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Plural News and Analysis on Ethiopia and HOA

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Archive for the ‘News & Analysis’ Category

Package found near Ethiopian Embassy in Moscow turns out to be homemade bomb

Posted by Ethio Tribune on November 25, 2013

Package found near Ethiopian Embassy in Moscow turns out to be  homemade bomb

Photo: RIA Novosti

The suspicious package found near the Ethiopian Embassy in downtown Moscow late last week appeared to be a homemade bomb, a source from the law enforcement authorities said.

The package with a cell phone attached to it was found near garbage containers in Orlovo-Davydovsky Side-Street not far from the Ethiopian Embassy and kindergarten No. 1257 last Friday, he said.

A water cannon of the Federal Security Service destroyed the package, which was later taken to a laboratory for examination.

Tests showed that the package contained three plastic tubes filled with approximately 400 grams of pyro-powder and raw-bolts.

The bomb had a detonator which could have been controlled remotely by the cell phone.

Voice of Russia, Interfax
Read more:

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Ethiopia|Govt Bans the Travel of Citizens Overseas for Employment

Posted by Ethio Tribune on October 25, 2013

The government of Ethiopia has temporarily banned the travel of citizens overseas for employment. It has also provisionally barred the work permit of agencies facilitating such travels. According to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, countless Ethiopians have lost their dear lives and undergone untold physical and psychological traumas due to illegal human trafficking.

And the government has taken various measures to curb the loss incurred due to the problem. It set up a national council and a taskforce meant to educate the public and caution illegal human traffickers. The measures taken so far could not help address the problem effectively, the statement said.

Hence, the government has temporarily banned the travel of citizens for employment overseas. It has also provisionally barred the work permit of agencies facilitating such travels. The decision is meant to safeguard the wellbeing of citizens and is effective until a lasting solution is sought for the problem.

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Exiled Awramba Times Editor, Dawit Kebede, going back to Ethiopia

Posted by Ethio Tribune on October 25, 2013

Dawit KebedeAwramba Times (Washington DC) – Dawit Kebede, editor -in- Chief of the Awramba Times website is going back home after two years of stay as a political asylee in the United States.

In an interview with political analyst Yared Tibebu, in Washington DC, Dawit officially announced his decision to end his political asylum and head back home tomorrow, October 25, 2013.

Editor Dawit iterated his assessment that good journalism cannot be done away from the homeland and going back to the roots is important. Responding to the questions whether recent disagreements with some diaspora based political ‘activists’ had any weight in his decision to go back to Ethiopia, Dawit insisted that his love for the profession and his inability to excel in the field given immigrant life is the only decisive factor in his decision to go back to Ethiopia. Please watch his interview below.


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Ethiopia’s booming leather sector

Posted by Ethio Tribune on October 24, 2013

Staff at work in one of Pittards' factories in Addis Ababa
Pittards plans to substantially increase the size of its Ethiopian workforce

Amid the rhythmic clicking of rows and rows of sewing machines, hundreds of workers are busy creating a range of leather gloves, bags and jackets. “I can tell when employees’ skills have improved by the noises of the machines speeding up,” says Tsedenia Mekbib, a general manager.

We are at a busy factory on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. It is one of three such facilities in the city owned by UK leather goods company Pittards, which has a long history of operating in the country. “Ethiopia has come a very long way over the last 23 years since I first visited, and the last decade in particular has witnessed massive positive changes” Reg Hankey Pittards chief executive

While an increasing number of Western firms of all sizes are now looking at doing business in Africa, Pittards has had a 90-year head start. The company, which is based in Yeovil, Somerset, in the south-west of England, has been trading in Ethiopia since the 1920s. And it is all down to a celebrated type of sheep – the Ethiopian hair sheep.

This breed, which does not grow a thick coat of wool, also has much thinner skin than its European brethren, making it ideal for delicate leather apparel such as ladies’ gloves.

New factory

Pittards now has ambitious plans to grow its Ethiopian operations, which help contribute towards the firm’s £39m ($60m) annual revenues. At present its Addis Ababa-based factories and tannery to the south of the city employ about 1,200 locals, a number expected to grow to about 5,000 within five years. A fourth factory has already been built, and is waiting to be occupied.

On the current production floors, an element of handwork is also included in the manufacturing process, which each month produces 100,000 work gloves and 5,000 dress gloves.

