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21.6.2017        Land restoration in Ethiopia: 'This place was abandoned ... This is incredible to me'. A project to restore the land in Tigray, Ethiopia has created opportunities for livelihoods for young people who had been leaving in droves. Guardian

Ethiopia is suffering from severe drought, but there is water in Gergera. 20 years of restoring its hills and river valley has brought life back to this area of the Tigray region in the country’s far north.

The work has been painstaking, complex and multidimensional and continues to this day. But the hard-won results offer up two key lessons. We know now that landscape restoration in drylands hinges on water management. And we know, just as importantly, that restoration can create a base for better livelihoods and jobs for youth who formerly left in droves.

Gergera watershed covers 1382 hectares in the kebele (Ethiopia’s smallest administrative unit) of Hayelom in Atsbi-Wonberta district in the eastern zone of Tigray. The visit began at the head of the valley where community leaders had gathered. Alighting and looking around, Ethiopia’s minister of agriculture and natural resources Eyasu Abraha was visibly moved. “I know this place. It was abandoned and untouched. This is very incredible to me,” he said.

The group stood under tall trees, bathed by bird song, with luscious grasses and pools of clean water at their feet. So that it can regenerate, this part of Gergera has long been closed to cattle. “The first thing you notice is the change of vegetation,” said World Agroforestry Centre’s director general Tony Simons, pointing out a Sclerocarya birrea, the Marula tree which has a nutritious plum-like fruit with a kernel with oil prized for cosmetics by firms such as the Body Shop.

By consent of the community, only cutting and carrying grass to livestock and beekeeping are permissible in this upper catchment. Indeed, the wooded hillsides are rife with carefully placed hives. Gabions (mesh cages filled with rocks) built by members of the community slow the rain water when it courses down the chasm, which, formerly too deep to cross, is gradually filling as earth builds up behind the structures. Critically, this earth now retains rainwater, which seeps into the ground and emerges as groundwater in the valley where 1,000 hectares of land are now under small scale irrigation. Meanwhile, more tree cover on the hills means that when surface water does reach the valley, it does so with less destructive velocity.

It was not always like this. Landscape degradation in Ethiopia is centuries old. A painting from 1951 in Ethiopia’s National Museum shows erosion devouring arable land. “During the period of the Emperor and the Derg, degradation was so severe that once we were forced to dismantle a church at risk of being swept away!” said elder Khasay Gebreselaasie, referring to the regime which ruled from 1974 for 17 years. But the fall of the Derg brought a groundswell of activity to address agricultural productivity in an area once struck by famine.

Government ministers visited the revitalised watershed on 31 May 2017 after signing a memo of understanding to establish a National Agroforestry Platform to support climate-resilient green growth and transformation. Over 40 prominent figures attended, including ministers of state Kaba Urgesa and Gebregziabher Gebreyohannes, Wubalem Tadesse of the Ethiopian Environment and Forest Research Institute, Fassil Kebede, adviser to the minister of agriculture, and Eleni Gabre Madhin, founder of Ethiopia’s commodity exchange and representatives of embassies, development agencies, and civil society groups such as Oxfam, Farm Africa, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and Packard.“The people took the initiative to rehabilitate the environment,” explained the administrator of Hayelom, Habtom Woreta. “That is when Irish Aid came in and we became a model watershed for the region and the world. You can see how the area is transformed! Biodiversity has increased and we have hand dug wells at 1m deep because of recharge. And none of this is in vain. Now we have TVs in the houses. Before we slept on mats, now we have beds.”

Once a hot spot for the perilous out migration of youth, even that has changed. When Irish Aid representative Aileen O’Donovan asked “about job creation for the youth, who are motivated but restless”, Kebele leader Tsuruy proudly said. “We have 1,070 youngsters, of whom 506 are employed due to restoration”.

“This is music to my ears,” said Abraha, the minister of agriculture, whose government recently completed a rural job opportunity strategy.

Down in the valley, young men were building gabions to deflect a gully away from the fields that would be destroyed if the water flowed unchecked after the rains. They are paid under Ethiopia’s cash transfer scheme, the Productive Safety Net Programme, to which the UK contributes over £50m a year. They also donate 40 days of their time for free, both as a social obligation and in anticipation of receiving reclaimed land from the state. Asked why they were doing this, they shouted, “to earn daily bread and stop the loss of land. The land was going!”

There were more young men as well as women at the rural resource centre, a former government nursery now supported by the World Agroforestry Centre, which guides the restoration. They earn their living selling trees, particularly avocado, and 13 fodder grass species. They currently have tree seedlings and vegetable plantlets for sale worth altogether $11,523 as well as $10,000 saved in the bank.

As the trip wrapped up, the community served bread and honey from the recovering hills. State minister for livestock and fisheries Gebregziabher Gebreyohannes said “what has been seen today is job creation” and “cash transfers improving the lives of the poor”. And Kiros Hagdu, who leads the World Agroforestry Centre in Ethiopia, said his centre was committed to evidence-based restoration of farms and landscapes with the government and communities and that now was “the time to scale-up the successes nationally”.

The minister of agriculture had the last word. “Agroforestry is becoming the heart and the mind of the government,” said Abraha. “What we see here is really the beginning of transformation. All those youngsters who wanted to migrate will have productive land.”

This blogpost was first published on Agroforestry World. Cathy Watson is head of program development at the World Agroforestry Centre.


21.6.2016        Ethiopia scores UN praise for welcoming refugees despite challenges. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban,

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) chief, Filippo Grandi, has lauded the efforts of Ethiopia in opening its doors for refugees despite having challenges of their own. The UNHCR boss was in the country for events marking World Refugee Day which falls on June 20 each year. He described Ethiopia as a shining example of African and global hospitality. This year’s celebration was under the theme, ‘We Stand Together with Refugees.’

‘‘Ethiopia is a very good model of how a country with limited resources and a great challenge of its own keeps its doors open, its arms open to people from neighbouring countries that are in trouble and seek protection here,” he told journalists.

The Horn of Africa country currently is ranked as the second most refugee-friendly African country only behind Uganda. The country plays host predominantly to South Sudanese and Eritreans who are all fleeing conflict and rights abuse in their respective countries. Key among the country’s challenges is a biting drought that has hit the entire region, the UK development service announced a £30m package recently to help Ethiopia deal with the drought. Weeks before, Addis Ababa confirmed that emergency food aid was running out with 1.7 million people likely to be without food by the end of June 2017.

A recent UNHCR report noted that of the close to three million refugees globally Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Uganda and Ethiopia were the top hosts. ‘‘For the third consecutive year, Turkey hosted the largest number of refugees worldwide, with 2.9 million people. It was followed by Pakistan (1.4 million), Lebanon (1.0 million), the Islamic Republic of Iran (979,400), Uganda (940,800), and Ethiopia (791,600),’‘ the report said. He bemoaned the situation where some countries were getting tired of receiving people fleeing conflicts and other forms of abuse. Grandi tasked the world to assist countries like Ethiopia to shoulder the refugee burden.  


12.6.2017        OIC Exploring Effect of Drought in Ethiopia, East Africa., Reprot from Government of Ethiopia

A delegation from Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) is in Ethiopia to explore the effect of drought in East Africa and help alleviate it.

President Mulatu Teshome held discussion today with OIC delegation led by Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister and OIC Chair Ahmet Yildiz about the drought situation in Ethiopia. During the discussion, President Mulatu told the delegation that Ethiopia has been working hard to mitigate the drought and support the victims by itself. Ethiopia has also been supporting people fleeing from neighboring countries in various ways, he added.

Turkey’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmet Yildiz said he has met with various stakeholders in Ethiopia and UN Institutions. He stated that the delegation “has seen that Ethiopian institutions are well prepared to use their own resources to mitigate the drought. We are very happy with Ethiopia’s efforts in this regard.” Furthermore, he pointed out that the country has the capacity to cooperate with the Organization of Islamic Conference and has done good job in prioritizing to save people’s lives. According to the delegation leader, OIC and member states will help in alleviating the suffering of the people as the number of people affected by this drought is huge in number. The delegation will also visit Kenya, Somalia, among other East African countries, it was learned.

The Organization of Islamic Conference is the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations with of 57 member states spread over four continents.


