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Ethiopians Hope Start-Ups Turn Into Business Success

Outside the Ethiopian Commodities Exchange in Addis Ababa, on May 29, 2013. (Photo: Getty Images)

VOA News

By Marthe van der Wolf

April 23, 2014 12:03 PM

ADDIS ABABA — Young Ethiopians are eager to benefit from the economic growth of the last few years. And since the market has so many opportunities, everyone seems to be working on a start-up idea in the hopes of “making it.”

Around the capital city Addis Ababa, young people sit with their laptops in any hotel lobby that offers free wifi. Many of them will tell you they are working on their latest start-up idea.

With a large population of young adults and one of the fastest growing economies on the African continent, many Ethiopians are trying to figure out how they can start their own business and benefit financially.

IceAddis is an innovation hub that supports tech start-ups. Co-founder Marcos Lemma says that young entrepeneurship is big in East Africa, but relatively new to Ethiopia.

“Our basic requirements for start-ups is, the first one is that we check if it’s an innovative idea for Ethiopia,” said Marcos. “And second one is if that idea is sellable so that the start-ups will get enough market to sell it in the country or outside. Most of the start-ups we are supporting they are fourth year students or recently graduating.”

But since the idea is relatively new to Ethiopia, start-ups face a lot of problems, among them a lack of financing, the absence of tax breaks, and a poor telecom sector. Marcos says that is not all.

“There is also some licensing problem, if you start something really innovative, it’s a very long process.”

Stefanos Kiflu is an architect graduate and co-founder of a construction website, Kinehintsa. IceAddis supported them by maturing the business concept and promoting their idea.

Stefanos says the website will be up in a few weeks, but the process has taken more than two years because of a lack of financing.

“So far we really tried to look for funds for our start-up,” said Stefanos. “It was not really feasible so now we are working on other income resources through our other skills and trying to start this company on our own.”

A group of three young Ethiopians is currently registering their own start-up that tries to tackle this financing problem. This start-up is a micro-investment firm that will provide small loans to people trying to start a business. Co-founder Amanuel Grunder says small loans are rare.

“Basically, the majority of investments are large, its millions of dollars,” said Amanuel. “Someone in Debre Zeit (just outside of the capital city) who might want to start a chicken incubator — he might not need millions of dollars, he might just need five to seven thousand dollars to start up.”

Millions of Ethiopians still live in deep poverty, but the government is set on turning the nation into a middle-income country by 2025. The Internatioal Monetary Fund projects the economy will grow by 7.5 per cent in the next fiscal year.

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Taking Charge of the Walyas: New Coach Signs Two-Year Contract

(Photo: Reuters)

BBC Sport

By Betemariam Hailu

Addis Ababa — The Ethiopia Football Federation has confirmed the appointment of Mariano Barreto as the new coach of the national team.

The 57-year-old Portuguese signed a two-year contract on Tuesday to replace Sewnet Bishaw, who was sacked in February after a poor campaign at the African Nations Championship in South Africa.

Barreto’s main task will be to lead the Walya Antelopes to the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco.

Ethiopia are one of 21 nations who have gone straight into the group stages of the Nations Cup qualifiers, which get underway in September.

Barreto told BBC Sport his success would “depend on the level of my work”.

He added: “I know Ethiopian players have natural talent but most of the national team players are above the age of 26 and more so we have to look for the young boys if we want to qualify for tournaments, so we’ll work to improve and change this situation.

“In all the countries I have worked I have produced top players, so I hope when I leave Ethiopia I’ll see a top player on TV and he says I helped.”

Read more at BBC.



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The Guardian: Ethiopia’s ‘Villagisation’ Scheme Fails to Bear Fruit

In the village of Elay, west of Gambella, people are defying the government and returning home. Residents say government has not delivered on resettlement promise of land, clean water and livestock.

The Guardian

By William Davison in Gambella

Tuesday 22 April 2014

The orderly village of Agulodiek in Ethiopia’s western Gambella region stands in stark contrast to Elay, a settlement 5km west of Gambella town, where collapsed straw huts strewn with cracked clay pots lie among a tangle of bushes.

Agulodiek is a patch of land where families gradually gathered of their own accord, while Elay is part of the Ethiopian government’s contentious “villagisation” scheme that ended last year. The plan in Gambella was to relocate almost the entire rural population of the state over three years. Evidence from districts surrounding Gambella town suggest the policy is failing.

Two years ago people from Agulodiek moved to Elay after officials enticed them with promises of land, livestock, clean water, a corn grinder, education and a health clinic. Instead they found dense vegetation they were unable to cultivate. After one year of selling firewood to survive, they walked back home.

Read more at The Guardian.

(Photograph by William Davison)

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Egypt Church Asked Ethiopia Pope to Postpone Visit

Head of Ethiopia's Orthodox Church Abune Mathias (left) and his Egyptian counterpart Patriarch of the Egyptian Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II. (Photo: Abune Mathias/BBC and Tawadros/worldbulletin)

Turkish Press

By Sherif al-Dawakhli

Monday, April 21, 2014

Cairo — Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Abune Mathias has indefinitely postponed a visit he was scheduled to pay to Cairo on Friday upon a request from the Egyptian Orthodox Church, a source with the Egyptian church said Monday.

According to the source, who asked not to be named, Patriarch of the Egyptian Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros II had advised Pope Mathias to postpone the visit lest it would embarrass the Egyptian church over the row between the two countries on Ethiopia’s controversial multibillion-dollar hydroelectric dam on the Nile River.

The source told Anadolu Agency that the Egyptian church came to the conclusion that any unofficial mediation between the two governments would fail, even if it was by the church, which has historic relations with its counterpart in Ethiopia.

Read more.

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The Spirit of a Pure Christianity: Exploring Ethiopia’s Stunning Churches

Lalibela, Ethiopia. (Photo: Lvgeny Lebedev/The independent)

The Independent

BY EVGENY LEBEDEV

I wake up and don’t have a clue where I am. There is barely any light, hardly enough to pierce the curtains. But it’s not the gloom or the early start that has left me confused. It’s the ear-splitting chanting.

The noise is in no language I’ve ever heard. Yet the sound is familiar, even if the language is not. I have heard it in Istanbul, the Gulf, parts of Jerusalem. It sounds almost exactly like an imam calling the faithful to prayer.

Yet I am in Ethiopia, the cradle of an ancient form of Christianity, and the hotel at which I am staying is in Lalibela, one of the country’s most Christian sites; there are no mosques nearby. So what is going on?

Stepping out on to my balcony, I see the hillside opposite covered with thousands of people dressed in white cotton robes. They are making their way up a series of dirt tracks, their feet throwing up a haze of red dust. The chanting seems to be coming from the hilltop. But there is no sign of a church or indeed any building up there. All that can be made out is the rough outline of part of a giant cross, seemingly carved into the ground.

Read more at The Independent.

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Making Up For Lost Time: Ethiopians Catching Up at the Boston Marathon

Tirunesh Dibaba passes Buckingham Palace during the Virgin London Marathon April 13. (Getty Images)

The Boston Globe

By John Powers

In the beginning there was Abebe Bikila, the imperial guard who ran barefoot atop Roman cobblestones by torchlight in 1960 and became the first black African to win the Olympic marathon. The Ethiopians owned the distance then, winning three consecutive gold medals at the Games with Bikila and Mamo Wolde. That was before boycotts took them off the global stage, before the prize money arrived and the Kenyans came by the dozens, then the hundreds, to take over the roads.

Now Bikila’s countrymen and women have been coming off the track and onto the hardtop and restaking their country’s original claim to primacy over 26 miles. “From the beginning Ethiopia was a name in marathoning,” says coach Haji Adillo. “Now, Ethiopia has become at the level of the Kenyans.”

The Ethiopia-Kenya rivalry is both friendly and fierce. “We are neighbors and we have the same talents for long distance but it is a big rivalry,” says Markos Geneti, who’ll be returning with four of his countrymen to take on eight Kenyans in Monday’s 118th running of the world’s most fabled road race while the women, led by two-time New York runner-up Buzunesh Deba and Mare Dibaba, have a quintet to take on Kenyan defending champion Rita Jeptoo and half a dozen of her countrywomen. “We fight for our country and for ourselves.”

Read more at The Boston Globe.

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Ethiopia Agree Deal With Portuguese Coach Mariano Barreto

Mariano Barreto. (Supersport.com)

BBC Sport

By Betemariam Hailu

Addis Ababa –The Ethiopian Football Federation has confirmed it has agreed a deal for Portuguese coach Mariano Barreto to take charge of the national football team.

The former Ghana coach will be unveiled on Tuesday according to EFF president Juinedi Basha.

“We’ve selected Barreto to be the new coach, we’ve agreed on the terms and conditions,” Basha told BBC Sport.

Read more at BBC.

The profile for Mariano Barreto

Date of birth: 18.01.1957
Place of birth: Ribandar, India
Age: 57
Nationality: Portugal
success-ratio as manager:
25,58 % Wins
31,40 % Draw
43,02 % Losses
www.transfermarkt.com

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Planned Anti-gay Rally in Ethiopia is Cancelled

(Image: Google map 2014)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

April 17th, 2014

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — A planned anti-gay rally that would have made Ethiopia the latest African country to demonize gays has been cancelled, officials said Wednesday.

In addition, plans by the legislature to add gay sex to a list of crimes not eligible for presidential pardons has been dropped, said Redwan Hussein, a government spokesman.

Hostility toward gays across Africa is high. Uganda and Nigeria increased penalties against gay acts this year. Homosexuals in other countries face severe discrimination and harmful physical attacks.

Gay Ethiopians still face severe penalties for living in the open. Same-sex acts are punishable by up to 15 years in prison. A 25-year jail term is given to anyone convicted of infecting another person with HIV during same-sex acts.

But the government does not appear ready to further demonize homosexuals. Redwan said the anti-gay rally was on certain groups’ agenda, but not the government’s.

Read more.

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The Africa Report: Ethiopia Slams Anti-dam Group’s Egypt ‘Proxy Campaign’

(Photo: Blue Nile Falls, Ethiopia wallpapers)

The Africa Report

By Beyene Geda

Ethiopia has slammed a statement by a United States based group, International Rivers Network (IRN) that is campaigning against the construction of the country’s biggest dam project in history saying it is fighting a proxy war for Egypt.

In a statement released on March 31 the group called for the construction of the $4.2 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) to stop immediately citing a number of reasons.

The report cited “a leaked report” of the International Panel of Experts or IPoE, which reviewed the impact of the 6000 MW hydroelectric dam.

Read more at Theafricareport.com.

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UK Slams Ethiopia’s Human Rights Record

Eskinder Nega, in prison since 2011, is among those jailed on terrorism charges. (Image: Amnesty Intl.)

The Reporter

By Neamin Ashenafi

Addis Ababa — The 2013 Human Rights report of the government of (UK) severely criticized the government of Ethiopia for its application of its Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and the Charities and Societies Proclamation, which hampers the activity of the opposition camp of the country.

The report says that the UK is concerned about continuing restrictions on opposition and dissent in Ethiopia through use of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (ATP) and the Charities and Societies Proclamation (CSP) .

Those detained under the ATP include members of opposition groups, journalists, peaceful protesters, and others seeking to express their rights to freedom of assembly and expression while the CSP has had a serious impact on Ethiopian civil society’s ability to operate effectively, according to the report.

Read more.

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Getu Feleke Wins Vienna Marathon in a Course-Record Time

Getu Feleke of Ethiopia won the Vienna City Marathon in a course-record time on Sunday. (AP photos)

Associated Press

By ERIC WILLEMSEN

VIENNA (AP) — Getu Feleke of Ethiopia overcame stomach problems in the closing kilometers of the Vienna City Marathon to win the event in a course-record time on Sunday.

Feleke accelerated and left behind a leading group after 30 kilometers. He finished in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 41 seconds and beat the best mark, set by Henry Sugut of Kenya two years ago, by 1:17.

“In the last two kilometers I had problems with my stomach. I could have been faster,” said Feleke, who earned his second career marathon victory after winning in Amsterdam in 2010. Feleke became the first non-Kenyan winner of the Vienna event since 2007.

Alfred Kering finished second in 2:08:28 and fellow Kenyan Philip Sanga came another 30 seconds behind in third.

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London Marathon 2014 In Pictures: Wilson Kipsang of Kenya wins the men’s elite race


Wilson Kipsang of Kenya won the men’s elite race – setting a new course record of 2:04.7. (Getty Images)

Associated Press

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

LONDON — The last of the elite runners to arrive in London but the first over the line, Wilson Kipsang’s week of travel chaos had no impact on his marathon running. The world record-holder saw off a strong field to capture his second London title by breaking the course record on Sunday.

Kipsang completed the 26.2-mile (42.2-kilometer) route in 2 hours, 4 minutes, 29 seconds — 11 seconds inside the previous fastest run in London by Emmanuel Mutai in 2011 — at the end of a week that began with his passport and visa being stolen from a car at his training base in Kenya. Although he had a spare passport, Kipsang had to travel from the town of Iten to the capital Nairobi to obtain a replacement visa before arriving two days late in London on Thursday.

Little, though, was holding back the 32-year-old Kipsang on Sunday, when he pulled away from fellow Kenyan Stanley Biwott in the final two miles.

Read more.
———
Related:
London Marathon 2014: In pictures (BBC)

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South Africa’s ‘Born Free’ Generation Prepares to Vote

Members of the ANC youth league sing outside the hospital where the late former South African president, Nelson Mandela, was being treated in Pretoria, South Africa, July 17, 2013. (Associated Press)

VOA News

By Thuso Khumalo

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa is set to hold national elections on May 7. In a country with more than 25 percent unemployment, the elections have generated a lot of interest among jobless young people – most of whom will be voting for the first time since the country established full democracy in 1994.

The vote comes 20 years after the nation shed the oppressive apartheid regime. It also marks the coming of age for South Africa’s so-called “Born Free” generation, born just after 1994. This is their first chance at the national polls, and many say they’re eager to participate.

The nation’s electoral commission says nearly half of the 25 million registered voters are younger than 40.

Reaching out

Election campaigns have reached out to young voters.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has promised to create 6 million jobs if given another mandate to rule. The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has made a similar offer, and questioned the ANC’s promise and job creation plans. The youth-centered and populist Economic Freedom Fighters (EEF), a new party that is contesting elections for the first time, has promised to nationalize mines and expropriate land without compensation to ensure that unemployed youths own the means of production.

The harsh realities of South Africa’s poverty and inequality have long caused young voters to be disinterested in the country’s politics. But the high unemployment rate, and an increasing number of high-level corruption scandals, seems to be encouraging more young people to use their vote to change the status quo.

Daniel Phumutso Magidi, 22, says he will not miss this year’s vote for anything.

“My vote will make a change because I believe that as young people of South Africa, we are the active generation because we voice our things through the social networks and platforms that allow for the government to hear us,” Magidi said. “And they can respond to us apart from burning tires and all that so yah I believe that my vote will have a say.”

Ayanda Gumbi, 23, is disappointed with the ruling ANC for what she calls the party’s failure to deal with corruption and unemployment. She plans to vote for the EFF, which is led by expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema – who has been convicted of tax fraud and is also under investigation for corruption.

“EFF Malema, I just like the guy he is honest, he is truthful,” she said. “People have been voting for [the] ANC for years and years but still there is no change. So I think Malema is the guy to bring change.”

Sukiswa Thubeni, 22, is thrilled to be voting for the first time, but says new parties like the EFF cannot be trusted.

“I’m excited because it’s something that I have never done before,” Thubeni said. “I believe in ANC even though Jacob Zuma has his faults, but I know that ANC one day will make up something.”

And other young voters, like Nomvula Ndebele, say they are still undecided.

“You have got Julius Malema telling us you gonna get free education, free houses, because the ANC has not been delivering, but you have got the DA also telling us that you gonna be getting this and this so it’s a bit complicated for now,” Ndebele said.

Coming change?

Only around 30 percent of eligible new voters are registered this year, according to Prince Mashele, executive director at the Pretoria-based Centre for Politics and Research, but of those, he thinks the majority are likely to vote against the ANC – a sign the party is losing its 20-year dominance.

“The age group between say 23 and 30, I think that group is more likely to go with Malema because most of them have never worked, by the way, in their lives,” Mashele said. “They had hope that the ANC will change their economic lot, but the ANC has failed to do so.”

Twenty years ago, many of these voters’ parents watched as this nation transformed quickly from oppression to freedom. This year, more than a million first-time South African voters will get to experience that freedom – at the polling booth.