 The Ethiopian hair sheep is much in demand in the leather industry. Pittards’ Ethiopian factories also produce two million sq feet (186,000 sq m) of quality leather for export to be made into garments ranging from specialist golf gloves to couture handbags.

“Ethiopia will grow in importance to Pittards and the global leather industry [in general],” says the company’s chief executive Reg Hankey. Ethiopia’s attractions for Pittards, and other Western firms, include the country’s large pool of relatively low-cost labour. It also has duty-free status for most manufactured products for export to Europe, the US and other countries.

Animal husbandry

Despite Ethiopia having the largest flock of hair sheep in the world – more than 26 million – it is not the largest supplier of skins. “Ethiopia has worked very hard to establish itself as a preferred country for economic development within Africa”

Reg Hankey Pittards chief executive

Its flock’s reproductive rate of about 37% trails New Zealand’s 180% and means Ethiopia has only some 9.5 million sheepskins available annually compared with New Zealand’s total of about 30 million.

Better animal husbandry should increase Ethiopia’s supply. Pittards is already involved in environmental programmes to improve the quality of local skins through improved husbandry and treatment against parasites. Another benefit could be improved meat yields, a not insignificant detail while Ethiopia remains a developing country.

Regarding the wider issues of doing business in Ethiopia, Mr Hankey says the country faces the same challenges as other developing nations, encompassing difficulties related to bureaucracy, customs and banking. Yet, he adds, while more has to be done, the situation is greatly improved.

“Ethiopia has come a very long way over the last 23 years since I first visited, and the last decade in particular has witnessed massive positive changes,” Mr Hankey says. “Ethiopia has worked very hard to establish itself as a preferred country for economic development within Africa.”

 Pittards’ Ethiopian operations are now a core part of its business

Ethiopia’s government now wants to grow its leather industry’s annual exports to $500m by the completion of its five-year growth and transformation plan at the end of 2015. Leather exports stood at $123m last year. Within Pittards, the British management is happy to be playing a part in Ethiopia reaching its ambitious goal.

“We have put down roots,” Mr Hankey says. “This changes relationships and thinking – we see things from the inside and the outside, giving us a unique position for further development.”

‘Changing lifestyles’

Busy at work in the Pittards factory is 20-year-old Embret Beshada. Her job is to sew two glove-shaped panels together while incorporating material to create a thumb casing.

 Embret Beshada likes the financial indepedence having a job gives her She says she found the work easy when she started just over a year ago, despite having to learn many new skills, and was producing gloves within two months. “Being able to support myself excites me the most,” she says.

Sitting at sewing machines nearby are some of her friends. About 80% of the factory workforce is female, while at the tannery about 80% of the workforce is male. “We are seeing people get more jobs, and people’s lifestyles changing, which gives us hope for the future,” Ms Beshada adds.


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Ethiopia and Kenya secure funds for $1.26bn power line

Posted by Ethio Tribune on October 24, 2013

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia and Kenya have secured funds for a $1.26bn power line aimed at improving electricity supply and the project is set for completion in two years’ time, an Ethiopian official said on Wednesday.

Addis Ababa is poised to generate more revenue from power exports to its neighbour, beyond the border northern Kenyan town of Moyale which is already receiving a small amount.

Though it has been investing in infrastructure, including expanding power supplies, Kenya has struggled to meet demand and faces constant blackouts.

“Everything is as per schedule. We expect it will be completed on time … after two years,” Alemayehu Tegenu, Ethiopia’s minister of water and energy, told Reuters.

The project — a 1,068km high-voltage transmission line with a capacity of 2,000 MW — is co-funded by the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the French Development Agency and the Ethiopian and Kenyan governments.

The electricity will originate from a number of existing and planned power plants in Ethiopia.

Analysts estimate that the hydropower potential of Ethiopia — blessed with cascading rivers flowing through rugged mountains — is around 45,000 MW.

In a bid to become a major power exporter, Ethiopia is also building a 6,000 MW mega dam on the Nile, which is set for completion in four years’ time. Addis Ababa already exports up to 65 MW to Djibouti and about 100 MW to Sudan.