12.6.2017        Ethiopia says only 1.7m people at risk of food aid shortage, not 7.8m, Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban with REUTERS,

Ethiopia says the United Nations estimate of number of people who will be affected by an imminent shortage of emergency food aid has been overstated. The country’s Commissioner for Disaster Risk Management confirmed to the BBC that it was true that food aid was due to run out by end of June but that contrary to the UN figure of 7.8 people being affected, only 1.7 million people were at risk. ‘‘It is true that in some areas food will run out by the end of the month but this will only affect around 1.7 million people,’‘ Mitiku Kassa said. He said the government would have no choice than look internally if development partners did not step in to salvage the situation. ‘‘We expect our donor community to step in and fill that gap and we are hopeful. But if they fail to do that we will have to use some of our development budget to provide emergency assistance to our people,’‘ he added.

Successive failed rains blamed by meteorologists on fluctuations in ocean temperatures known as the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) have created a series of severe back-to-back droughts in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa region. “We are in a dire situation,” John Aylieff, the World Food Programme’s representative in Ethiopia, said last Friday during a field trip to Warder in southeast Ethiopia, one of Ethiopia’s hardest-hit areas. “We’ve got food running out nationally at the end of June. That means the 7.8 million people who are in need of humanitarian food assistance in Ethiopia will see that distribution cut abruptly at the end of June,” he added.

Ethiopia like its neighbours in the Horn of Africa region are suffering from a biting drought that has left millions in need of food aid. Somalia, South Sudan and parts of Kenya have all not been spared. All except Ethiopia have declared the drought a state of emergency.


10.6.2017        Ethiopia warns emergency drought aid to run out next month, Elias Meseret Associated Press

Warder, Ethiopia. Ethiopia's government is warning it will run out of emergency food aid starting next month as the number of drought victims in the East African country has reached 7.8 million.

An international delegation visited one of the worst-affected areas Friday near the border with Somalia, which suffers from widespread drought as well. Several hundred people lined the dusty road to meet the officials at the remote airstrip, while rail-thin camels and goats roamed in the bushes. Animal carcasses littered the ground.

"I came to this area after losing nearly all my goats and camels due to lack of rain," 75-year-old Ader Ali Yusuf said quietly, wiping her cheek with her headscarf as she sat with other women observing the delegation from afar. The mother of 12 is just one of thousands of Ethiopians who have walked up to three days on foot to displacement camps for aid.

Ethiopia's disaster relief chief Mitiku Kassa told The Associated Press that the country needs more than $1 billion for emergency food assistance. Seasonal rains have been critically small and local cattle are dying. The number of drought victims has risen by two million people in the past four months. The risk of an acute food and nutritional disaster is "very high," the disaster relief chief said.

The International Organization for Migration said hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced, with the problem compounded as people pour into Ethiopia from Somalia. A United Nations humanitarian envoy said donor fatigue and similar crises elsewhere have hurt aid efforts. Both Somalia and neighboring South Sudan are among four countries recently singled out by the United Nations in a $4.4 billion aid appeal to avert catastrophic hunger and famine. Already, famine has been declared for two counties in South Sudan.

"Our main concern should be for this drought in Ethiopia not to degenerate into a famine," said the humanitarian envoy, Ahmed Al- Meraikhi. The United Nations has warned that Ethiopia's drought will pose a severe challenge to the humanitarian community by mid-July with the current slow pace of aid. Along with the drought, Ethiopia also faces an outbreak of what authorities call acute watery diarrhea, though critics have said the government should call it cholera instead.

"I've never seen the resources so poor to respond to the crisis," the country director for aid group Save the Children, John Graham, said of the drought. "It is very worrying. These people are not going to be able to continue to survive in these dilapidated displaced people's camps. It could get very much worse. We are also worried that some of the children affected by the drought may die."


10.6.2017               UN Lauds Ethiopia’s Drought Response Efforts. ENA

The United Nations has praised Ethiopia for its effort to mitigate the impacts of the drought in collaboration with the public. UN Special Humanitarian Envoy Ahmed al-Meraikhi, who is in Ethiopia leading a delegation of donors, affirmed that these efforts will continue to be supported by the international community. The Envoy made the remark during the discussion with officials of Ethiopia's National Disaster Risk Management Commission on Saturday on the situation and drought response.

The delegation drawn from Gulf countries, African Union, UN and African Development Bank are visiting areas affected by the drought. The delegation has visited drought affected people in Dolo Zone of Ethiopian Somali state and observed drought response activities. The visit is aimed to get first hand information about the drought response efforts so as to mobilize resources to sustainably rehabilitate the affected people. Following the visit to the drought affected areas, the donors have agreed to extend support to the drought response, according to the Special envoy.

Commissioner of National Disaster Risk Management Mitku Kasa urged the international community to support drought response efforts. Ethiopia has been working to mitigate the impacts of the drought that left 7.8 million people dependent on humanitarian aid by itself and with the support of the international community.

So far, the government of Ethiopia in collaboration with the public and investors has provided 200 million USD worth humanitarian support to the affected people. Despite over 1.1 billion USD is needed for the response, so far, only 365 million USD have secured from the international community.


2.6.2017          Millions face food shortfalls as rains in southern Ethiopia perform extremely poorly. Save the Children

The month of May has failed to bring any reprieve to drought-ravaged parts of Ethiopia, with the humanitarian situation threatening to unravel quickly if urgent action is not taken, Save the Children warned today. Food supplies are already on the brink of depletion due to funding shortfalls, with need rapidly outstripping supply and donors’ funding failing to keep pace.

Across the country at least 7.8 million people – including 4 million children – have been hit by drought and are struggling to get enough food and water to feed themselves and their livestock. This number could now rise further, with authorities already carrying out an assessment of the situation. Even as need grows, however, resources have been shrinking. In May, 700,000 people earmarked to receive international assistance did not get any food support due to a lack of funding. They face the same prospect again this month. From July, many more will lose out as funding dries up further. “The drought in southern Ethiopia has been going from bad to worse and risks developing into a humanitarian catastrophe if action is not taken immediately,” said John Graham, Country Director for Save the Children in Ethiopia.

“The much-hoped for Spring Rains in the south failed in April and May which means we are likely to see six more months without rainfall. The rapid deterioration of the situation means that food supplies, which were expected to last until September, could run out this month. If emergency funding is not secured, millions of people could lose lifesaving food assistance and millions of children - who are most vulnerable and at much higher risk of malnutrition, stunting and disease - would be put in grave danger.”

Southern Ethiopia experiences the same rain system as Somalia, South Sudan and Kenya, which have all been hit by drought, but a different rain system to the north of the country which last year saw the worst drought in 50 years, leaving 18 million people in need. While northern parts of Ethiopia have recently been lashed with rain and seen flooding, the south has not seen proper rainfall since April 2016 and is now not expected to have any further rain until October.

“For months, attention has been focused on other drought affected countries in the Horn of Africa but the international community must wake up and recognize the scale of crisis in Ethiopia which already has more people who have been affected by drought than any other country,” said Graham.

“The early and effective response by the government and the international community has so far helped to save lives but the increase in need has exceeded all expectations and current resources are simply not enough to keep up with spiralling demand,” said Graham.

“Out of the $948 million the government has asked for, only around 50 percent has so far been funded. The international community has been generous so far but there is lot of dangerous talk internationally about cutting aid funding. If this happens during an emergency response it will endanger children’s lives – it will be like turning off a fireman’s hose half way through fighting a fire.”

Save the Children has already reached more than 300,000 people in Ethiopia with emergency assistance this year, including 140,000 children, in the Southern Nations and Nationalities People, Somali and Oromia regions that have been worst hit.


June 2017       Running from Ethiopia: The Oromo Exodus. Videodokumentation über die Flucht junger Oromos

Watch more stories about refugees in search of a new place to call home in this episode of "Trust Docs."

Feyisa Lilesa completed the marathon at the Rio Olympics with his arms raised in a gesture of defiance against the Ethiopian government. For many this was their first glimpse of the trouble brewing in this largely peaceful East African country. But protests over land rights and political exclusion have been gathering momentum for more than a year, especially amongst the country’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo. A government crackdown has resulted in the deaths of an estimated 500 protesters.

"Running from Ethiopia" tells the story of Muaz, a student who fled Ethiopia after being detained and tortured by security forces, and Jawar, who runs a popular Oromo TV channel from exile in Minneapolis. Jawar’s channel closely followed the story of Muaz as he made the treacherous journey to Europe, only to be caught in one of the deadliest migrant shipwrecks of 2016.


- Politics, Justice, Human Rights -

24.6.2017        Parties Agree on 7 Negotiation Agendas. ENA

The 17 political parties, engaged in intra-party negotiation, have agreed on seven of the 13 negotiation agendas, concluding the negotiation being carried out on negotiation agendas. After thorough discussion on the agendas tabled by the Agenda Organizing and Media Committee at their regular meeting held on Saturday, the parties agreed on the major agendas.

