von Redakteur

Ethiopia’s pledges include, among others, providing work permits to qualifying refugees, facilitating local integration where feasible, and earmarking a percentage of jobs within industrial parks to refugees.

Ethiopia’s nomination as a roll-out country for the comprehensive framework in February 2017 and its subsequent launch of the framework in November 2017 attest to the government’s seriousness about the pledges. The framework serves as a vehicle to implement the pledges and envisions bringing durable solutions to refugees and supporting host communities through combining humanitarian aid and development.

The comprehensive framework is a win-win solution for refugees and host communities

National consultations to define the modes of implementation are ongoing, with different actors, including refugees. John Magok, who attended one such consultation on behalf of his fellow South Sudanese refugees, told ISS Today that the CRRF ‘will bring a paradigm shift on the way refugees are treated in Ethiopia by offering them livelihood opportunities. They can start a new life, which will give them a sense of safety, acceptance, and hope in life’.

To date, the framework has been rolled out in eight countries and ‘situations’ globally: Ethiopia, Uganda, Djibouti, the Somalia situation, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and Costa Rica.  

While all refugees in Ethiopia stand to benefit from the CRRF, the option of local integration applies to those who have been in the country for 20 or more years and have limited prospects for return and/or third-country resettlement. This arrangement may benefit up to 40 000 mainly Somalian and South Sudanese refugees.

The Ethiopian government has already made progress in implementing the comprehensive framework. First, civil registration of refugees, including birth, marriage, divorce and death, started in October 2017. This has provided retroactive registration rights to the approximately 70 000 refugee children born in the country over the past 10 years.

Second, the Biometric Information Management System, a countrywide refugee registration infrastructure, was initiated in 2017. The system records information on refugees’ education and professional skills as well as profiles of their family members. Both civil registration and the new biometric system will enable refugees to access CRRF opportunities.

Third, Ethiopia is constructing $500 million worth of industrial parks through funding from the European Union (EU), the United Kingdom and other sources. Once completed, the parks are expected to create up to 100 000 jobs, of which 30% will be available to refugees. This supports the government’s effort to address youth unemployment.

The CRRF is not just about improving the lives of refugees. Social infrastructure including schools and health centres that will be built for refugees will also benefit the host communities.

Refugee integration and job creation programmes may not be viewed positively by Ethiopians

Last year, UNHCR High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi described Ethiopia’s refugee protection regime as ‘a shining example of African hospitality’. His predecessor and current UN Secretary-General António Guterres said Ethiopia was ‘a pillar of refugee protection.’ Donors and politicians alike are praising the country’s bold resolve to transform its refugee protection policy.

Further, the comprehensive framework will enhance Ethiopia’s negotiation power with its European partners as the planned integration of refugees is in line with EU’s goal of keeping refugees in first-asylum countries.

Ethiopia is a source of migrants itself. Located in the Horn of Africa – the epicentre of migration within and out of Africa – it is a transit country for refugees and migrants. Ethiopia is one of the European Commission’s 16 ‘priority’ countries that is working to reduce migrant/refugee numbers in return for various ‘incentives’ like development aid and trade.

Although progress on the comprehensive framework has been good, implementation challenges are anticipated. Despite significant economic development over the past decade, Ethiopia is still one of the poorest countries in the world. Thousands of Ethiopians leave the country in search of better economic prospects. This means the refugee integration and job creation components of the CRRF may not be viewed positively by the local population.

Also, the integration of South Sudanese refugees in particular needs to be done with caution. Almost 85% of the 408 494 South Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia are living in refugee camps in the Gambella Region. Here the two major ethnic groups – Anuak and Nuer – have been competing for political influence and power for years. As of April 2017, the refugee population surpassed that of the host community. The government’s decision to relocate newly arriving refugees to the neighbouring Benishangul-Gumuz region last year indicates that it is working to address these ethnic and political dynamics in the region.

The comprehensive framework is a win-win solution for both refugees and host communities. If properly implemented, refugees will be given the opportunity they need to unleash their potential and be productive members of the host community. Similarly, host communities will benefit from the skills and contributions of refugees.

The international community can contribute through a one-time investment to help refugees become self-reliant, after which they may not have to worry about providing humanitarian aid every year.


19.3.2018        Immediate assistance needed before relief food lifeline breaks. Eskedar Kifle, Capital

The relief food lifeline in the Somali region is expected to break soon, unless another USD 50 million is secured for two rounds of assistance, according to Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator.

The statement came during the launch of the Ethiopia Humanitarian and Disaster Resilience Plan (HDRP) for 2018 on Tuesday March 13, 2018.

“The needs of the 7.8 million Ethiopians that will be addressed through the plan are very real; we have not made those numbers up. In whatever manner we are able to assist, we need to do so immediately. The government has announced the first fund, new resources for the appeal and I think this is encouraging and exemplary, donors have been provided with the agreed top priorities for immediate funding,” Onochie said.

“While response in all sectors is required there are some very critical gaps that simply cannot wait. I note in particular that once again the relief food lifeline in Somali region is expected to break eminently unless we can secure another USD 50 million for two rounds of assistance. The lifeline for the therapeutic supplement feeding which treats moderate acute malnutrition is also about to break,” she also added.

The newly launched HDRP is seeking USD 1.6 billion to reach the 7.9 million people in need of assistance following recent successive failed or under-performing rains mainly in the southern and eastern parts of the country, an increase in conflict-related displacement along the border areas of the Oromia and Somali regions, and a lack of recovery opportunities.

While the document focuses primarily on immediate response requirements for 2018, it also lays out the basis for a three-pillar model that will allow for further planning and development investments: prevention and mitigation, preparedness and response and national systems strengthening and recovery.

“I hope the disaster risk management approach will equip us with the tools to collectively channel both development and humanitarian resources to address common root causes of high humanitarian needs and build resilient communities. Through implementation of the Disaster Risk Management Policy and enhanced capacity building from our partners, I am confident that the government will be able to handle future humanitarian needs,” said Mitiku Kassa, Commissioner of the National Disaster Risk Management Commission.

Ethiopia is entering a fourth year of exceptional drought emergency. In 2017, severe drought conditions continued in lowland, mostly pastoral areas, rendering hundreds of thousands destitute and displaced. The southern autumn rains again underperformed, though not at the level of ‘drought’, meaning that levels of food insecurity and acute malnutrition in the lowlands remain high. Meteorologists, including the National Meteorological Agency (NMA), are predicting that the current La Nina phenomenon may lead to reduced performance of spring rains, particularly over southern and eastern lowland areas.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, additional humanitarian needs have arisen due to conflict, with 857,000 Ethiopians displaced over the past year around the border areas of the Oromia and Somali Regions.

Many of those displaced over the course of 2017 are likely to require continuing relief assistance and recovery support in 2018. Indicative modeling and projections show that humanitarian needs and financial requirements are likely to remain similarly high for the following two years, 2019-2020.


18.3.2018        Need for Relief Swells Despite Decrease in Number of Affected. Berhane Hailemariam, Addis Fortune

In its 2018 Humanitarian & Disaster Resilience Plan (HDRP), the Ethiopian government, jointly with its humanitarian partners, has revealed that the amount of people in need of humanitarian assistance has decreased.

The amount of funding that is needed for aid has increased, however, as a result of the one million displaced people due to conflicts along the administrative demarcations of the Oromia and Somali regional states.

There are currently 7.8 million people in need of assistance in the southern and southeastern parts of Ethiopia, down from 8.5 million people last year.

The humanitarian requirement has been bumped up by close to half a billion dollars to 1.7 billion dollars - of which the government has already contributed 182 million dollars. Over a billion dollars of this will be needed to buy food, and 198 million dollars will be used for the 3.8 million people that are malnourished.

The Plan is the result of a three-week assessment conducted by a team of 200 staff members from the government and humanitarian partners such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Ethiopian Humanitarian Fund (EHF) and United Nations' agencies.

The Plan includes three pillars for humanitarian response, prevention and mitigation, preparedness and response, and strengthening of national systems, the last of which aims to increase the response systems of the country.

Released bi-annually, the report assesses the performances of the Belg and Meher seasons. This recent one is compiled in the last Meher season, which dates from early June to early October of last year.

The report showed that the after-effects of the 2015 El Niño and last year's Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) induced droughts, which left 10 million and 8.5 million people in need of relief, respectively, are still being felt.

This has been attributed to the low levels of rainfall in Meher in the southern parts of the Oromia Regional State and in South Eastern parts of the country that are known as the Drought Belt, covering Afar and Somali.

Forecasts are more optimistic, however, for the current Belg season, which will stay until May. The National Meteorolgical Agency (NMA) indicates that the southern part of the Oromia region will get a healthy and above-normal level rainfall. The weather is forecast to be drier in the southeastern part of the Somali region.

The forecasts are conducted by analysing eight areas of the nation with similar climates.

The Belg rainfall distribution in February and March is satisfactory, according to Asamnew Teshome, director of Meteorological Forecast & Early Warning.

"In those parts of Somali, although there will be rain that can be good for farmers, it will be accompanied by dry moments," he said.

A lecturer and researcher for nearly two decades at Addis Abeba University's (AAU) Centre for Food Security believes that the only way to get out of this is the proper use of natural resources.

Mesay Mulugeta (PhD) added that afforestation and reforestation have to be promoted, rivers and lakes have to be protected from pollution, climate-smart agriculture has to be introduced and the population growth rate has to be capped.

"Otherwise, the country will not stop being needy," he added.

The National Disaster Risk Management Commission of the country is currently focusing on redirecting the humanitarian fund to sustainable developmental activities such as irrigation and the construction of deepwater wells, according to Debebe Zewdu, public relations director of the Commission.

"A study is being conducted in 412 weredas to assess their level of exposure to disasters," Debebe told Fortune.


18.3.2018        WB Approves U.S.$600 Million Financing for Governance, Infrastructure in Ethiopia. ENA

The World Bank this week approved 600 million USD of International Development Association (IDA) for better urban governance, infrastructures and public services in cities across Ethiopia, according to a statement from the Bank. The financing targets to strengthen the capacity and performance of local urban governments, expand sustainable urban infrastructure and services, as well as promote local economic development in cities across the country.