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New Book Highlights Seattle: Little Ethiopia of the Pacific Northwest

'Little Ethiopia of the Pacific Northwest' by Joseph W. Scott and Solomon A. Getahun. (Photos: Transaction Publishers)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, April 10th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — Authors Joseph W. Scott, a professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Washington, and Solomon A. Getahun, professor of history at Central Michigan University, feature the Ethiopian community in Seattle in their book entitled Little Ethiopia of the Pacific Northwest, which was published last year.

The book’s description by the publisher (Transaction Publishers) highlights that the Ethiopian “community began with approximately two dozen college students who came to the city during the Ethiopian revolution of 1974. These sojourning students earned college and university degrees, but were unable to return home to use them to modernize the developing nation. These stranded students became pioneers who built a micro-community in inner-city Seattle. Providing background with an analysis of Seattle’s geographic, demographic, social, and economic challenges, this volume studies the students who became asylum seekers; their falls in position, power, prestige; and the income of these elite and non-elite settlers. The authors analyze examples of those who became entrepreneurs and the ingenuity and determination they employed to start successful businesses. The authors examine the challenges imposed on them by a school system that assigned their children to grade levels according to age rather than knowledge. They explore how the American welfare system worked in practice and explain how and why Ethiopians die young in Seattle. This fascinating study will be of interest to sociologists, ethnographers, and regional analysts.”

Professor Getahun is the author of two additional books entitled The History of the City of Gondar and The History of Ethiopian Immigrants and Refugees in America. Professor Scott is the author of The Black Revolts.

Read more.

Related:
Being Ethiopian in Seattle (The Seattle Times)

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Africa’s Anti-Gay Movement Spreads to Ethiopia

(Image: Guardianlv.com)

Associated Press

By ELIAS MESERET

Two groups in Ethiopia said Thursday that they will hold an anti-gay demonstration later this month, a move that puts Ethiopia in line to become the next African country to increase the public demonization of gays.

Although gay sex is already outlawed in Ethiopia, the rally set for April 26 comes as the parliament considers making homosexual acts ineligible for presidential pardons. New legislation in Uganda and Nigeria this year has increased penalties for homosexual acts in those two countries, sending many gays underground or out of the country.

The government-affiliated Addis Ababa Youth Forum and a religious group associated with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church told a news conference that an increasing rate of homosexual acts in the country has reached an alarming rate.

“Children are being raped by gay people in this country. Just yesterday we have met a woman whose boy was raped by two other men. All in all, gay acts are against health, the law, religion and our culture, so we should break the silence and create awareness about it,” said Dereje Negash, chairman of the church group, the Weyiniye Abune Tekelehaimanot Association.

The bill was sponsored by the Ministry of Justice and could be put to a vote this month. In Ethiopia, same-sex acts are punishable by up to 15 years in prison. A 25-year jail term is given to anyone convicted of infecting another person with HIV during same-sex acts.

Though the organizers said that there is no specific reason for the timing of the planned demonstration, a prominent blogger and gay activist said that gay-bashing rhetoric is likely to increase in the run-up to elections for parliament next year. Ezana Solomon said the anti-gay movement is trying to invade personal privacy under the banner of child protection.

“I refuse to be labeled a rapist, molester or an abuser since I have never committed those things ever. I think the logical or right thing to do is when I have committed those crimes, I should put to justice. This campaign is not justifiable under any circumstance,” Ezana said.

“If someone thinks my being gay is a sin, in my opinion the only thing you are allowed or should be allowed to do is to pray for me and your boundary ends there,” Ezana said.

The demonstration organizers said the protest will be held under the theme “Keeping alien culture and homosexuality at bay.” They said they hope to see thousands of residents and some senior government officials come to the protest.

“Gay practices are not our culture so we wanted the society to be aware of the danger and protect itself,” said Tsegaye Gebretsadik, chairman of the Addis Ababa Youth Forum.

Read more.

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Audio: Ike Leggett’s Press Conference Hosted by The Ethiopian American Council

The following is an audio of Montgomery County, Maryland Executive Isiah "Ike" Leggett's press conference hosted by the Ethiopian American Council, held on Tuesday, April 1st, 2014. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Published: Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – In the past few years the office of Maryland’s Montgomery County Executive, Ike Leggett, has forged a close working relationship with various Ethiopian organizations — earning him the recent backing of the Ethiopian American Council (EAC) in the upcoming election.

Last week EAC hosted a media teleconference with Mr. Leggett to announce their endorsement and introduce him to the larger Ethiopian community. At the press conference Leggett outlined his views on a number of issues ranging from immigration reform to education, healthcare, housing, and economic development as well as his commitment to see the creation of an Ethiopian community center in Maryland. Leggett also described his trip to Ethiopia in the Fall 2012 to sign a Sister City agreement between Gonder and Montgomery County.

Below are clips of the audio from the teleconference held on Tuesday, April 1st, 2014.



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AP: Forbidden to Come to U.S, Says Ethiopia’s Blue Party Leader Yilikal Getnet

Yilikal Getnet, chairman of the Blue Party. (Photo: Ethiotube)

Associated Press

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) – An Ethiopian opposition figure says his government won’t allow him to travel to the United States.

Yilikal Getnet, the chairman of the opposition Blue Party, said Monday that security forces tore pages from his passport and refused to allow him to leave the country.

Getnet said he had been invited by the U.S State Department’s Office of International Visitors to attend the Young African Leaders Program training course alongside nine others from the continent.

Getnet, who said the incident at the airport happened March 21, said the denial to leave the country shows the “totalitarian” nature of Ethiopia’s government.

Calls to two government spokespeople for comment went unanswered.

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How Ethiopia Spies on Its Diaspora Abroad

(Image: From Heavy.com's list of "10 Best Apps to Keep the Government From Spying on You")

The Wall Street Journal
By FELIX HORNE

March 31, 2014

Many Europeans are upset over revelations that the United States government spies on them. But European companies are selling surveillance tools and know-how to other governments, allowing them to spy abroad. Their customers include some of the world’s most abusive governments and at least one of them—Ethiopia —is targeting its diaspora population in Europe. The results extend beyond outrage over privacy violations: They put people in danger.

The global trade in this powerful “spyware” is virtually unregulated and that needs to change. Using digital technology to monitor the Ethiopian diaspora in Europe, the regime in Addis Ababa has brought its abuses right into Europe’s midst. The EU needs to regulate the sale of such technology, at least to governments with such questionable human-rights records.

Inside Ethiopia, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s government abuses mobile and Internet networks to monitor opposition groups and journalists, and to silence dissenting voices. Using Chinese-made telecom equipment, the Ethiopian security agencies have nearly unfettered access to civilians’ phone records and recorded calls. Taped calls have been played back to people being interrogated by security officials and used against them in trials under the government’s deeply flawed antiterrorism law.

Read more at WSJ.com.

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Ethiopia Climate Innovation Center Opened

(Image: energylivenews.com)

Energy Live News

A new climate innovation centre which aims to help jumpstart clean technology and climate-smart ventures has been launched in Ethiopia.

Called the Ethiopia Climate Innovation Center (ECIC), it is expected to help more than 3.1 million people increase resilience to climate change and create more than 12,000 jobs in the next 10 years.

ECIC will provide financing, mentorship and advisory services to local cleantech entrepreneurs working in energy efficiency, renewable energy, agribusiness and biofuels. A total of 28 SMEs and entrepreneurs have currently been selected to receive CIC support services.

The initiative is also expected to improve access to energy for 265,000 Ethiopians and increase agricultural efficiency for 120,000 farmers.

Read more.

Related:
WarkaWater Towers: A Giant Basket That Uses Condensation to Gather Drinking Water

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Japan Takes On China in Africa

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meets Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara on Jan. 10, 2014. (Getty Images)

Newsweek

By Pete Guest

In the courtyard of a small compound in Geta, 1.7 miles above sea level in southern Ethiopia, members of a local farming cooperative pound and sift barley, the chaff picked up by the vicious wind that blows across the mountains. Behind them, taped to the wall of their packing house, is a poster bearing two kanji characters, hand drawn in marker pen: Kai and Zen.

Loosely translated as “changing for the better,” Kaizen refers to a Japanese management philosophy, pioneered by Toyota, that emphasizes constant innovation and improvement in business. It is an incongruous sight in a region dominated by small-scale agriculture, where incomes barely scrape above the $1.25-a-day poverty line.

Read more at Newsweek.com.

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BBC: Ethiopia Uses Foreign Kit to Spy on Opponents – HRW

The government is accused of installing spyware on dissidents' computers. (BBC News)

BBC

25 March 2014

Ethiopia’s government is using imported technology to spy on the phones and computers of its perceived opponents, a Human Rights Watch report says.

The New York-based rights group accuses the government of trying to silence dissent, using software and kit sold by European and Chinese firms.

The report says the firms may be guilty of colluding in oppression.

An Ethiopian government spokesman, quoted by AFP, dismissed the report as a part of a smear campaign.

Security officials have virtually unlimited access to the call records of all telephone users in Ethiopia”

“There is nothing new to respond to,” Ethiopian Information Minister Redwan Hussein told the agency.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) says its report is based on more than 100 interviews with victims of abuses and former intelligence officials, conducted between September 2012 and February this year.

Read more at BBC News.

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Ethiopians Rule at 2014 St. Patrick’s Race

Mengistu Nebsi and Askale Merachi of Ethiopia crossing the finishing line in the 39th St. Patrick's Road Race in Holyoke, Massachusetts Saturday, March 22, 2014. (Michael S. Gordon, The Republican/MassLive)

Mass Live

By Seth Roberts

Askale Merachi of Ethiopia set a women’s course record Saturday at the 39th annual St. Patrick’s Day Road Race. Her time of 33:14 was 3 seconds faster than Leslie Lehane’s 1991 record.

In the men’s race, 35-year-old Ethiopian Mengistu Nebsi beat fellow countryman Ayele Feyisa by 5 seconds to win the 10k road race in 29:42.

Five minutes before the start of the race, St. Patrick opened up blue skies and stopped the rain for the 6800 starters on an early spring day. A pack of 9 runners, including winner Nebsi, checked out the competition in a relaxed 4:55 first mile.

Read more and watch video at Masslive.

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US First Lady Michelle Obama in China Hosts Discussion on Education

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama at Peking University Stanford Center in Beijing, China, March 22, 2014. (AP)

VOA News

March 23, 2014

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama says she would not have accomplished what she has if it were not for her parents’ investment in her education.

Mrs. Obama, who is a Harvard-educated lawyer, made her comments in Beijing Sunday where she hosted a discussion on education.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without my parents investing and pushing me to get a good education. And my parents were not educated themselves, but one of the things they understood was that my brother and I needed that foundation. So the President and I have made education a key focus of our work over the coming years, because we want to make sure that as many young people in the United States, and around the world, quite frankly, have access to education.”

Mrs. Obama held the discussion at the American embassy in the Chinese capital on the third day of her visit to the country.

The U.S. first lady is also scheduled to visit the Great Wall and have lunch with her daughters and her mother at a restaurant in a former school near a section of the wall.

On the second day of her trip, Mrs. Obama told American and other students that freedom of expression and worship, and having open access to information are universal rights.

The first lady stopped short Saturday of calling on China’s ruling Communist Party to loosen constraints on those very rights.

China is among the most repressive nations in the world concerning free speech, cracking down on dissent, blocking many news and online sites, and censoring Internet news that Beijing considers objectionable.

White House officials have said Mrs. Obama’s trip will focus on education and will steer clear of more contentious issues between the United States and China, such as human rights and trade.

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Russian Forces Storm Ukraine Bases

Russian soldiers at the gate of the Belbek base near the port city of Sevastopol, Crimea, March 22, 2014. (Photo: AP)

VOA News
By Steve Herman

March 22, 2014

KYIV — Pro-Russian forces have stormed a Ukrainian air force base in Crimea, firing shots and smashing through gates and walls with armored vehicles.

The troops broke into the Belbek air base facing no apparent resistance from Ukrainian troops, some of whom sang the Ukrainian national anthem during the incident.

Ukrainian defense officials says at least one person was wounded.

Earlier Saturday, Russian forces issued an ultimatum for Ukrainian troops at the base to surrender. The Belbek base outside the Black Sea port city of Sevastopol has been one of the largest holdouts of Ukrainian military forces in Crimea.

The Belbek air base shares facilities with Sevastopol’s international airport. Russia also has a large naval base in Sevastopol.

Also Saturday, Ukrainian troops abandoned a military base in Novofedorovka, north of Sevastopol, after Russian soldiers forced their way into the facility. Witnesses say the Ukrainians tried to repel the Russians with smoke bombs before leaving the base.

Russian forces have been seizing Ukrainian military bases and warships in Crimea as Russia finalizes its annexation of the strategic peninsula. Ukrainian troops have offered minimal resistance thus far.

With Russia’s takeover of Crimea peninsula nearly complete, Reuters is reporting that westernn diplomats are converging on Kyiv, where, a day after the interim government leaders signed a political alignment pact with the European Union, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeir accused Russian of attempting once again to divide Europe between East and West.

“It contradicts what we have experienced for decades,” Steinmeir said. “We cannot accept this situation, cannot allow bloodshed again.”

OSCE mission

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has expressed the hope that dispatching to Ukraine a 200-member team of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will help ease tensions. However, the ministry rejects any talk of the monitors entering Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula that Russia has now annexed.

The U.S. chief envoy to the OSCE, Daniel Baer, says the mission should have access to Crimea because the rest of the world still recognizes it as Ukrainian territory.

Three months of anti-government rallies in Ukraine, in which more than 100 people died, prompted President Viktor Yanukovych to flee his country. An interim government has been appointed with elections scheduled for May 25th.

The prime minister of that government, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, won praise Saturday from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for pushing reconciliation at a time many Ukrainians are feeling anger and frustration.

“I’m confident that with such a strong support of international community which you are receiving and under your leadership, as well as courageous people, you will be able to overcome this difficult time,” he said.

The secretary-general added that direct dialogue between Kyiv and Moscow is critical to reducing the current tensions.

However, there is no indication of that occurring any time soon.

In eastern Ukraine, meanwhile, thousands of residents of the city of Donetsk took to the streets Saturday, demanding a chance to vote, as people in Crimea did in a refendum a week ago (3/16), to break away from Ukraine and become part of Russia.

Among those in the region who want to keep Ukrainian sovereignty, there are fears that at any time the Russian military could move across the border and occupy Ukrainian territory, as it did in Crimea.

Not only is Ukraine losing territory to Russia; its eastward-dependent trade relationship with Moscow also is in danger.

The interim government is moving quickly to work on a trade agreement with the European Union to transform Ukraine’s economy, which has been hobbled by decades of corruption and political upheaval.

If such a pact with the EU is to become a reality, Ukraine’s commissioner for European integration, Valery Pyatnytsky, says there is a need for action on comprehensive economic changes, not just more promises from the country’s political leaders.

“Not to declare the fight with corruption, not to declare the rules of law, not to declare the other values with European Union. Not declare [what] we would like to be, but to be,” said Pyatnytsky.

Ukraine’s 45 million people live on rich agricultural land and the country has a large industrial base, yet the nation is considered the poorest in Eastern Europe.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law Friday completing the annexation of Crimea. The law recognizes parliament’s approval of a referendum by Crimeans on breaking away from Ukraine.

Obama going to Europe

The U.S. says no one in the international community will recognize Crimea as part of Russia.

White House officials say the situation in Ukraine will be “front and center” during President Barack Obama’s trip to Europe in the coming week.

National Security Advisor Susan Rice told reporters Friday that the common theme to the president’s trip is the fundamental strength of U.S. partnerships and alliances, including NATO, the European Union and the G7.

Rice said Ukraine and the Russian takeover of Crimea are prompting a fundamental reassessment of U.S.-Russian relations. She said the world will clearly see that Russia is more and more isolated.

Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said a G-7 summit in The Hague – a meeting that probably would have included Russia as an eighth member – has been added to the president’s agenda as part of that isolation.

Also on President Obama’s European schedule is a nuclear security summit with more than 50 other countries, including Russia.

Rice says the United States has every interest in continuing to cooperate with Russia on this issue, which she calls a pillar of the Obama national security policy – making it harder for terrorists to get their hands on nuclear materials.

Daniel Schearf contributed to this VOA report from Crimea.

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Miss Africa Utah Steps Down, Miss Ethiopia Takes Her Place

Muluwerk Hale, Miss Ethiopia, in the Miss Africa Utah Pageant, March 8, 2014. (The Salt Lake Tribune)

The Salt Lake Tribune

By Sheena McFarland

Miss Africa Utah reigned in the Beehive State for only about two weeks.

Winnet Murahwa, who entered the March 8 competition as Miss Zimbabwe, beat out eight other contestants to win the African Chamber of Commerce’s beauty competition. However, she announced she was stepping down.

