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EU welcomes ongoing political reforms in Ethiopia

On the 19th of July 2017, ambassadors of EU member states and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn held a meeting to discuss current topics such as political reforms in Ethiopia, migration with an emphasis on returnees and the upcoming AU-EU summit.

Reforms and political dialogue

According to Teshome Toga, Ethiopian Ambassador to the EU, the delegation was briefed by the Premier on the effort regarding the in-depth reforms that the government has been pursuing and the political reform being undertaken through dialogue with political parties and civic societies. He assured that the EU Member States could follow the ongoing negotiation among the parties focused on various agendas.

The forums held with the public following the in-depth evaluation was fruitful, which enabled the government to come up with concrete efforts to intensify activities in creating more jobs and addressing issues of good governance, he added.

After the meeting, the Head of the European Union Delegation to Ethiopia Chantal Hebberecht said the “EU is very happy and welcomes the ongoing political dialogue with civic society and political parties.” She told reporters that this kind of direct dialogue with people and civic society is very important in the democratization process.

Business attractiveness 

Economic and business issues was also among the discussion points including Ethiopia’s efforts regarding job creation through the development of industrial parks, the Ambassador said. The EU member states in Ethiopia are working to enable Ethiopia seize the opportunity in various areas including by attracting investors as well as supporting development endeavors. “I tell you that the 21 EU member states here in Ethiopia are doing their best to attract foreign investors here in Ethiopia” she added.

The Head of the EU Representation in Addis Ababa also said that the EU Member States are providing more than one billion euros to the development activities geared towards poverty eradication and improving basic services such as health and education, among others.

Regional stabilization and migration

Alongside its developmental endeavors and political reforms, Ethiopia is well known for its effort in ensuring peace. Ambassador Hebberecht said “we have recognized Ethiopia as it is playing very positive role here in the Horn of Africa.”

Noting that Ethiopia is working to address the root causes of migration through various mechanisms, she also underlined that the EU is supporting the country in this regard. “We are really trying to support the government of Ethiopia to tackle the root cause of the migration in creating job opportunity and develop industrial parks.”

Background of the Ethio-EU relations

Ethiopia and the EU have enjoyed over 40 years of strong and enduring partnership and cooperation on a range of bilateral, regional and international issues. The importance of this relationship has been underlined in the Ethio-EU Strategic Engagement (2016). Ethiopia is also an increasingly important partner in terms of migration, as demonstrated by the signature of a Declaration on a Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility (CAMM).

Ambassadors of EU member states residing in Addis Ababa each year hold dialogue on the partnership with Ethiopia in accordance with the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, signed in Cotonou, Benin in June 2000.

Source: ENA

Minister of National Planning Commission commended EU’s partnership and commitment for the 2030 Development Agenda

A side event on the new European Consensus on Development was held today during the High Level Political Forum in New York. While welcoming the EU’s consensus on development, Minister of National Planning, Dr. Yinager Dessie, appreciated EU’s partnership and commitment for the implementation of the 2030 Development Agenda. Dr. Yinager, participating as one of the panelists, also called for enhanced partnership on the areas of climate change, job creation and industrialization and resource mobilization.

Ethiopia implements financial inclusion strategy to transform cash economy to digital transaction

Minister of National Planning Commission, Dr. Yinager Dessie, said Ethiopia has implemented a financial inclusion strategy to transform the cash economy to digital transaction.

He made the remark at an event held under the theme “Eradicating Poverty, Promoting Prosperity and Empowering Women through Financial Inclusion” on the sideline of the High Level Political Forum in New York.

During the event, Dr. Yinager presented Ethiopia’s experience with regards to the financial inclusion of the larger section of the population, especially women.

“The government has implemented a financial inclusion strategy. The strategy aims to transform the cash economy to digital transaction,” he said.

He added that a women development package is another area of intervention the government is implementing in order to support women to be beneficial from the economic development the country is registering.

Meanwhile, the Ethiopian Minister took part on a sideline event held on the new European Consensus on Development, where he commended EU’s partnership and commitment for the 2030 Development Agenda.

While welcoming the EU’s consensus on development, Dr. Yinager Dessie, appreciated EU’s partnership and commitment for the implementation of the 2030 Development Agenda.

He also called for enhanced partnership on the areas of climate change, job creation, industrialization and resource mobilization.

EU MEPs repeat criticisms of the Ethiopian government

Thirty-eight Members of the European Parliament sent a letter to the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, last week complaining that Ethiopia has refused to allow an independent investigation into last year’s demonstrations and protests. The MEPs, whose concern appears to be that the investigation of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) did not support their views, alleged, without any evidence, that the impartiality of the EHRC was “questionable” and described its report as “highly controversial for significant reasons: not only does it underestimate the number of casualties, but it also considers the security measures taken as mostly ‘fair and proportional.” Their letter, unsurprisingly, provided no evidence for their assertions.