The agendas agreed for the negotiation includes amendment of electoral laws and various laws including anti-terrorism and freedom of the mass media and access to information. Multi-party system; addressing public queries particularly related to economic benefit; national consensus; democratic and human rights protection as well as freedom of movement are also among the agendas agreed by the parties.

Agendas such as land policy; releasing political and prisoners of conscience; international border demarcation; inclusion of non-peaceful parties; constitutional amendment as well as revising sub article 5 of the article 39 in the constitution that states nation, nationality and people, were ruled out. Regarding constitutional amendment, EPRDF noted that it is not the mandate of the party to make amendments.

As per the border demarcation, the party said it is inappropriate to discuss this agenda at this level as there are mechanisms set for resolving international border demarcation. The party also opposed the agenda about releasing political and prisoners of conscience, underlining that there is no such thing as prisoners of conscience in the country. As the current land policy is its basis, EPRDF stressed its irreversible stance on the land policy.

The meeting was concluded as the parties assigned the negotiation leaders to come up with the agreed agendas in terms of priority and set the time for the next meeting whereby parties might make a slight modification. The number of political parties that has been engaging in intra-party negotiation has decreased to 17 as the five parties left the negotiation on the pretext of ‘no negotiation without a neutral negotiator’.


21.6.2017        Ethiopia Counters Merera Gudina’s Request for Separate Terrorism Cases.

Federal prosecutors in Ethiopia maintained their argument Tuesday that their terrorism case against Merera Gudina, head of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), need not be separated from a file that includes charges against other defendants that his defense says have nothing to do with Merera.

Merera was arrested in November 2016 upon returning from Brussels, where he delivered a speech and testimony about the Ethiopian human rights situation to the European Parliament. A widely circulated photo showed Merera there with exiled opposition leader Berhanu Nega and Oromo Olympic athlete Feyisa Lilesa. Ethiopian officials claim the arrest of Merera, a scholar and lifelong human rights activist, was not for his EU speech and activities, but because he violated Ethiopia’s state of emergency provisions by meeting with a terrorist organization when associating with Berhanu. The charges include “creating pressure against the government,” “threatening society through the means of violence” and attempting to “disrupt constitutional order.”

Merera has denied all the charges, and remains held without bail. Yet the government’s subsequent legal moves rolled charges against Merera and Berhanu into the same file, along with charges filed in absentia against Jawar Mohammed in the United States. Mohammed is executive director for the Oromia Media Network, which along with foreign-based Ethiopian media outlet ESAT – and without obvious or compelling reason – is included in the same case as Merera’s.

Attorneys for Merera argued last month that any charges filed against him should be separated from those of the co-defendants. That claim was refuted by the prosecutor’s response submitted Tuesday. “Prosecutors have also made a case that the charges against all defendants in the same file,” the Addis Standard reports, “are interrelated in many ways.” The court adjourned the next hearing until July 7. Source: Africa News


17.6.2017        What’s the justice system up to? Editorial, Ethiopian Reporter

One of the major criticisms leveled against the justice system in Ethiopia is its lack of credibility in the eyes of the public. The distrust is by and large attributed to the non-existence of impartiality and transparency within the system. (…) A report the Federal Auditor General submitted to Parliament a fortnight ago revealed the prevalence of financial mismanagement in several government agencies in the 2015/2016 financial year including, among others, unreconcilation of billions of birr, cash shortfall running into millions, non-compliance /with financial rules issued by the Council of Ministers, unlawful procurement, and failure to collect billions in tax. (…) The report is said to have been forwarded to the Federal Attorney General. Nonetheless no visible measure has been taken despite the announcement that an immediate investigation would be launched into the institutions identified by the report. Although reports are rife that dozens have been arrested, the concerned body has not confirmed or denied them to date. (…) Complaints like “The police torture suspects during investigation; prosecutors are wont to throw the innocent in prison by pressing frivolous charges; judges are putting justice on the auction block and selling it to the highest bidder; prison officials routinely violate the rights of inmates” cannot be countenanced any more. (…)


17.6.2017        Political parties haggle over agenda. Yohannes Anberbir, Ethiopian Reporter

A total of 13 topics, drafted for the upcoming political negotiation between the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and 16 opposition parties, were tabled for approval. The agenda tabled for discussion on Wednesday incorporated controversial topics ranging from constitutional amendment to revise such stringent proclamations as the anti-terrorism law, freedom of the mass media and access to information proclamation, the Charities and Societies (CSO) proclamation, the state of emergency proclamation and more others. Amending the electoral and tax proclamations are also part of the agenda tabled for negotiation.

Apart from amending the proclamations deemed to have negatively impacted the political landscape of the country, the opposition groups have filed other topics to deal with the existing federal system, to restructure law enforcement institutions and reform the justice sector and to negotiate over the country’s current working language, Amharic. Creating national consensus, freeing political detainees and prisoners of conscience, building vibrant democratic institutions and delimiting Ethiopia’s international border are other topics drafted for negotiation.

After the drafted topics were revealed to the meeting, parties sought explanation as to why some of their proposals were rejected. For instance, a representative of the Ethiopia Raey Party, Teshale Sebro, blamed the agenda-drafting committee for rejecting his party’s agenda about businesses owned by political parties. Asmelash Woldeselassie, a member of the committee representing EPRDF, however, denounced Teshale’s claim. According to Asmelash, the topic is already included in the electoral reform agenda.

Shiferaw Shigute, another EPRDF representative, made clear that the ruling party is not willing to negotiate on the State of Emergency proclamation. It is not right to negotiate on the state of emergency while the proclamation is still in effect, he argued. He also announced EPRDF’s willingness to discuss electoral reform without setting preconditions.

Regarding such stringent proclamations as the anti terrorism, CSO and the mass media and access to information proclamations, EPRDF has requested an explanation as a precondition. Accepting the agenda of amending the proclamations will depend on the explanations given by the parties submitting the agenda for negotiation, Shiferaw said. Based on this, the parties tried to explain their positions on the need to amend the proclamations they deemed repressive.

The meeting was attended by local and foreign observers. Among them were World Bank country representative and chairperson of Development Assistance Group Ethiopia (DAG) as well as representatives from the German, Canadian and British embassies.

So far the electoral reform agenda was approved as a topic of discussion while the parties have agreed to continue discussing on the remaining agenda on Monday.


14.6.2017        Parties Agree to Negotiate on Amending Electoral Laws. ENA

The ruling party EPRDF and 16 national political parties engaged in intra-party negotiation have agreed to take the issue of revising the electoral laws as an agenda for the political negotiation intended to take place between the parties. The parties agreed on the issue as all the national political parties that are taking part in the negotiation requested to consider an amendment on the prevailing electoral laws.

The parties have thoroughly debated on two of the 13 agendas presented by the agenda organizing and media committee to be tabled for discussion on Wednesday. In addition to amending the electoral laws, the committee presented an agenda for the revision of laws such as anti-terrorism, freedom of the mass media and access to information, trade and tax, structural organization of the judiciary, civic organization and state of emergency. The ruling party agreed to negotiate on ways of considering an amendment on the structural organization of the judiciary, trade and tax laws.

During the discussion, EPRDF requested an explanation from the parties that want an amendment on the other laws. After hearing the explanation from the parties, EPRDF, to examine the issue and come up with a response for Monday. Constitutional amendment, building multi-party system, national consensus, international border demarcation and the implementations of human and democratic rights are among the agendas to be discussed by the parties on Monday.

Local and international observers attended today’s dialogue focused on selecting agendas to be tabled for the negotiation.


14.6.2017        UK issues travel alert for Ethiopia, cautions over 'dodgy' internet. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban,

The United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on Tuesday issued a travel advice to its citizens with respect to Ethiopia. According to the alert, despite the restoration of internet after a 10-day blackout during the conduct of national examinations, there was a likelihood that service could be cut without notice.

A summary of the alert read as follows: ‘internet service have now been restored, however, internet and other mobile data services can be restricted without notice, hampering the British Embassy’s ability to assist you; you should have alternative communications plans in place when traveling in Ethiopia.’‘

The alert also maintained a series of places that nationals should not travel to as contained in previous alerts, places the FCO advised against all travel to, included: predominantly all border towns except the Djibouti border and a part of the Somali border. All areas with 10 km of the border with Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan were to be completely avoided. ‘‘The Ethiopia-Eritrea border remains closed. Several security incidents have taken place along the border. The risks of cross-border tensions remains,’‘ the statement added.