“After carefully contemplating on my responsibilities as the queen, I realized that I cannot fulfill all the responsibilities expected of me due to personal reasons,” Murahwa said in a statement.

Taking her place is second runner-up Miss Ethiopia, Muluwerk Hale. She was crowned because the first runner-up, Miss Sierra Leone, is moving to Britain.

Miss Africa Utah is expected to make media and public appearances and pursue her platform.

The crowning ceremony was Friday afternoon at One World Gifts in Salt Lake City.

Read more at The Salt Lake Tribune.

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Ethiopian Journalist Among Women’s Voices Silenced

Courtesy Africa Media CPJ

Storify by Africamedia CPJ

Award-winning Ethiopian journalist, Reeyot Alemu is spending international women’s month in the same place she’s spent the last three years – Kality Prison outside Addis Ababa, where she is serving a five year prison sentence on trumped-up charges.

On March 9th, as dozens of women took part in a 5K run in Addis Ababa organized by the authorities in honor of International Women’s Day, some participants used the occasion to express their ardent desires for freedom and justice in Ethiopia.


(Photo: 6kilo.com)

Read more at Storify.

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Ethiopia Regularly Records Phone Calls

Human Rights Watch says most of the monitoring technology is provided by China's ZTE. (AP)

By Associated Press

NAIROBI, Kenya — A rights group says that Ethiopia’s government regularly listens to and records the phone calls of opposition activists and journalists using equipment provided by foreign technology companies.

Human Rights Watch said in a report Friday that the foreign equipment aids the Ethiopian government’s surveillance of perceived political opponents inside and outside the country.

Read more.

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Ethiopia’s Clothes Firms Aim to Fashion Global Sales

Yefikr design created by Ethiopian designer Fikirte Addis is looking at increasing overseas sales. (BBC)

BBC News

By James Jeffrey

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — Ethiopian fashion designer Fikirte Addis kneels down and wraps a tape measure around the waist of a customer, before scribbling on a piece of paper on which the outline of a flowing gown takes shape.

The customer, Rihana Aman, owns a cafe in the capital, Addis Ababa, and went to Ms Fikirte’s shop in the city, Yefikir Design, for a wedding dress fitting.

The dress, however, is actually for her sister, who lives and works in London, but will soon return to her homeland with her English fiance.

Ms Rihana explains how she shares her sister’s figure, and that the cotton dress will be ready for when her sister arrives back for her “melse”, the Ethiopian wedding ceremony.

“I love the traditional aspect of the clothing,” Ms Rihana says of why she chose Yefikir. “So many dresses now are too modern, and use fabrics that lose what it means to be Ethiopian.”

Read more at BBC News.

Related:
Ethiopia Sees Output From Africa’s Biggest Power Plant by 2015 (Bloomberg)

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EITI Approves Ethiopia’s Candidacy

EITI LOGO (www.eiti.org)

Reuters

JOHANNESBURG – The board of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) has approved Ethiopia’s candidacy to its global standard on transparent management of oil, gas and mineral resources, the organisation said on Wednesday.

As a candidate, the East African country has three years to achieve compliance with the EITI standard, which is a global initiative to encourage governments to better manage natural resource revenues.

At least one international rights group, New York-based Human Rights Watch, had asked the EITI board to reject Ethiopia’s bid for membership, saying the government needed to lift persisting restrictions on civil society.

“In its discussions, the EITI Board stressed the importance of ensuring civil society engagement in Ethiopia’s efforts to comply with the EITI Standard,” the Oslo-based group said in a statement on its web site.

It added that some members of the board argued that Ethiopia’s application should not be accepted, and requested that their reservations be noted.

An earlier effort by Ethiopia to join the transparency group was rebuffed in 2010.

Read more at Trust.org.

Related:
Extractive Industries: Transparency Group Rewards Repression (HRW)
HRW Says NGO Law Should Block Ethiopia From EITI Membership (Bloomberg)

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SWAT Team Arrests Man in Slaying of Ethiopian Immigrant in Columbus, Ohio

19-year-old Dinkisra Mengistu, above, a 2012 graduate of Westerville South High School, was fatally shot while he sat inside his car in a hotel parking lot in Columbus, Ohio on Sunday, March 9th, 2014. (NBC4)

The Columbus Dispatch

By Theodore Decker

A Delaware County man charged with killing an Ethiopian immigrant on the Far North Side on Sunday was arrested by Columbus SWAT officers yesterday.

Anthony M. Monaco, 19, of 3714 Perennial Lane in Liberty Township, was in the Franklin County jail last night pending an appearance in Franklin County Municipal Court this morning. He is charged with one count of murder in the death of Dinkisra Mengistu, 19.

Mengistu, a 2012 graduate of Westerville South High School, was shot as he sat in a vehicle in the parking lot at 175 Hutchinson Ave., near the Sheraton Suites Columbus, early Sunday morning. A motive for the shooting hadn’t been determined, although police said the victim and the suspect might have attended the same party the night before.

Read more at The Columbus Dispatch.

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Israel Offers to Mediate Ethiopia-Egypt Dam Row

The Nile dam project under construction in Benishangul-Gumuz region of Ethiopia. (Photo: Ruptly TV)

Turkish Press

ADDIS ABABA – Israeli Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir has voiced Israel`s readiness to assist Egypt and Ethiopia reach agreement over the latter`s construction of a multibillion-dollar hydroelectric dam on the Nile River.

According to Ethiopia`s state-run news agency, Shamir made the remarks at a Thursday meeting in Addis Ababa with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn.

The agency did not specify how Israel intends to assist both countries in ironing out their differences over the dam.

Relations between Ethiopia and Egypt soured last year over construction of Ethiopia`s Grand Renaissance Dam on the upper reaches of the Nile – Egypt`s main source of water.

The controversial project raised alarm bells in Egypt, the Arab world`s most populous country, which fears a reduction of its traditional share of Nile water.

Water distribution among Nile Basin states has long been based on a colonial-era agreement granting Egypt and Sudan the lion`s share of the river`s water.

Addis Ababa insists the new dam will benefit downstream states Sudan and Egypt, both of which will be invited to purchase electricity thus generated.

Ethiopia`s Foreign Ministry, for one, welcomed Israel`s offer.

“Any country like Israel may raise such idea and Ethiopia appreciates this,” Jemal Beker, director of Middle East affairs at the ministry, told Anadolu Agency.

Read more.

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Q&A: Journalists Languish in Prison

Government refuses to release award-winning journalists jailed under Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. (AJ)

Al Jazeera

As Al Jazeera presses ahead with its campaign to free its journalists detained in Egypt, nine Ethiopian journalists who are receiving less attention continue to languish in prison, held on trumped-up charges of terrorism, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

To mark the 900th day of the imprisonment of award-winning journalist Eskinder Nega, who is serving an 18-year jail term, and the 36th birthday of Woubshet Taye, jailed for 14 years, Al Jazeera speaks to Nani Jansen of the Media Legal Defence Initiative, a London-based NGO that helps journalists around the world defend their rights.

Read more.

Related:
John Kerry Highlights Eskinder Nega

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The Battle of Adwa Changed Ethiopia and the World

"The Battle of Adwa" (Courtesy of A. Davey via Wikipedia)

Abebe Hailu, Special to The Informer

Ethiopia has a significant history reaching over 3,000 years into the past. The word “Ethiopia” has become a term for the idea of African solidarity and freedom, not just the name of a nation or a region. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus noted the region of Ethiopia as home to “people with burnt faces.” During the Greek and Roman eras, everything south of the Sahara Desert in Africa was generally referred to as Ethiopia or Abysinnia.

Biblical references also label Ethiopia as Cush, Kesh, Ekosh and Shewa (Sheba) in the Hebrew language. These were the names used in Solomon’s courts when he received a visit from the Ethiopian Queen of Sheba. The biblical “Song of Solomon” praises her physical beauty. In modern times, especially since the battle of Adwa, Ethiopia has been seen as a de facto model of freedom for all black cultures and societies world-wide.

Read more.

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World Championships in Poland: Spotlight on Genzebe Dibaba & Mohammed Aman

Mohammed Aman and Genzebe Dibaba. (Getty Images)

IAAF

Ethiopia will send 11 athletes, including two reserves, to the IAAF World Indoor Championships next month in the Polish city of Sopot.

The outstanding gold medal favourite – not just for the Ethiopian team, but arguably of the whole championships – is Genzebe Dibaba.

The reigning world indoor 1500m champion has been in incredible form this year, setting world indoor records* in each of her three outings.

At the start of this month she smashed the world indoor 1500m record with 3:55.17 in Karlsruhe. Five days later, she took six seconds off the world indoor 3000m record with 8:16.60 in Stockholm. Little more than a week later, she set a world indoor best for two miles with a storming 9:00.48 run in Birmingham.

She will not defend her 1500m title in Sopot. Instead, she will focus on just the 3000m as she seeks to add another gold medal to her collection.

Ethiopia’s other reigning world indoor champion, Mohammed Aman, is also on the team. The world 800m champion indoors and outdoors is undefeated this year and leads the 2014 world indoor lists with his African record of 1:44.52.

Read more at Iaaf.org.

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Ethiopian Government Accused of Using Spyware Against Citizens Abroad

Ethiopian refugee Tadesse Kersmo talks to the media at the London offices of Privacy International Monday, Feb. 17, 2014. (AP)

VOA News

By Peter Heinlein

February 20, 2014

WASHINGTON — Several Ethiopians living abroad are accusing their home government of using sophisticated computer spyware to hack into their computers and monitor their private communications. One Washington area man has filed a federal suit against the Ethiopian government, and another has filed a complaint with British police.

The Ethiopian native, who is a U.S. citizen, charges that agents used a program called FinSpy to monitor his emails, Skype calls and his web browsing history. A suit filed in Federal District Court in Washington Tuesday asks that Ethiopia be named as being behind the cyber-attacks and pay damages of $10,000.

The suit includes an affidavit asking that the plaintiff’s name be kept secret.

Attorney Richard Martinez of the law firm Robins, Kaplan, Miller and Cirese helped to prepare the suit. Martinez told VOA the unusual request for anonymity was made because the individual fears that he and family members still in Ethiopia could be in danger if he is identified.

“We have petitioned the court to proceed anonymously because this individual is very active within the Ethiopian diaspora community and we think the action taken by the Ethiopian government against him illustrates exactly the attention they’ve placed on him and the danger that exists for him,” said Martinez.

The suit is the latest in a series of cyber spying accusations against the Addis Ababa government. In another case, an Ethiopian refugee in London is asking British police to investigate evidence that FinSpy software known as “FinFisher” was used to hack his computer.

Tadesse Kersmo, who identified himself as a member of the executive committee of the Ethiopian opposition group Ginbot 7, filed a complaint Monday asking for a probe of Gamma Group, a Britain-based company that produces the FinFisher software.

Kersmo told a news conference he became suspicious after files from his computer began appearing on the Internet, and found evidence it had been infected with FinSpy.

Much of the evidence linking Ethiopia to cyberspying has been developed by a Canadian organization called Citizen Lab. Bill Marczak, a researcher for Citizen Lab, told VOA that investigators first linked Ethiopia to cyber spyware nearly a year ago.

“Ethiopia first came across our radar at Citizen Lab in March/April 2013, when we were doing a global study looking at the proliferation of FinFisher, the commercial espionage software which is sold exclusively to governments by a German company called FinFisher GMBH. This technology is spyware that can be installed on a targeted computer giving governments operating it full access to a computer so they can make files, record passwords and keystrokes, and even turn on the computer’s webcam and microphone,” said Marczak.

Marczak said Citizen Lab’s investigation has also led it to an Italian firm called Hacking Team, which has been labeled by the press freedom group Reporters Without Borders on a list of what are called “Corporate Enemies.” A Citizen Lab report released this month suggests that Hacking Team software has been used to spy on U.S.-based journalists from Ethiopia.

Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesman Dina Mufti told VOA his government does not engage in computer hacking.

“There is freedom of speech, everyone is entitled to his opinion, and that is something that is at the core of our rules and procedures. There is freedom of expression, and the hacking business is not our business. As for the allegation that the journalists are coming up with, I cannot say anything now,” said Mufti.

Marczak said companies like Hacking Team and FinSpy offer confidentiality to their clients, leaving cyber detectives the difficult task of sorting out who is spying on who.

However, he maintained that it is clear someone is spying on journalists of Ethiopian origin and others identified with the country’s opposition, and despite its denial, the government is the most likely suspect.

“This is part of a pattern we’ve seen whenever we’ve exposed activists or journalists being targeted… The government is always the first to deny it and say ‘Oh we didn’t do that. It could have been anyone, we have no reason to use these products.’ The fact is, the Ethiopian government does have reason to be using these products. There’s a very strong and robust diaspora movement in Ethiopia, and the government is blind and clueless in the movement so they’re desperately looking for informants, eyes and ears in the movement, and to unmask people’s contacts and infiltrate these social networks,” said Marczak.

Marczak also said evidence has been found linking software supplied by Hacking Team and FinSpy to more than a dozen countries, including Ethiopia, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Bahrain.

A Hacking Team policy statement posted on the Internet said the company understands the potential for abuse of the surveillance technologies they produce, and takes precautions to limit that potential. The lengthy statement said Hacking Team has established an outside panel of technical experts and legal advisers to review potential sales. The company does not sell its products to any country blacklisted by the United States, the European Union, the United Nations or NATO. Ethiopia is not named on those blacklists.

Related:
US Man Sues Ethiopia for Cyber Snooping (AFP)
Ethiopian Refugee Wants UK Action Over Hacking (AP)
U.S. Citizen Sues Ethiopia for Using Computer Spyware Against Him (Washington Post)
Ethiopian Government Hacking Ethiopian Journalists in U.S. (The Washington Post)
Report: Ethiopian Government Hacks Journalists in U.S. and Europe (Mashable)

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Hear Cockpit Audio From ET-702 Hijacking

Swiss authorities have detained 31-year-old Hailemedehin Abera Tegegn, the co-pilot and hijacker of an Ethiopian Airlines flight that was forced to land at Geneva's international airport, Feb. 17, 2014. (Reuters)

The Associated Press

GENEVA — It seemed like a routine overnight flight until the Ethiopian Airlines jetliner went into a dive and oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling. Only then did the terrified passengers — bound for Italy from Addis Ababa — realize something was terribly wrong.

The co-pilot had locked his captain from the cockpit, commandeered the plane, and headed for Geneva, where he used a rope to lower himself out of a window, then asked for political asylum.

Authorities say a prison cell is more likely.

Read more.

Hear Cockpit Audio from Hijacking (CNN Video)


Related:
Ethiopia Denies ‘Hijacker’ Co-pilot Faced Persecution (VOA)
Why Co-pilot Might Have Taken Extreme Steps to Leave (The Telegraph)
Co-Pilot Hijacks Ethiopian Airlines Plane and Requests Asylum in Geneva (NYT)
Rome-bound Ethiopian Airlines flight hijacked by co-pilot (AP)

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Evacuation of Hijacked Ethiopian Airlines Plane ‘Went Well’ (Video)

The plane from Ethiopia to Italy was hijacked Monday and diverted to Geneva by its co-pilot, who Swiss officials said locked the pilot out of the cockpit after he went to the bathroom. (Photo: Associated Press)

BBC News

February 17th, 2014

The co-pilot of an Ethiopian Airlines plane flying from Addis Ababa to Rome hijacked the aircraft before it landed safely in Geneva, according to Swiss authorities.

The man – who has been arrested – apparently waited for the pilot to go to the toilet before locking himself in the cockpit.

Geneva airport chief executive Robert Deillon said that the hijacker had handed himself over to police and that the evacuation of the passengers on board had taken place in an orderly fashion.

Read more and watch video at BBC News.



Related:
Co-Pilot Hijacks Ethiopian Airlines Plane and Requests Asylum in Geneva (NYT)
Rome-bound Ethiopian Airlines flight hijacked by co-pilot (AP)

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Genzebe Dibaba Sets Third Record of the Month

Ethiopia's Genzebe Dibaba set her third world best in 15 days by shattering the indoor two-mile record at the Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix. (BBC News)

BBC Sport

The 23-year-old’s time of nine minutes and 0.48 seconds eclipsed Meseret Defar’s mark by almost six seconds.

Dibaba, sister of three-time Olympic champion Tirunesh, already owns the world 3,000m and 1500m indoor records.

Elsewhere, British indoor champion James Dasaolu won the men’s 60m despite suffering an injury during the race.

The 26-year-old Londoner posted the quickest time of the year in the heats, clocking 6.47 seconds, but his 6.50-second victory in the final was marred by an injury sustained in the final 10m.