In fact, as the Government noted last month in response to concerns expressed earlier, the EHRC investigated in detail the allegations of the numbers who died during the protests and whether the force used had been proportional. The EHRC found this had been proportional in most cases, but not all; the report called for action to be taken in cases where this had not been the case. The Government also noted the changes being introduced in response to the legitimate concerns raised by protesters last year. Although the MEPs took no notice of these, they included inter alia talks with some 17 opposition parties, consideration of proportional representation in voting and the launch of the country’s second National Human Rights Action Plan.

In addition to claiming the casualties last year must have been higher than the report finds, the MEP letter also demanded those detained for exercising “their legitimate freedom of expression” must be released. In fact, as the MEPs might have noted, many of those involved in the demonstrations were detained for a short time and given training courses in the responsibilities, and duties, of citizens. They have all been released. Those still detained are facing charges for violence or other criminal activities. The killing of people and the destruction of property hardly fall under the rubric of “legitimate freedom of expression” even in today’s Europe.

The MEPs letter also refers to the case of Andargatchew Tsige which they describe as “a UK citizen and father of three from London. Andy is a campaigner who had previously addressed the European Parliament on the need for freedom and democratisation in Ethiopia.” The MEPs fail to mention that Andargatchew was Secretary-General of Ginbot 7, a political organization based in Eritrea, publicly committed to overthrowing the government of Ethiopia by armed force and by “any means possible”. They also failed to note that Ginbot 7 has been declared a terrorist organization by the Ethiopian parliament because of the dozens of terrorist activities it has committed against civilians in Ethiopia, including the bombing of hotels and other public places, the planting of mines on roads, and blowing up buses and lorries as well as carrying out a program of kidnapping people from villages close to the Eritrean border to try and recruit supporters. As Secretary-General to Ginbot 7, Andargatchew was closely involved in these activities.

The MEPs signing this letter, as might be expected, include at least one very well-known opponent of the Ethiopian Government, Ms. Ana Gomes, who does not seem to have declared her interest in the subject. She is a close friend of the Chairman of Ginbot 7, Dr. Berhanu Nega, and she has been repeatedly and openly linked to opposition movements that avow armed intervention in Ethiopia. Indeed, as noted, Ginbot 7 has been frequently involved in terrorist activity. Ms. Gomes has made no secret of her dislike of the government of Ethiopia ever since her report as Chair of the EU Observer Mission to the 2005 elections in Ethiopia was comprehensively and critically dismissed as inaccurate and unprofessional.

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Swedish H&M looks at Ethiopian textile industry

Swedish Global Clothing Manufacturing Company H&M looks ahead to enter the growing manufacturing sector in Ethiopia, the outgoing Swedish Ambassador Jan Sadek told the local media on the 13th of July 2017.

Following his farewell talks with President Dr. Mulatu Teshome, the Ambassador said Sweden seeks to increase its economic ties with Ethiopia and that a lot of Swedish companies are interested to come to Ethiopia. The global clothing manufacturer, H&M has keen interest to enter the Ethiopian textile industry.

This hopefully will be important in terms of raising hard currency, catalyzing the industrial development of Ethiopia and in creating massive jobs, he underlined. He further stated that Erickson is proud to be here in Ethiopia in the telecom sector.

Ethiopia has the best quality coffee whereas Sweden is the second biggest coffee importer in the world. Ethiopia’s flowers have also large demands in Swedish market. These opportunities further enhance the two countries economic cooperation, according to the Ambassador.

The bilateral relations between the two countries started in the mid-19th century when Swedish Missionaries had come to Ethiopia and expand education and clinics.

Since that time, over 6000 schools have been built in Ethiopia by Swedish initiatives, Ambassador Sadek noted.

The fact that the late athletics legend Abebe Bekila trained by Swedish experts demonstrates the strong historical ties of the two countries, the Ambassador said.

Ethiopia and Sweden have many global issues to hold-on actively including the climate change, migration and global peace and security affairs, Ambassador Sadek mentioned.

“As both Ethiopia and Sweden are currently non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), it is the right time to act jointly in the global arena to promoting climate smart economy, peace and stability,” he added.

National Palace Protocol Affairs Head Ashebir Getnet noted that the relationship between Ethiopia and Sweden goes back to the 1950s when Sweden experts start to expand education, health and agricultural research.

Currently, the bilateral relationship is hiking to investment and common global concerns, he added.

Swedish government has approved a development cooperation to Ethiopia worth for a billion Krone spanned from 2016-2020.

Source: The Ethiopian Herald

Ethiopia’s yearly coffee export earnings increased by 20%

Ethiopia earned 866 million USD exporting 221,000 tons of coffee during the last fiscal year .

According to Ethiopian Coffee & Tea Development and Marketing Authority, it has accomplished 92 per cent of its goal in terms of coffee exports increase. “It is a very great achievement compared to nation’s previous years’ coffee export performance.”

Comparing to the coffee export volumes of 2015-2016, coffee exports grew by 11.5 percent during the fiscal year 2016-2017. In addition, the foreign earning from coffee increased by 20 percent due to the global coffee price hikes.

In a recent exclusive interview with The Ethiopian Herald, Market Development and Promotion Directorate Director Dassa Daniso said: “86 percent of the total coffee exportations were exported to Germany, Saudi Arabia, Japan, USA, Belgium, Sudan and South Korea”.