They further cautioned that protests could break out ‘with little warning and could turn violent,’ hence the need for nationals to remain vigilant. The Horn of Africa nation in 2016 experienced spreading anti-government protests largely in the Oromo and Amhara regions. (…)


13.6.2017        Ethiopia Travel Warning. Last Updated June 13, 2017, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Ethiopia due to the potential for civil unrest and arbitrary detention since a state of emergency was imposed in October 2016.  The Government of Ethiopia extended the state of emergency on March 15, 2017, and there continue to be reports of unrest, particularly in Gondar and Bahir Dar in Amhara State. This replaces the Travel Warning of December 6, 2016.

The Government of Ethiopia routinely restricts or shuts downs internet, cellular data, and phone services, impeding the U.S. Embassy’s ability to communicate with U.S. citizens in Ethiopia and limiting the Embassy’s ability to provide consular services. Additionally, the Government of Ethiopia does not inform the U.S. Embassy of detentions or arrests of U.S. citizens in Ethiopia.

Avoid demonstrations and large gatherings, continuously assess your surroundings, and evaluate your personal level of safety. Remember that the government may use force and live fire in response to demonstrations, and that even gatherings intended to be peaceful can be met with a violent response or turn violent without warning. U.S. citizens in Ethiopia should monitor their security situation and have contingency plans in place in case you need to depart suddenly.

Given the state of emergency and the unpredictable security situation, U.S. citizens in Ethiopia should have alternate communication plans in place, and let family and friends know that communication may be limited while you are in Ethiopia. The Department of State strongly advises U.S. citizens to register your mobile number with the U.S. Embassy to receive security information via text or SMS, in addition to enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).


13.6.2017        Ethiopia’s Civil Society Getting Squeezed. Salem Solomon, Voice of America

WASHINGTON — From an internet shutdown to convictions of journalists and opposition members, Ethiopia’s civil society has felt like it's under attack in recent weeks.

On May 24, Getachew Shiferaw, editor of the news website Negere Ethiopia, was convicted of “inciting violence” because of a private Facebook conversation. The Ethiopian Federal Court initially charged Shiferaw under the country's anti-terrorism law, but later charged him under the criminal code and sentenced him to time served since his arrest in 2015.

On May 25, a court sentenced Ethiopian opposition spokesman Yonatan Tesfaye to six-and-a-half years in prison on charges that he encouraged terrorism with comments on Facebook. Yeshiwas Assefa, newly elected president of the Semayawi (Blue) Party, called the verdict "disappointing and embarrassing. Yonatan is sentenced to six years and six months just because of what he wrote on Facebook as something that encourages terrorism. He was expressing his thoughts freely. This is what we fear would bring people to protest in our country," he told VOA.

The following day, May 26, two men, Tufa Melka and Kedir Bedasso, were charged with terrorism for their role in a stampede that occurred in October 2016 at a cultural festival in the Oromia region. The men are accused of yelling things into the microphone that led to chaos and the death of 55 people.

Gemeda Wariyo, a protester who grabbed the microphone and admitted to chanting “down, down Woyane” is in exile now and wasn’t mentioned in the court documents. “Woyane” is a colloquial term used to describe the ruling party in Ethiopia. I took the microphone in a peaceful protest,” he told VOA Amharic. “I was the one who protested and I don’t know the men blamed for grabbing the microphone.”

And in early June, the government cut off internet access nationwide, stating that the measure was needed to prevent high school students from cheating on final exams by sharing answers on social media. In a press conference, Communications Minister Negeri Lencho denied the move was to control free communication. "The only reason is to help our students to concentrate on the exams because we know we are fighting poverty,” he said. As of June 8, internet access including social media sites was restored, according to published reports.

‘Under assault’

In a new report, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, an international think tank, concluded that the targeting of civil society and restrictions on free speech fit a pattern in Ethiopia. Over the past two decades the space for political opposition has been steadily constricted and civil liberties taken away, the report said. Two laws in particular, the Charities and Societies Proclamation and the Anti-terrorism Proclamation, both passed in 2009, have given the government wide latitude to imprison opposition members and journalists and shut down groups advocating for human rights, Carnegie found.

Saskia Brechenmacher, an associate fellow at the Carnegie Endowment who worked on the report, said anti-terrorism laws have been used across Africa to stifle dissent. “Those laws have become very effective tools, especially in moments of crisis as we are seeing right now,” she said. “Ahead of elections or during moments of sustained protests, [they are used] to target selectively, particularly activists and journalists that are seen as particularly threatening." Brechenmacher said Ethiopia also cracks down on civil society groups through a provision in the charities law, which prevents organizations from receiving more than 10 percent of their funding from abroad. “Many organizations had to switch their mandate and activities and turn more toward developmental and civil liberties because they couldn’t carry out the kind of work they had been doing before," she said.

Brechenmacher said these restrictions represent an abrupt reversal for a country that was becoming more open prior to the crackdowns that followed the 2005 elections. “Ethiopia showcases what a dramatic effect this could have on independent civil society and the amount of information that is available in a country," she said. "And also it really testifies the extent to which this does not really address the grievances that citizens have vis-a-vis the government and therefore those grievances will find another outlet.”


11.6.2017        Gov’t Working to Ensure Special Privilege of Oromia in Addis Ababa. ENA

Nekempt June 11/2017 Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said activities are being undertaken to ensure the special privileges of Oromia State in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, in accordance with the constitution. Hailemariam said that discussions have been held with concerned bodies on how the region can benefit economically and socially from Addis Ababa. In this regard, a draft bill that ensures the special privilege of the State has prepared and will be presented to the House of Peoples’ Representatives for approval soon, he said. The Premier made the remark while addressing questions raised during a discussion held on Saturday with elders in Nekemte town of Oromia State. (…)


9.6.2017          Human Rights Council Ethiopia releases report on rights abuses committed under current State of Emergency. Liyat Fekade, Addis Standard

The report included details of extrajudicial killings, torture, and imprisonment committed in three regional states and the capital Addis Abeba

Human Rights Council (HRCO) Ethiopia, a non-profit, non-governmental organization, has released 49 pages of report detailing widespread human right abuses committed by the security under the current State of Emergency, first declared on Oct. 08, 2016, and extended by four more months in March 2017.

In the report, which was originally published on May 29th, but was largely unseen due to the week-long nationwide internet blackout, HRCO documented details of abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and imprisonment committed in 18 Zones and 42 Woredas of three regional states: Oromia, Amhara and Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR) states as well as abuses committed in ten different Kifle Ketemas (administrative unites) in the capital Addis Abeba.

The detailed accounts of the report covered the months between October 2016 and May 2017 – of which HRCO said it held field assessments between October 2016 and February 2017.  Accordingly, HRCO published names, background information as well the circumstances of extrajudicial killings of 19 people in various places. Fifteen of those were from the Oromia regional state, the epicenter of the year-long antigovernment protests, while three were from SNNPR and one was from the Amhara regional state. The account of the 19 killed included the Oct. 10, 2016 gruesome killing by security officials of Abdisa Jemal and two of his brothers,  Merhabu Jemal and Tolla Jemal, in east Arsi Zone, Shirka Woreda, Gobesa 01 Kebele, some 270km south east of the capital Addis Abeba.

HRCO also documented the detention of 8,778 individuals from Oromia regional state followed by 5, 769 people from SNNPR, 640 from Amhara, 411 from the capital Addis Abeba and one from the Afar regional state. A total of 6, 926 individuals were also detained from unspecified locations, bringing the total number of people detained in the wake of the state of emergency to 22, 525. It also criticized the inhuman conditions faced by detainees in many of the detention camps.

Out of the 22, 525 people, 13, 260 were detained in several facilities including military camps, colleges and city administration halls located in Oromia regional state, while 5, 764 of them were detained in Amhara regional state; 2, 355 were detained in Afar and 430 were detained in the capital Addis Abeba. This list includes list of names such as journalist Elias Gebru and opposition politician Daniel Shibeshi, who have recently been charged after months of detention. HRCO also said 110 people were held at unknown locations.

HRCO’s report came a little over one month after the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, (EHRC), a government body tasked to investigate recent anti-government protests that rocked Ethiopia, admitted in April that a total of 669 Ethiopians were killed during the 2016 widespread anti-government protests. EHRC’s report, however, has not been released to the wider public, yet.

According to the government’s own account more than 26 thousand Ethiopians were detained in various places including military camps. This number is including those who were detained prior to the state of emergency. More than 20 thousand have since been released but about 5,000 are currently facing trials in various places.