Read more at BBC News.

Related:
Genzebe Dibaba Smashes World Indoor 1500M Record

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Genzebe Dibaba Smashes World Indoor 1500M Record

Genzebe Dibaba. (Photo: Athletics weekly)

IAAF

Her big sister Tirunesh has twice been a world record breaker indoors and it was the turn Genzebe Dibaba to make her own mark on the under cover record books when she smashed the women’s world indoor 1500m record * by more than three seconds with a run of 3:55.17 at the IAAF Indoor Permit meeting in Karlsruhe, Germany, on Saturday (1).

The previous best had been 3:58.28, set by Russia’s Yelena Soboleva in 2006, and Dibaba’s own previous indoor best was 4:00.13. Her time was also more than a second faster than Abeba Aregawi’s Ethiopian outdoor record of 3:56.54 and the outdoor African record of 3:55.30, set by Hassiba Boulmerka.

Slovenia’s Sonja Roman took Dibaba through 400m in 1:02.39 and then 800m in 2:08.96, just under a second faster than Soboleva at this stage in proceedings on her world-record run with the Russian having clocked 2:09.7 after four laps of the track. But soon afterwards the Ethiopian hit the front and then it was just a race between her and the clock.

Dibaba, still only 22, went through 1200m in a sizzling 3:10.47, compared to Soboleva’s 3:13.1. After a third 400m of just over 61 seconds, she kept up the tempo all the way to the line.

“I felt I was ready for a world record,” said the world indoor 1500m champion who is set to defend her title at this year’s edition in the Polish city of Sopot next month. “But I didn’t think I would run 3:55. I was well prepared for tonight, though. I’m extremely happy.”

Read more at IAAF.



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An Art Project Giving Voice to Ethiopia’s Children of the Tumultuous 80s

Matti Pohjonen at the World Heritage Site the Semien Mountains National Park. (Courtesy Photograph)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia in the 1980s was widely televised as a tumultuous history of famine, drought, war and dictatorship. Politicians, historians, and development experts have all weighed in and written their version of the stark conditions, but what is still missing from that narrative are the voices of the children (both Ethiopian and expatriate) who grew up there during these trying times. Finnish researcher, writer, and visual artist, Matti Pohjonen spent his middle and early teen years in Ethiopia and experienced the contrast of witnessing camps filled with drought victims when he was 9 years old, coupled with the memories of daily life in the capital, Addis Ababa. Since then he has led a largely nomadic life, getting degrees in journalism, international studies, anthropology and media & cultural studies.

Returning to Ethiopia after 20 years he found a rapidly changing society. Yet his memories of the 80′s were once again awakened and he started a Facebook group, now comprising of 488 members, to find other individuals who could share their stories of growing up in Ethiopia during this period. The anecdotes starting pouring in and Matti resolved to create an art-based project called Injera Westerns — a nod to both Ethiopians and foreigners who lived through these times juxtaposing hardship and “normal” daily life.

The stories shared are anything but ordinary — learning to roller-skate in a leprosy ward, noticing that canned milk and nutritional supplements stamped as aid donations for famine victims were being sold as regular goods in markets in the capital city, and everyday coming-of-age tales of friendships, parties, and heartbreaks in the lives of teenagers.

In his own words Matti tries to describe the sentiments born of this endeavor: “I think the untold truth of our lives is simply stranger, more poetic and more surreal than any fiction I have read or any movie I have seen,” he says. “These stories need to be now heard as widely as possible. Moreover, these stories are not about Ethiopia only but touch on universal themes everybody can relate to in their humane laughter and sorrow.”

The Injera Westerns art project aims to tell these stories in a book combining oral and written histories shared over social media accompanied with original photography of Ethiopia’s majestic landscape, as well as ink and watercolor sketches — an ambitious attempt to create a more nuanced version of cultural and political history that includes the children who experienced them first-hand.

If enough funding is received through the indiegogo campaign Matti also looks forward to developing a touring art exhibition of Injera Westerns and the launch of a foundation to benefit Ethiopian organizations that utilize artistic and social work in innovative ways.

Below is a trailer for the Injera Westerns art project crowd funding campaign:

Injera Westerns trailer from Matti Pohjonen on Vimeo.


You may contribute to the project at http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/injera-westerns

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Fighting Reported After S. Sudan Cease-fire

South Sudan government representative Nhial Deng Nhial (L) exchanges a signed ceasefire agreement with rebel delegation leader Gen. Taban Deng Gai (R) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan. 23, 2014. (Reuters)

VOA News

Updated: January 25, 2014

South Sudan’s government says anti-government fighters attacked positions held by troops on Saturday, an indication that a fragile cease-fire that took effect on Friday may be beginning to fray.

The information minister Michael Makeur Lueth told reporters that opposition fighters were continuing attacks on government forces. He said the government security forces would defend themselves if the attacks continued.

The information minister did not specify where Saturday’s unrest was taking place.

His comments come a day after an opposition fighter said President Salva Kiir’s forces attacked rebel positions in Unity and Jonglei states. General Lul Ruai Koang said government forces were aided by rebels from Sudan’s Darfur region and Ugandan forces. However, on Twitter, South Sudan military spokesman Philip Aguer said he had received no reports of fighting.

Representatives for the government and the opposition signed a cease-fire agreement in Ethiopia on Thursday, in a bid to end weeks of fighting that is believed to have left over 1,000 people dead and an estimated half-million displaced.

The unrest began in mid-December after President Kiir accused his former vice president, Riek Machar, of attempting a coup — a charge Machar has denied.

U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos begins a three-day trip to South Sudan on Monday. The U.N. says she will meet with government officials and aid groups in an effort to draw attention to the “humanitarian consequences” of the country’s unrest.

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Dr. Catherine Hamlin Turns 90

Dr. Catherine Hamlin, who was born on January 24th, 1924, turns 90 years-old Friday. We wish her Happy Birth Day! (Photos: Daily Life)

Daily Life

By Sarah Macdonald

On Thursday afternoon, Australian time, Catherine Hamlin will wake up in a simple mud brick hut on a river in Addis Ababa. She will make her bed, eat a basic breakfast, walk up fifty stairs to a hospital and then operate on some of the world’s most disadvantaged women.

It’s just her usual routine, yet it’s nothing short of remarkable when you consider Dr Hamlin turns 90 on Friday and has served Ethiopia’s women as long as their country’s average citizen actually manages to survive on this often cruel, always unfair earth.

While Catherine Hamlin will accept a call from the Governmor General Quentin Bryce on her birthday, she doesn’t want presents – just funds to continue her work to restore the health and dignity to women destroyed by something we take for granted: Safe birth.

Read more at Daily Life.

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Teff the Next Super Grain

Rich in calcium, iron and protein, gluten-free teff offers Ethiopia the promise of new and lucrative markets in the west. (Photo: sourdough.com)

The Guardian

By Claire Provost and Elissa Jobson in Addis Ababa

At Addis Ababa airport, visitors are greeted by pictures of golden grains, minute ochre-red seeds and a group of men gathered around a giant pancake. Billboards boast: “Teff: the ultimate gluten-free crop!”

Ethiopia is one of the world’s poorest countries, well-known for its precarious food security situation. But it is also the native home of teff, a highly nutritious ancient grain increasingly finding its way into health-food shops and supermarkets in Europe and America.

Teff’s tiny seeds – the size of poppy seeds – are high in calcium, iron and protein, and boast an impressive set of amino acids. Naturally gluten-free, the grain can substitute for wheat flour in anything from bread and pasta to waffles and pizza bases. Like quinoa, the Andean grain, teff’s superb nutritional profile offers the promise of new and lucrative markets in the west.

Read more at The Guardian.

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Ethiopia Joins Somalia’s AU Force

African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) soldiers rest on top of an armored vehicle during a break on a street patrol with local police at the old stadium in Mogadishu, Somalia, Nov. 14, 2013. (Photo: Reuters/File)

BBC News

More than 4,000 Ethiopian troops have been formally absorbed into the African Union force in Somalia.

They will be responsible for security in the south-western regions of Gedo, Bay and Bakool, the AU said.

Ethiopia’s contribution takes the AU force to the 22,000-strong level mandated by the UN Security Council.

Ethiopian forces have been operating in neighbouring Somalia for several years, helping the UN-backed government fight the al-Qaeda-aligned al-Shabab group.

Last year, the UN chief Ban Ki-moon asked for a “surge” of extra troops for the AU force in Somalia, known as Amisom, fearing reversals in advances made over the last few years.

The Ethiopians will be based in Baidoa, about half way between Mogadishu and the Ethiopian border.

Read more at BBC News.

Related:
Ethiopian Troops Join AU Force in Somalia (VOA)

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Egypt May Take Nile Dam Dispute With Ethiopia to UN

The Renaissance Dam is constructed in Guba woreda, Ethiopia, June 28, 2013. (photo by Reuters)

Al-Monitor

After all attempts to solve the Egyptian-Ethiopian crisis over the Renaissance Dam at the negotiating table ended in failure after a third round of negotiations on Jan. 4, with Egypt withdrawing from the discussions and conferences being held in Khartoum, there is now talk at the governmental level about internationalizing the issue. At the same time, Egypt is witnessing rising popular demands to resort to the UN Security Council to establish Egypt’s right to veto the establishment of the Renaissance Dam, given the potential danger it represents to Egyptian water security.

Khalid Wasif, the official spokesman for the minister of irrigation and water resources, revealed to Al-Monitor that Egypt has “begun to explore international channels for setting up alternative diplomatic and political tracks to ward off the dangers that might afflict the country if the Renaissance Dam is built, in light of the announced specifications of the dam.” He emphasized, “Egypt will not allow the dam to be built and will move to rally international pressure to prevent it from being funded. Moreover, Cairo will work [to secure] a public declaration by the international community rejecting the dam’s completion, in the absence of [Ethiopian] guarantees that Egypt and Egyptians will not suffer any loss in water security, nor will the other states of the Nile Basin. Egypt has rights guaranteed by international law and agreements, which the Ethiopian side is not respecting.”

Read more at Al-Monitor.

Related:
Hydropolitics Between Ethiopia and Egypt: A Historical Timeline
Law Professor Urges Ethiopia to Take Nile Issue to International Court

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Made in Ethiopia: Fashion Retailer H&M Looks to Sub-Saharan Africa for Suppliers

H & M (Hennes & Mauritz AB ), a Swedish multinational retail-clothing company with locations in 43 countries, is eyeing Ethiopia as the business looks to expand its global production hubs to Africa. (WSJ)

How We Made It In Africa
BY JACO MARITZ

January 21st, 2014

Sub-Saharan Africa’s potential to become a global low-end manufacturing destination has come under discussion lately, especially with rising cost pressures in traditional markets such as China.

Swedish-based fashion retailer H&M is one of the latest global companies to experiment with sourcing its products from sub-Saharan African countries. It has placed test orders for garments from Ethiopian and Kenyan suppliers. Retailers such as Tesco and Walmart reportedly already source some products from Ethiopia.

“We are a growing global company and we need to constantly look at how we can ensure that we have the capacity to supply products to all our stores where we have expanded rapidly. We do that as we increase production on existing production markets but also by looking at new ones. This does not mean we will stop buying from existing production markets. We see great potential in Ethiopia, it is a country with a huge development and growth and we see that we can contribute to jobs and reduce the unemployment in the country,” Elin Hallerby, a spokesperson for H&M, told How we made it in Africa via email.

However, she emphasised that the company is still in the early stages of sourcing from Ethiopia.

H&M doesn’t own any factories, but instead works with hundreds of independent suppliers, mainly from European and Asian countries such as Italy, Turkey, Bangladesh and China.

So what does H&M look for in a new supplier?

Read more at Howwemadeitinafrica.com.

Related:
Swedish Fashion Retailer H&M Looks to Source Clothing From Ethiopia (The Wall Street Journal)

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Honoring Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

FILE - Martin Luther King Jr. waves to a rally on the National Mall. (Photo: AP)

VOA News

January 20, 2014

Americans across the country will pause Monday to observe the annual federal holiday marking the birthday of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.

The holiday was created in 1983, when then-president Ronald Reagan signed a bill designating the third Monday in January to honor King, who was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The U.S. Congress designated the King holiday as a national day of service in 1994, a move aimed at encouraging Americans to take part in community projects.

King first rose to prominence in 1955, when he led a successful boycott of the public bus lines in the southern city of Montgomery, Alabama, forcing the city to end its practice of segregation of black passengers. He would go on to become the foremost public figure of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s, inspiring millions with his famous “I Have a Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington.

He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, the same year a landmark civil rights bill that ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, was signed by president Lyndon Johnson.

King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, where he traveled to assist striking black garbage workers seeking equal pay.

Video: Non-violence Strategy Was Key to Civil Rights Movement


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Ethiopians Win Houston Marathon

Bazu Worku and Abebech Bekele won the 2014 Houston Marathon on Sunday, January 19th. (Photos: Houston Chronicle)

By Associated Press

HOUSTON — Ethiopians swept the Houston Marathon again Sunday.

Bazu Worku successfully defended his Houston title, breaking away in the last mile to win with the third fastest time in the marathon’s history. Abebech Bekele won the women’s race for her first marathon title.

This was the sixth straight year an Ethiopian man won in Houston and the eighth straight year an Ethiopian woman did so.

Worku and countryman Getachew Terfa were running side by side approaching the last mile when Worku pulled away to finish in 2 hours, 7 seven minutes, 32 seconds. The race record is 2:06:51, by Ethiopia’s Tariku Jufar in 2012.

Worku said through an interpreter he wanted to break the race record but was slowed by wind near the end.

“The course is very good,” Worku said. “I’m really happy to win this time. Last year it was very difficult because of the wind and the rain.”

Terfa finished 22 seconds behind Worku. Jose Antonio Uribe of Mexico finished in third.

“I knew that he would be major competitor,” Worku said, referring to Terfa. “When I looked back and saw that he was further away, I thought I would win the race.”

Read more.

Related:
Abebech Bekele Extends Ethiopia’s Win Streak in Women’s Houston Marathon
Kenyan Ruto, Ethiopian Mekash win top Mumbai Marathon titles

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South Sudan’s Government Regains Control of Strategic Town

South Sudan's army spokesman Philip Aguer. (Photo: AP)

VOA News

Updated on: January 18, 2014

South Sudan’s government says its forces have recaptured Bor, a strategic town that has changed hands several times since fighting between government and anti-government forces erupted in mid-December.

Army spokesman Philip Aguer says SPLA forces entered Bor on Saturday and “defeated” more than 15,000 opposition fighters. He said the military has “frustrated” what he said were plans by former vice president Riek Machar to attack the capital, Juba.

There was no immediate word from opposition fighters on the status of Bor, the capital of Jonglei state.

An African regional bloc known as EGAD has been trying to broker a cease-fire between government and anti-government representatives who have been meeting in Ethiopia.

On Saturday, anti-government negotiator Mabior de Garang said the opposition had agreed on a plan and would be willing to sign a cease-fire in coming days.

The French News Agency says the South Sudanese government negotiator was preparing to return to Addis Ababa to sign a cessation of hostilities.

The two sides have been holding talks in Ethiopia for several weeks. The talks had bogged down over an opposition demand for the release of 11 people who were arrested shortly after last month’s alleged coup.

It was not immediately clear how the issue had been resolved.

On Friday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said South Sudan’s crisis had reached “tragic proportions.”

The unrest has left at least 1,000 people dead and nearly 470,000 displaced.

A December gun battle at the army headquarters in Juba touched off the crisis. President Salva Kiir accused former deputy Machar of attempting a coup, a charge Machar denied.

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U.S. Contributes $2M to Ethiopians Deported From Saudi Arabia

(Photo: International Organization for Migration (IOM))

UPI

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government announced a $2 million contribution to the International Organization for Migration to help migrants deported from Saudi Arabia to Ethiopia.

To date some 153,000 Ethiopians, including 8,000, have been returned back to Ethiopia from Saudi Arabia, many of whom are trafficking victims, a release from the U.S. Department of State said.

Some of the deportees faced forced labor in Saudi Arabia, and are destitute, in poor health and suffered abuse during the detention and deportation process.

The International Organization for Migration aids in the reception and registration of migrants; provides transport from the airport to transit centers and communities of origin; provides a small cash allowance to pay for initial needs; provides medical support, water, clothes and other items; and temporarily accommodates unaccompanied children and tracks down families.

Read more at UPI.