Ethiopia is one of the fastest urbanizing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the urban population growing at 3.8 percent a year. Rapid urbanization poses challenges as cities struggle to provide infrastructure, services, and jobs, according to the Bank. Since the early 2000s, the World Bank has been helping Ethiopia to address these challenges and foster smart urbanization including through the Urban Local Government Development Program (ULGDP).

The program, which has played a key role in improving the institutional performance of local governments, is also the foundation upon which the new Urban Institutional and Infrastructure Development Program (UIIDP) is built. "While the new investment builds upon the successes of ULGDP it also incorporates important lessons learned and introduce a new approach. This new approach will help Ethiopia to develop a strategy for sustainably financing urban development," said Carolyn Turk, World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia.


14.3.2018        Ethiopian refugees speak of horror, agony as soldiers flushed them out. Gitonga Marete, Irene Mwendwa, Daily Nation

The more than 8,000 Ethiopian refugees, who have arrived in Moyale Town, Marsabit County, Tuesday narrated how they were flushed out of their homes by soldiers. They fled the country in the wake of their government’s crackdown on dissidents, with Ethiopian soldiers being accused of killing at least 13 people on Saturday. The refugees accused the Ethiopian government of abdicating its responsibility of protecting its citizens. The camps where the 8,200 Ethiopians are staying in Moyale are at Butiye Social Hall, Somare, an NGO camp at Moyale, a plot owned by Marsabit Governor Mahmoud Mohamed and Dambala Fachana Village.


Mr Harsame Halakhe, a 68-year-old father of 19, said that when the soldiers raided their homes, they ordered them to lie down and shot some of them dead. “Even places of worship, including mosques, became chambers of death. People were killed in a mosque as we watched. We escaped death narrowly and fled with children and cattle,” he said. Ms Kashure Guyo, 18, said the soldiers attacked them on Saturday at Shawa-bare, a town located three kilometres from the Kenya-Ethiopia border. She said the soldiers shot at anyone they came across. She was injured in the leg and hand as she fled. “They just came to the market and started shooting. We had to flee for our lives with bullets flying all over.”


Ms Abdia Galma, a 56-year-old mother of 11, said the conflict had been building up over the past several years. She said the genesis of the crisis was land that had been allocated to some members of one community she did not name. The refugees spoke even as the Kenya Red Cross Society sounded the alarm over the influx. The society appealed to the humanitarian and security agencies to set up a proper camp for the refugees. Even as more refugees arrived in the Kenyan border town yesterday, there was no designated area for the consolidation of the numbers and their registration, KRCS upper eastern coordinator Talaso Chucha said. She noted that the refugees were arriving in the villages, where they were being assisted by their Kenyan relatives and friends, with no proper record of how many they were. Ms Chucha also decried the security risk as there was no system in place to screen and monitor the movement of the refugees arriving in the town.


“So far, they are 8,200 and more are arriving every hour. We have identified at least five points, where they have been assisted by the local community, but we cannot coordinate help when they are scattered. There is a need for a camp to enable us to mobilise resources and avert a crisis,” she said. At least 15 paramedics had been deployed to Moyale to help the refugees, she said. “There is a major potential health risk for the refugees and the host community because there are no amenities in the places where they are staying. There is no food, clean water and bedding. Children are defecating in the open. Although, so far, there are no reported cases of serious diseases, we cannot rule out an outbreak of cholera if the situation is not addressed,” Ms Chucha warned.

The National Drought and Management Authority’s Marsabit County boss, Mr Golicha Guyo, Tuesday said they had called an emergency meeting with all the stakeholders to assess the situation. “We want to come up with an urgent solution to the crisis because more than 50 people are living in one home,” he said.


13.3.2018        More than 7.8 Mn People Need Emergency Food Assistance, Says Commissioner Mitiku. GoE, Relief Web

Some 7.88 million people need emergency food assistance in 2018, National Disaster Risk Management Commissioner Mitiku Kasa said. Speaking at the launching the 2018 Humanitarian and Disaster Resilience Plan (HDRP) document jointly produced by the government and humanitarian partners today, he said the figure is based on the Multi-Agency Meher assessment results. "The total resource requirement to address the 7.8 million relief beneficiaries is estimated at 1.6 billion USD. Considering 215.3 million USD carry over resources, net requirement is estimated to be 1.44 billion USD," the Commissioner added. He further elaborated that, the government of Ethiopia has committed 138 million USD for drought responses and recovery/rehabilitation programs of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) as a first installment for 2018.

Mitiku stated that the existing coordination system among government, UN agencies, NGOs and donors will further be strengthened to ensure a robust and effective humanitarian response. “I am confident that the humanitarian requirements identified in this 2018 HDRP will be jointly addressed through concerned efforts of the government and partners”, he stressed.

UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie said the 2018 HDRP is an appeal for urgently required resources to address immediate humanitarian needs. “The needs of the 7.88 million Ethiopians, which will be addressed through the plan, are very real and acute. In whatever manner we are able to assist, we need to do so immediately”, she emphasized.

According to HDRP document, of the total number of people requiring humanitarian assistance in 2018, 41 percent are in Oromia, 23 percent in Somalia, 12 percent in Amhara, 9 percent in SNNPR, and 7 percent in Tigray. The remaining are in Afar, Gambella, Beninshangul-Gumuz, Harari regions and Dire Dawa Administration.

The number of the needy population has increased by 37 percent from 5.7 million in January 2017 to 7.8 million in 2018. On the other hand, the 2018 needy population has decreased by 8.14 percent as compared to 8.5 million in Belg 2017.


9.3.2018          2018 Humanitarian and Disaster Resilience Plan. GoE, UNOCHA


Given the recurrent nature of climate-driven humanitarian crises in Ethiopia, Government and partners have agreed that a significant shift in approach is required.

This Humanitarian and Disaster Resilience Plan(HDRP) represents a first step towards the development of a multiyear planning framework that will seek to: increase the quality and predictable delivery of required multi sectoral humanitarian response; mitigate future needs in areas that experience recurrent climate induced shock; support the strengthening of national service provision to address chronic and acute needs; and, the recovery of communities affected by drought and conflict.

The Government and partners are working to establish an overarching vision and strategy for resilience and recovery in many of the recurrently drought-prone areas.

Whilst this document focuses primarily on immediate response requirements for 2018, it also lays out the basis for a three-pillared model that will allow for further planning and development investments, in line with a disaster risk management approach.

Pillar 1 concerns prevention and mitigation: Some limited activities in this regard are already reflected here, particularly those that humanitarian partners believe to be immediately critical in the context of the required humanitarian response in 2018 – for support via humanitarian or development funding used flexibly. The need for broader, large-scale resilience-type investments are described in many of the sector chapters, though not yet presented in detail.

Pillar 2 concerns preparedness and response. Largely relief commodities and partners presence in hot-spot areas.

Pillar 3 concerns National System Strengthening and Recovery: Practically all humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia is delivered with or through national systems at point of delivery; some activities to increase the capacity of these systems within Line Ministries at Federal and local levels (particularly that enable the overall response) are included here, along with some limited, sector-specific recovery activities. As with Pillar 1, major recovery investments are not yet presented in detail, though some early recovery activities are incorporated.

Ethiopia is entering a fourth year of exceptional drought emergency. In 2017, severe drought conditions continued in lowland, mostly pastoral areas, rendering hundreds of thousands destitute and displaced. The southern autumn rains again underperformed, though not at the level of ‘drought’, meaning that levels of food insecurity and acute malnutrition in the lowlands remain high. Meteorologists, including the National Meteorological Agency (NMA), are predicting that the current La Nina phenomenon may lead to reduced performance of spring rains, particularly over southern and eastern lowland areas.

The well-managed, Government-led, lifesaving response will need to be sustained across southern and eastern parts of the country through much of 2018. Across highland areas there was a generally strong meher harvest, with some pockets of poor performance. Disease outbreaks are further expected to continue in 2018.

Additional humanitarian needs have arisen due to conflict, with 857,000 Ethiopians displaced over the past year around the border areas of Oromia and Somali Regions. Many of those displaced over the course of 2017 are likely to require continuing relief assistance and recovery support in 2018.

Indicative modelling and projections show that humanitarian needs and financial requirements are likely to remain similarly high for the following two years (2019-2020), though could be mitigated through the introduction of some of the shifts in strategic and operational approach described here.

Download full report:


7.3.2018      Ethiopia: Drought Emergency. ACT Alliance

Ethiopia is currently facing a complex humanitarian crisis as result of an ongoing drought combined with an ethno-political conflict. The current drought is an extension of last year’s (2017) drought which severely affected pastoral lowlands of Afar, Somali and Oromia. Over the past four decades, recurrent droughts have been affecting Ethiopia each time with increasing intensity and frequency. The current dire drought-related situation is further compounded by the ethno-political conflict in various parts of the country, namely along areas bordering two of the largest regional states of Oromia and Somali.

The government of Ethiopia has declared a state of emergency on March 2, 2018 for the next six months. The ethno-political conflict has caused large-scale displacement and has further exacerbating the already critical situation resulting from the drought. Affected communities have been forced to flee their homes with nothing more than few personal belongings and living in precarious conditions inside makeshift camps.

ACT Alliance Ethiopia Forum members are planning to respond, by providing life-saving responses in Nutrition, WASH and emergency Non-Food Items to reach 250,000 affected persons in the coming months.


6.3.2018          Tillerson announces over half a billion USD in aid for Africa, Ethiopia gets $110 million.  Engidu Woldie, ESAT News

U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, announced today an additional aid package amounting to $533 mainly for five African countries that are faced with food insecurity and malnutrition due to ongoing conflicts and drought. Tillerson made the announcement today in remarks at the George Mason University ahead of his trip to five African countries beginning today.

The humanitarian assistance goes to Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, and Nigeria, as well as countries in the Lake Chad region, according to details of the assistance obtained from the Department of State. Of the newly announced funds, nearly $184 million is for affected populations from South Sudan, more than $110 million for affected populations from Ethiopia, more than $110 million for affected populations from Somalia, and more than $128 million for affected populations from Nigeria and countries in the Lake Chad region, the Department said.

In his official visit to the continent, Tillerson will travel to Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Chad and Djibouti. “In Ethiopia, continued drought has worsened an already dire food security situation. A swift influx of U.S. assistance, along with that of other donors, is helping improve humanitarian conditions in all of these countries. But ultimately it is up to the leaders in these countries, particularly in South Sudan, to stop the violence and put the welfare of their citizens at the forefront of their actions,” said the statement from the Department of State. The funds will be used for providing emergency food, safe drinking water programs, emergency health care and reunification of families separated by conflict.