Owing to Ethiopia’s outright refusal to accept outside independent investigation, including from the UN Human Rights Commission, ERCO’s report stands as the only independent investigation into widespread state violence in Ethiopia.


3.6.2017          Parties approve negotiation modality, code of conduct. Walta Information Center

The 17 national political parties, including the ruling party EPRDF, have approved a negotiation modality and a code of conduct for local and foreign observers. Chairperson of Agenda and Media Committee and Deputy Chairperson of the Ethiopian Democratic Union, Gebru Berhe, told journalists today that the two-month negotiations on governing regulations and the code of conduct have finally come to a fruitful conclusion. Since all negotiations need modality, it took a long time and intensive effort to approve the modality for the negotiations and the code of conduct, he elaborated.

According to the Chairperson, the parties have also agreed to approve agendas for the negotiations in the presence of local and foreign observers in the next meeting, which will be followed by a formal negotiation of the parties on agreed agendas. All the 17 political parties have already submitted their agendas to the Agenda Committee that will present them at the next meeting, he added. Chairperson Gebru said the negotiation modality has 8 chapters and 27 articles, while the code of conduct has nine chapters.

It is to be recalled that the parties had agreed to allow 12 local and foreign organizations as observers drawn from embassies, civic organizations, religious institutions and others. (ENA)


- Economics -

21.6.2017        Ethiopia, China to Strengthen Strategic Partnership. ENA

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn and Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi discussed today about ways of strengthening the strategic partnership of the two countries. The Premier said Ethiopia is interested in sharing the successful governance system, aviation and tourism of China. He also called on Chinese entrepreneurs to invest in Ethiopia and added that infrastructures like the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway will benefit the businesspersons.

The officials have also conferred on furthering their cooperation in various spheres such as regional peace and stability, utilization of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway, and collaboration in international arenas. Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi said he had a fruitful discussion about ways of translating the comprehensive strategic partnership of both countries. “We will support Ethiopia to be a force of stability in East Africa and to maintain stability in the region and play an important role in the resolution of regional hostile issues,” Yi pointed out. He also affirmed that his country will continue to support Ethiopia to accelerate industrialization and build capacity for independent development.

“We will also help with human resources development so that Ethiopia can translate its rich human resources potential into real support to advance the development of the country,” the Minister stated. Noting that Ethio-China friendship has withstood the test of history, Yi confirmed that his country will continue to be the most reliable partner of Ethiopia.


21.6.2017        Ostafrikas neue Wirtschaftsmacht? .Äthiopiens Wirtschaft wächst rasant. Das Land könnte Kenia als größte Wirtschaftsmacht in der Region ablösen. Doch noch lebt ein Großteil der Menschen in Armut - und viele Herausforderungen bleiben. Deutsche Welle

Für Äthopiens Regierung war es ein besonderer Tag: Am Dienstag weihte sie in Hawassa, etwa 250 Kilometer von der Hauptstadt Addis Abeba entfernt, einen gigantischen Industriepark ein. Mit chinesischer Hilfe entstanden moderne Hallen, in denen hochwertige Leder- und Textilprodukte für den europäischen und den amerikanischen Markt hergestellt werden sollen. Der Park soll schon in kurzer Zeit jährlich eine Milliarde US-Dollar umsetzen. Mehr als 60.000 Menschen sollen dort Arbeit finden.

Ambitionierte Pläne

Die Anlage in Hawassa ist einer von 16 geplanten Industrieparks, die künftig das Land zu einem attraktiven Produktionsstandort machen sollen. Die Ambitionen der Regierung sind groß: 2015 ging die erste vollelektrische Straßenbahn südlich der Sahara in der Hauptstadt an den Start. Bis 2020 soll ein 5000 Kilometer langes Schienennetz das Land mit den Nachbarländern und dem Hafen in Dschibuti verbinden. Im nächsten Jahrzehnt sollen fast alle Haushalte mit Strom versorgt werden. Dafür entstand am blauen Nil der mächtigste Staudamm Afrikas. Das Großprojekt soll sogar Strom für den Export produzieren.

Mit einem Bruttoinlandsprodukt von 800 US-Dollar pro Kopf gehört Äthiopien zu den ärmsten Ländern der Welt. Fast 6 Millionen Menschen sind auf Nahrungsmittelhilfen angewiesen. Aber die Wirtschaft wächst kräftig: Lange Jahre lag das Wachstum zwischen 8 und 10 Prozent pro Jahr. Dadurch steigt das Bruttoinlandsprodukt. Manche Beobachter gehen davon aus, dass Äthiopien den Nachbar Kenia als wichtigste Wirtschaftsmacht der Region ablösen könnte. 2014 sprach das Beratungsunternehmen Deloitte & Touch sogar von einem "Wirtschaftswunder".

Aber wie zukunftsweisend ist dieser Trend in einem Land, das sich politisch seit Oktober 2016 im Ausnahmezustand befindet? Nach Unruhen hatte ihn die Regierungausgerufen, Oppositionsproteste zerschlagen und zahlreiche Oppositionelle verhaftet. Seit den letzten Wahlen ist die Opposition im Parlament nicht mehr vertreten. Auch die Internetnutzung wurde eingeschränkt. "Der verhängte Ausnahmezustand brachte wirtschaftlich einen Dämpfer und die Tourismusbranche hat sich davon noch nicht erholt", sagt der äthiopische Unternehmensberater Estifanos Samuel. Die Regierung habe Investoren aber beruhigt. Samuel zweifelt nicht, dass Äthiopiens Erfolg langfristig anhalten wird: "Äthiopien überrollt Kenia, weil die Regierung Großinvestitionen tätigt und Waren vor Ort produziert werden."

'Vorsichtig optimistisch'

Er macht folgende Rechnung auf: "Die Handelsbilanzen beider Länder sind bei den Exporten mit 4,5 Milliarden Euro identisch. Aber Kenia hat nur die Hälfte der Einwohner und importiert fertige Textilien. Äthiopien importiert zu 30 Prozent Teile oder Anlagen zur Produktion."  Zwar habe Kenia seine Märkte weiter geöffnet, aber Äthiopien hole auf. Zudem leide Kenia unter Korruption und dem Terror der Al-Shabaab.

Die Deutsche Außenhandelskammer in Kenia sieht Äthiopiens Aufschwung weniger euphorisch. "Wir sind vorsichtig optimistisch", sagt Direktorin Maren Diale-Schellschmidt. Die Wachstumsraten seien hoch. Aber: "Äthiopien kommt aber von einem niedrigen Standard, und da sind die Wachstumsraten schneller höher. Ich glaube nicht, dass Äthiopien Kenia im Vergleich zum Bruttoinlandsprodukt überholt hat."

Auch kommt der Wohlstand längst noch nicht überall an: "Von der Infrastruktur profitiert jeder, aber die Wirtschaftsmacht liegt in den Händen einer gewissen Minderheit", sagt Diale-Schellschmidt. "Es entsteht trotzdem ein Mittelstand und es gibt mehr Jobs für qualifizierte Mitarbeiter."

Doch es gibt noch viele Probleme. Die Bürokratie ist exzessiv, Steuern und Abgaben hoch. Ausländische Devisen seien Mangelware, was zu Beschränkungen beim Einkäufe von wichtigen Technologien führe, kritisiert Diale-Schellschmidt. "Äthiopien ist kein wirklich freier Staat", kritisiert Diale-Schellschmidt. "Nachhaltigkeit wird es in Äthiopien geben, aber es ist ein langer Weg.

Mitarbeit: Gwendolin Hilse


10.6.2017        Deutsche Bank closing shop here. Dawit Endeshaw, The Reporter

Deutsche Bank is closing shop in Ethiopia by terminating its business relationship with many Ethiopian banks. Over the past three weeks alone, the German bank has terminated its business as a correspondent bank with Enat and Berhan banks. Moreover, the bank suspended its relationship with Debub Global Bank, Bunna International as well as Abay banks over the last year.

“The move has come following the revision of its global footprint and will review many of its businesses and markets the bank is operating in globally,” an email to The Reporter by Frank Hartmann, press and media relations officer at Deutsche Bank, noted. The bank reviewed its business on the back of revenue declines, Hartmann said. “We have reviewed markets, products and regions based on these considerations,” he said.

Industry sources, who spoke with The Reporter, associate the departure with compliance issues and risk returns over business relationship between Deutsche and Ethiopian banks. “It is because doing business with Ethiopian banks is becoming less profitable and has more risk for Deutsche,” according to a CEO of a local private bank. The bank has to spend at least 50,000 euros to deal with a single bank in terms of logistics, hiring personnel, the banker said.