Related:
Ethiopian Migrants Expelled by Saudis Remain in Limbo Back Home (NYT)
Diaspora NGO Donates Funds to Aid Returnees (African Brains)
Top Ten Stories of 2013
Tadias Roundtable Discussion at National Press Club

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China Condemns Japan Leader on Visit to Ethiopia

Japan's PM Shinzo Abe received a gift on Monday from the son of Olympic legend Abebe Bikila. (Getty Images)

Associated Press

BY ELIAS MESERET

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — China’s diplomatic assault on Japan’s prime minister moved to another continent Wednesday, as China’s top official at the African Union called the Japanese leader a troublemaker just after his three-country visit to Africa.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Ivory Coast, Mozambique and Ethiopia over the last week, pledging hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and trying to shore up relations on a continent where China has made deep inroads in recent years.

Abe’s Africa trip follows his visit last month to a World War II shrine in Tokyo that China views as a memorial to war criminals who assaulted the Chinese people.

Xie Xiayoan, China’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and its envoy to the African Union, said Abe’s visit to the Yasakuni Shrine was offensive and he called the prime minister a “troublemaker” in Asia.

The Chinese disdain for Abe’s visit here went past the political level. On Sunday Chinese activists brawled with Japanese embassy security in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, as they took pictures of the embassy and protested Abe’s visit.

Read more here.

Related:
Japan’s PM Abe meets Ethiopian running heroes on Africa tour (AFP)
Japan and China criticise each other’s Africa policies (BBC News)

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International Press Institute Calls on Ethiopia to Release Journalists

IPI is urging Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, pictured here in October 2013, to release imprisoned journalists and to reform the country's anti-terrorism law. (Photograph: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

IPI

VIENNA, Jan 14, 2014 – Ethiopia’s use of sweeping anti-terrorism law to imprison journalists and other legislative restrictions are hindering the development of free and independent media in Africa’s second largest country, according to a report published today by the International Press Institute (IPI).

Dozens of journalists and political activists have been arrested or sentenced under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation of 2009, including five journalists who are serving prison sentences and who at times have been denied access to visitors and legal counsel. The report, “Press Freedom in Ethiopia”, is based on a mission to the country carried out in November by IPI and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).

“Despite a strong constitutional basis for press freedom and freedom of information, the Ethiopian government has systematically used the anti-terrorism law to prosecute and frighten journalists, which has put a straight-jacket on the media,” IPI Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie said. “Our joint mission also found a disturbing pattern of using other measures to control the press and restrict independent journalism, including restrictions on foreign media ownership and the absence of an independent public broadcaster.”

The report urges the Ethiopian government to free journalists convicted under the sedition provisions of the 2009 measure. These journalists include Solomon Kebede, Wubset Taye, Reyot Alemu, Eskinder Nega and Yusuf Getachew. Mission delegates were barred access to the journalists, who are being held at Kaliti Prison near the capital Addis Ababa.

Read more and download the full report here.

Related:
Woubshet Taye’s Son Asks: “When I Grow Up Will I Go to Jail Like My Dad?
Ethiopian Journalist Asfaw Berhanu Sentenced to More Than Two Years in Jail (CPJ)
UPDATE: Kality Twitter Chat Roundup (TADIAS)
Eritrea, Ethiopia, Egypt Among Worst Journalist Jailers (VOA News)
“Write for Rights” Campaign Launched for Ethiopian Journalist Eskinder Nega (Video)
International Rights Group Appeals for Release of Ethiopian Reporter Jailed for 18 Years (AP)
Ethiopia: A Lifeline to the World — Wire Interview With Birtukan Mideksa (Wire Magazine)
Taking Eskinder Nega & Reeyot Alemu’s Case to African Court on Human Rights (TADIAS)

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Japan’s PM Receives Gift From Son of Olympic Legend Abebe Bikila

Japan's PM Shinzo Abe received a gift on Monday from the son of Olympic legend Abebe Bikila. (Getty Images)

AFP

Updated: Jan 14, 2014

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) – Japanese premier Shinzo Abe kicked off a visit to Ethiopia on Monday by meeting the country’s running stars and receiving a gift from the son of late barefoot marathon legend Abebe Bikila, winner of the Tokyo Olympic marathon 50 years ago.

“My name is Abe, but everybody teased me at school, calling me Abebe,” the prime minister joked. “Many Japanese marathon runners would actually collapse after the race but when I saw Mr Abebe actually stretching afterwards, it was such a surprise, even for a 10-year-old.”

“Today I had the opportunity to meet famous athletes from Ethiopia as well as the son of Mr Abebe, as well as wonderful children boys and girls who will one day be gold medalists, or who will one day be winners at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics,” he added.

Mr Abe was presented with a photo of Bikila winning Olympic gold in Tokyo, a gift from the late legend’s son, Yetnayet Abebe.

Read more.

Related:
Japan and China criticise each other’s Africa policies (BBC News)

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CNN: Five African Wines Making a Splash

Ethiopian Tej is featured on CNN's Marketplace Africa (photo courtesy: CNN)

CNN, Marketplace Africa

By OLIVER JOY

For something very different, but very traditional, Tej is an East African honey wine, primarily consumed in Ethiopia. The white wine, which can be either sweet or dry depending on the amount of honey used, also includes Gesho, which is a buckthorn shrub native to the Horn of Africa nation.

Harry Kloman, an expert on Tej and Ethiopian cuisine, said that there are very few, if any, wineries that produce Tej as the wine tends to be homemade or served in a “Tej Bet,” a bar that specializes in the wine.

Araya Selassie Yibrehu is one of the producers to have mastered the art of Tej brewing over the years. He said: “Unlike other wines my Tej and Tej-based wines are all ‘happy drinks’ that have a delicate taste and are thirst quenching. It’s a great stimulating aperitif and complement to most dishes or desserts.”

Read more at CNN, Marketplace Africa.

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Woubshet Taye’s Son Asks: “When I Grow Up Will I Go to Jail Like My Dad?”

Woubshet Taye's wife, Birhan Tesfaye, and his son Fiteh Woubshet pictured during the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Award held in South Africa on October 12th, 2013. (CNN photograph)

By Tom Rhodes/CPJ East Africa Representative

“When I grow up will I go to jail like my dad?” This was the shattering question that the five-year-old son of imprisoned Ethiopian journalist Woubshet Taye asked his mother after a recent prison visit. Woubshet’s son, named Fiteh (meaning “justice”), has accompanied his mother on a wayward tour of various prisons since his father was arrested in June 2011.

Authorities have inexplicably transferred Woubshet, the former deputy editor of the independent weekly Awramba Times, to a number of prisons. From Maekelawi Prison, authorities transferred him to Kality Prison in the capital, Addis Ababa, then to remote Ziway Prison, then Kalinto Prison (just outside Addis Ababa), back to Kality, and in December last year–to Ziway again.

It is at Ziway, an isolated facility roughly 83 miles southeast of the capital, where heat, dust, and contaminated water have likely led to a severe kidney infection in Woubshet. The award-winning journalist was meant to receive medical treatment while at Kality Prison in Addis Ababa, Woubshet’s wife, Berhane Tesfaye, told me, but it never took place. Suffering in such pain in his ribs and hip that he cannot sleep, Woubshet has not even received painkillers, according to local journalists who visited him.

CPJ’s attempts to reach Ethiopian government spokesman Shimeles Kemal by phone call and text message were unsuccessful.

Read more at CPJ.

Related:
Ethiopian Journalist Asfaw Berhanu Sentenced to More Than Two Years in Jail (CPJ)
UPDATE: Kality Twitter Chat Roundup (TADIAS)
Eritrea, Ethiopia, Egypt Among Worst Journalist Jailers (VOA News)
“Write for Rights” Campaign Launched for Ethiopian Journalist Eskinder Nega (Video)
International Rights Group Appeals for Release of Ethiopian Reporter Jailed for 18 Years (AP)
Ethiopia: A Lifeline to the World — Wire Interview With Birtukan Mideksa (Wire Magazine)
Taking Eskinder Nega & Reeyot Alemu’s Case to African Court on Human Rights (TADIAS)

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1954 Ivory Gift to DC From Emperor Haile Selassie Stolen Last Summer

Haile Selassie Gave D.C. these elephant tusks in 1954. Someone stole them in 2013. Read more at Washington City Paper. (Photo: Emperor Haile Selassie during his visit to U.S. in 1954/MEURER/NEWS, Tusks by Andrew Laurence)

The Washingtonian Magazine

By Benjamin Freed

The Metropolitan Police Department says that a set of elephant tusks given to the District in 1954 by Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie went missing from the John A. Wilson Building last August. And, no, none of that sentence was made up.

Officials say the prized ivory went missing between August 12 and August 27, when someone in the building noticed the tusks were gone. The DC Council was out of session during that span. Police did not say why it took more than four months to alert the public that Selassie’s gift had been stolen.

A police spokesman tells Washingtonian he does not know if the tusks have a current appraised value, but elephant ivory is extremely valuable. A pair of female African elephant tusks sold at auction in August 2012 for $30,000.

Read more.

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Ethiopian Migrants Expelled by Saudis Remain in Limbo Back Home

Mohammed Jemal, forefront, returning home after being deported from Saudi Arabia. (Benno Muchler)

The New York Times

By BENNO MUCHLER

LEGUAMA, Ethiopia — Mohammed Jemal left Ethiopia two years ago. He wanted to be independent, to support his family — and to escape the mockery of having squandered a big chance for a better life.

“I went to college and dropped out. I somehow failed,” he said. If he had gone back home and started a simple life with a poorly paid job, he said, “people would have called my family names.”

So, like many Ethiopians, Mr. Mohammed left his small, rural hometown in central Ethiopia to seek his fortune in Saudi Arabia. He entered the country illegally, he said, having walked most of the way through Djibouti and Yemen. Once he got there, he said, he worked as a guard and receptionist.

Read more at NYT.

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Diaspora NGO Donates Funds to Aid Returnees (African Brains)
Top Ten Stories of 2013
Tadias Roundtable Discussion at National Press Club

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Ethiopia Rejects Egypt Proposal on Nile as Dam Talks Falter

The construction of the Grand Renaissance hydroelectric dam in the Asosa region of Ethiopia. (Photo: AP)

Bloomberg

By William Davison and Ahmed Feteha

Ethiopia rejected a proposal that would guarantee Egypt the rights to most of the Nile River’s water, as disagreements cast doubt over future talks about Africa’s biggest hydropower project.

The 6,000-megawatt Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on Ethiopia’s Blue Nile River, set to be completed in 2017, has raised concern in Cairo that it will reduce the flow of the Nile, which provides almost all of Egypt’s water. The Blue Nile is the main tributary of the Nile.

The $4.2 billion dam 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Sudan’s border will benefit agricultural and power interests in the region and not cause water losses downstream, Ethiopia says. Sudan supports the hydropower project designed to produce electricity for much of East Africa that began in April 2011.

Egyptian officials at a Jan. 4-Jan. 5 meeting that also included representatives from Sudan, introduced a “principles of confidence-building” document asking Ethiopia to “respect” Sudan and Egypt’s water security, said Fekahmed Negash, the head of the Ethiopian Water and Energy Ministry’s Boundary and Transboundary Rivers Affairs Directorate. Discussing the issue would contravene an agreement signed by six Nile countries, he said in a phone interview on Jan. 6.

“We will not negotiate on this issue with any country,” Fekahmed said from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. “That is why we say take it to the right platform” that includes other members of the Nile Basin, he said.

Read more.

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Telecom Deal by China’s ZTE in Ethiopia Faces Criticism

ZTE, which is based in Shenzhen, China, is the world's fourth-largest mobile phone manufacturer. (ZTE)

The Wall Street Journal

By MATTHEW DALTON CONNECT

For Ethiopians, a Chinese Telecom Project Changes Lives but Draws Scrutiny

LAKE WENCHI, Ethiopia—In the green highlands here southwest of Addis Ababa, farmers like Darara Baysa are proud owners of cellphones that run on a network built by China’s ZTE Corp.

The trouble is, they have to walk several miles to get a good signal. “The network doesn’t work well,” says Mr. Baysa, a former army sergeant, stopping on the unpaved road near his home to show his hot-pink smartphone.

Read more WSJ.com.

Related:
Ethiopia Signs $800 Million Mobile Network Deal With China’s ZTE (Reuters)

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Meet Bill de Blasio: New Mayor of NYC

Bill de Blasio, right, with his wife and children, was sworn into office on Wednesday by Bill Clinton. (NYT)

The New York Times

By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM

Bill de Blasio, whose fiery populism propelled his rise from obscure neighborhood official to the 109th mayor of New York, was sworn into office on Wednesday, pledging that his ambition for a more humane and equal metropolis would remain undimmed.

In his inaugural address, Mayor de Blasio described social inequality as a “quiet crisis” on a par with the other urban cataclysms of the city’s last half-century, from fiscal collapse to crime waves to terrorist attacks, and said income disparity was a struggle no less urgent to confront.

“We are called to put an end to economic and social inequalities that threaten to unravel the city we love,” he said to about 5,000 people at the ceremony, many beneath blankets on a numbingly cold day.

Read more at NYT.

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Family of Slain Ethiopian Couple Keeps Dallas Restaurant Going

“People do ask, ‘How are you able to be in here,' ” says Tizeta Getachew, sister of one of the slain restaurateurs. “If we had that mentality, we’d be paralyzed at home, not able to do anything.”

Dallas News

By JENNIFER EMILY Staff

The tale of the Dallas Ethiopian restaurant Desta is one of tragedy, hard work and, ultimately, of love.

Husband and wife owners Yayehyirad “Yared” Lemma, 40, and Yenenesh “Yenni” Desta, 31, were shot and killed in 2012 by a customer who became obsessed with Yenni Desta. Their killer was convicted last December and will spend his life behind bars with no chance of parole.

The story — and perhaps the restaurant — could have ended with the brutal killings on the couple’s front porch. But their family — mainly Lemma’s two sisters — keeps Desta operating with the same love and hard work, hoping to create a legacy for the young son, now 3, that the couple left behind.

“This is not our story,” said Lemma’s sister Tizeta Getachew, who left her job running a domestic violence shelter to manage the restaurant. “This is their story.”

Read more at Dallas News.

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Journalist Asfaw Berhanu Sentenced to More Than Two Years in Jail

Hawassa, Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region, Ethiopia. (Photograph: Panoramio)

CPJ

Nairobi – An Ethiopian court convicted a journalist on December 25 on the charge of spreading false rumors and sentenced him to two years and nine months in prison, according to local journalists.

The First Instance Court in Hawassa, capital of the state of Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Regions, convicted Asfaw Berhanu, former contributor to the private bilingual paper The Reporter, in connection with a September 4 article he wrote for the publication that claimed three state government officials had been removed from their posts, local journalists said.

The officials had not actually been dismissed from their posts, the sources said. The Reporter issued a front-page retraction in its next edition and dismissed Asfaw, Reporter Managing Director Kaleyesus Berkeley said.

Asfaw is being held in Hawassa Prison, local journalists said. He plans to appeal the sentence, the same sources said.

“Asfaw Berhanu should not be jailed for making a mistake, especially after the Reporter apologized and issued a retraction,” said CPJ East Africa Representative Tom Rhodes. “Authorities should release Asfaw from prison immediately.”

On October 10, three policemen visited The Reporter office in Addis Ababa and arrested Managing Editor Melaku Demissie, taking him for questioning in connection with the September 4 news report, according to local journalists and news reports. The police commissioner ordered his release the same day, Melaku told CPJ.

Related:
UPDATE: Kality Twitter Chat Roundup (TADIAS)
Eritrea, Ethiopia, Egypt Among Worst Journalist Jailers (VOA News)
“Write for Rights” Campaign Launched for Journalist Eskinder Nega (Video)
International Rights Group Appeals for Release of Reporter Jailed for 18 Years (AP)
Ethiopia: A Lifeline to the World — Wire Interview With Birtukan Mideksa
Taking Eskinder Nega & Reeyot Alemu’s Case to African Court on Human Rights (TADIAS)

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Heineken to Sponsor Teddy Afro’s ‘Journey of Love’ Across Ethiopia

Teddy Afro (Photo credit: Danny Studio)

The Reporter

The renowned singer Tewodros Kasahun, a.k.a. Teddy Afro, has signed a sponsorship agreement with Heineken for his musical experience “Journey of Love”, which will see him perform in different venues across Ethiopia.

The agreement was announced yesterday at the Addis Ababa Hilton. During the ceremony, Teddy said that the main reason behind the journey is to unite all of Ethiopia through music.

“Though we have different cultures and languages, we all live in one country,” Teddy said. “Therefore, to unite all of us we have come up with the concept of musical concerts entitled Journey of Love.”

Johan Doyer, managing director of Heineken Breweries Share Company, said that there are two driving factors behind this sponsorship. The first is the artist’s well established explanations about the love journey, and the second is his willingness to travel in Ethiopia beyond Addis Ababa.