The U. S. has so far provided nearly $3 billion in humanitarian assistance since the beginning of fiscal year 2017, it was learnt.


1.3.2018          Poor spring (Gu) rains likely to prolong food security emergency in southeastern Ethiopia. Famine Early Warning Systems Network

Ethiopia is expected to continue facing a major food security emergency in 2018, as the impacts of poor rainfall in 2016/17, expected below-average rainfall in the first half of 2018, and large-scale conflict-related displacement drive continued humanitarian assistance needs. Sustained, large-scale emergency assistance – including food, nutrition, and WASH aid – is needed, particularly in Somali Region, to prevent extreme levels of food insecurity, acute malnutrition, and excess mortality.

March to May 2018 rainfall and temperature forecasts

Source: NMME, GHACOF, Ethiopia NMA, Kenya Met. Dept. forecasts

Drought in 2016 and 2017 drove large-scale livestock deaths in many pastoral areas of southeastern Ethiopia. Starting with the onset of Deyr rainfall in October 2017, seasonal performance improved and cumulative rainfall totals were average or above average, except in western Jarar Zone of Somali Region, where rainfall was well below average. However, even following mostly favorable performance of the Deyr 2017 season, livestock holdings, surface water availability, pasture/browse availability, and milk production remain below average in many areas. Good performance of several consecutive seasons would be needed in order to support the rebuilding of livestock herds.

However, the forecast for rainfall during the upcoming Gu (March to May) season is poor. Major global climate forecasting centers indicate the ongoing La Niña is forecast to continue through the early spring in 2018. When present between March and May, La Niña is typically associated with below-average seasonal rainfall in the Horn of Africa. This, in combination with sea surface temperature anomalies in the western Pacific Ocean, is likely to drive poor performance of the Gu rains over much of the Horn of Africa, including in mostly pastoral areas of Somali Region and southern Oromia. International, regional, and national forecasts indicate below-average rainfall is likely between March and May 2018 in southeastern Ethiopia (Figure 1), including in some areas that have already faced three below-average rainy seasons during the past two years.

Recent information from household surveys, rapid field assessments, and the post-Meher seasonal assessment suggest that food security outcomes in parts of Somali Region remain severe and that levels of acute malnutrition remain critically high. Outcomes are worst among IDPs, who have lost most of their livestock and will therefore have the most difficulty recovering even if future rains improve. Many IDP and resident households are facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes and large-scale humanitarian assistance has played a key role in preventing food insecurity and malnutrition from deteriorating to more extreme levels. Without sustained emergency food assistance, large increases in acute malnutrition and excess human mortality, particularly among children, would occur.

Elsewhere in Ethiopia, a poor Belg (March to May) 2017 season in eastern and northern SNNPR has resulted in emergency assistance needs that will persist through May 2018. Should Belg 2018 rainfall in southwestern Ethiopia perform well as forecast, harvests starting in June should improve household food access through much of 2018. However, North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME) forecasts suggest Belg 2018 rains will be below average in northern Ethiopia (Figure 1), which could affect crop production and lead to assistance needs later in the 2018/19 consumption year. In addition, conflict since mid-2017 has driven large-scale displacement along the Somali-Oromia regional border. More than 800,000 people are reportedly displaced, many of whom are facing disrupted livelihoods and difficulty meeting their basic food needs.

Given the significant impacts on household food access and nutrition described above, a major food security emergency is likely to continue in Ethiopia during 2018. Continued close monitoring of Belg and Gu seasonal progress, drought and conflict related displacement, and disease incidence are required alongside sustained, well-targeted, and large-scale multi-sectoral assistance, particularly in Somali Region, to prevent extreme food insecurity, high levels of acute malnutrition, and excess mortality.


Politics, Justice, Human Right

31.3.2018        Opposition invited for Abiy’s swearing-in. Yonas Abiye, The Reporter

Outgoing, incoming PMs to address House.

In an unprecedented show of gesture, the disgruntled opposition camp in Ethiopia has received formal invitation to attend the swearing-in of Abiy Ahmed (PhD), chairman of the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), as Prime Minister of the country, scheduled for Monday, April 2, 2018.

The invitation is extended to leaders of all opposition parties registered to operate in Ethiopia and it incorporates formal invitation to attend the dinner ceremony which will be held later that evening at the Grand National Palace. The Office of the House Speaker was the one responsible to send out the invitation to opposition parties to sit in the formal departing and swearing-in ceremony which will be held in parliament that is completely devoid of opposition.

The event itinerary also shows that the outgoing Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn will also address the House marking his formal departure from the position he has held since 2012. The event will also feature the handing over of power from the administration of Hailemariam Dessalegn to that of the PM elect: Abiy Ahmed.

Although the ruling party has made its decision to pick Abiy, 42, to lead the Front for the coming two years, according to the culture of the party the new chairman has to be confirmed by the parliament and swear-in before assuming its role.

According to a communication officer with House, Yacob Woldesemayat, the House has already sent-out invitations to many non-parliamentarian personalities including prominent leaders of the opposition political parties. The invitation is not only for the ceremony inside the assembly hall of the house but also for dinner party that is going to be hosted at the Grand National Palace the same day.

The invitation has also been extended to the diplomatic community; religious figures as well as prominent personalities to attend both the power transfer ceremony and dinner party, Yacob told The Reporter.

Sources told The Reporter that the Office of the House Speaker is making all the necessary arrangement in preparation to the event where staffers are instructed to pay attention to every detail of the program.

The preparation includes taking extra measures to ensure smooth function of the audio-visual system since the event will be televised live to Ethiopians across the country. It is the first time in the country’s recent history to witness direct power transition from one leader to other without dispute or bloodshed, commentators observe.

With its power granted constitutionally, the PM position holds “the highest” executive powers in Ethiopia’s government system and as chair of the nation’s Council of Ministers. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers are responsible to the HPR. This also includes that members of the Council of Ministers are collectively responsible for all decisions they make as a body. More importantly, the PM is the Chief Executive, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers, and the Commander-in-Chief of the national armed forces.


31.3.2018        Diplomats, media optimist about Abiy. Brook Abdu, The Reporter

The course of the election of the chairman of EPRDF has been the most anticipated political activity in the country since the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn from his post both as head of government as well as party chairmanship. (…)

“Young and charismatic, he delivers public statements in multiple languages, including English, to appeal to people beyond his own ethnic group,” New York Times described Abiy, in an article entitled Ethiopia Seeks Calm with a New Leader. Another article by France 24 asserts that, “The young, outspoken Abiy Ahmed is now poised to take power, as the ruling Front and its regional affiliates hold all parliamentary seats.”

Abiy, who appeared in many international media outlets after his election as the chair of EPRDF, was mostly described by his ethnic background—the Oromo. The Oromo comprises of more than 35 percent of the country’s population. Because he is from the party that represents the Oromia region, the region which has been at the center of the past three years’ violence and protests, Abiy’s election is believed to bring calm to the country and out of the haunting violence that killed many, displaced thousands and destroyed property worth millions. But, there are also indicated challenges.

A New African article entitled “Who is Abiy Ahmed—Ethiopia’s incoming Prime Minister?” states that “Ahmed’s ascendance to the top political post, may quell further tension. But his appointment comes just days after several recently freed (by Desalegn) political prisoners and journalists were re-arrested at a social gathering, for “violating” state of emergency laws, which prohibit gatherings without police authorization. Similar arrests were also reported in Bahir Dar, the capital of the Amhara region—another hotbed for political dissent and protest in the past three years.”

“A young reformer of entrenched military man, Ethiopia has a new leader, the first from the Oromi Ethnic Group that’s been the forefront of antigovernment protests,” narrates another article by Al Jazeera entitled “Can Ethiopia’s New Leader Bridge Ethnic Divides?”

Citing the prospects of Abiy as the next leader of the country, the BBC news article entitled “Abiy Ahmed named as head of Ethiopia's EPRDF ruling [coalition]” pointed out that, “He inherits a country that has seen one of the fastest economic growths in the world in recent years,” and “Mr Abiy's background is crucial to the way people view him.” The BBC also indicated that, “Abiy Ahmed has a big task ahead of him.” And he will have the leverage to overcome them as “… the 42-year-old is often seen as being among a group of young reformers.”

Following Abiy’s selection as chairman of the Front, diplomats and foreign leaders have also congratulated him as well as the nation. “We congratulate Dr. Abiy Ahmed on his selection as the new EPRDF Chairperson,” said Nick Barnett, US Embassy Spokesperson, in an email response sent to The Reporter.

In his congratulatory messages to Abiy, Paul Kagame, the president of the Republic of Rwanda stated, “As chairman of the AU on behalf of other African leaders I wanted to express our solidarity with the Ethiopian people & their leaders as they continue to find from within and among themselves solutions to the recent political problems they faced! Looking very much forward to having Ethiopia continue play its historical central role effectively and soon on our Continent!!”

But, many have hoped that Abiy will at least bring calm to the conflict ridden Ethiopia. “The choice of Mr. Abiy was widely seen as a move to maintain stability in Ethiopia, which has East Africa’s largest economy and is a critical player in the regional fight against terrorism,” concludes the NYT article.


30.3.2018        Heads of States congratulate new EPRDF Chairperson. Misael Lemma, Ethiopian Herald

Heads of States are sending their good wishes and congratulatory messages to Dr. Abiy Ahmed who is elected Chairperson of Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), announced Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Briefing the media yesterday, Ministry Spokesperson Meles Alem told journalists that Heads of States including Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar and AU’s Chairperson Moussa Faki expressed their content over the democratic and peaceful power transition.  In a telephonic conversation, Meles also indicated that both Moussa Faki and Paul Kagame have affirmed that both AU and Rwanda would keep their strong diplomatic relations with Ethiopia.  In general, Meles says: “Most countries were confident enough in Ethiopia’s capacity to handle its own matters which it exactly did this week.”  