Others familiar with international banking attribute the move to a very restrictive regulatory regime such as that of the United States Federal Reserve. This fiscal year alone, the reserve imposed a USD 41 million penalty against the US operations of Deutsche Bank AG for violation of money laundering regulations. Deutsche has agreed to pay around 15 billion euros in fines and settlements for wrongdoings in just the past five years, according to an article published by Handelsblatt Global, a leading German-based business newspaper. Such incidents have somehow pushed the bank to concentrate its businesses in Germany. In the past two years, the bank has withdrawn from Argentina, Peru, Chile and Mexico. The bank has also scaled down many of its correspondent banking operations in Kenya, Nigeria, Angola, Estonia and Lithuania, according to an email message from the bank.

Following the termination of Deutsche correspondent banking services, we are trying to find partners from the Middle East and South East Asia, the local bank CEO said. (…) It is to be recalled that the Ethiopian government selected Deutsche Bank AG and JPMorgan Chase to manage the sale of Eurobond, which was designed to finance electricity, railway and sugar industry projects.


10.6.2017        Wirtschaftsboom und Repression in Äthiopien: Es brodelt im Vorzeigestaat. David Signer (Dakar), Neue Züricher Zeitung

Äthiopien gilt wegen seines ökonomischen Wachstums als Symbol des aufstrebenden Afrika. Menschenrechte und Demokratie werden jedoch geringgeachtet. Die Mehrheit der Bevölkerung ist nach wie vor arm.

In Äthiopien sind die sozialen Netzwerke wieder zugänglich, nachdem der Zugang von staatlicher Seite monatelang blockiert worden war. Auch das mobile Internet wurde reaktiviert; die Regierung hatte es letzte Woche lahmgelegt, angeblich um Betrug bei den Schulprüfungen zu verhindern.

Die Deaktivierung der sozialen Netzwerke stand im Zusammenhang mit dem im letzten Oktober ausgerufenen Ausnahmezustand. Er gilt noch bis Juli. Auslöser waren Demonstrationen gegen die Regierung in der Oromo- und der Amhara-Region gewesen. Es handelte sich um die grössten Unmutsbekundungen seit 25 Jahren. Unmittelbarer Anlass der Proteste war der Plan, die Region der Hauptstadt Addis Abeba auf Oromo-Gebiete auszuweiten. Die Bauern fürchteten, zwangsweise umgesiedelt zu werden. Das kam in der jüngeren Vergangenheit öfter vor. In Äthiopien existiert privater Grundbesitz nicht; es gibt lediglich ein Nutzungsrecht, das einem der Staat jedoch recht willkürlich entziehen kann angesichts «höherer Interessen» wie Infrastrukturprojekten oder ausländischer Investitionen.

Ethnische Diskriminierung

Die Regierung liess den Plan der Eingemeindung zwar wieder fallen, aber die Proteste setzten sich fort und bekamen eine allgemeinere Stossrichtung. Denn die Wurzel der Unzufriedenheit liegt in der ethnischen Diskriminierung: Die Oromo machen einen Drittel der Bevölkerung des Landes aus und stellen damit die grösste Bevölkerungsgruppe. Auch die mit einem Anteil von 27 Prozent zweitgrösste Gruppe, die Amhara, fühlt sich benachteiligt. Politisch dominant sind die Tigray, die nur etwa 6 Prozent der Bevölkerung ausmachen. Sie beherrschen die Regierungspartei Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), die sämtliche Sitze im Parlament einnimmt. Die Unterdrückung der Proteste forderte laut der regierungsnahen «Äthiopischen Kommission der Menschenrechte» 940 Tote.Der Ausnahmezustand verbietet jegliche Versammlung und erlaubt es der Polizei, jeden angeblichen Demonstranten für unbestimmte Zeit festzunehmen. Es kam während dieser Zeit zur Verhaftung von mehr als 11 000 Personen; viele wurden in «Umerziehungslager» gesteckt. Offenbar werden gelegentlich Oromo, nur weil sie in einer Gruppe zusammenstehen, verhaftet – und die örtliche Universität ist von Spionen der Regierung unterwandert. Verhaftete werden gezwungen, die Namen von andern angeblichen Dissidenten preiszugeben. Trotz aller Repression ist es aber auch dieses Jahr immer wieder zu Kundgebungen gekommen, und allgemein nimmt man an, dass die Proteste nach der Aufhebung des Ausnahmezustands wieder aufflammen werden.

Von China unterstützt

Äthiopien ist, ähnlich wie China, mit dem es eng zusammenarbeitet, eine Entwicklungsdiktatur. Seit dem Sturz des kommunistischen Derg-Regimes im Jahr 1991 wird dem – staatlich gesteuerten – wirtschaftlichen Vorankommen alles untergeordnet. Aus der Sicht der Regierung sind Demokratie, Pluralismus, Meinungsfreiheit und Menschenrechte offenbar Sand im Getriebe; sie stören die effiziente, planmässige Wirtschaftsentwicklung. Tatsächlich wächst die Volkswirtschaft seit 2003 jährlich zwischen 8 und 10 Prozent. Symbol für den Aufbruch Äthiopiens ist der Renaissance-Staudamm, den das Land am Blauen Nil an der sudanesischen Grenze baut. Der aus dem Wasser gewonnene Strom soll das Land unabhängiger vom Erdöl machen und als Exportgut Devisen ins Land spülen.

Für internationales Aufsehen hat auch die Metro von Addis Abeba gesorgt, die vergangenes Jahr in Betrieb genommen wurde. Das 30 Kilometer lange Streckennetz wurde in nur drei Jahren fertiggestellt – von chinesischen Strafgefangenen. Die 475 Millionen Franken teure Stadtbahn wurde zu 85 Prozent von den Chinesen finanziert und wird auch von zwei chinesischen Firmen unterhalten.

Ministerpräsident Desalegn, seit 2012 im Amt, verkündet gerne, er wolle Äthiopien bis 2025 zu einem Schwellenland machen. Tatsächlich ist Äthiopien vom sprichwörtlichen Hungerland zur fünftgrössten Volkswirtschaft südlich der Sahara aufgestiegen, und es ist, auch wegen seiner strategischen Lage an der Schnittstelle von Afrika und dem arabischen Raum, für die USA ein wichtiger Partner. Die staatliche Fluggesellschaft Ethiopian Airlines besitzt mit 77 Flugzeugen die grösste Flotte des Kontinents. 85 Prozent der Bewohner arbeiten jedoch nach wie vor in der Landwirtschaft, die allerdings zunehmend exportorientiert ist. Vor allem Kaffee und Schnittblumen florieren. Land wird zu günstigen Bedingungen an ausländische Agrarkonzerne verpachtet. Das wird einerseits als «land grabbing» kritisiert; andererseits kann die traditionelle Subsistenzlandwirtschaft die Bevölkerung von 102 Millionen Menschen nicht ernähren. Es führt kein Weg an kommerzieller, intensiver Landwirtschaft vorbei.

Die Mehrheit ist arm

Äthiopien ist nach Nigeria das Land mit der zweithöchsten Einwohnerzahl des Kontinents. Zudem wächst die Bevölkerung um 3 Prozent jährlich. Es gibt viel zu wenig Arbeitsplätze für die nachwachsende Generation. Drei Viertel der Äthiopier haben weniger als 2 Dollar pro Tag zur Verfügung. Die vielbeschworene Mittelschicht ist in der Realität hauchdünn: Lediglich 2 Prozent der Äthiopier haben mehr als 10 Dollar pro Tag zur Verfügung. Trotz den beeindruckenden ökonomischen Wachstumsraten gehört Äthiopien nach wie vor zu den ärmsten Ländern der Welt.

Daran ändern die Prestigeobjekte nichts. Sich Infrastrukturprojekte wie die Metro von China finanzieren, bauen und verwalten zu lassen, zeugt per se noch nicht von Modernisierung. Auch die Ausfuhr von Rohstoffen, auf die die hohen Wachstumszahlen der Wirtschaft hauptsächlich zurückgehen, steht nicht für Entwicklung. Die Industrie – Nahrungsmittel, Textilien, Lederverarbeitung – trägt lediglich 14 Prozent zum Bruttosozialprodukt bei. Investoren werden durch die staatliche Kontrolle nicht nur der Wirtschaft, sondern aller Lebensbereiche sowie durch Rechtsunsicherheit abgeschreckt. «Wir wollen, dass unser Volk frei und innovativ ist, damit sich unsere Wirtschaft entwickeln kann», sagte der stellvertretende Kommunikationsminister kürzlich zum Vorwurf, Kritiker mundtot zu machen. Offensichtlich wird der Zusammenhang zwischen Freiheit, Kreativität und ökonomischem Vorankommen erkannt. Bloss hat das verkündete Credo wenig mit der alltäglichen Realität zu tun.


