Seven Days Update, Vol. 21 No. 48

von Redakteur

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Addis Ababa may help strengthen the already strong relations between Turkey and Ethiopia at both the economic and political levels. But beyond these political and economic ties, there are cultural relations that are rarely mentioned by the media, even though they date back hundreds of years. The house of late Turkish businessman Mohamed Ali in Harar reflects the strong cultural relations that go back more than a century. The house is now being transformed into a museum that will exhibit the culture and heritage of both countries (The Anadolu Agency, Jan, 23).

Sudan and Ethiopia on January 19 signed a Free Zones Cooperation Agreement to cooperate in investment and devel­opment of trade fields via setting up of a mechanism to implement the proposal of establishment free and other eco­nomic-zones on the joint borders. Minister of Investment, Dr. Mus afa Osman Ismail, described his visit to Ethiopia as successful and resulted in the signing of a number of agreements in the field of investment, adding that agreement was reached on providing trade facilities at the common borders in accordance with the directives given earlier by the Presi­dent of the Republic and the Ethiopian Prime Minister (SUNA, Jan. 21).

Agricultural growth was the main driver of poverty reduction in Ethiopia since 2000, according to the World Bank Group’s latest Poverty Assessment. Poverty in Ethiopia fell from 44% in 2000 to 30% in 2011, which translated to a 33% reduc­tion in the share of people living in poverty. This decline was underpinned by high and consistent economic growth. Since 2005, agricultural growth has been responsible for a reduction in poverty of 4% a year, suggesting that the agricultural growth strategy pursued by the Government of Ethiopia has paid off. High food prices and good weather ensured that in­creased use of fertilizer was translated into higher incomes for poor farmers with access to markets (WIC, Jan. 20).

The World Bank repeatedly violated its own rules while funding a development initiative in Ethiopia that has been dogged by complaints that it sponsored forced evictions of thousands of indigenous people, according to a leaked report by a watchdog panel at the bank. The report, which was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, examines a health and education initiative that was buoyed by nearly $2bln in World Bank funding over the last decade. Members of the indigenous Anuak people in Ethiopia’s Gambella province charged that Ethiopian authorities used some of the bank’s money to support a massive forced relocation program and that soldiers beat, raped and killed Anuak who refused to abandon their homes. The bank continued funding the health and education initiative for years after the allega­tions emerged (The Huffington Post, Jan. 20).

The United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries, Julphar, announced that it would build the conti­nent's largest injectable medicine producing facility in Ethiopia with an investment outlay of USD 50m. What the company is thinking of doing is an expansion project. The injectable plant is expected to fill the demand for insulin for patients with diabetes across the country and the African continent in the process promoting the country and the company altogether (The Reporter, Jan. 14).

Starting from the current fiscal year, Addis Ababa City Administration will be clearing 134.78 ha of land on which slums have been built. Out of the aggregate area that is set aside for demolition 65% will  be cleared during the current fiscal year (Fortune, Jan. 21).

The Meles Zenawi Memorial Referral Hospital built at a cost of 200m birr in Somali Regional State will become opera­tional next month, according to the regional state health bureau. The hospital, named after the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, remained idle for more than a year after completion due to lack of the necessary facilities and skilled manpower, Dr. Umer Mohammed, head of the bureau told. The hospital will start services the second week of Feb. Water and elec­tricity facilities have been installed and 100 health professionals have been hired. The hospital will have 270 beds. The hospital will serve five million people from Somali State and neighboring regions (WIC, Jan. 22).

A new archaeological discovery may have uncovered evidence that could help fill gaps spanning hundreds of thousands of years and align the origin of human species in a chronological order. The discovery, which was made as part of a re­search assignment called Middle Awash Research Project, was made alongside Awash River in Afar Region – a region where the famed "Lucy" fossils were discovered 40 years ago. The researchers said that the archaeological find dates back between 600,000 to 160,000 years ago. The findings incorporate 30 human species from almost all age groups, which the archaeologists said will give details about human origin in different angles. The archaeologist also found nearly 3,500 specimens of fossils of animals ranging from mice to elephants. The newly recovered fossils also shade some light on a unique succession of sediments, faunas, floras, and old technologies. Scientists say they plan to publish the new findings in the near future (The Africa Report, Jan. 22).