According to the Spokesperson, the recent situation in the country has not been only the concern of Ethiopians at home and abroad but also that of the international communities. This is because, said Meles: “Ethiopia is the anchor of peace in volatile Horn. Ethiopia with a population of over 100 million nation is also home to over 900,000 refugees escaping manmade and natural disasters.  Meles also mentioned that the peaceful transition of power and stability are key to sustain the diplomatic achievements the country has registered. “Our Foreign Relation and National Security Policy and Strategy clearly stipulate that strong diplomatic relations is the reflection of our internal strength.” The decision for the peaceful and democratic power transition is so important in its relations with the outside world, he underscored.


30.3.2018        Dr Debretsion on EPRDF. Aigaforum

Dr Debretsion gave a brief interview to a local journalist and said the election of the new EPRDF chairmanship was done after a thorough discussion. He said he was against his own nomination and in fact, TPLF as the organization was not prepared to contest the chairmanship all along. He said there was an extensive review on one of the candidates yet all three candidates were presented. When asked about Demeke absence from the nomination Debretsion said it is the chairman position the organization was trying to fill in.


27.3.2018        Abiy Ahmed named EPRDF chair, amidst uncertainty and instability. Ethiopia Observer

Following the resignation of Hailemarim Desalegn as Prime Minster and chairperson of the ruling coalition on Mid-February, the 180-Council of Ministers named Abiy Ahmed Ali to head the governing Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), paving the way for him to be Prime Minister.

Abiy, chairman of the Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization (OPDO), replaced the outgoing Prime Minister, who was chairman of the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM) and Prime Minister since August 2012 who stepped down in a move intended to end years of unrest, amid the worst anti-government protests in 25 years.

Abiy Ahmed has emerged as a leader after receiving the most votes in secret ballot, beating out competitors, Shiferaw Shigute of SEPDM and Debretsion G. Michael of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF)

Demeke Mekonnen, chairman of the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), would continue in his deputy chairmanship role.

As a politician with good academic and military credentials, and only 42 years old, Abiy was endorsed by most leading figures in the party. His emergence as a national consensus figure is said to be the result of a bottom-up swell of movement than as a takeover at the top. “Without the uprising in the Oromia region, his nomination would be unthinkable,” a political analyst said.

At the same time, Abiy takes on a new role amidst conflicting interests and expectation of political reforms in the turbulent times and it would be a hard task for him to offer much of the change demanded by protesters. An Ethiopian diplomat posted in Northern Africa described Abiy as someone who could be up to the task, “a brilliant person, an avowed reader and someone one who loves to indulge with new ideas.” The new Prime Minister would likely to meet pressure from a Tigrayan military establishment that still holds most of the country’s power, analysts said.

The recently released opposition figure, Merera Gudina told Aljazeera that the new Prime Minister “should be bold enough or allowed by the ruling party to lead this country to national dialogue. Not a year from now, not two years from now but now.”

Semahagn Gashu Abebe, an assistant professor of international studies at Endicott College, said that Abiy’s role in the struggle for the unity and freedom of the country in the face of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front should be applauded. However, he said, considering the gravity of the country’s crisis and the public’s demand for change, it seems doubtful that his nomination would bring about real change. “His nomination could only make sense only if he is able to form a transitional government that would involve all dissatisfied factions and parties,” he said.

The party cautions against over-optimistic expectations. A post published on EPRDF Addis Ababa’s Facebook last week reads, “The Prime Minister is EPRDF. It was the party that was democratically elected. It was the EPRDF’s programme that won. The person who is just appointed as Prime Minister is also an EPRDF member. Individuals could be replaced but the policy and strategy of the party would continue.”

Abiy grew up in Agaro and joined the resistance movement against the former military regime as a teenager. He has served in the military and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He worked his way up through the ranks of the military, becoming a Major, before moving to the Information Network Security Agency (INSA) and becoming Minister of Science and Technology on a specialist higher learning ticket. Abiy defended his PhD program at the Institute for Peace and Security Studies in Addis Ababa on May 18, 2017. On November 2017, Abiy was appointed as office head of the OPDO secretariat after having served as Head of Urban Development and Housing Bureau with the rank of Deputy Chief Administrator since October 2016.


23.3.2018        The challenge now is to renew Ethiopia with what is right with Ethiopia. The Strathink Editorial Team

For the last several years, Ethiopia has been in the midst of a serious political crisis. Civil unrest in various parts of the country, particularly Oromia, triggered the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. The Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), Ethiopia’s governing party, is undergoing what it calls “deep renewal”—a process that began with intense self-evaluations at all the party conferences.

In particular, the Tigrayan Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF) issued a statement accusing its own leadership of  “taint[ing] the hard earned gains of the party and the public alike.” The Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization (OPDO) along with the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) had a similar leadership shakeup, although not as drastic. And the Southern Ethiopian Peoples’ Democratic Movement (SEPDM) chose new leadership last month following the resignation of the Prime Minister.

It is understandable to be focused on the current problems—civil strife, corruption and loss of public confidence in the state are formidable challenges. Yet, it is not unhelpful to step back and look at the bigger picture of Ethiopia’s trajectory beginning in 1991 with the fall of Mengistu Haile Mariam’s government.

For those of you Ethiopians over 50, especially, it might be helpful to take that step back and remember what Ethiopia looked like in 1991—or 1981. While today Ethiopia stands as the fastest growing economy in the world, just 26 years ago our image of Ethiopia globally was a country of starving people. The photos of famished children bombarded us over broadcast media and Ethiopia became synonymous with hunger. Remember?

In 1981, Ethiopia was recovering from Red Terror, a period of several years where the government declared war on the country’s young people. The new rites of passage for young Ethiopians were arbitrary imprisonment, torture and even death. Their mothers and fathers were not allowed to wear black, the color of mourning, and paid for the bullet that murdered their child. Remember?

The Ethiopian Government was a military state with a command economy governed by a ruthless strongman who rose to power by imposing an infantile version of socialism on the Ethiopian people. This allowed him to rule by dictate, eliminating the opposition through extraordinary violence and repression. Remember?

The fact that Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned, citing his failure of leadership and his desire to be part of the renewal process, in a peaceful transition is extraordinarily significant. The fact that political parties are holding their leaders accountable for the government’s failures is extraordinarily significant. The fact that the government has acknowledged publicly the need to open political space for the opposition is extraordinarily significant. The fact that the government released thousands of prisoners is extraordinarily significant.

The fact that Ethiopia plays a leadership role on the continent is extraordinarily significant. The fact that Ethiopia provides more peacekeeping troops to the U.N. than any other country is extraordinarily significant. The fact that Ethiopia will be a middle-income country by 2030 is extraordinarily significant. The fact that Ethiopia will provide power to Africa via the Hedase Dam is extraordinarily significant. That fact that Ethiopia hosts more refugees than any other country in Africa and has one of the most humane refugee policies in the world—including refugees from Eritrea—is extraordinarily significant.

We can go on but you get the picture.

At the same time, stepping back and looking at Ethiopia’s remarkable progress in just 26 years does not diminish the challenges of governance in the 21st century. The problems are big and require new thinking about serving a country of 100 million people who, thanks to the sacrifices made by the courageous young people of the 1970s and 1980s, are free to want more—to dream for an even better life.

There are big questions for the new leadership to answer. Is ethnic federalism the solution or the problem to ethnic tensions in Ethiopia? How will the government address the challenges of identity politics in 21st century Ethiopia? Is it time to build national parties based on ideology or interests and not ethnic identity? How will the government provide the political space for opposition parties required for democratic development? How will the government address the problem of rent-seeking and government corruption? Will the state continue to play the decisive role in development?

The problems of Ethiopia’s “youth bulge” need definitive answers and quick action. What is the impact of social and economic exclusion to mobilizing youth to carry out violent activities? What are some regional and national initiatives to address Ethiopia’s rising unemployment and underemployment of its youth? Does Ethiopia’s educational policy promote curricula that encourage skills and enterprise development? How do schools educate children in not only human rights but also citizenship responsibility?

In 26 years, Ethiopia has fundamentally transformed its state, economy and society. Obviously, given the tensions today and gap in good governance, sustaining the progress made in the last two and a half decades requires new thinking about Ethiopia’s new reality. It won’t be easy. It will take courage, perseverance and patience.

We call on Ethiopians everywhere to put aside your differences for now and work together towards solving these problems. Yes, the State of Emergency is unfortunate and should be lifted as soon as possible. As former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said just last week in Addis Abeba, Ethiopians need more freedom, not less.

For a country that can trace its roots to antiquity, the theme of “renewal” has an especially profound meaning. For Ethiopia, the 21st century began with the promise of hope—after centuries of monarchy and military rule, economic stagnation and collapse, and social inequality.

However, there is an ebb and flow to achievement and failure.

U.S. President Bill Clinton said, “Our democracy must be not only the envy of the world but the engine of our own renewal. There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”

The challenge now is to renew Ethiopia with what is right with Ethiopia.


20.3.2018        Ethiopia security crisis self-inflicted, Eritrea innocent – Ex-US Diplomat. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban,

Ethiopia must deal with its home generated security crisis and stop using Eritrea as a smokescreen, this is the view of a former United States Assistant Secretary of State. Herman Cohen on Monday waded into renewed claims by Ethiopia that neighbouring Eritrea was backing groups aimed at destabilizing the country. Cohen described the Ethiopian claims as false and averred that the current security crisis in the country was “self-inflicted by a minority kleptocratic regime,” in apparent reference to the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF).

Ethiopia is currently under a state of emergency imposed on February 16 this year, a day after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned his position to allow for political reforms. The ruling coalition, the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is set to meet to elect his successor. The country is currently under a Command Post administering the state of emergency. The latest accusation against Eritrea was by the federal police chief who whiles giving a briefing on the state of emergency late last week, reportedly cited Eritrean involvement in the crisis. The Eritrean Information minister dismissed the claims in an email exchange with Bloomberg. “The regime is desperately trying to deflect attention from its intractable domestic crisis — of its own making — and find external scapegoats,” Yemane Ghebre Meskel said describing the claims as false and one that did not merit a serious response.

The ex-ambassador has been a regular commentator on African politics and has previously spoken about the Ethiopian situation. “In Ethiopia, instead of an all-parties reconciliation conference, I fear a Middle East type military dictatorship takeover and a zero sum game bloody outcome. USG, do not let it happen,” he said hours after a state of emergency was imposed on February 16. “While in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Secretary Tillerson should have talks with Ethiopian government about their internal political crisis, and should encourage the regime in power not to fear an opening to transparent democracy,” he tweeted on March 3, 2018. “Ethiopia regime should withdraw SOE declaration prior to naming OPDO leader Abiy Ahmed as new Prime Minister, thereby avoiding tense vote in Parliament, and setting stage for political reforms,” he tweeted two days earlier.