5.6.2017          Chinese Firms Invest U.S.$4 Billon in Ethiopia in 2 Decades. Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Beijing).

Chinese companies have invested around 4 billion U.S. dollars during the last two decades in Ethiopia, employing 111,000 Ethiopians on permanent and temporary basis. The statement was made on Thursday by Meles Alem, Spokesperson of Ethiopia's Foreign Ministry, citing Ethiopian and China's deep political and economic relationship. "In addition to those already in Ethiopia, last month Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn had sat down with officials from 17 big Chinese companies requesting their investment in Ethiopia," he said.

The prime minister, who attended and spoke at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held from May 14-15 in Beijing, visited several Chinese provinces and signed a 250-million-dollar loan agreement for an industrial park. Desalegn also formally signed Ethiopia's membership to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), making the Horn of Africa nation the 77th member. "Ethiopia hopes with membership in AIIB to facilitate loans for various planned infrastructure projects," Alem said.

China is Ethiopia's largest trading partner with in 2015, the two countries trade relation reaching 6.37 billion dollars, while growing at an average 22.2 percent annually for the last several years.


- Agriculture and Natural Resources -

21.6.2017        Klimawandel bedroht Kaffeeanbau. 60 Prozent der Anbauflächen könnten bis zum Ende des Jahrhunderts schwinden

Ob als Cappuccino oder Espresso, gebrüht oder gefiltert: Kaffee ist eines der beliebtesten Getränke der Welt und für viele Menschen unentbehrlich. Geschätzt wird das schwarze Gold als Muntermacher am Morgen ebenso wie als wohlschmeckender Begleiter durch den Tag. Außerdem entpuppt es sich immer mehr als Gesundmacher. So könnte Kaffeetrinken unter anderem vor Leberzirrhose schützen, Diabetes vorbeugen und sogar unsere DNA vor Brüchen bewahren.

Doch es gibt ein Problem: Die Zukunft des koffeinhaltigen Bohnengetränks ist durch den Klimawandel bedroht. Bereits vor einigen Jahren warnten Forscher davor, dass wilder Arabica-Kaffee bis 2080 vollständig ausgestorben sein könnte. Denn die zunehmende Erderwärmung lässt die geeigneten Lebensräume für diese wichtige Kaffeesorte schwinden. Die zwei weltweit bedeutendsten Kaffeeproduzenten, Brasilien und Vietnam, verzeichnen schon seit Jahrzehnten drastische Einbußen bei der Ernte.

Wiege des Kaffees in Gefahr?

Ähnlich hart könnte es einer neuen Studie zufolge Äthiopien treffen - jenes Land, das als Wiege des Kaffees und Urheimat des Arabicas gilt und außerdem der größte Kaffeeproduzent in Afrika ist. Bereits heute sehen sich die Kaffeebauern dort mit steigenden Temperaturen und Niederschlagsmangel konfrontiert. Wissenschaftler um Justin Moat von der University of Nottingham haben nun untersucht, wie sich der Klimawandel in Zukunft auf diesen Wirtschaftszweig auswirken könnte, der immerhin rund 15 Millionen Äthiopiern den Lebensunterhalt sichert.

Für ihre Analyse nutzten die Forscher hochaufgelöste Satellitenbilder der Anbauregionen im äthiopischen Hochland und kombinierten diese mit aufwendigen Modellsimulationen. Dabei berechneten sie, wie unterschiedliche Klimaszenarien den Kaffeeanbau in diesen Gebieten beeinflussen. Auf diese Weise bewerteten sie für jeden Quadratkilometer des Landes, wie gut dieser zu einem bestimmten Zeitpunkt noch für den Anbau der Kaffeepflanze geeignet sein wird.

Potenzielles "Desaster"

Das Ergebnis: 39 bis 59 Prozent aller heutigen Kaffeeanbauflächen könnten bis zum Ende dieses Jahrhunderts so gravierende Klimaveränderungen erleben, dass sie für die Kultivierung des Exportschlagers unbrauchbar werden - nämlich dann, wenn nichts gegen den Klimawandel getan wird und sich die Erde im Schnitt um vier Grad erwärmt.

"Eine 'business as usual'-Strategie könnte für die Kaffeewirtschaft in Äthiopien langfristig zum Desaster werden", konstatiert Moat. Doch es gibt Hoffnung. So zeigen die Simulationen der Forscher auch: Weichen Farmer für den Anbau in höhere Lagen aus, werden Wälder aufgeforstet und geschützt, kann die Kaffeeproduktion sogar bei steigenden Temperaturen verbessert werden. Das hieße aber auch, dass sich Bauern aus den ursprünglichen Kaffeeregionen neu orientieren müssten.

"Wir wissen nun, was getan werden muss, um den äthiopischen Kaffeesektor fit für den Klimawandel zu machen - zumindest bis zum Ende dieses Jahrhunderts", sagt Mitautor Aaron Davis von den Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. "Auf längere Sicht ist die einzig nachhaltige Lösung jedoch, die Ursachen des Klimawandels zu bekämpfen."

Die Zukunft des Kaffees in Äthiopien könnte nach Ansicht von Mitautor Sebsebe Demissew von der Addis Ababa Universität in Äthiopien Auswirkungen auf den Kaffeegenuss weltweit haben: "Wilder Arabica-Kaffee stammt aus den Hochlandwäldern Äthiopiens und ist unser Geschenk an die Welt. Unser Land beheimatet die größte genetische Vielfalt dieser Kaffeesorte. Was hier passiert, könnte deshalb langfristig auch die Kaffeeproduktion auf globaler Ebene beeinflussen", schließt er. (Nature Plants, 2017; doi: 10.1038/ncomms15568)


13.6.2017        Oromia to Start Accepting Application for Land.

Oromia Land Management Bureau disclosed it will start to accept applications from investors that request to lease land. The Bureau is going to start accepting applications starting from the next month. Oromia State, the biggest of the states in Ethiopia’s federal arrangement, halted giving lands to investors due to underutilized lands granted to investors. “We have to revise and know the status of the pending requests before providing new land to investors,” said Ibsa Yusuf, Communications Head of the Bureau. “To avoid previous mistakes happening again, we are carefully revising pending proposals.”

According to a study by the Oromia Investment Bureau, half of the lands taken by investors in Oromia State are unutilized. Most of the investors had not started production along the guidelines of the investment bureau, Ibsa noted. The study by the investment bureau was conducted in 9 cities and 5 zones found in the State. Accordign to Fortune, in the past 5 years, more than 10,000 iinvestors took land in Oromia. Out of these, it was only 1,920 that invested in rural areas. (Source: Fortune)


- Health, Culture, Education and Media -

16.6.2017         Archaeologists in Ethiopia uncover ancient city in Harlaa. BBC News

A forgotten city thought to date back as far as the 10th century AD has been uncovered by a team of archaeologists in eastern Ethiopia. Artefacts from Egypt, India and China have been found in the city in the Harlaa region. The archaeologists also uncovered a 12th Century mosque which is similar to those found in Tanzania and Somaliland.

Archaeologists say this proves historic connections between different Islamic communities in Africa. "This discovery revolutionises our understanding of trade in an archaeologically neglected part of Ethiopia. What we have found shows this area was the centre of trade in that region," lead archaeologist Professor Timothy Insoll from the University of Exeter said. The team also found jewellery and other artefacts from Madagascar, the Maldives, Yemen and China. Harlaa was a "rich, cosmopolitan" centre for jewellery making, Prof Insoll said. "Residents of Harlaa were a mixed community of foreigners and local people who traded with others in the Red Sea, Indian Ocean and possibly as far away as the Arabian Gulf," he said.

'City of giants'

BBC Ethiopia correspondent Emmanuel Igunza says there was a local myth that the area was occupied by giants because the settlement buildings and walls were constructed with large stone blocks that could not be lifted by ordinary people. However the archaeologists found no evidence of this. "We have obviously disproved that, but I'm not sure they fully believe us yet," said Prof Insoll. A statement from the team says the remains of some of the 300 people buried in the cemetery are being analysed to find out what their diet consisted of. Further excavations are expected to be conducted next year.