The journey will start on January 11, 2014, and will last for a year. It covers various cities in Ethiopia, including Dire Dawa, Jimma, Adama, and Addis Ababa. The journey is planned to start in Dire Dawa, where it will continue on around the country.

Both parties declined to reveal the budget for the concerts, and Heineken’s managing director said that the information is confidential.

Related:
Photos From Teddy Afro’s Concert in DC (TADIAS)
Mahmoud Ahmed and Teddy Afro Bring Echostage Home (The Washington Post)
Teddy Afro Gaining International Recognition (CCTV)

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Ethiopia Swamped by Tidal Wave of Returned Migrants

Migrants returning from Saudi Arabia arrive at Addis Ababa airport on Dec. 10th, 2013. (Getty Images)

IPS News

By Ed McKenna

ADDIS ABABA – The return of 120,000 young undocumented migrant workers from Saudi Arabia to Ethiopia has sparked fears that the influx will worsen the country’s high youth unemployment and put pressure on access to increasingly scarce land.

As a result, a growing number of young Ethiopians are choosing to migrate to Sudan to circumvent an indefinite travel ban slapped by the Ethiopian government last month on Ethiopian workers traveling to Middle Eastern countries.

“I was forced to work seven days a week, 20 hours a day. I was not allowed to leave the house. It was hell.” — A 23-year-old woman who just returned from Riyadh.

Esther Negash, 28, is from a family of nine that lives on a four-hectare farm dedicated to growing maize in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia. She has been out of work since leaving school 10 years ago.

Negash’s family recently decided to use their savings to fund her migration to Khartoum in search of employment.

“In the last two months, there have been many people returning from Saudi Arabia. This makes things worse for people like me who cannot find work,” she told IPS.

“The rains were short this year and we did not have a good harvest. My family is large, if we don’t get a good harvest then it is very difficult. We heard about work opportunities in Sudan and thought this was our only solution.”

A large number of Ethiopians migrate every year in search of brighter economic prospects, with the Middle East being the dominant destination.

Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on undocumented foreign workers began after a seven-month amnesty period expired on Nov. 3. Since then, 120,000 Ethiopian migrants have been repatriated to Ethiopia after being corralled in a deportation camp for two months, where conditions are reportedly abject.

Many Ethiopians have reported human rights violations at the hands of their employers as well as while under the control of security forces inside the camps.

“My employer would sexually abuse me and beat me. I was forced to work seven days a week, 20 hours a day. I was not allowed to leave the house. It was hell,” she said.

“They did not pay me for one year even though I worked also for their relatives. I am so tired and so sad. [But] I am so happy to be back in Ethiopia,” she told IPS.

Despite the many terrible experiences recounted by Ethiopian returnees, poverty and limited economic prospects will continue to force Ethiopian workers to migrate to countries like Sudan and overseas, says the International Labour Organisation, which is working to make regular migration methods more attractive for Ethiopians instead of using unaccountable and illegal brokers to facilitate their migration.

“After the ban, people will try any means possible to work abroad due to a lack of employment opportunities in their home country,” George Okutho, director of the ILO Country Office for Ethiopia and Somalia, told IPS.

“These returnees travelled to Saudi Arabia looking for economic opportunities with a greener pasture mindset in the hope that they could send their family remittances to raise living standards at home. However, most of the time migrant workers are acting on misinformation about the prospects and country of destination,” he said.

A lack of education and skills make Ethiopian migrants especially vulnerable to working in dangerous and exploitative working conditions, both at home and abroad, said Okutho.

“The problem is many of Ethiopia’s migrant workers are uneducated and ill-eqipped even for the domestic work they seek outside the country,” he said. “The result is that even if they go to the Middle East or Sudan, they can earn a little more than when at home, but because they are untrained they end up working in very extreme and difficult circumstances without knowing their rights. “

The Ethiopian government’s planning and logistical capacity has been overwhelmed by the rapidly rising number of returnees. An initial expectation of 23,000 returnees jumped to 120,000 in one month.

“We are engaged with the Saudi government and we are working hard to return Ethiopians stranded in Saudi Arabia,” Dina Mufti, foreign affairs spokesperson, told IPS.

“The number of Ethiopians working illegally is much higher than we anticipated. The Ethiopian government recognises that these people will need employment and so we are trying to create opportunities to assist these people, many of them young, and rehabilitate them back into their communities,” she said.

Dwindling land access in Ethiopia is a critical issue for 80 percent of the population who make a living as small farmers. In the mountainous region of Tigray, the average land availability per household is 3.5 ha.

As life expectancy increases, the potential for subdividing farm plots reduces, leaving many of Ethiopia’s youth food insecure and unemployed.

In the last year, a large number of young people have joined regular protests staged in the country’s main cities to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with high unemployment and inflation.

The inundation of over 120,000 people has the potential to further disenfranchise youth in Ethiopia, where the majority of the population of 91 million earn less than two dollars a day.

Hewete Haile, 18, lives outside Sero Tabia, a small town where youth unemployment is spiraling. Out of 2,200 households, 560 young people between 17 and 35 are unemployed, without access to land or income.

Outside the Sudanese embassy in Addis Ababa, Haile is queuing with several hundred other young girls, mostly from remote rural villages, in hopes of obtaining a visa to allow her to look for work in Khartoum.

Hewete’s friends say a domestic in Khartoum is paid eight dollars a day compared to four dollars in Addis Ababa.

“I would not be leaving my country if there was a way for me to work and make a good income here in my country,” she told IPS.

“If Sudan does not work out then I will travel from there to the Middle East. I know what happened in Saudi Arabia. I would not be leaving Ethiopia if I could get work here, but it is getting more difficult all the time,” she said.

Related:
Nigeria’s Ethiopians Protest Abuse In Saudi Arabia (Huffington Post)
Number Still Rising: Ethiopian Migrants Return Empty Handed From Saudi Arabia (IRIN News)
Future Unsure for Repatriated Female Ethiopians (VOA News)
Ethiopia brings home 140 000 migrants from Saudi (News 24)
Saudi expulsions leave broken dreams in Africa and Asia (Reuters)
Tadias Roundtable Discussion on Ethiopian Migrants in the Middle East (Video & Photos)
An Appeal to Ethiopians Worldwide: Supporting the Ethiopian Red Cross Society

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Was Mandela Really Trained by Mossad?

(Photo © Gediyon Kifle)

News 24

Johannesburg – The Nelson Mandela foundation on Saturday quashed reports that the former president received training from Israeli agents in 1962.

“Media have picked up on a story alleging that in 1962 Nelson Mandela interacted with an Israeli operative in Ethiopia,” the foundation said in a statement.

“The Nelson Mandela Foundation can confirm that it has not located any evidence in Nelson Mandela’s private archive… that he interacted with an Israeli operative during his tour of African countries in that year.”

British national daily newspaper the Guardian website reported on Friday, that Mandela apparently underwent weapons training by Mossad agents in Ethiopia in 1962 without the Israeli secret service knowing his true identity.

Read more.

Related:
Capitan Guta Dinka: The man who saved Nelson Mandela’s life (Video)
Touching Moments From Mandela’s Memorial Service (Video)
The Ethiopian man who taught Mandela to be a soldier (BBC News)
Nelson Mandela In Ethiopia: A Peacemaker’s Beginnings As Guerrilla Fighter (IBT)
Photographer Gediyon Kifle’s Tribute to Nelson Mandela (TADIAS)
World Reflects on the Life of Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela: 1918 – 2013

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Lazard Hired to Secure Ethiopia Credit Rating

Addis Ababa City View. (Photo: ketchum blog)

Reuters

BY AARON MAASHO

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia has hired French investment bank and asset manager Lazard Ltd in a bid to select rating companies and secure its first credit rating, officials said on Thursday, which would pave the way for issuing a debut Eurobond.

In an October interview, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told Reuters that Addis Ababa planned “not only a Eurobond but other bonds as well” once it secured a rating.

Ethiopia has ruled out liberalising its state-owned banks or telecoms sector to foreigners saying the revenues generated for the state each year were spent on vital infrastructure projects.

Read more at Reuters.

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Number Still Rising: Ethiopian Migrants Return Empty Handed From Saudi Arabia

An Ethiopian migrant shortly after arriving at the airport in Addis Ababa following her arrest and detention in Saudi Arabia for working without documents (© Anteneh Aklilu/IRIN)

IRIN News

ADDIS ABABA (IRIN) – When Mohamed Yusuf left his home town in Ethiopia for Saudi Arabia a year ago at the age of 17, he thought life would change for the better. Instead, a difficult and unprofitable stay in Saudi Arabia ended when he was among the nearly 137,000 undocumented Ethiopian migrants deported by the Saudi authorities to date.

“At first, I thought I was going to change my life and those of my father and mother, who paid for the whole trip out of their meagre income,” said Yusuf, whose father is a farmer in northern Ethiopia. However, the gruelling journey to Saudi Arabia and his stay there had been harrowing experiences, he told IRIN.

During the long trek through Ethiopia’s northeastern Afar Desert to Djibouti on the Red Sea, he endured hunger and thirst and had to bury some of his friends, who perished along the way. On reaching Djibouti, he paid smugglers 5,000 Ethiopian Birr (US$261) to take him from Obock, on Djibouti’s northern coast, across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen. From there he made his way to Saudi Arabia.

The majority of male migrants from Ethiopia follow similar routes when crossing into Saudi and mostly depart from Obock, although many also leave from Somaliland. Female migrants usually enter as domestic workers under Saudi Arabia’s ‘kafala’ (sponsorship) system.

Read more at IRIN News.

Related:
Future Unsure for Repatriated Female Ethiopians (VOA News)
Ethiopia brings home 140 000 migrants from Saudi (News 24)
Saudi expulsions leave broken dreams in Africa and Asia (Reuters)
Tadias Roundtable Discussion on Ethiopian Migrants in the Middle East (Video & Photos)
An Appeal to Ethiopians Worldwide: Supporting the Ethiopian Red Cross Society

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Five Arrested in Stadium Bomb Plot

(Image: Google Map)

Reuters

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopian police have arrested five more people suspected of plotting suicide bombings during Ethiopia’s World Cup qualifying match against Nigeria in October, security officials said on Thursday.

The planned attack failed when two Somali suicide bombers accidentally blew themselves up a few kilometers (miles) from Addis Ababa Stadium where soccer fans were gathering.

The men who plotted the attack were all Somali nationals belonging to the militant Islamist group al Shabaab, Ethiopia’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) and Federal Police said in a joint statement, read out on state television.

“The plan was to hurl bombs at crowds gathered around the stadium and two malls, then enter the stadium and carry out a suicide attack,” one of the suspects said on Ethiopian Television.

Read more at Reuters.

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UPDATE: Kality Twitter Chat Roundup

Tweet chats happen when a group of people all tweet about the same topic using a specific hashtag (#). #Kality tweet chat took place on Thursday, December 19th at 11 am ET in New York and Washington, DC.

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Friday, December 20th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) — On Thursday, December 19th, one of the most popular trending conversations on Twitter was taking place under the hashtag #Kality. The Tweet chat, hosted by the International Women’s Media Foundation (@IWMF) and the Media Legal Defense Initiative (@MLDI), was intended to bring exposure to the declining state of press freedom in Ethiopia and the status of independent journalists languishing at the infamous Kality prison. According to hashtracking.com, #kality was used over 1500 times within a 14 hour period and may have been seen by as many as 6 million Twitter users.

Below are some of the tweets:


—-
International Women’s Media Foundation

Christiane Amanpour, IWMF Board of Directors

Ethiopian journalists Reeyot Alemu and Eskinder Nega have been locked up in Ethiopia’s Kality prison since 2011 – simply for being journalists trying to hold their government accountable for its actions. Although they have been honored with numerous prestigious journalism awards, the Ethiopian authorities continue to insist that Reeyot Alemu and Eskinder Nega are terrorists. There is no doubt that their arrests and convictions were politically motivated and that their rights as journalists, who are constitutionally protected by freedom of the press, have been violated.

Last year, we had the honor of hosting the 2012 Courage in Journalism Award for the International Women’s Media Foundation. It was a moving, even glittering event. But there was one striking absence. Journalist Reeyot Alemu could not come to New York to receive her award because she is languishing in an Ethiopian prison.

Read more at IWMF.
—-
Related:
CPJ: Eritrea, Ethiopia, Egypt Among Worst Journalist Jailers (VOA News)
“Write for Rights” Campaign Launched for Journalist Eskinder Nega (Video)
International Rights Group Appeals for Release of Reporter Jailed for 18 Years (AP)
Ethiopia: A Lifeline to the World — Wire Interview With Birtukan Mideksa
Taking Eskinder Nega & Reeyot Alemu’s Case to African Court on Human Rights (TADIAS)
CPJ Special Report on the Obama Administration’s War on the Press (CPJ)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

CPJ: Eritrea, Ethiopia, Egypt Among Worst Journalist Jailers (Video)

Journalists Reeyot Alemu (above left), Woubshet Taye (Right) and Eskinder Nega are among those imprisoned in Ethiopia for their writing under Anti terrorism laws. (The Committee to Protect Journalists)

VOA News

By Marthe van der Wolf

ADDIS ABABA — The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says Eritrea, Ethiopia and Egypt have the highest number of imprisoned journalists on the African continent. The three countries are also on the worldwide top-ten list of worst journalist jailers.

A new survey released Wednesday by the Committee to Protect Journalists indicates 34 African journalists are in jails in northeast Africa.

Tom Rhodes, the group’s East Africa representative based in Nairobi, says the Horn of Africa is particularly problematic because the governments there do not tolerate dissent.

“I think they have been on this list year-in, year-out simply because of the governments’ lack of tolerance towards any kind criticism. Every time a reporter reports something critically, they throw them in jail,” he said.

In Ethiopia, seven of the 34 journalists are in jail. But the government here insists these reporters are imprisoned for violations of anti-terrorism laws, not because of their reporting.

Global rights groups, including Amnesty International, have been critical of these laws in Ethiopia and elsewhere, noting they are often misused to silence the media.

Egypt has cracked down on journalists since President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in July by the military.

And in Eritrea, 22 journalists are in prison; none of them were charged or brought before a court.

Rhodes says it is difficult to get reliable data from Eritrea.

“It is really a closed off country. It is considered the North Korea of Africa. That said, we mostly rely on exiled journalists, Eritreans who fled the country that tell us what’s going on,” he said.

Turkey tops the list of most imprisoned journalists, followed by Iran and China. Other countries in the top 10 list of CPJ’s worst journalist jailers are Vietnam, Syria, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan.

Worldwide a total of 211 journalists are currently imprisoned.

WATCH: CPJ Video East African Journalists in Exile


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Book: One Drop, but Many Views on Race

Tigist Selam is one of the contributors featured in the new book "(1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race."

The New York Times

By MAURICE BERGER

In the 2010 census — when respondents could check more than one racial group — President Obama, the son of a black African father and a white mother, checked a single box: “Black, African-American or Negro.” Mr. Obama himself was unequivocal about it: “I self-identify as African-American — that’s how I am treated and that’s how I am viewed. And I’m proud of it.”

Yet the president’s words are nuanced: While he opts to classify himself as black, he implies that his racial identity is also contingent on how he is seen and treated by others in a nation prone to racial absolutes, no matter how he sees himself.

Those observations are among the provocative arguments presented by Yaba Blay in (1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race (BLACKprint Press), which examine what it means to be black. In it, she demonstrates how racial identity is not just biological or genetic but also a matter of context and even personal choice. It is revealing that the president’s definitive answer came after years of being dogged by outside doubters who questioned not just his race, but also his very nationality.

Read more at The New York Times.

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The Story of a Girl Activist – Ethiopia

Hannah Godefa, 15: "I created a resource mobilization project called Pencil Mountain that has delivered over half a million school resources to Ethiopian children." (Guardian Professional)

The Guardian

When I was seven years old, I visited my parents’ rural hometown of Axum, and was staying with my grandmother. There was a young girl around my age there, and I became very good friends with her. Before I left, I wanted to keep in touch with her as a pen pal, but my parents explained to me that she did not have the pencils or materials to do so.

I knew in that moment that advocating for girls like me to have equal opportunities in education would be an important part of my life. I created a resource mobilisation project called Pencil Mountain that has delivered over half a million school resources to Ethiopian children.

Girls living in rural areas of Ethiopia are treated as an asset. A family values a girl for her ability to work. Girls do not have equal access to education with boys. There is a great disparity in literacy and if a parent has an opportunity to choose between sending a boy or girl to school, it is almost always the boy that is chosen.