8.3.2017          Tillerson’s Ethiopia “democracy” remark raises eyebrows. Engidu Woldie, ESAT News

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s remark in Addis Ababa on Thursday that the resignation of a space holder Prime Minister in Ethiopia was a “very powerful symbol to the strength of the democratic process,” draws surprise and disapproval. Tillerson also expressed his “concern” that the reimposition of the state of emergency “because it does put restrictions on fundamental rights like assembly and expression.”

“We firmly believe that democratic reform, economic growth, and lasting stability are best addressed through an inclusive political process, rather than through the imposition of restrictions,” he said at a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu. “It is important that that – that the country move on past the state of emergency as quickly as possible. We hope that that can occur,” Tillerson added. The Secretary’s remark on “democratic process” echoed a similar remark by former president Barack Obama in 2015 who said in his visit to Ethiopia that the ethnic minority dictatorship was “democratically elected government.” Obama’s comments were decried by opinion makers and media, the likes of the Washington Post.

“I want to acknowledge this voluntary transfer of power. We think that’s a very powerful symbol to the strength of the democratic process here in Ethiopia, and we think it’s important that the parliament, which has been elected by the Ethiopian people, decide who the next leadership be. That’s the way democracies should perform.”

Bronwyn Bruton of the Atlantic Council think-tank says the U.S. is “more interested in supporting the status quo than they are producing a real democracy.” “The people have a voice. It is vital for the Trump administration to signal to protesters. The Tigrayan elite may not be in Ethiopia in 1, 2, or 3 years. My long term concern is that the Obama administration before and the Trump administration now can shoot itself in the foot if the Ethiopian people decide that they are not a good partner.”

Tillerson’s visit to five African countries this week has been seen as an “apology” tour for president Donald Trump’s demeaning “shithole” remark on African and Haiti in January.

A day before his arrival in Addis Ababa, Tillerson announced in a remark at the George Mason University a 533 million dollars humanitarian aid to Africa. Ethiopia receives 210 million. (EW)


8.3.2017          Ethiopia govt admits violent fightback to state of emergency regime. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban,

The Ethiopian government has admitted a violent pushback to a recently ratified state of emergency (SOE). A number of security of forces have reportedly been attacked and their weapons confiscated. The privately-owned Addis Standard news portal quoted defense minister and head of the Command Post administering the SOE, Siraj Fegessa, as comparing the fightback as a ‘coloured revolution.’

“Seventeen security forces were hurt so far, according to Siraj. He also said several areas have witnessed property damages including looting, breaking ins and torching of government offices – particularly Woreda and Kebele offices – as well as burning of public buses and government vehicles.  “Four vehicles were torched beyond repair and ten vehicles, including public buses, were destroyed in various places,” the Addis Standard report said.

Fegessa was on Wednesday (March 7, 2018) presenting the first report on implementation of the SOE, barely a week after it was controversially ratified in a parliamentary vote. Activists insist the vote failed and speaker Abadulla Gemeda apologized for a numbers mix-up. The minister also disclosed that there had been arrests made under the emergency rule – he, however, did not give details of where the arrests were made or how many people had been detained.

His report coincided with the final day of a social shutdown religiously observed across the Oromia region. The measure was called by online activists and youth to protest the state of emergency. The action disrupted economic activities as the capital Addis Ababa was cut off from other parts of the country. The minister also admitted that road blockages were rampant in parts of the country but said 80 – 90% of such incidences had been cleared. He blamed online activists behind the social boycott for the hard time security forces were having and further referred to them as ‘anarchists,’ bent on illegally seizing state power.

Fegessa fended off talk of divisions in government. According to him, the government has never been united than at this time. The country is without a substantive Prime Minister after the resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn. The current state of emergency was announced a day after Desalegn’s resignation. The ruling EPRDF accepted the resignation but asked him to stay on till a successor is picked. The coalition heads to congress this weekend to pick a new leader and Prime Minister.


7.3.2018          U.S. Embassy issues security alert in Ethiopia as Oromia strike bites. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban,

The United States Embassy in Ethiopia on Tuesday issued a security alert following reports of unrest and disruption of transport to and from the capital Addis Ababa. The country-wide alert read in part: “Reports of civil unrest.  Road closures in affected areas could disrupt transportation links to and from Addis Ababa and the availability of goods and services within the capital.  “The U.S. Embassy continues to restrict travel for Embassy personnel to areas outside of Addis Ababa,” it added.

Today (March 7, 2018) is the final day of a social shutdown in the Oromia region, Ethiopia’s largest. The three-day measure was called by activists and youth to protest a current state of emergency (SOE) imposed on February 16. The SOE was announced a day after the resignation of PM Hailemariam Desalegn. The U.S. Embassy in a statement shortly after the declaration said it ‘strongly disagreed’ with the decision of the Council of Ministers. The measure was ratified at a special sitting of the parliament on March 3. The process was however marred as the speaker announced figures that suggested that the vote had failed. Speaker Abadula Gemeda later apologized for the error.

The U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is meanwhile expected in Ethiopia later today as he kicks off an African tour that will see him visit Kenya, Chad, Nigeria and Djibouti.



17.3.2018        Coworking spaces inspiring innovators. The Reporter

(…) blueMoon is a collaborative work environment open to individuals or teams in need of temporary office space, young entrepreneurs, creative professionals in need of support and consultancy. blueMooon is not the first innovation hub of its kind in Addis but it is certainly the largest. Divided into co-working space and offices for companies or freelancers and incubation space for fresh startups, blueMoon caters to a diverse group of people.

While there is a global tech slowdown, African cities are highly investing in the market. iceaddis, the first innovation hub and startup incubator in Ethiopia began working in 2011. According to Markos Lemma, founder of iceaddis, there were maybe 5 or 6 hubs of this kind in the continent at that time. According to a recent survey by GSMA’s Ecosystem Accelerator, a program that works to enable partnerships between operators and developers in Africa, there are 314 tech hubs and incubation centers across 93 cities. Which compelled us to ask why these incubators and hubs have mushroomed in such as short period.

Markos points towards the conducive environment created by many local entrepreneurs understanding the requirement for youth involvement in the economy and the need for high tech solutions to local problems whether it is in health, transportation, agriculture or education. iceaddis, blueMoon and xHub Addis all accept applications from startups and accept business ideas. iceaddis focuses on technology and social enterprise while blueMoon looks for innovators combining agriculture and technology to improve agribusiness in Ethiopia. xHub Addis, founded by Tewodros Tadesse, began as an initiative of Center for African Leadership Studies in 2014 with the purpose of offering mentorship to young entrepreneurs, give back to the community and create something of lasting value. Social entrepreneurship and tech-based startups are accepted for a yearlong incubation process. (…)


10.3.2018        SoE costs trade expo, travel cancellations. Birhanu Fikade, The Reporter

While the motion for high-level political meetings was in full gear during the week, business meetings were fading away as a trade expo and business travels got canceled. The international horticulture expo, which was scheduled to be held in mid-March, has been canceled and postponed to next year, The Reporter has learnt. The trade expo, which is dubbed “HortiFlora Expo 2018” and was expected to be attended by some 120 international buyers, exhibitors, experts and local producers, was cancelled due to the SoE which came into effect in early March and is likely to stay for a six-month period. The Ethiopian Horticulture Producers and Exporters Association (EHPEA) has been organizing and hosting the expo for the past eight years.

When asked why the expo was cancelled and pushed for next year, Tewodros Zewdie, executive director of EHPEA, told The Reporter that almost all foreign exhibitors and visitors declined to come following the declaration of the SoE and the issuance of a stern travel warning by some countries. HortiFlora Expo 2018 was set to be held on March 14-16, 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at the Millennium Hall. The specialized trade fair, which takes place every two years, was targeting potential investors since the government has made a couple of reshuffles in the horticulture sector. Under the auspices of the outgoing Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, last year, the Ethiopian Horticulture and Agriculture Investment Authority has been formed from the merger of the Ethiopian Horticulture Development Agency and the Agricultural Investment and Land Administration Agency.

Floriculture industry has developed over the past 15-years morphing into a full-fledged industry leader for exporting cut flowers. It has been mentioned that the country is best qualified for the production and export of horticulture produces. Ethiopia is the second largest producer in Africa, next to Kenya. Eyeing latent potential in the horticulture sector, the government set aside 5,000 hectares of land in the Amhara, Oromia and Southern regional states. Within a length of 15 years, less than 2,000 plots of land have been developed to earmark USD 275 million, and this year USD 435 million, is the target revenue expected.

In a related news, The Reporter has learnt that scholars from the US Wharton University of Pennsylvania who were expected to visit Ethiopia, have canceled travel schedules in light of the SoE and travel warnings the US and many foreign countries have issued. The latest travel alert issued on March 6 reads: “Reports of civil unrest.  Road closures in affected areas could disrupt transportation links to and from Addis Ababa and the availability of goods and services within the capital.  The US Embassy continues to restrict travel for Embassy personnel to areas outside of Addis Ababa”.The advisory also includes caution to US citizens: “Remember that the security environment in Ethiopia is fluid and can deteriorate without warning.” Similarly, the UK government issued an update on travel advice on March 9, 2018 and reminded citizens about the security conditions in relation to the SoE.

Added to the SoE and the travel warnings have triggered travelers and left local businesses, dealers, event organizers and the like to remain in limbo, as future trade-fairs might end up dry.


10.3.2018        Rising inflation “not related to politics”. Birhanu Fikade, The Reporter

Prices of goods and services have soared leading to 15.6 percent year-on-year inflation rate as the government fails to contain price hike. A Central Statistics Agency (CSA) report issued on Wednesday showed that the year-on-year inflation soared to 15.6 percent in February from 13.4 percent in the previous month.  Food inflation was at 20.9 percent in February, contrasting to the 18 percent in the previous month. Non-food inflation was at 9.8 percent, compared with 8.4 percent in December, the report noted.