A religious crossroads

Ethiopia was one of the earliest places known to be inhabited by humans. In 2015 researchers discovered jaw bones and teeth in the north-west of the country dating to between 3.3m and 3.5m years old. Coptic Christianity was introduced from Egypt and was adopted as the religion of the Kingdom of Aksum in 333 AD. The Ethiopian church maintains that the Old Testament figure of the Queen of Sheba travelled from Aksum in northern Ethiopia to visit King Solomon in Jerusalem. Islam arrived in Ethiopia in the 7th Century as early Muslim disciples fled persecution in Mecca. The main seat of Islamic learning in Ethiopia was Harar, which is located near Harlaa. Harar is said to be among the holiest Islamic cities and has 82 mosques, including three dating from the 10th Century, and 102 shrines, according to Unesco.


8.6.2017        Internet, social media back in Ethiopia after block.

Ethiopia re-activated cellphone data services and unexpectedly allowed access to social media sites that had been blocked since a wave of anti-government protests last year, a government spokesperson told AFP on Thursday. Africa's second most-populous country shut down internet access even to diplomatic installations last week in a move the government said was necessary to keep students from being distracted during annual exams.

Deputy communications minister Zadig Abraha confirmed the lifting of the ban but declined to say why social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, which have been blocked for months, are now freely accessible. "This is an open country and everything is open," Zadig said.

Ethiopia had restored broadband internet access over the weekend and allowed the African Union headquarters and the UN's Economic Commission for Africa to get back online shortly after the initial shutdown last week. Mobile phone data networks - which the majority of businesses and people rely on to get online - only returned around noon on Thursday, an AFP journalist witnessed. Social media was also accessible, unlike before the shutdown.

Ethiopia last year restricted access to Facebook, Twitter and other sites after the country was rocked by anti-government protests that left hundreds dead and resulted in more than 11 000 arrests. The government has blamed dissidents for inciting the protests via social media postings.


31.5.2016   Äthiopien schaltet Internetzugang ab. heise online, Jan Mahn

Im Vorfeld der Abschlussprüfungen an Schulen wurde in Äthiopien der gesamte Internetverkehr des Landes abgeschaltet. Möglicherweise soll so verhindert werden, dass Prüfungsaufgaben veröffentlicht und verbreitet werden.

Der ausgehende Internetverkehr aus Äthiopien ist seit Dienstag um 16:00 MESZ unterbrochen. Das zeigen die Auswertungen aus Googles Transparenzbericht, der für jedes Land den eingehenden Traffic in Googles Systemen auswertet. Zur gleichen Erkenntnis kommt die Statistik des CDN-Anbieters Akamai. Bis Mittwoch Nachmittag hält die Unterbrechung an.Die Abschaltung steht möglicherweise in Zusammenhang mit den zentralen Abschlussprüfungen der Schulen des Landes. Im letzten Jahr wurden die Aufgaben im Vorfeld veröffentlicht. Lokale Journalisten vermuten, dass mit der drastischen Abschaltung ein wiederholter Leak verhindert werden sollte. Die Französische Nachrichtenagentur AFP zitiert den stellvertretenden Kommunikationsminister Zadig Abrha: "Mobile Daten wurden deaktiviert." Einen Grund dafür nannte er laut AFP nicht. Ein Großteil der Nutzer kommt dem Bericht zufolge aufgrund der schlechten Infrastruktur nur über mobile Datenverbindungen ins Internet.

Nicht die erste Abschaltung

Bereits im Juli 2016 wurde die Verbindung zu sozialen Medien unterbunden, um die Verbreitung der Aufnahmetests für Universitäten des Landes zu verhindern. Dem Freedom House Index zufolge hat Äthiopien die schlechteste Internet-Durchdringungsrate der Welt. Nur 2,9 Prozent der Bevölkerung haben überhaupt Zugang zum Netz. Die afrikanische IP-Vergabestelle hat erst im Mai darüber beraten, Länder mit dem Entzug von IP-Adressen zu bestrafen, die den Zugang zum Internet sperren. (jam)


- Horn of Africa and Foreign Affairs -

20.6.2017        Gulf crisis destabilizing the Horn of Africa. Arefayné Fantahu, Ethiopia Observer

After Saudi Arabia and its allies started accusing Qatar of providing support for terrorist groups, and consequently severing all ties with the small Persian Gulf state, Ethiopia and other horn of African nations are being reluctantly dragged to the power play. These countries are forced to align themselves with either Saudi block or Qatar, in an allegiance that help them gain financial assistance from those oil-rich nations. Eritrea and Djibouti were quick to toute their allegiance to the Saudis. Ethiopia looked undecided, despite the reportedly important sum forwarded to it by Qatar and a cordial visit by its foreign minister. The standoff no doubt poses a great diplomatic challenge to Ethiopian authorities as they enjoy close economic and geopolitical ties with both Riyadh and Doha.

Yet indications are Ethiopia’s promise to maintain neutrality will not last long. The notorious Isaias Afewerki’s move in making armed incursion into Djibouti, just after the 400 Qatar forces pulled out is making the position untenable. The concern for Ethiopia is understandable as Djibouti is its outlet to the sea and also where thousands of trucks with bulk of import and export merchandise pass through every day. So there is no surprise the Eritrean incursion is greeted with derision from Ethiopia, a country, according to some reports, has already started moving heavy military equipment and troops towards its border with Djibouti.

The impasses between Eritrea and Djibouti goes all the way to 1996 when Isaias prepared a map that incorporated a triangular portion of Djibouti along the coast near Ras Dumera and Dar-Elwa and attacking those positions. Djibouti’s former colonial power, France stepped in to rescue the tiny nation. A mediation effort led by Qatar in 2010 led to a Qatari peacekeeping force being stationed in the Eritrea-Djibouti border.

Eritrea has also the history of invading Ethiopia, the Yemeni-held Hanish islands and parts of Sudan. The new development may not come as surprise to Djibouti, a country that in the meantime lodged its complaint with the African Union (AU) and the United Nations. If common sense prevails- and it may not- Saudi would make efforts to prevent Eritrea, Djibouti and Ethiopia from fighting each other. Otherwise, if Ethiopia and Eritrea go ahead with military confrontation, it would be tragic on an unbelievable scale.


17.6.2017         German envoy to Ethiopia passes away. Samuel Getachew, Ethiopian Reporter

Following the passing on Monday of Joachim Schmidt, Germany’s ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union, his family, friends, acquaintances and colleagues are remembering and paying tribute to a veteran and well-regarded international public servant. According to a statement released by the Embassy of Germany in Addis Ababa, the 62-year old diplomat, following a stroke on May 21, was flown to Germany for medical care, but later died at a German hospital. (…)

In August 2014, he was appointed ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union. In Ethiopia, he became an advocate for the arts and for the destitute. He visited many parts of the country, and witnessed first-hand the plight of drought victims and the disadvantaged. In April 2017, he accompanied a delegation from the German Ministry of Development Cooperation on a visit to the drought-affected Somali region, along with Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF representative to Ethiopia, and the late envoy was on the stage when the minister announced an aid package the following day. He was seen as a passionate and important partner of UNICEF. (…)

He was most recently with Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, at the headquarters of the African Union (AU), helping promote a new initiative and engagement with the continent.


16.6.2017         Dschibuti wirft Eritrea Besetzung umstrittenen Grenzgebiets vor. RT Deutsch

Nach dem Abzug katarischer Friedenstruppen von der Grenze zwischen Eritrea und Dschibuti steigen die Spannungen zwischen den zwei ostafrikanischen Staaten. Dschibuti warf am Freitag seinem Nachbarn Eritrea vor, ein Teil des umstrittenen Gebiets an der Grenze beider Länder besetzt zu haben. Kurz nachdem Katar seine Friedenstruppen am Montag abgezogen habe, seien eritreische Soldaten in das Gebiet vorgerückt, sagte Dschibutis Botschafter in Äthiopien, Mohammed Idriss Farah.

Die Regierung Eritreas war zunächst nicht für eine Stellungnahme zu erreichen. Eritrea hatte Anfang der Woche wie bereits Saudi-Arabien und mehrere arabische Staaten seine diplomatischen Kontakte zu Katar abgebrochen. Die Länder werfen dem Emirat die Unterstützung von Terrororganisationen und eine große Nähe zum schiitischen Iran vor. Daraufhin hatte Katar seine Friedenstruppen aus Ostafrika abgezogen.

Das bergige Grenzgebiet zwischen Eritrea und Dschibuti war lange umstritten; 2008 flammte der Konflikt erneut auf. Katar vermittelte 2010 ein Friedensabkommen zwischen den beiden Ländern. Seitdem waren katarische Truppen in dem umstrittenen Grenzgebiet stationiert. (dpa/rt deutsch)