The most difficult challenge I’ve faced is promoting this idea to rural communities where it a conflict of interest for community leaders. Tradition dictates that young girls at my age should be married, or stay home and support the family. It is not always easy to break through this mentality. However, the leadership in Ethiopia, and several NGOs have committed themselves to changing this longstanding mindset.

Read more at The Guardian.

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Israeli President Condemns Rejection of Ethiopian-born MP as Blood Donor

Shimon Peres says all citizens are equal and should be able to donate blood. Parliamentary session is called after 'special' blood of Ethiopian-born MP is rejected by emergency services. (Photo: Getty Images)

The Guardian

BY Harriet Sherwood

Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, has criticized the refusal of the country’s emergency medical services to accept a blood donation from an Ethiopian-born member of parliament on the grounds that it was a “special kind” of blood – a move that has prompted charges of racism.

Pnina Tamano-Shata, who has lived in Israel since she was three and served in the Israeli army, described the policy of rejecting blood donations from Israeli citizens born in Ethiopia as shameful and insulting.

The politician, who represented Israel at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in Johannesburg this week, was told by officials of Magen David Adom (MDA) that she had “the special kind of Jewish-Ethiopian blood” which could not be accepted by the medical service. They subsequently offered to take a blood donation, but said it would be frozen and not used in any medical procedure.

Read more at The Guardian.

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Most Dangerous Job in Ethiopia: Journalism

Eskinder Nega. (Image courtesy Amnesty International)

Mint Press News

By Les Neuhaus

Ethiopia is one of the most difficult countries in the world to work as a journalist. It has consistently been ranked among the highest oppressors of press freedoms by international organizations such as Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists. According to CPJ, Ethiopia currently has the second most number of jailed journalists (6) on the African continent (with neighboring Eritrea being number one [28]), and it is ranked eighth in the world for imprisoning journalists.

The problem became grave just before and after the 2005 elections, when nearly 200 people were gunned down by Ethiopian forces during violent protests. Several prominent local journalists were blamed for the unrest, which the government claimed was fomented by much of the press.

Since then, several international journalists have been arrested and detained for varying lengths of time, including New York Times East Africa Bureau Chief Jeffrey Gettleman, two freelance Swedish journalists – Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson, and many more. Local journalists who have been critical of the government have been caught in the dragnet of an “anti-terrorism” law passed in 2009 that is disguised as a way to control in-country media, and if “violated,” can mean imprisonment in harsh conditions.

One such journalist, Eskinder Nega, jailed for two years so far on trumped up terrorism charges, is serving an 18-year sentence. The government claims he was not jailed for being critical of the government, but for running a terrorist organization. On Wednesday Amnesty International issued an appeal to renew awareness for Nega’s release.

According to Amnesty’s report, Nega “was charged in 2011 after giving speeches and writing articles criticizing the government and supporting free speech. He is a prisoner of conscience.”

Read more at Mint Press News.

Related:
South African Novelist Zakes Mda: Ethiopia’s press clampdown like apartheid (Listen to Audio Below)

A33 INVITE AFRIQUE 08.11. “ZAKES MDA”

(05:52)

 
 

Chilling Messages on Media Freedom at African Media Leaders Forum (Daily Nation Kenya)
At African Media Leaders Forum in Addis, Press Freedom Isn’t Top Concern (VOA News)
Africans Tweet on Ethiopian Press Freedom at African Media Leaders Forum (Storify)
Addis Hosts African Media Leaders Forum (ERTA)
Africans Must Speak Up for Journalist Jailed in Ethiopia (The Guardian Africa Network)

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Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia Dam Talks ‘Successful’

Ethiopian Water Minister Alemayehu Tegenu (R) met with Sudan's Water Resources Minister Muattaz Salim (C) and Egyptian Water Minister Mohamed Muttalib (L) in Khartum, on Dec. 9, 2013. (AFP photo)

AFP

Khartoum – Water ministers from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan on Monday “successfully” held talks on an Ethiopian dam project, Sudan’s minister said, after Egypt’s objections delayed formation of a committee to implement expert advice.

Cairo fears the Grand Renaissance dam project could diminish its water supply.

“We have addressed a significant part of the issues on the follow-up of the implementation of the recommendations of the international panel of experts,” Sudan’s Water Resources and Electricity Minister, Muattaz Musa Abdallah Salim, said in a brief statement to reporters after the talks which lasted several hours.

At a meeting in Khartoum last month, ministers from the three nations failed to agree on the composition of the committee which would follow through on expert recommendations about the Grand Renaissance project, Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ali Karti said earlier.

The experts’ report has not been made public, but Ethiopia has said it confirms that the impact on water levels is minimal.

Cairo had sought more studies about the dam’s effect on its water supply, which is almost entirely dependent on the Nile.

Egypt wanted international representatives on the committee but Ethiopia preferred national delegates, Karti said after the ministers’ first meeting in early November.

Read more.
—-
Related:
Next on Egypt’s to-do: Ethiopia and the Nile (Al Jazeera)

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Touching Moments From Mandela’s Memorial Service (Video)

19 March 1990, Stockholm. (Photo courtesy © Chester Higgins, Jr.)

NBC News

By F. Brinley Bruton, Ghazi Balkiz and Lester Holt,

SOWETO, South Africa – Nelson Mandela was lauded as a “giant of history” and “one of the greatest leaders of our time” as tens of thousands cheered and almost 100 world leaders paid tribute to the anti-apartheid icon at a memorial service Tuesday.

Read more.

Watch: Touching moments from Mandela’s Memorial Service

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Video: World leaders praise ‘giant of history’ at memorial


Related:
Photographer Gediyon Kifle’s Tribute to Nelson Mandela
Mandela In Ethiopia: A Peacemaker’s Beginnings As Guerrilla Fighter
World Reflects on the Life of Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela: 1918 – 2013

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The Man Who Taught Mandela to Be a Soldier

General Tadesse Birru gave a pistol to Nelson Mandela as he returned to South Africa. (BBC News)

BBC Africa

By Penny Dale

Addis Ababa — In July 1962, Col Fekadu Wakene taught South African political activist Nelson Mandela the tricks of guerrilla warfare – including how to plant explosives before slipping quietly away into the night.

Mr Mandela was in Ethiopia, learning how to be the commander-in-chief of Umkhonto we Sizwe – the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC).

The group had announced its arrival at the end of 1961 by blowing-up electricity pylons in various places in South Africa.

Then on 11 January 1962, Mr Mandela had secretly, and illegally, slipped out of South Africa.

His mission was to meet as many African political leaders as possible and garner assistance for the ANC, including money and training for its military wing.

And to be moulded into a soldier himself.

During this trip, he visited Ethiopia twice and left a deep impression on those who met him during his stay in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Read more at BBC News.

Mandela In Ethiopia: A Peacemaker’s Beginnings As Guerrilla Fighter


In 1962, Mandela was issued an Ethiopian passport under the name David Motsamayi, which he used on his tour of several African countries. (Photo: Sheger media)

International Business Times

By Jacey Fortin

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Flags are flying at half-staff outside the African Union headquarters on Friday in honor of Nelson Mandela, whose death Thursday has the entire continent, and the world, in mourning. The activist, politician, scholar, husband, father and Nobel Peace Prize laureate fought against apartheid, a system of formalized segregation that saw black South Africans treated as third-class citizens, and helped to heal a fractured nation in the aftermath of minority rule.

“Nelson Mandela will be remembered as a symbol for wisdom, for the ability to change and the power of reconciliation,” AU Deputy Chairman Erasmus Mwencha told reporters here in Ethiopia’s capital city on Friday morning. “His life and legacy is the biggest lesson, motivation, inspiration and commitment any African can give to Africa.”

But Madiba, as Mandela was affectionately known, was not always a man of peace. Before he capped his career as South Africa’s first black president in 1994, before he spent 27 years imprisoned for his anti-apartheid activism, Mandela came to believe that violence was sometimes necessary in the fight for freedom. And it was in Ethiopia that the young Mandela received his first formal training in the art of guerrilla warfare.

At that time, Ethiopia was ruled by Emperor Haile Selassie, who had gained a reputation as a defender of African sovereignty. Mandela was a member of the African National Congress, a then-illegal organization that opposed apartheid in South Africa and is now the country’s ruling political party. He had founded the group Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), which would operate as the military wing of the ANC, in 1961. Mandela first traveled to Addis Ababa in 1962 to attend a pan-African summit as a representative of the ANC.

“Ethiopia has always held a special place in my own imagination, and the prospect of visiting Ethiopia attracted me more strongly than a trip to France, England, and America combined,” Mandela later wrote in his 1994 autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom.” “I felt I would be visiting my own genesis, unearthing the roots of what made me an African. Meeting His Highness, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, would be like shaking hands with history.” On his Ethiopian Airlines flight to Addis Ababa, Mandela was surprised to find a black pilot in the cockpit, the first he had ever seen.

Mandela went on to visit a host of African countries and meet with leading officials, but at the end of his international tour he returned to Ethiopia for military training. It didn’t last long; the young revolutionary was soon called back to South Africa, and in August 1962 he was arrested and thrown into a Johannesburg prison. He would spend the next 27 years behind bars at several different facilities until his final release in 1990.

Mandela’s visit to Ethiopia was a pivotal moment for many Ethiopians, including Merera Gudina, who now chairs the major political opposition coalition Medrek and still draws on South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle for inspiration.

“Mandela was hosted by one of our best known heroes, Gen. Tadesse Beru, who was at that time the commander of the Ethiopian special forces,” said Merera. “Even during the time of the emperor, people were supporting the cause of South Africans. South Africa was a part of the larger African anti-colonialist struggle.”

Read more.
—-
Related:
Touching Moments From Mandela’s Memorial Service (Video)
Photographer Gediyon Kifle’s Tribute to Nelson Mandela
World Reflects on the Life of Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela: 1918 – 2013

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World Reflects on the Life of Nelson Mandela (Reactions on Twitter)

Top left, Mandela casting his vote in the 1994 elections. Right, young Nelson Mandela in 1937. Bottom, De Klerk and Mandela shake hands at the World Economic Forum in 1992. (Photos: Creative Commons)

NPR

Nelson Mandela, who became an icon of the struggle for racial equality during a decades-long struggle against South Africa’s apartheid system, is being remembered across the globe on Thursday following his death at age 95.

Mandela died after a prolonged lung infection, which had been a recurring problem for him since his days as a prisoner of conscience on South Africa’s Robben Island. He served 27 years at the notorious jail.

“He is now resting. He is now at peace,” South African President Jacob Zuma said in an address to the nation.

Read more at NPR.

Below are a few reactions on Twitter.



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‘Sincerely, Ethiopia’: New Documentary Unveils Inspiring Tales From Ethiopia

The main characters in the film include Addisu of Adugna Community Dance Theatre, educator Biruktawit Tagesse, CNN Hero Yohannes Gebregeorgis, and founder of BCDA, Eden Gelan. (Courtesy photograph)

The Grio

To much of the world, Ethiopia, along with other large parts of Africa, is often depicted as a poverty-stricken, famine-saturated land crumbling from conflict.

To Ethiopian natives, the country is seen in a more honest and uplifting light that exposes the people’s strong sense of pride and the land’s transcendent beauty often reflected in its rich culture.

In fact, Ethiopia is Africa’s oldest independent country and the continent’s second-most-populous nation.

Its lush red soil is draped across its breathtaking landscapes and constructs the foundation of a country that is home to over 93 million people – many of whom do face the harsh realities aforementioned – yet carry on with a grounded sense of strength and courage.

Yet while the challenges Ethiopia has faced (and currently still tackles) are well documented, the admirable ability of its people to overcome hardships has often been overlooked – until now.

Budding filmmaker Nathan Araya has stepped in to fill that void with his latest documentary Sincerely, Ethiopia.

Araya, a 28-year-old Ethiopian-American, set out to tackle the public’s negative perceptions of his homeland by shifting his film’s focus to display a more positive portrayal of Ethiopian life and culture.

In doing so, Araya uncovered more of the country’s hidden gems, which he discovered were nestled in the inspiring narratives of eight Ethiopians who have dedicated their lives to addressing the country’s ongoing challenges.

“Growing up as an Ethiopian-American and being able to see what the media has portrayed about Ethiopia and their lack of knowledge, it has always been very negative,” Araya told theGrio. “The documentary was an opportunity for me to not to negate the negative images of Ethiopia but to provide another side to the story that the world has never seen.”

One man’s mission tells a nation’s story

Araya was born in Dallas, TX to Ethiopian parents and while he had never visited his homeland, he grew up in a household that celebrated the country’s rich traditions.

He also had a natural knack for media and earned a large following of fans and supporters over the years from various video skits he posted on You Tube.

Read more at The Grio.

Watch: Sincerely Ethiopia Documentary Trailer


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Ethiopia Hailed as ‘African Lion’ With Fastest Creation of Millionaires

Addis Ababa City View. (Photo: ketchum blog)

The Guardian

By David Smith, Africa correspondent

“Dawn. And as the sun breaks through the piercing chill of night on the plain outside Korem it lights up a biblical famine, now, in the 20th century. This place, say workers here, is the closest thing to hell on earth.”

That television news report by the BBC’s Michael Buerk in 1984 framed Ethiopia for a generation as a place of famine and in need of salvation.

Almost 30 years later the country is hailed by pundits as an “African lion” after a decade of stellar economic growth.

Now further evidence of its turnaround has arrived with research showing that Ethiopia is creating millionaires at a faster rate than any other country on the continent.

The number of dollar millionaires in the east African nation rose from 1,300 in 2007 to 2,700 by September this year, according to New World Wealth, a consultancy based in the UK and South Africa.

That figure puts the country well ahead of Angola, up by 68%, and Tanzania, which had a 51% increase. Zambia and Ghana completed the top five.

Read more at The Guardian.

Related:
Saudi Billionaire Al-Amoudi Plans Two Cement Plants in Ethiopia (Bloomberg News)
Zemedeneh Negatu Named Among 100 Most Influential Africans (New African Magazine)

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UPDATE: Jury Selection Starts In Dallas Couple’s Murder Case

Abey Belette Girma has been accused in the shooting deaths of a Dallas husband and wife who owned an Ethiopian restaurant in the Lower Greenville area. (credit: Arapahoe County Jail)

CBS

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Jury selection begins on Tuesday in Dallas for the man accused of killing a couple in front of their home more than one year ago. Abey Girma has now been arraigned and will soon be on trial for capital murder.

It was August of last year when police in Dallas found the couple — 40-year-old Yared Lemma and 31-year-old wife Yenni Desta — shot to death on the porch of their Lower Greenville home. The couple, investigators said, had just closed their Ethiopian restaurant, Desta. When they pulled up to their home, they were confronted by Girma.

Authorities said that Girma was a customer at the restaurant. According to a police report, Girma may have shot the couple because he felt as though they had disrespected him at some point.

Read more.

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Richfield, Minnesota Stabbing Victim Identified as Habibi Gessese Tesema

The death has been ruled a homicide, and authorities are still investigating. (Richfield Patch)

CBS Minnesota

RICHFIELD, Minn. (AP/WCCO) – Richfield police are investigating the death of a 48-year-old man.

Police say officers responded to a 911 call at about 5 a.m. Sunday, after the caller indicated an assault was in progress.

Lt. Mike Flaherty says officers found the victim with multiple puncture wounds. The victim, identified as Habibi Gessese Tesema, died at the scene.

Tesema died from multiple sharp force injuries and his manner of death has been ruled a homicide, according to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner.

Police say two people were transported to the police department for questioning. Another person was transported to the hospital, but will also be held for questioning.

Police say they are not looking for any additional suspects.

Neighbor Norman Holen says the family is from Ethiopia and moved to Richfield a few years ago. He says the man leaves behind a wife, two children and a sister who lived downstairs.



Medical Examiner Identifies Man Killed in Richfield Home Sunday (Richfield Patch)

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Saudi Billionaire Al-Amoudi Plans Two Cement Plants in Ethiopia

Mohammed Al Amoudi. (Photo: Forbes Magazine)

Bloomberg News

By William Davison

Saudi billionaire Mohammed al-Amoudi, the biggest private investor in Ethiopia, plans to build two more cement factories in the Horn of Africa nation amid an improving investment environment.

The plants will add to the $351 million facility al-Amoudi’s MIDROC Derba Cement opened in December 2011, the 67-year-old investor said in an interview today in the capital, Addis Ababa. Derba Group, an amalgam of three Ethiopian companies owned by al-Amoudi, plans to invest $3.4 billion in Ethiopia over the next 5 years, the company said in March 2012.

“Africa’s opportunity lies in involvement of private sector working with stable and responsible government like Ethiopia,” al-Amoudi said in a speech at the African High-Growth Markets Summit in Addis Ababa. Continuing improvements in the business climate will probably to lead to a “great” increase in investment, he said, without elaborating.