According to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation (MoFEC), the double-digit price buildup has nothing to do with the ongoing political crisis. Hadji Ibssa, public relations director with MoFEC said that the year-on-year inflation mostly relates to seasonal factors than political situations of the country. According to Hadji, had it been the political crisis, the prices of food items would not be limited only to specific food items, which are mostly demanded through the two months period of great fast or the Lent when members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church and the Catholics avoid meat, egg and dairy products.  Hence, prices of vegetables, spices and peppers have witnessed an increasing movement, he argued.

Following the abating crisis in parts of the country stay-home strike coupled with closure of shops and blockades of roads have been disrupting free movement of people and commodities.  But for Hadji that does not count. He said that prices of grains and cereals have shown no surprising increases. “If politics was to blame then prices couldn’t have picked peppers or cabbages only,” the PR director said.

The Government of Ethiopia vowed to contain inflation to single digits in a bid to maintain stable macroeconomic conditions in the country. The inflationary pressure comes at a time where the government had devalued the national currency by 15 percent against the US dollar in October 2017.

Cognizant to the situations, pundits warned the premature devaluation would result inflationary conditions to erode certain macroeconomic gains. Countering the arguments, governors of the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE), have staged arguments stating, time has come to form competitive export prices for Ethiopia’s commodities. Both officials of NBE and Hadji argue that non-food items have shown increasing trends mostly conforming to imported inflation. Hefty surge in the price of steel as Hadji said is one specific example to mention in relation to the imported inflation.


10.3.2017        American companies propose to build USD 2 bln gas refinery. Kaleyesus Bekele, The Reporter

Two American energy firms, Greencomm and Innovative Clear Choice Technologies (ICCT), have proposed to the Ethiopian government to build a natural gas refinery plant that can process gas to liquid petroleum at a cost of two billion dollars. Ethiopia has proven natural gas reserves in the Ogaden basin. Greencomm and ICCT have proposed to the state-owned Ethiopian Minerals, Petroleum and Bio-Fuel Development Corporation to establish a public private partnership that would build a Gas-To-Liquid (GTL) plant in the Ogaden basin.

Andargie Bekele, petroleum exploration and development director with the Ethiopian Minerals, Petroleum and Bio Fuel Development Corporation, told The Reporter that Greencomm and ICCT have expressed their keen interest in constructing a GTL plant that converts natural gas into synthetic crude oil. Andargie said the proposed GTL technology would produce synthetic crude oil out of which benzene, diesel, jet fuel, kerosene, LPG, and lubricants can be produced. (…)


10.3.2018        French firms explore business opportunities in Ethiopia. Ethiopia Observer

Officials of the French business confederation (MEDEF) are in Ethiopia to explore and identify projects they want to invest in, according to the French daily Le Monde. After undertaking similar tasks in Kenya for three days, 40 business executives under the umbrella of MEDEF have arrived in Addis Ababa on Thursday for two days stay, the paper wrote. The group was led by Pierre Gattaz, the head of MEDEF in its first visit of East Africa. The companies included 40 major French firms Schneider Electric, Total, Urbasolar, Peugeot, Sse Air Liquide, Semmaris and Bollore among many more. MEDEF officials sees prospect in the country that has an estimated GDP of USD 63 billion in 2015 and has achieved has achieved double- digit growth in real terms, averaging 10.6% per year in the last decade.

Le Monde wrote despite the economic growth of the country, the recent political turmoil could upset the economic perspective and the country has been in the lime light for the wrong reasons, for political instability, the resignation of the Prime Minister and the declaration of state of emergency. The paper quoted a Kenyan based European analyst who described Ethiopia “the sick country of the region, where it’s cracking everywhere.” Strange context for investors exploring business opportunities, the paper wrote.


8.3.2018          Agro-Industry Forum Opens up Market Linkage for Local Investors. ENA

Exhibitors at the International Agro-Industry Forum, taking place in Addis Ababa hopes to penetrate the global market through the market linkages and business opportunities created by the forum.  According to some investors who are showcasing their products in the forum, the event is enabling them to look for new destinations globally.

The Owner and General-Manager of Simret Honey, Honey products and Agricultural Equipments PLC, Simret Leulkal told ENA that the forum creates opportunity for her to supply products to the international market.  Resigning from a government institution in which she was formerly employed, Simret started to supply honey to the local market in 2014 with an initial capital of 75,000 Birr.  Currently her investment has reached more than 20 million Birr. Simret is now preparing to supply 60 percent of her products for the international market.  Simret said, “I can use this as an opportunity to introduce my products and sign agreements to sell huge amount of honey to my customers at the local and international markets”.  Aspiring to export value added products; Simret has already started the process to import equipments that are necessary for packing processed honey.  Simret hoped to utilize the huge business to business linkages that would be created through the forum to realize her goal of entering the global market.

Dejen Gebremeskel General Export & Import plc, engaged in exporting oil seeds, spices, and cereals to India, China, Central America, Europe and Middle East, is among the companies that display products in the expo.  Ezana Gebremeskeal, the import-export Manager, said that his company has benefited from market linkages created by such expos. It participated on some major international exhibitions and bazaars to introduce its products.  Ezana believed such forums would help to strength existing partnership as well as establish new cooperation.  According to him, the company is working on modernizing and standardizing its packing system in collaboration with Germen Import Desk as well as value adding on products to maximize benefit. “We are working on quality of our products and so as we can build the potential to enter in to the international market and branding Ethiopian products globally in the sector”, he said.

Terara Coffee Factory, which has been engaging in exporting roasted and processed coffee for the last 12 years, is also another company taking part in the forum. The factory has been exporting 5,000 kg roasted coffee per month to Europe, North America, Asia and Africa over the past three years. According to Business Process owner of the Company, Samson Getachew, the forum would help the company to create more linkage to companies in Europe and the U.S. “in our factory we have some challenges that had prevented us from reaching in to big markets like USA, so this is an opportunity for us to establish contacts with renown international companies in the sector”, he said. “As we are exporting roasted and processed coffee we use value addition in every step of production to promote value chain that could generate more employment opportunities,” He indicated that the government is supporting the company in different ways to strength value addition and packaging systems through the Ministry of industry.

Organic Agro-Industry, another exhibitor is participating on the forum with the aim of finding new costumers in order to increase its market destinations. The Marketing Manager, Muse Degefu said they managed to create some linkages and enter into agreements with companies through the forum. It exports 300,000-350,000 kg meat every month from its abattoir in Modjo. Last year, the company has earned over 15 million USD from exporting meat to Oman, Jeddah, Vietnam and China.

The 2nd Agro-Industry Investment Forum is taking place with the aim of highlighting and promoting the country’s favorable agro-industry investment climate, specific opportunities and business linkages.  Mobilizing private investment in agro-processing, textiles and garments, leather and leather products, establishing linkages with allied sectors such as packaging and renewable energy sources are also aims of the forum. Some 3000 participants drawn from the local and international public - private sectors converged over the forum organized by the government of Ethiopia and UNIDO that is open from March 5 to 8, 2018.


6.3.2018          Ethiopia Launches Wind Energy Dev't Roadmap. ENA,

The government of Ethiopia in collaboration with the Danish Energy Agency has published a roadmap for the development of wind farms. The Roadmap will enable the mobilization of private investments much needed in the area more realistic. The roadmap covers spectrum of issues including site selection, grid and bankable data to power sales, financing, procurement policies as well as operation and maintenance.

The Roadmap launched at the Danish-Ethiopian Wind Farm Project Development Seminar held on Monday. Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity Seleshi Bekele during the occasion said the government is initiating a series of actions towards transforming the power sector regulatory framework to involve private sector. "The provision of adequate power supply, creation of a more resilient power system through diversification of the generation mix, regional power system integration and power trade as well as scaling up access of electricity to all," he added. He said there is a great need for concerted efforts to develop robust institutional, regulatory and legal frameworks, to achieve an attractive business environment. Upgrading institutional arrangements in line with the Public-Private Partnership law will enable to have speedy and efficient delivery process to meet the ever-growing demand for electricity of the country. "Wind power in the diversified energy mix will contribute to protect frequent droughts due to climate change that poses a strategic threat to our hydropower, which will continue to be the power system backbone for years to come," he noted.

Danish Ambassador to Ethiopia, Mette Thygesen said the Roadmap will enable the mobilization of much needed private investments. It aimed at providing an up-to-date, logically organized framework for prioritizing initiatives and procedures for developing and scaling up wind power in Ethiopia. She noted that modern wind power is cost-effective energy source and can be installed in a short timeframe. "Never lose sight of the ambitious aim of ensuring access to electricity for all Ethiopians by 2025 and to develop into a middle-income climate resilient green economy during the next decade," she emphasized.

A preliminary study indicates that Ethiopia has a huge potential of wind energy which is estimated 1,000 GW much higher than the hydropower energy.


6.3.2018          Ethiopia, India hold business forum.  WALTA Business News

Eying on the increased cooperation in trade and investments between Ethiopia and India, high level officials and business people of the two countries held "Business Dialogue" today.  President Mulatu and President Kovind attended the forum where a 30-member business delegation and representatives from different Indian industries has accompanied President Kovind during the dialogue. Noting that Ethiopia attaches greater importance to the relations with India, President Mulatu in his remark underscored that such business dialogues are significant in identifying actions the two governments could take to further facilitate investments and trade.

President Kovind on his part said the business dialogue has helped the Indian side in bridging gaps between our business communities– be it in the realm of visa policies, banking procedures and laws, or customs regulations and practices.

On the occasion, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Aklilu Hailemichael noted that with the prevalence of investor friendly policy in Ethiopia, investment flow from India to Ethiopia has steadily been increasing. He added, as of 2015 and 2016, the number of Indian investors in Ethiopia was 546 with licensed investment of over US$ 4 billion of which about US$ 2 billion is estimated to be on the ground.  He also noted that India's contributions to Ethiopia's development efforts encompass a wide range of areas from technological and skill transfers to infrastructure development; from trade and investment to financial support and cultural development.

During the event Dr. Mabratu Meles, State Minister of Ministry of Industry and Indian Innovators have also made presentations on investment opportunities & Agro- Industrial Parks in Ethiopia.



Environment, Agriculture and Natural Resources

30.3.2018        Diversifying biodiversity conservation efforts. Misganaw Asnake, Ethiopian Herald

A year and some months ago, Ethiopia joined mega-diverse countries' list after a unanimous approval by the high level meeting on the sidelines of UN Biodiversity Conference held in Cancun, Mexico. The resource Ethiopia has in this regard has to be conserved to boost the socio-economic benefits of the people. 

