Seven Days Update, Vol. 20 No. 1

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Ethiopia signed two loan agreements amounting to a total of 25 million USD with the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) and the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD). At the same occasion, Ethiopia also signed avoidance of   double taxation agreement with Saudi Arabia. The first loan agreement amounting to 10m USD was signed with BADEA while the second loan agreement amounting 15m USD was signed with SFD. According to the loan agreements, the funds will be used to finance the implementation of the Gode- Kebridehar Rural Electrification project, which is co-financed by the two development partners. The purpose of the project is to provide reliable electric power supply to rural areas in Somali Regional State (state media, Feb. 28).

The Archbishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church (EOTC) Monastery in Jerusalem, Abune Mathias, has been elected as the 6th Patriarch of the EOTC. According to the Patriarchal Electoral Committee of the Church, out of 806 participants in the election, 500 voted for Abune Mathias. The other four candidates received 98, 98, 70 and 39 votes respectively. Archbishops, department heads of the patriarchate office, ancient monasteries and churches, clergy, followers of the EOTC and Sunday school students took part in the election of the new Patriarch. Born in Sebu'i Woreda of the former Agame Awraja in Tigray State, in 1934 E.C., Abune Mathias was Archbishop of the Church's Monastery in Jerusalem. The enthronement of the 6th Patriarch will be held on March 3, 2013 at the Holy Trinity Cathedral (State media, Feb. 28).

The new Wonji Shoa sugar factory will start sugar production next month, according to the Ethiopian Sugar Corporation. The new factory being built at a cost of over 3bio birr in Oromia Regional State is now 97% complete, the Corporation's Director-General, Abay Tsehaye, told journalists. The factory will have the capacity to crash 6,250 t of sugarcane and produce 7,000 q of sugar in a day, the Director- General said.  The General Manager of Wonji Shoa Sugar Factory, Engineer Fekade Sime, said that sugarcane plantation for the new factory lies on 20,000 ha. More than 3,000 jobs were created during the construction of the factory, the manager said. Upon becoming fully operational, the factory will create permanent jobs for 400 people, he said (State media, Feb. 28)

Local farmers' co-operatives in Ethiopia are beginning to deliver what is expected to be the largest amount of maize they ever sold to the United Nations  WFP, as part of a pilot project to promote small farmers' access to local markets. The 28,000 MT of maize is enough to feed 1.8 million people for a month through relief distributions in the country. "Buying food for our Ethiopia operation right here in Ethiopia makes sense in cost-effectiveness, and in providing a boost for the local economy by helping small farmers to get closer to markets." (UN News, Feb. 26)

Van der Ploeg International BV, a Netherlands-based company, opened a letter of credit (LC) at the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) last week, after winning a tender floated by the Agriculture Growth Project (AGP) to supply pregnant heifers (Fortune, Feb. 24).

The World Bank announced it has mobilized US$ 120m to help Ethiopia achieve far-reaching improvements in maternal and child health, and continue its progress towards meeting the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for health. A $100m zero interest credit will be disbursed to Ethiopia over the next four years. Ethiopia will also get a $ 20m grant from the Health Results Innovation Trust Fund, managed by the World Bank and funded by the United Kingdom and Norway. The Trust Fund supports the use of results-based financing to improve the coverage of essential maternal and child health services (World Bank press release, Feb. 28).