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Ethiopia|4 billion USD Corbetti Geothermal power agreement signed

Posted by Ethio Tribune on October 24, 2013

4 billion USD Corbetti Geothermal power agreement signed

The signing ceremony at the Sheraton Addis officially launches the establishment of Corbetti Geothermal Power as an Ethiopian based company for geothermal development and operations. The total cost of the power project is 4 billion USD.

Reykjavik Geothermal, an Icelandic company financed by American shareholders, is the owner of Corbetti and has numerous geothermal concessions in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) agrees to buy the energy generated by the company for the coming 25 + years. The signing ceremony attracts the Deputy Prime Minister for the Finance and Economic Cluster and Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Debretsiyon Gebremichael, Minister of Mines Sinkinesh Ejigu, ambassadors, CEOs and other dignitaries.

After signing the ever largest direct investment in the sector, CEO of EEPCo Mihret Debebe said geothermal power plants offer alternative energy for power hungry growing industries in the country.

What makes seamless geothermal power plants is their round the clock energy provision to industries seeking uninterrupted power supply. Corbetti Geothermal Power is estimated to generate over 1000MW electric power once it completes its two phase construction.

The first phase of construction is expected to generate 500MW within five years and the remaining would come in the next 8 years, according to the agreement signed between the company and Ethiopian government.

Nejib Abba Biya, Principal of Rift Valley Geothermal and co-founder of Allana Potash, is initiator of the project. After signing the agreement, he said “with bold leadership in place it is possible for Ethiopia to achieve the much talked about middle income economy and more.”

He admired the leadership of the government in turning the project earlier assumed to be of 300 MW to 1000+MW plant.

With Reykjavik Geothermal, which is one of the most competent companies in the geothermal energy development, Abba Biya believes such big projects have the power to move Ethiopia forward to help it meet the need for better living standard.

Minister Debretsiyon lauds all those involved for making this big project possible after 18 months of studies and meticulous negotiations. He pledges the government is there to help such investments happen by providing the necessary support.

Posted in News & Analysis | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

In Switch, Egypt May Join Ethiopia In Nile Dam Project

Posted by Ethio Tribune on October 22, 2013

At a news conference Oct. 7, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced that his country welcomes the participation of Egypt and Sudan in the construction of the dam and stressed that his government considers the dam to be jointly owned by Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt. Cairo viewed his statement as a positive step toward reaching a consensus on the project, despite its earlier sharp criticism of it.

In a telephone conversation Oct. 17, Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdul Muttalib told Al-Monitor: “Egypt doesn’t mind joining the Ethiopian government in building the dam for the service and development of the Ethiopian people. But we must agree on a number of items in a clear way to prevent any damage to Egypt as a result of the dam construction. The Egyptian government always opts for cooperation and participation. … During the coming negotiations with Ethiopia over the dam, we will clarify our position regarding the policy and method of operating the dam, the size of the storage lake attached to it, and how to fill it with water in times of flood and drought.” He stressed, “Egypt will definitely not participate in the construction unless these policies are agreed upon and agreements regarding them are signed.”

Posted in News & Analysis | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Teddy Afro New Song For Walya – መሬት ሲመታ [video clip]

Posted by Ethio Tribune on October 21, 2013

Posted in News & Analysis | Leave a Comment »

“ተቃዋሚ የፖለቲካ ፓርቲዎች አሉ ብዬ አላምንም”, አቦይ ስብሃት ነጋ

Posted by Ethio Tribune on October 18, 2013

አቦይ ስብሃት ነጋ  በስራ ጉዳይ ኣመሪካን ኣገር ይገኛሉ። በዚህ ቆይታቸው ኣመሪካ ዉስጥ ከሚገኙ የደያስፖራ አትዮጵያውያን ራዲዮ ጣብድያዎች ቃለመጠይቅ ኣድረገዋል። ስለ ኤርትራ ጉዳይ በተመለከተ፤ስለ ኣገራችን ሁነታ፤ስለ ተቃዋሚ ፓርቲዎች ሰፊ ትንተናዎች ሰጥተዋል። ስለ ኢትዮጵያ ተቃዋሚዎች የሚከተለውን ብለዋል።
“አሁን በኔ አስተያየት ተቃዋሚ የፖለቲካ ፓርቲዎች አሉ ብዬ አላምንም፡፡ የሉም፡፡ ከማንኛውም ድርጅት የተባረሩ ከኢሰፓም፤ ከአፄ ኃይለስላሴም፤ ከመኢሶንም ከኢህአፓም፤ ከህወሃትም የተባሩ፤ ስልጣን የሚፈልጉ፤ ስልጣን ያመለጣቸው፤ ያኮረፉ ሰዎች የተደራጁበት ነው፡፡ እና ይሄ የራሱ ጥቅም ጎድሎት ሽሽት ያመለጠው የፖለቲካ ፓርቲ ነው ብዬ እኔ በማውቀው የፓርቲ ትርጉም በተማርነውና በሰራንበት መለኪያ ስናየው የሉም፡፡”

