Seven Days Update, Vol. 22 No. 53

von Redakteur

A founder of a banned self-determination movement for Ethiopia’s most populous ethnic group, the Oromo, returned to the Horn of Africa nation to try and re-enter democratic politics, a spokesman for his splinter group said. Oromo Democratic Front President Lencho Leta arrived in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, Lencho Bati, a spokesman for the group, said. The group held inconclusive talks with Ethiopian officials over the past two years, Beyan Asoba, the head of the U.S.-based ODF’s foreign relations department, said. Lencho began the Oromo Liberation Front in 1973 before leaving to join the ODF in 2013 (Bloomberg, March 20).

Six people accused of conspiring to destroy the Grand Renaissance Dam with support from the Eritrean Government have been sentenced to four years in prison. The 19th Criminal Bench of the Federal High Court said the six have been found guilty of conniving with the Asmara regime to destabilize Ethiopia’s peace and unity not only by destroying the dam but also by dismembering Benishangul-Gumuz from Ethiopia. The six are said to have taken intensive military training in Asmara for a long time (Sendek, March 18).

Al-Sisi is expected to hold talks with top Ethiopian government officials, including Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Redwan Hussein, head of the Ethiopian government's communication affairs office, said. Last week, Desalegn visited Egypt to attend a major investment conference in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh. Relations between Ethiopia and Egypt have improved since al-Sisi and Desalegn met at an African summit in Equatorial Guinea last summer (World Bulletin, March 19).

Al-Sisi held a meeting with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Irrigation Minister Hossam Moghazi, reported. "The meeting discussed the outcome of meetings of a Nile panel on a proposed declaration of principles between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan on the Renaissance Dam," presidential spokesman Alaa Youssef saidt. According to Youssef, al-Sisi has asked a government commission "to review the draft agreement and study all of its aspects." No information is yet available on the specific terms of the agreement (World Bulletin, March 17).

Ethiopia’s government plans to start generating electricity from its largest hydropower plant, Gibe III, in the second half of the year if annual rains sufficiently fill its reservoir, Water and Energy Minister Alemayehu Tegenu said. The wet season from June through August should allow the state-owned Ethiopian Electric Power Office, or EEPO, to begin producing 187 MW of electricity from one of the 10 turbines installed at Africa’s tallest dam, he said. The dam is 243 m high (Bloomberg, March 18).

Gold explorer and developer Kefi Minerals has received approval from Ethiopia’s Ministry of Mines to develop its Tulu Kapi project. The company's application for the 86 000-oz/y mine is before the Council of Ministers for approval to execute a mining agreement and to issue the mining license and full permission to develop and operate the project for 20 years. Kefi Minerals said the estimated development expenditure for the mine had been reduced from $150m to $120m (Mining Weekly, March 16).

Africa’s richest person, Aliko Dangote, is going to inaugurate East Africa’s biggest cement factory he built in Ethiopia at a cost of 500m $. A subsidiary company of Dangote Industries Group, Dangote Cement Ethiopia PLC, built a state-of-the-art cement factory in West Shoa Zone, near Muger town, 85 km west of Addis Ababa. The factory lies on 134 ha plot and has the capacity to produce 2.5 million t of cement (Reporter, March 22).

The third state-of-the-art regional referral public health laboratory in Ethiopia, constructed by the US Government with technical assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with funding from the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), was handed over to the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State. The regional public health laboratory was built at a cost of USD $ 3.1m and will serve a population of approximately 18 million in SNNP region. With an HIV prevalence of 0.8% and 110,000 people living with HIV and AIDS, the new laboratory is expected to increase health services and improve the lives of the people in the region. The new two-story building constructed on a 2000 m² space is equipped with modern lab facilities. The regional public health lab will serve as a training site for laboratory professionals on the diagnosis of HIV, tuberculosis (TB), malaria, ART monitoring and quality management system (WIC, March 19).

Ethiopia burned 6.1 MT of intercepted elephants’ tusks and ivory products in the presence of high level government officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen. The elephant tusks and ivory products were intercepted during the past 30 years from poachers in different parts of the country and on transit at Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport. Verdicts were given to 168 traffickers who were apprehended at Bole airport between Sep. 2013 and August 2014. Ethiopia signed international conventions on the prevention of international trade in endangered species of flora fauna in 1981 (WIC, March 20).