The protection and development of the biodiversity require lots of legal and institutional measures, and even the rehabilitation of endangered species which should receive increased attention from all stakeholders with the government in the lead.
In fact, it would easier a country home to diverse animal and plant species to conserve and preserve its wealth than restoring or rehabilitating lost and endangered ones some other countries are finding it hard.

Promising activities are under way in the country such as protecting areas known for their reach plant and animal species from human encroachment.  The establishment of Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute (EBI)and Gullele Botanical Garden, among others could also be seen as huge step in this regard. Conservation efforts are being carried out in two ways at EBI for instance. Species of various sort are conserved in their natural settings and their generic sperm is preserved in cold rooms and field gene banks, he added. Due to such efforts over 80, 000 accessions and 964 microbiology are collected and stored, according to him. This is done due to its important environmentally, socially and economically, he says, adding that diversity in wild plant species, for instance, is potentially a major medicinal resource, and it is insurance for further food security. “It should also be noted that species that might not have known direct economic value today may turn out to be economically important in the future.”

For his part, Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute, Forest and Ranged Land Director, Debissa Lemessa, said rewarding activities has been made joining hands with communities. Due to the increasing societal awareness raising works, various indigenous plant species have been transplanted across the country, he hints. Adding, he noted that in Amhara State like Gojjam, Benishangul Gumuz State Birsheleko is just few places to mention. In addition, with a view to fostering conservation efforts, specialized institutions has been established, he revealed, mentioning as the purpose of the institutes is to protect Acacia tree that rests on 67 ha land in Afar State and incense forest in Tigray State.

To expand its works, the institute has forged relations with various universities, he said. The Institute’s field gene bank activities and other preserving works helped it to stand 4th in the world next to Mexico, Netherlands and Australia last year, he further explained.  On the other hand, Gullele Botanic Garden Communication Director Yared Getahun indicated that his organization has been cooperating with EBI in areas of conservation and protection. To him various works have been accomplished in collecting indigenous plant species from the traditional five agro-ecological zones of the country to the 705 ha Botanical Garden located the northern Addis at the hills of Entoto.  

He also underscored that the separate and joint effort of institutions dedicated for conservation efforts has to focus on raising awareness of the public on the conservational efforts. Provided that such efforts would continue with more fervor, the biodiversity of Ethiopia would contribute more to the socio-economic well being of the nation.


19.3.2018        Global Coalition for Lake Tana Restoration raises US$140,000 to help save Lake Tana from invasive water hyacinth. Etenesh Abera, Addis Standard

The Global Coalition for Lake Tana Restoration, a nonprofit organization established by Ethiopian water professionals in the US, raised a total of over 140,000 USD (equivalent to 3.8 Million birr), at a fundraising event organized on March 17 in Washington DC. 

Dubbed as “Tena le Tana 2018” (Health for Tana 2018), the event brought together a number of artists including Ethiopia’s legendary singer Muhammud Ahmed as well as over 1500 people.  In addition to the money pledged during the event, Medhanialem Church of DC has pledged to cover the cost of one weed harvesting machine at approximately $70,000.

“When Ethiopians come together, they are known to do great things,” said Dr Solomon Kibret, Chair of the Coalition, in an emailed message to Addis Standard. “Lake Tana is at a critical risk where two to three million people living around the lake are hugely affected by the expanding weed.”

The Global Coalition for Lake Tana Restoration was formed by Ethiopians and friends living abroad “to support environmental and water management activities around Lake Tana. This association aims to restore a healthy biodiversity and a well-managed aquatic environment by addressing current challenges such as the spread of water hyacinth and water pollution,” the collation said.

“Ethiopians in the diaspora are holding hands to help eradicate the weed from Ethiopia’s largest lake” Dr. Solomon added.

Ethiopia’s largest lake threatened

An article published on Addis Standard in Oct. 2017 detailed how the invasive water hyacinth was threatening Ethiopia’s largest lake and the source of the Nile. “Water hyacinth was first observed on Lake Tana at Chera kebele of Dembya woreda around 2011/2012 (2004 E.C.). By 2015, a significant swath of the lake’s northern and northeastern shores could be seen covered by water hyacinth. Estimates suggest that the weed currently covers 25,000 hectares of the lake. Recent media reports suggest that the weed is spotted on the Abbay River as far as the edges of the Tis Issat Falls, demonstrating the weed’s capacity to expand itself to new areas,” wrote the authors.

Since then, several initiatives have been taking place by Ethiopians both in and outside of the country. The Global Coalition has already bought a modern weed harvesting machine and has shipped it to Ethiopia last week, according to Dr. Solomon, who added: “the machine is expected to arrive in Ethiopia around mid April.”

And on March 13, legendary athlete Derartu Tulu and businessman/philanthropist Belayneh kinde have joined hands in donating 200,000 & 1.3 m birr respectively toward efforts to save Lake Tana.

Likewise, several other organizations are contributing in various ways. The event in Washington DC., for example, was co-hosted by Taitu Cultural Center and Eshara Multimedia. AS


Media, Culture, Religion, Education, Social and Health

9.3.2018          Ethiopia Holds Circus to Promote Performance Arts, African Culture. VoA News

Ethiopia recently held the second edition of the African Circus Arts Festival, which saw 11 circus troupe artists from six African countries perform at the event. Hundreds of Addis Ababa residents came out to see acrobats, hoopers, jugglers and contortionists among other acts on stage, when the circus came to town. The three-day fair was organized by the country's Fekat circus group which wants to promote performance arts and provide opportunities for artists to showcase their talent in music, dance, acting as well as fashion and design. Most performers were young people who come from difficult backgrounds. The circus encouraged them to use art to express their cultural heritage and fuse it with contemporary influences.

Other acts lined up included South Africa's Zip Zap circus group, which specializes in multidisciplinary shows. The group said they were surprised by the reception they got from audiences in Addis Ababa. "Beautiful beautiful, I really loved the energy of the audience as well. Even though I was dying and getting tired, they're the ones who kept me going and pushing. So I am really grateful to the fans as well," said Phelelani Ndarkrokra, a member of South Africa's Zip Zap circus group.

The Fekat circus group which showcased hoopers and jugglers among other performers say that despite its social, cultural and economic potential, the circus remains largely unrecognized in Africa, and has few job opportunities for artists. Fekat which was formed in 2004 and runs a circus school in Addis wants to change that.

Organizers say the turnout this year from participating countries was encouraging and that the event has potential to grow even further. "You know I used to meet African artists all around the world but not in Africa. So we thought why we don't organize something in Africa and we took this initiative from a long time ago," said Fekat co-founder Dereje Dagne.

Although a ticket for the show cost around 6 USD, which is a steep price for many Ethiopians, many were happy to attend the show. "I believe strongly that we Africans can uniquely perform circus because we can show our vast culture through circus. It makes me extremely happy that Ethiopia could host such an event," said Abel Temesgen, a guest at the event. "I think the circus could grow to a higher level if the public gave it the same attention as they do for other arts like theater and cinema. I wish people could get more awareness about circus," added another audience member, Mikias Mulugeta.

The circus also provided a platform for artists to exchange contacts and learn from each other, as well as attend workshops in different performance disciplines. The event is sponsored by UNESCO and the European Union among other partners. Organizers say they plan to hold the circus annually in future.


9.3.2018          Women’s Prospects at Work Still Low: UN Report. ENA

Addis Ababa March  08/2018 Despite notable progress on closing gender gaps over the past 20 years, women have less access to jobs, are more likely to take low-quality employment, and face barriers to management positions, UN labor report revealed. 

The "World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends for Women 2018-Global snapshot" report released on the eve of International Women’s Day yesterday, stated that women’s labor force participation rate worldwide stands at 48.5 percent in 2018, 26.5 percentage points below that of their male counterparts.

The report, authored by the UN International Labor Organization (ILO), also shows that the global unemployment rate for women is six percent for 2018, about 0.8 percentage points higher than that for men.

Altogether, for every 10 men in a job, only six women are employed.

ILO Deputy Director-General for Policies, Deborah Greenfield said, “Despite the progress achieved and the commitments made to further improvement, women’s prospects in the world of work are still a long way from being equal to men’s.”

She further added  that "whether it is about access to employment, wage inequality or other forms of discrimination, we need to do more to reverse this persistent, unacceptable trend by putting in place policies tailored to women, also taking into account the unequal demands that they face in household and care responsibilities.”

In regions such as the Arab States and Northern Africa, female unemployment rates are still twice as large as men’s, with prevailing social norms continuing to obstruct women’s participation in paid employment.

Women also face significant gaps in the quality of the employment they are in, contribute to a market-oriented family business, but are often subject to vulnerable conditions of employment without written contracts, collective agreements and respect for labor legislation.

Thus, women are still overrepresented in informal employment in developing countries.

The noted that globally, four times as many men are working as employers than women in 2018 and women continue to face barriers in accessing management positions.

Director of the ILO Research Department, Damian Grimshaw stressed that “closing gender gaps in the world of work thus should remain a top priority if we want to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030.”


9.3.2017          Yetnebersh Nigussie is named the winner of The Spirit of Helen Keller Award 2018.

Ethiopia’s Yetnebersh Nigussie, a prominent activist known for promoting the rights of people with disabilities, is named the winner of The Spirit of Helen Keller Award 2018.

The Award was established in 1959, during Hellen Keller’s lifetime, according to information available on Helen Keller International. Yetnebersh Nigussie will receive the Award at a Gala organized in New York in early May this year. She was also the winner of The Right Livelihood Award in 2017. Inspired by these awards, Light For The World, an organization Yetnebersh works for announced a new award, Her Abilities Award. The Award will globally honour women with disabilities who have remarkable achievements in life and/or realm of work.

Yetnebersh, who lost her eyesight at the age of five, is known for her advocacy that rather focuses on abilities. She studied law at Addis Ababa University and has also a master’s degree in Social Work. She is married and has two daughters; Ahati and Zema. She described her kids as “a joy and inspiration in her life.” She is married and has two daughters, Ahati and Zema, who she describes as a joy and inspiration in her life.