“ማህበራዊ መደባቸውም አይታወቅም፡፡ እና ፕሮግራማቸውና የፕሮግራሙ መሰረቶችን /መደቦች/ አያስቀምጡም፡፡ ስለዚህ የፖለቲካ ፓርቲ ማለት የሚገነባውን ስርዓት ያስቀመጠና ለዚህ ለሚገነባው ስርዓት የመደብ መሰረቴ ይሄ ነው ወይም ይሄና ይሄ ናቸው ብሎ የሚነሳ ነው፡፡ እና አሁን በኢትዮጵያ ያሉ የፖለቲካ ቡድኖች በፖለቲካ ፓርቲ መለኪያ ሲታዩ በጣም የተቆጡ፤ የተበሳጩ፤ ስሜት በጣም የገዛቸው፤ ሳይንስ የሚባለ ነገር እንደሌለ ሃቁን ለማየት ግዜ የሌላቸው በቁጭት የተሸነፉ የግል ፍላጎታቸውን የሚያራምዱ ቡድኖች ናቸው፡፡”

ይ ህ  የተቃዋሚዎቻችን ዋናው ችግር ነው። ከነዚህ ኣካላት ንክኪ ሳይፈጥሩ የኢትዮጵያ ተጨባጭ ሁንታ ብቻ መስረት ኣድርገው  መንቀሳቀስ የሚፈልጉ ኣዳዲስ ፓርቲዎች እንደምያስፈልጉን ጥርጥር የለውም። የነዚህ ‘የተቆጡ’ ሲሉ አቦይ ስብሃት የገልፅዋቸው ተፅእኖ ማክተም ኣለበት። ለዚህ ደሞ መንግስትም ድጋፍ ልያደርግላቸው ይገባል እንላለን።  ገዢው ፓርቲ ለማጥቃት ሲል ብቻ  በተገኘው ኣጋጣሚ ኣገራችንን ጥላሸት የሚቀባ ኢትይጵያዊ ፓርቲ ሊኖር ኣይገባም። ኣገር የጋራ ነው። ገዢው ሆነ ተቀዋሚ ፓርቲ በኣገር ጉዳይ ሊደራደሩ ኣይገባም።


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Eritrea|Is the Horn of Africa facing another collapsing state?

Posted by Ethio Tribune on October 16, 2013

Just as the Horn of Africa is witnessing the slow restoration of one collapsed state – after more than two decades of anarchic conditions in Somalia – it may be facing the collapse of another.

The small country of Eritrea, only 20 years after gaining independence from Ethiopia, has emerged as one of the largest sources of refugees in Africa – as well as one of the most militarised societies in the world. It is increasingly displaying signs of withering state structures and an unsustainable humanitarian situation.

Although Eritrea is sometimes referred to as the North Korea of Africa, a more appropriate point of comparison may be Somalia and its descent into civil war. The already fragile security conditions in Eritrea’s neighbouring states means that its collapse could have major implications for regional stability.

The Eritrean state has, since a 1998 border war with Ethiopia, been caught in a negative spiral of autocracy and deteriorating conditions. President Isaias Afewerki – the only leader this young nation has known – used the threat posed by Ethiopia as a pretext to eliminate all domestic opposition and indefinitely defer implementing the constitution and holding elections. Meanwhile, Eritrean society has been almost totally militarised. An indefinite, compulsory and universal military conscription policy applies to most of Eritrea’s adult population. Its army is now one of the largest on the continent, and has the highest number of military personnel per capita in the world next to North Korea. In 2011, Afewerki took the additional step of arming a large section of the civilian population believed to be loyal to his party, the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice.

Although huge amounts of resources have been devoted to Eritrea’s military, the institution appears to be split by personal and group rivalries, both within the leadership and between the rank-and-file and the leadership. Political power is very much personalised in contemporary Eritrea, and remains largely in the hands of the president and a handful of military generals, who are rivalling and contesting each other over power, influence and control over financial resources.