According to him, Germany alone had imported 18 per cent of the Ethiopian exported coffee during the period.

Ethiopia inaugurated two additional industrial parks

On the 8th and 9th of July 2017, Ethiopia inaugurated two additional industrial parks. Together, these two new sites are expected to create about 40,000 new jobs and accelerated the development of the country’s economy.

Speaking at the inaugurations of the two parks, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said industrial parks will pave the way for the renaissance of the country and are becoming the engines of the country’s development. By developing special economic zones in different parts of the country, the government is working to sustain the double digit economic growth and realize a structural transformation from an agriculture-led to an industrial-led economy.

Hailemariam Kombolcha Industrial Park
Hailemariam Industrial Park
Hailemariam Mekelle Industrial Park
Hailemariam Industrial Park Inauguration

The Kombolcha Industrial Park, inaugurated on the 8th of July, will gather companies engaged in the textile and garment. The CEO of the Industrial Parks Development Corporation, Sisay Gemechu said that companies to occupy the nine sheds constructed in the first phase of the industrial park will create jobs for more than 20,000 individuals. According to him, companies from the U.S., Korea and Italy have requested to plant their industries in the industrial park. Of the total shades, 70 percent is dedicated to foreign anchor companies, while 30 percent will be occupied by local companies. The park’s closeness to the Djibouti port (480km) is expected to catch the attention of many global anchor companies.

The industrial park in Mekele was inaugurated on the 9th of July. It is built on 100 hectares of land and is also expected to create jobs for 20,000 individuals. Dr. Arkebe Oqubay, Board Chairperson of Industrial Parks Development Corporation emphasized the role that the Mekele industrial park will play in promoting technology transformation and economic integration.

Ethiopia has the ambition to become a manufacturing hub in Africa, earning 1 billion US dollars annually and providing ample employment opportunities to citizens. The government has commissioned the construction of 15 industrial parks across the country. Industrial parks in Adama and Dire Dawa are expected to be inaugurated in about six months. The country’s first industrial park in Hawassa was inaugurated in 2016.

EU provides 60 million euros for drought response in Horn of Africa

The European Commission has announced new humanitarian assistance of 60 million euros to help people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, facing food insecurity due to drought.

The bulk of the funding, 40 million euros, will go to the most vulnerable people in Somalia, while 15 million will go to Ethiopia and 5 million to Kenya.

The aid will also support projects addressing water supply, livestock protection and response to disease outbreaks.

Some 17 million people are in urgent need of food.

This additional assistance brings EU humanitarian aid to the Horn of Africa region including Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda to nearly 260 million euros since the beginning of 2017.

Ethiopia to inaugurate two industrial parks in coming weekend

The Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC) announced that Ethiopia will inaugurate two industrial parks in Amhara and Tigray regions of the country during the coming weekend.

The two parks were built by the Industrial Park Development Corporation (IPDC).

Commission’s Public Relation Head, Mekonnen Hailu, said that the Kemblocha industrial park will be inaugurated on July 08, 20017 a day before Mekelle industrial park inauguration.

According to him, the responsibility that lies on the commission is to attract investors from home and abroad once the IPDC  establishes the industrial parks.

According to him, 15-30 percent of investment of each park is reserved to local investors to help them penetrate international markets and mingle with giant global companies to learn about quality production and marketing systems.

He said that the technology transfer is the least the local investors could gain while they co-habit with the industrial parks.

He also noted that the commission has focused on its promotion activities to attract in modern global companies, which mostly are engaged in textile and apparel production as the parks were meant to these products.

Kombolacha industrial park of Amhara and Mekelle industrial park of Tigray became the second and third industrial parks of the country to be inaugurated next two the giant Hawassa industrial park of the south region.

Ethiopian World Heritage site, Simien National Park, no longer in danger

The World Heritage Committee meeting in Krakow has decided to remove Simien National Park from the List of World Heritage in Danger in recognition of improvements in its management and of measures taken to reduce overgrazing and visitor impact.

The World Heritage Committee welcomed Ethiopia’s commitment in building an alternative road to alleviate the disturbance of traffic on the main road that crosses the property, reduce cattle overgrazing and visitor impact. The Committee furthermore welcomed the stabilization of the site’s endemic animal populations of, notably, Walia ibex and Gelada baboons.

Massive erosion over the years on the Ethiopian plateau has created one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world, with jagged mountain peaks, deep valleys and sharp precipices dropping some 1,500 m. Simien National Park is home to extremely rare animal species.

Inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1978, the site was added to the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1996 due to the impact of a new road across it, excessive cattle grazing, agricultural encroachment and a drop in Walia ibex, Simien fox and other large mammal populations.

The List of World Heritage in Danger is designed to inform the international community of conditions, which threaten the very characteristics for which a property was inscribed on the World Heritage List, and to encourage corrective action. Typical threats that lead to danger listing include armed conflict, natural disaster, unplanned urban developments, poaching and pollution

The 41st session of the World Heritage Committee, which opened on 2 July, continues until 12 July.

Source: UNESCO