Seven Days Update, Vol. 22 No. 55

von Redakteur

The long-awaited “Freedom for just elections” public rally or anized by Semayawi Party and scheduled to take place in 15 towns including Addis Ababa has been stopped by security police. Semayawi Party members and supporters had assembled in the Kazanchis area on March 29 when policemen intercep­ted and prevented them from going ahead with the rally. Rally participants shouted slogans asking the police to move away and allow them to exercise their democratic rights as provided for in the FDRE Constitution. Party organizers were in the end forced to disband the rally unable to put up with the poli­ce force. The organizers held a brief news conference during which they described the EPRDF as a dictator. They said the party will still go ahead and hold other public agitation programs even at the cost of imprisonment and harassment (Yegna Press, March 31).

Two Ethiopians suspected of human trafficking have been deported from Kenya to Ethiopia with the  support of police in Nairobi and Interpol. The suspects identified as Askale Dedeso and her associate Semira Hassen were alleged to have trafficked 38,000 Ethiopians locked in containers. The suspects were alleged to have trafficked their fellow citizens to South Africa via Kenya and Tanzania and other countries in the Middle East (Ethio-Mihidar (March 31).

The Egyptian and Ethiopian irrigation ministers will next week announce in Addis Ababa the consultan­cy firm which will carry out new water and environmental studies on the 74 billion m³ reservoir on the Nile’s largest tributary.  The firm will be conducting impact studies on the Renaissance Dam based on the yearly consumption of water of downstream countries (Egypt, Sudan), a statement by the Egyptian irrigation ministry said. The consultancy firm will be expected to finish its studies within five months of its appointment, before March 2015 (Ahram Online, April 2).

An Ethiopian official said Saturday that a $2.6m study has been launched to develop the Baro-Akobo-Sobat sub-basin, which stretches across Ethiopia and South Sudan. "The study incorporates power ge­neration and sale, irrigation, basin rehabilitation as well as wetland management," Fekahmed Negash, Executive Director of the Eastern Nile Technical Regional Office (ENTRO). He said funds for the study have been secured from the African Development Bank and African Water Facility. "The study will take 21 months to complete," he said. According to Negash, the study covers the transboundary implications of the projects that are meant to develop the Nile Basin and ensures cooperation among the riparian countries (Anadolu Agency, April 4).

Ethiopia has announced that it will begin producing and exporting natural gas from underdeveloped re­serves in its southeastern region by 2017. The vast natural gas reserve recently found in Ethiopia will make the country a top producer of natural gas in the world, followed by Russia and Qatar. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said that 27 firms have already acquired licenses to explore more than 40 blocks throughout Ethiopia in the past four years, the vast majority of them in the sou­theastern Somali Region. The Calub and Hilala gas fields in the Ogaden Basin has deposits of 1.33 tril­lion cu/m of gas and 13.6mn barrels of associated liquids, both discovered in the 1970s but not yet ex­ploited, revealed the Prime Minister. In 2013, China’s GCL-Poly Petroleum Investments had signed a production sharing deal with Ethiopia’s Mines Ministry to develop both gas fields. A Chinese firm is car­rying out activities on the Calub and Hilala gas reserves. GCL-Poly Petroleum Investments will also fund the pipeline that will transport gas from Ethiopia to Djibouti for a total cost of more than US$4bn (Oil Review Africa, March 31).

The EU has decided to increase its assistance to Ethiopia considering Ethiopia’s proper use of funds, the EU Delegation to Ethiopia said. The Head of the EU Delegation, Ambassador Chantal Hebberecht, said the EU has been supporting projects in natural conservation, agriculture, education and health, and the funds have been spent properly. In addition, Ethiopia’s efforts to alleviate poverty are another reason for the EU to increase its support. The EU and the 20 member states represented in Addis Aba­ba are one of the biggest donors in this country, Ambassador Hebberecht said. “The total financial allo­cation to support the country’s development is more or less one billion dollars per year, and represents 40% of the public development aid in Ethiopia.” “We have ongoing projects for a total of 400m € and we have in preparation a new financial allocation with 800m € for the next five years, because we are star­ting a new cycle of cooperation with this country under the 11th EDF,” she added (ENA, April 2).