The increasing number of political and military defections is another symptom of what looks to be Eritrea’s crumbling state apparatus. This includes former Information Minister Ali Abdu, believed to be the president’s right-hand man; tens of thousands of soldiers who have sought political asylum in neighbouring Sudan and Ethiopia; and the very embarrassing case of two military pilots who defected to Saudi Arabia with the president’s private jet, who were also later followed by a third pilot in April 2013, sent by the government to retrieve the plane. Other defectors include members of Eritrea’s Olympics team at the London Games in 2012, 13 players on an Eritrean football team, and artist Michael Adonai.

The growing frustration among army officers manifested itself this January with a revolt led by a colonel and members of his brigade. Their desperate actions – they occupied the Information Ministry and forced the director of the national TV station to read their demands for political reform on air – further demonstrated the emerging cracks within Afewerki’s regime.

Reliable data on the size of Eritrea’s population is hard to come by, but estimates range between 3 and 4 million people. Of these, several hundred thousand have fled over the last decade, and the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Eritrea reported earlier this year that the number of people fleeing every month has now reached 4,000. While the regime is in denial of the deteriorating conditions, Eritreans are voting en masse with their feet. The vast majority of the refugees are young males, and hence a significant portion of Eritrea’s productive workforce have either fled the country or find themselves indefinitely conscripted in the military.

Many of the refugees are trafficked out of the country through Egypt’s Sinai desert, where they can be kidnapped, tortured, and their families in the West extorted for ransom money by regional criminal networks. The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea has identified the involvement of leading figures in the Eritrean military in these criminal networks. The participation of high-level military personnel in these activities – which also include the trafficking of weapons and forced labour – reveals the blatant role illicit economic structures have assumed in Eritrea today. 

A continuation of the country’s current trajectory is unsustainable, and some form of change is inevitable in the near future – the most objective indicator of which is the country’s demographics. Given the absence of institutional mechanisms for managing a leadership change, and the mistrust and insecurities that Afewerki’s divide-and-rule strategies have generated, a collapse of the government could lead to civil war.

Lessons from Somalia

A refugee crisis, high-level military defections, a divided military, ethnic tensions, and a leader displaying irrational behaviour are some of the ways in which Eritrea today resembles Somalia in the years before its collapse in 1991. The case of Somalia also illustrates the difficulty of re-building state institutions once central authority has disintegrated and several armed factions take control.

In the event of state collapse in Eritrea, the security and humanitarian repercussions may in fact outstrip those seen in Somalia. Given the high number of weapons in the country and its near total militarisation, the collapse of state authority and civil war may lead to conflict and deaths on an extraordinary scale. Making this prospect more daunting is the deepening of the country’s ethno-religious divisions in recent years. Nearly every individual in Eritrea’s military and political leadership, for instance, now hails from Afewerki’s Hamasien tribe, and are of Christian background. This has alienated the other ethnic groups and created tensions on a sub-ethnic level as well.

Somalia and Yemen have demonstrated how terrorist groups take advantage of the absence of state authority to recruit members and plan and execute attacks. Groups such as al-Qaeda could find a fertile breeding ground among the politically marginalised and increasingly frustrated Muslim population of Eritrea, which make up somewhere between one-third and one-half of the total population.

Though Eritrea is poor and small, with few natural resources, it has a long coastline along the Red Sea, shares borders with Sudan, Djibouti and Ethiopia and is close to Saudi Arabia and Yemen – making it important in terms of global trade and security.

The Horn of Africa is one of the most conflict-prone regions in the world, and most of Eritrea’s neighbours happen to be rather fragile sates. Given the symbiotic nature of conflict and state fragility in this region most of these neighbours would be severely destabilised by the collapse of Eritrea’s state apparatus. These states are themselves overburdened by their own internal security challenges, and do not possess the resources and capacity to handle the challenge of another collapsing neighbour. Such a situation would thus require a substantial international engagement.  

While Eritrea’s authoritarian system has so far proven to be surprisingly resilient, if the refugee crisis continues on its current trajectory, the regime is unlikely to survive for much longer. This silent mass exodus will, if not stopped, lead to a humanitarian and security crisis of enormous proportions.


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