country has recently warmed to the idea. This could be because Sudan has agreed to purchase electricity from the dam, while the two countries have also agreed to collaborate on a free economic zone. While bilateralism has proved effective with Sudan, multilateral negotiations haven’t been particularly fruitful.
Signed in 2015, the Khartoum Agreement ostensibly mapped out a way forward, but implementation of the deal hasn’t been easy, and cracks are starting to show. In May this year, the Middle East Monitor concluded that Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan had just finished their 14th round of unsuccessful discussions about how to manage the Nile River.
At that 2015 meeting, officials from the three countries agreed to proceed with an impact assessment that was to be completed within 15 months. After 17 months, the report has yet to be publicly released. There is still no independent feasibility study, cost-benefit analysis or environmental impact assessment.
This is worrying since Ethiopia could begin filling the dam at any time. The Ethiopian government expects it will take roughly five or six years to fill the dam’s reservoir. However, Diaa Al-Din Al-Qousi from Egypt’s Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation believes that a period of 12 to 18 years is needed to guarantee water security for Egypt. This is quite a discrepancy.
A recent report from the Geological Society of America said a period of between five and 15 years seemed reasonable, apparently giving credibility to both sides. But the same report noted that the “Nile’s fresh water flow to Egypt may be cut by as much as 25%, with a loss of a third of the electricity generated by the Aswan High Dam”, which would be bad news for Egyptians.
Also, many Egyptian officials fear that the increased evaporation from the sheer size of the dam could affect water security in the country – already one of the most water-stressed in the world.
Ethiopia maintains that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project has been conducted with adequate transparency and involvement from the relevant stakeholders. It also highlights that Egypt hasn’t signed the Co-operative Framework Agreement (CFA) of the Nile Basin States, whereas Ethiopia has.
Since Ethiopia announced it would go ahead with construction of the dam in 2011, Cairo has voiced disapproval. At various stages, Egypt has demanded that Ethiopia cease construction, threatened action at the United Nations Security Council, and claimed that it is protected by a 1959 treaty, even though Ethiopia didn’t sign the treaty. The treaty essentially divides the river between Sudan and Egypt, leaving nothing for Ethiopia, where more than 60% of the Nile’s water originates.
With its national livelihood depending on the Nile, it’s difficult to anticipate what Egypt’s reaction might be should Ethiopia proceed with its plan to fill the dam. Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty recently told Reuters that Egypt had “no other resources … we will not allow our national interests, our national security to be endangered”. This brings back memories of former president Mohamed Morsi’s ominous 2013 speech, in which he declared that if the Nile “loses one drop, our blood is the alternative”.
Analysts at the Texas-based consulting group Stratfor have concluded that Egypt’s reaction will, in part, be determined by its political leadership. But they also stress that “whatever its political inclination, a large-scale reduction in water from the Nile would be intolerable to any Egyptian government”.
Ethiopia has a right to exploit its own natural resources to support much-needed human development projects, but can it afford to compromise its relationship with downstream states, particularly Egypt? The government of Ethiopia has done well to finance and promote this project. The question now is how best to manage the possible implications with downstream states.
12.7.2017 China Setting Up First Military Base in Djibouti. Ezega.com
China started setting up its first overseas military base in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, as China's rapidly modernizing military extends its global reach. Ships carrying personnel for China's first have set sail to begin setting up the facility. Though Beijing officially describes it as a logistics facility, state news agency Xinhua said late on Tuesday the ships had departed from Zhanjiang in southern China "to set up a support base in Djibouti".
Djibouti's position on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean has fuelled worry in India that it would become another of China's "string of pearls" of military alliances and assets ringing India, including Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. China began construction of a logistics base in Djibouti last year. It will be used to resupply navy ships taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia, in particular.
Navy commander Shen Jinlong "read an order on constructing the base in Djibouti", but the news agency did not say when the base would begin operations. Djibouti, which is about the size of Wales, is at the southern entrance to the Red Sea on the route to the Suez Canal. The tiny, barren nation sandwiched between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia also hosts U.S., Japanese and French bases.