In a related development, American Foundation for the Blind named Haben Girma as one of Helen Keller Achievement Award Winners 2018. Born to Eritrean mother and Ethiopian father, Haben is the first deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School. Haben is an advocate for equal opportunities for people with disabilities



8.3.2018          Return of land bonuses driving Ethiopian athletics success, not drugs, says gold medal winner Yomif Kejelcha. Barney Cullum, The Independent

Double world champion Yomif Kejelcha says the allure of a unique prize first offered to Haile Gebrselassie explains Ethiopia’s athletics ascent, not doping, despite complaints from a British athletics coach earlier this week. Kejelcha and team-mate Genzebe Dibaba were each promised large plots of land in the capital Addis Ababa to incentivise them to win gold medals at the World Indoor Championships, which recently concluded in Birmingham.

However, Dibaba’s reputation within the sport has been blighted by the 2016 arrest of Jama Aden, her coach at the time and whose current whereabouts are unknown. The Somali was arrested following an investigation that culminated in the discovery of the performance-enhancing EPO. Andy Young, the coach of Britain’s Laura Muir, said Dibaba’s association with Aden was “unhealthy” for the sport after watching his athlete settle for silver and bronze behind her controversial rival in the 1,500m and 3,000m.

After finishing seventh in the medal table at London’s World Athletics Championships last summer, Ethiopia placed a lofty second in Birmingham. Speaking after winning the men’s 3,000m, Kejelcha told The Independent that his nation’s athletes are fuelled by the incentive of being given land bonuses by the government – not drugs. Similar prizes were given to the legendary runner Gebrselassie when he put Ethiopia on the map by winning two Olympic gold medals across 10,000m and breaking the marathon world record. “In previous years the government would give land to the athletes,” Kejelcha said. “This happened to Haile, but then stopped for several years.”

 “Then last year [at the world championships in London] the government brought them back again.” Mukhtar Edris was the first beneficiary – and Mo Farah the first victim. The British athlete was pipped to gold in the 5,000m, his final competitive track race, by Edris in a photo-finish also featuring Kejelcha. Edris and women’s 5,000m champion Almaz Ayana both received 500 square metres of land to develop in Addis in the wake of their London success last summer. The city is overcrowded and Chinese construction firms are currently overseeing the most intensive urban development in Africa. Many Ethiopians have been displaced, some by force, to create space. Land is highly valued.

“The government should continue [with their policy] because what we do as athletes to raise the flag for Ethiopia is not easy,” said Kejelcha. “We receive a lot of dollars for winning competitions but if our country gives us extra motivations we will win again and again and again.” The return of land bonuses coincided with Gebrselassie’s appointment as president of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation. The runner was the first Ethiopian athlete to receive a land bonus, after winning two Olympic gold medals and breaking 27 world records.  Gebrselassie has made more money from investments and business deals than he ever did as a runner and recognises the value of financial incentives to athletes who typically come from poor backgrounds, despite recent economic growth.

The introduction of the unusual bonus scheme won’t satisfy everyone as an explanation for Ethiopia’s success. Gebrselassie recognises there are temptations to take shortcuts in a country where EPO is readily available in pharmacies. Last year he told The Independent Ethiopia would introduce prison sentences for doping and at least one athlete has since been jailed. We now receive short seminars on doping,” Kejelcha adds. “Doping is killing our sport so we all have a responsibility to be educated and be clean. It is not just the Federation’s responsibility or the Government’s, it is up to the athletes and their managers.”

ibaba told said her success was attributable to a determined pursuit of sporting glory that runs through her family. Genzebe’s older sister Tirunesh is even more decorated, boasting three Olympic gold medals to her name. “We are concentrated only on our training, so we can make history,” the younger Dibaba said. The Ethiopian Athletic Federation have told The Independent that Dibaba is no longer coached by the disgraced Jama Aden. Hussein Shibo and Tolera Dinka have been responsible for her training programme “since September 2017”. Dibaba has never failed a drugs test and there is no suggestion of wrong-doing. Aden will remain a figure of interest nonetheless. Last year he was spotted at the Diamond League in Qatar, which will host the next World Championships in 2018.

Ethiopia’s final gold medalist in Birmingham was Samuel Tefera. The 18-year-old caused an upset by taking the title just 36 days after his first indoor race. Tefera’s victory cemented unprecedented dominance over neighbours Kenya, who failed to collect a single gold medal and picked up just one bronze in total. Both countries enjoy high altitude conditions favourable for distance running.  “Kenya are a very strong nation over the longer distances,” said Tefera. “Ethiopia has overtaken Kenya and now we want to overtake every other nation too.”

The track retirement of Farah – currently training in Addis for the London Marathon – also helped Ethiopia’s cause in Birmingham. Only America finished ahead of them in the medal table. Tefera added: “We are already planning how to build up our sprinters for the future.”


Horn of Africa and Foreign Affairs

19.3.2018        Why the state of emergency in Ethiopia could destabilise the Horn of Africa. The Conversation

(…) The state of emergency is being defied in a number of regions. Citizens have protested in Gondar, which is in the opposition Amhara region, as well as the opposition stronghold of Nekemte which is in Oromia. Much of the Oromia region is also defying the emergency measures.

As a result, the regime has targeted the Oromia region, and its protesting youths who are collectively known as Qeerro in the Oromo language.

Despite the release of thousands of political prisoners and talk of reforms, the political climate remains more uncertain than ever. It’s now feared that any government measures to suppress ensuing chaos could result in more violence, and deaths.

Instability in Ethiopia could have repercussions across the region. Unrest in the country could have a domino effect in what is an already volatile part of the continent. It could also affect regional peace efforts because instability in one corner of the Horn of Africa could spread and destabilise the entire region. This is especially the case because Ethiopia is home to so many cross border communities.

Implications for the region

Ethiopia is influential in the region and across the continent. It is the second most populous country in Africa and one of the fastest growing economies in the world. It also hosts the African Union’s headquarters in its capital, Addis Ababa.

But its standing has been diminished by the political turmoil of the last few years when two of its largest ethnic groups, the Oromo and Amhara both started demanding political and economic equality. The ruling coalition’s responses to these demands has highlighted the fact that it isn’t committed to democratisation.

The risks for the region are significant. Unless the regime acts on political reforms to entrench democracy, equal distribution of resources and freedom of the press, Ethiopia – with more than 100 million citizens – could emerge as the largest politically unstable nation in an already volatile region.

An unstable Ethiopia could also affect peace efforts in neighbouring countries. For example, it’s role as a long standing mediator in the South Sudanese peace talks could suffer a setback.

And its army is also the only peacekeeping force in Abiye, an oil rich region that has been at the centre of the conflict between Sudan and South Sudan since 2011.

In addition, Ethiopia is second only to Bangladesh in the number of its troops involved in international peacekeeping. Across its South Eastern borders, it also maintains thousands of troops inside Somalia.

And although its role in Somalia has drawn criticism Ethiopia remains a critical ally to the US’s counter terrorism strategy in the region. Instability could also create a power vacuum that could affect the US-led anti-terror strategy.

Ultimately, an internal crisis in Ethiopia will affect the power balance with its arch rival Eritrea. After the Ethiopia-Eritrea war which ended in 2000, the two countries have remained engaged in a proxy war by supporting each others’ political opposition groups.

Cross-border communities

Most African states share cross-border societies. The Horn of Africa is no different. The Oromo for instance are a majority ethnic group in Ethiopia and also a minority in Kenya. The Nuer are South Sudan’s second largest ethnic group and also a minority in Ethiopia’s western Gambella region.

There are also Somalis in Ethiopia. They maintain strong ties with their clansmen in Somali, Djibouti and Kenya. The Afar ethnic group in Ethiopia are also minorities in Eritrea, and Djibouti.

A new influx of Ethiopian refuges into Kenya due to the recent massacre in Moyale town underscores the fact that problems in the country are starting to affect cross border societies in the region. In fact, authorities and analysts in neighbouring Kenya are deeply concerned about the situation.

Instability could also affect refugees in Ethiopia itself. The country hosts the second highest number of refugees in Africa. Asylum seekers from Eritrea, South Sudan and Somalia often seek refuge within its borders.

Next steps

There is still room to resuscitate democratic reforms and to create space for national dialogue and reconciliation. Given the potential ramifications of prolonged unrest in Ethiopia, it should be in the interests of the international community to promote peace and stability. To do this it must pressure the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front to suspend the state of emergency.

The international community must also stress that the regime needs to open its doors to the opposition and pave the way for a transitional government. In my opinion this is the only way the ruling coalition can play a critical role in pacifying the country and the region. And the only way it can have a political legacy worthy of praise.


14.3.2018        National dialogue begins in Ethiopia, Nuer community announces boycott. Radio Tamzuij

Members of the national dialogue’s subcommittee for refugees have arrived in Addis Ababa where they started consultative meetings with communities there, amid calls by leaders of the Nuer community to boycott the meetings today. In December 2016, President Kiir, whose wrangling for power with his former deputy Riek Machar plunged the world's newest nation into a brutal conflict, Kiir called for "national dialogue" to end the ongoing civil war. Kiir said the national dialogue will be bottom-top approach to address local grievances and political issues in the country. But the opposition rejected the call.

Ajak Kuol, a member of the national dialogue, told Radio Tamazuj today that the dialogue committee team had arrived in Addis Ababa and that the meetings kicked off at Capital Hotel today. He claimed that the representatives of South Sudanese refugees had already come to participate in the consultative meetings.

But Gabriel Chier Tut, leader of the Nuer community in Ethiopia said the community had decided not to be part of the national dialogue initiated by President Kiir. He explained that they want the people of South Sudan to agree on the key issues and unite themselves first before the national dialogue process could take place.

Chier stressed the need for unity of purpose before South Sudanese could embark on the national dialogue process.” We don’t want any national dialogue right now because we need to agree first as South Sudanese. So, we cannot have a national dialogue while people are still fighting,” he said. “Kiir’s national dialogue will never bring peace. All South Sudanese need to negotiate peace in Addis Ababa to bring about lasting peace in the country. How can you say that peace will come through talking to refugees? “He asked.

“There should be a reconciliation process between the various communities and there should be stability and peace first. So how can we sit down and organize a national dialogue now when people are being killed?” He asked. The community leader claimed that the Nuer Community Council in Ethiopia had agreed to boycott the consultative meetings being held by the national dialogue delegation in Addis Ababa. Chier accused the country’s president Salva Kiir of abrogating the 2015 peace agreement. “No national dialogue without a peace agreement,” he said.