Ethiopian-born Al-Amoudi ranks as the world’s 134th richest person, with a net worth estimated at $8.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He is the second-richest person in Saudi Arabia, after Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. Ethiopia’s economy is projected to expand 7.5 percent next year, compared with an estimated 7 percent this year, the International Monetary Fund said in its World Economic Outlook in October.

Three farming companies owned by al-Amoudi developed 6,200 hectares (15,321 acres) of land in Ethiopia, al-Amoudi said. Elfora Agro-Industries, Horizon Plantations Ethiopia and Saudi Star Agricultural Development will have prepared an additional 160,000 hectares in the next 2 1/2 to 3 years.

“We are focusing on agriculture and industry,” he said.

Read more.

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Ethiopia, Kenya Win to Share Top Spot at Cecafa Challenge Cup Championship

(Getty Images)

AFP

Nairobi — Favourites Ethiopia and Kenya register identical 3-1 wins over Zanzibar and South Sudan Saturday to move level on points in Group A of the Cecafa Challenge Cup Championship.

Ethiopia dominated the first half with their attacking football as their strikers caused havoc with their pace.

Yassin Salah went close to giving them the lead after only two minutes but he shot agonisingly over the bar.

Three minutes later skipper Fasika Asfaw made no mistake when he tapped in the ball from close range.

The Ethiopians increased their lead in the 37th minute when Salahadin Bargicho, who proved a thorn in Zanzibar’s side, slotted home from the penalty spot after Manaye Fantu was fouled.

Read more.

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Ethiopia’s Renewable Energy Revolution

Last month Ethiopia opened The Ashegoda Wind Farm -- one of the continent's largest. (Photo courtesy Vergnet)

BBC News

30 November 2013

In Ethiopia the government has recently announced major deals that should massively increase the amount of electricity generated from renewable resources.

The BBC’s Emmanuel Igunza has been finding out how Ethiopia is leading Africa in the drive to exploit sustainable energy supplies.

Watch Africa Business Report.

Related:
Earth, wind and water: Ethiopia bids to be Africa’s powerhouse (CNN)

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Ethiopian Workers Forced Out of Saudi Arabia: What Awaits Them at Home?

Ethiopian police broke up a protest outside the Saudi embassy in Adds Ababa, Nov 15, 2013. (Photo: Yohannes Gebreegziabher)

Deutsche Welle

“I have witnessed terrible things,” one young man said at the airport in Addis Ababa after arriving from Saudi Arabia. “Saudi youth militias did bad things to us Ethiopians. They killed some of us, they kidnapped and raped women and then killed them as well.”

The man is one of around 50,000 Ethiopians who worked illegally in Saudi Arabia were arrested and deported in recent weeks. The government in Addis Ababa has so far officially confirmed the death of three of its citizens.

“In the deportation prison they gave us dry biscuits, water and 900 Ethiopian birr spending money [about 35 euros],” a young woman in the airport terminal said. “I was able to buy the pants I’m wearing, otherwise I have nothing. What will become of me?”

The statements of the mostly young men and women who were forced to leave Saudi Arabia are similar. Many told of violence and xenophobia that forced them to leave. Now the returnees said they are worried about their future in Ethiopia, which is still one of the poorest countries in the world.

No one knows how many Ethiopians are living illegally in Saudi Arabia, government spokesman Getachew Reda told DW. The Foreign Ministry in Addis Ababa, estimated the number of returnees to be 80,000, and the number of people deported from Saudi Arabia is expected to grow.

Defenseless migrants

Until now, Ethiopia has only seen a mass exodus of its citizens: Each year, tens of thousands of young girls leave the country to earn their living in Saudi Arabia or in the neighboring Gulf states as maids or babysitters. The labor ministry estimates 200,000 women left the country in search of work in 2012 alone.

Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, and the International Labor Organization have documented how migrant workers are exposed to physical violence, unhealthy working conditions and discrimination in Arab countries. They blame the “kafala” or “sponsorship” system, which, has also been criticized in connection with human rights violations in Qatar, host country of soccer’s 2022 World Cup.

The system requires all foreign unskilled laborers to have a sponsor, generally their employer. Because the employer is responsible for their visa and legal status, workers are at their employer’s mercy. Human Rights Watch recently charged that employers have extraordinary power over the lives of these employees, who thus have no right to organize or bargain collectively.

Dreary jobs for Saudis, too

Behind the recent escalation in the traditionally close relationship between Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia is the high unemployment rate of over 12 percent in the kingdom. The comprehensive campaign against illegal aliens is meant to free up service jobs, which had almost entirely been performed by foreigners, for Saudi citizens. Until recently, there were 9 million foreign workers living among 27 million Saudis.

However, the campaign of deportations quickly spiraled out of control. Deportees reported that the authorities and Saudi citizens had resorted to violence. In Manfuha, the run-down immigrant neighborhood of Riyadh, Ethiopians armed with knives, stones and bottles fought street battles with Saudi youth militias and security forces, leading to deaths on both sides.

One hand doesn’t wash the other

The Ethiopian government is attempting a balancing act between indignation and quiet diplomacy. A demonstration in front of the Saudi Embassy in Addis Ababa was broken up by force. Saudi Arabia is one of Ethiopia’s largest trading partners and investors. Every year thousands of Muslim pilgrims also travel from Ethiopia to Islamic holy sites in Saudi Arabia.

“Was it not the Prophet himself, who sent his followers into exile in Ethiopia to bring them to safety there?” enraged Ethiopians asked in chat forums, referring to the historical ties between the two countries. “Do you show your gratitude by allowing Ethiopians to be mistreated?” they asked the Saudi king in a petition.

The mass repatriation is not just a burden on the cash-strapped Ethiopian treasury: The cost of bringing its citizens home is estimated at nearly 2 million euros. The economic damage is likely to be even higher due to the loss of remittances from tens of thousands of Ethiopians abroad, according to Addis Ababa economist Getachew Belete.

“Every day, ten planes land here with returnees,” Belete said. “Each of these people supported families at home. A worker in Saudi Arabia feeds an average of five family members in Ethiopia.”

In the face of high unemployment, Getachew said he feared many of the returning women could turn to prostitution – social dynamite in deeply religious and conservative Ethiopia.

But a young woman who has just arrived at the airport in Addis Ababa has other plans. “We’ll wait for now until the dust has settled, and then we’ll go back to Saudi Arabia, but this time with legal status,” she said.

The Ethiopian government has imposed a six-month ban on traveling to Saudi Arabia. But like hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians, she prefers the possibility of exploitation and violence in the Middle East to poverty in Ethiopia.

Read more news at DW.

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Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Labor Crackdown Drives Out 2 Million Migrants

Ethiopians in Rome protest killing of migrants in Saudi Arabia on November 19th, 2013. (Photo: Demotix)

The Guardian

By Ian Black

Riyadh — Under the watchful eyes of Saudi policemen slouched in their squad cars along a rundown street, little knots of Ethiopian men sit chatting on doorsteps and sprawl on threadbare grass at one of Riyadh’s busiest junctions. These are tense, wary times in Manfouha, a few minutes’ drive from the capital’s glittering towers and swanky shopping malls.

Manfouha is the bleak frontline in Saudi Arabia’s campaign to get rid of its illegal foreign workers, control the legal ones and help get more of its own citizens into work. This month two or three Ethiopians were killed here after a raid erupted into full-scale rioting.

Keeping their distance from the officers parked every few hundred metres, the Ethiopians look shifty and sound nervous. “Of course I have an iqama [residence permit],” insisted Ali, a gaunt twentysomething man in cheap leather jacket and jeans. “I wouldn’t be standing here if I hadn’t.”

But he didn’t have the document on him. And his story, in broken Arabic, kept changing: he was in the process of applying for one; actually, no, his kafeel (sponsor) had it. It didn’t sound as if it would convince the police or passport inspection teams prowling the neighbourhood.

Until recently, of the kingdom’s 30 million residents, more than nine million were non-Saudis. Since the labour crackdown started in March, one million Bangladeshis, Indians, Filipinos, Nepalis, Pakistanis and Yemenis have left. And the campaign has moved into higher gear after the final deadline expired on 4 November, with dozens of repatriation flights now taking place every day. By next year, two million migrants will have gone.

Read more at The Guardian.
—-
Watch: VOA’s Straight Talk Africa on The Ethiopian Migrant Crisis in Saudi Arabia (Video)


Related:
Saudi Arabia Deports 50,000 Ethiopian Workers (SKY News)
50000 Ethiopian Workers in Saudi Arabia Sent Home (AFP)
Week Three: Ethiopians Rally in Portland Against Saudi Abuse of Migrants


Ethiopian rallies urge end to mistreatment of migrants in Saudi Arabia (The Denver Post)
Beyond Outrage: How the African Diaspora Can Support Migrant Workers (Huffington Post)
Photos: Ethiopians Hold Protest at Saudi Embassy in Los Angeles (TADIAS)


Photos: NYC Ethiopians Make Presence Felt at the Saudi Mission to the United Nations (TADIAS)


Ethiopians march in downtown Dallas to protest abuse in Saudi Arabia (Dallas News)
Sioux Falls, South Dakota: Ethiopians Protest Killings In Saudi Arabia (KDLT News)
Ethiopians demonstrate outside Saudi embassy in London (BBC News)
Canada: Ethiopian community protests working conditions in Saudi Arabia (CTV News)
The Ethiopian Migrant Crisis in Saudi Arabia: Taking Accountability (TADIAS)
Tadias Interview With Rima Kalush: Migrant-Rights Org Seeks Long Term Solutions
Ethiopians Continue Peaceful Protests Against Migrant Abuse in Saudi Arabia (TADIAS)

Photos: Ethiopians Hold Protest Outside Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. (TADIAS)


Ethiopians: #SomeoneTellSaudiArabia to Stop Crackdown (Global Voices)
First group of Ethiopians from Saudi arrive in Addis (ERTA)
23,000 Ethiopians ‘Surrender’ in Saudi After Clamp Down (BBC)
Three Ethiopians Killed in Saudi Arabia Visa Crackdown (AFP)
Ethiopian Domestic Help Abuse Headlines From the Middle East (TADIAS)
Changing Ethiopia’s Media Image: The Case of People-Trafficking (TADIAS)
Video: Ethiopian migrants tell of torture and rape in Yemen (BBC)
Video: Inside Yemen’s ‘torture camps’ (BBC News)
BBC Uncovers Untold People-Trafficking, Torture of Ethiopians in Yemen (TADIAS)
Meskerem Assefa Advocates for Ethiopian Women in the Middle East (TADIAS)
In Memory of Alem Dechassa: Reporting & Mapping Domestic Migrant Worker Abuse
Photos: Vigil for Alem Dechassa Outside Lebanon Embassy in D.C.
The Plight of Ethiopian Women in the Middle East: Q & A With Rahel Zegeye

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

VOA’s Straight Talk Africa on The Saudi Migrant Crisis (Video)

VOA's Shaka Ssali hosts a call-in program that examines topics of special interest to Africans. (VOA News)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) — In the following video aired on Wednesday, November 27th Voice of America’s Straight Talk Africa program, hosted by Shaka Ssali, highlights the ongoing Ethiopian migrant crisis in Saudi Arabia. Thus far, according to the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, more than 50,000 workers have been deported back to Ethiopia. Authorities say the final number could be in the upwards of 80,000.

Watch: Voice of America — Straight Talk Africa Wed, 27 Nov


Related:
Saudi Arabia Deports 50,000 Ethiopian Workers (SKY News)
50000 Ethiopian Workers in Saudi Arabia Sent Home (AFP)
Week Three: Ethiopians Rally in Portland Against Saudi Abuse of Migrants


Ethiopian rallies urge end to mistreatment of migrants in Saudi Arabia (The Denver Post)
Beyond Outrage: How the African Diaspora Can Support Migrant Workers (Huffington Post)
Photos: Ethiopians Hold Protest at Saudi Embassy in Los Angeles (TADIAS)


Photos: NYC Ethiopians Make Presence Felt at the Saudi Mission to the United Nations (TADIAS)


Ethiopians march in downtown Dallas to protest abuse in Saudi Arabia (Dallas News)
Sioux Falls, South Dakota: Ethiopians Protest Killings In Saudi Arabia (KDLT News)
Ethiopians demonstrate outside Saudi embassy in London (BBC News)
Canada: Ethiopian community protests working conditions in Saudi Arabia (CTV News)
The Ethiopian Migrant Crisis in Saudi Arabia: Taking Accountability (TADIAS)
Tadias Interview With Rima Kalush: Migrant-Rights Org Seeks Long Term Solutions
Ethiopians Continue Peaceful Protests Against Migrant Abuse in Saudi Arabia (TADIAS)

Photos: Ethiopians Hold Protest Outside Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. (TADIAS)


Ethiopians: #SomeoneTellSaudiArabia to Stop Crackdown (Global Voices)
First group of Ethiopians from Saudi arrive in Addis (ERTA)
23,000 Ethiopians ‘Surrender’ in Saudi After Clamp Down (BBC)
Three Ethiopians Killed in Saudi Arabia Visa Crackdown (AFP)
Ethiopian Domestic Help Abuse Headlines From the Middle East (TADIAS)
Changing Ethiopia’s Media Image: The Case of People-Trafficking (TADIAS)
Video: Ethiopian migrants tell of torture and rape in Yemen (BBC)
Video: Inside Yemen’s ‘torture camps’ (BBC News)
BBC Uncovers Untold People-Trafficking, Torture of Ethiopians in Yemen (TADIAS)
Meskerem Assefa Advocates for Ethiopian Women in the Middle East (TADIAS)
In Memory of Alem Dechassa: Reporting & Mapping Domestic Migrant Worker Abuse
Photos: Vigil for Alem Dechassa Outside Lebanon Embassy in D.C.
The Plight of Ethiopian Women in the Middle East: Q & A With Rahel Zegeye

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

50,000 Ethiopian Workers in Saudi Arabia Sent Home

Ethiopians hold protest in Paris on November 21st, 2013 against Saudi abuse of migrants. (Photo: AFP)

AFP

Addis Ababa — Ethiopia has flown home over 50,000 citizens in Saudi Arabia after a crackdown against illegal immigrants in the oil-rich state, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.

“We projected the initial number to be 10,000 but it is increasing,” foreign ministry spokesman Dina Mufti told AFP, adding that the final total once the mass airlift ends is now expected to be around 80,000.

Ethiopia started repatriating citizens living illegally in Saudi Arabia after a seven-month amnesty period to formalise their status expired on November 4, sparking violent protests between Saudi police and Ethiopian migrants preparing to leave the country.

The Ethiopian government said three of its citizens were killed in clashes.

Dina said the government is spending $2.6 million (1.9 million euros) on the repatriation programme to bring citizens home, the majority women.

Ethiopia has said relations with Saudi Arabia remain “sisterly”, with Dina saying the government’s main priority was to bring citizens home.

“We are focussing on the repatriation… we have not evaluated that one, we have not assessed that,” he said, referring to Ethio-Saudi ties.

Large numbers of Ethiopians — often women seeking domestic work — travel to the Middle East each year looking for jobs.

Around 200,000 women sought work abroad in 2012, according to Ethiopia’s ministry of labour and social affairs.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) said many face physical and mental abuse, low pay, discrimination and poor working conditions.

Reports of mistreatment of Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia has sparked outrage in Ethiopia.

In an emotional speech this month, Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom said the government was in “around the clock crisis management” mode trying to bring citizens back.

With 91 million citizens, Ethiopia is Africa’s most populous country after Nigeria, but also one of the continent’s poorest, with the majority of people earning less than two dollars a day.

Around 27 percent of women and 13 percent of men are unemployed, according to the ILO.

Related:
Saudi Arabia Deports 50,000 Ethiopian Workers (SKY News)

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A Horrific Night in Texas: 57-Year Old Father Stabs Daughter, Burns Self (Video)

A woman was stabbed to death and her father is hospitalized after police say he set himself on fire. The victim has been identified as 23-year old Danait Kidane and her father is Mulugeta Tirfe. (KRISTV)

KRIS TV

By Caroline Flores

CORPUS CHRISTI – It all began just after 7:00 after police received a call about a family disturbance on Ransom Island Drive in Flour Bluff. When officers arrived, tirfe drove off and officers found his daughter.. with stab wounds inside the home. She was taken to the hospital where she later died. Her father was later found inside his burning car at the Walmart on SPID and Greenwood.

Due to serious burn injuries Kidane’s 57-year old father was flown to the US Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center in San Antonio. He is in critical but stable condition. Six News was able to find a woman who got video on her cell phone of Mulugeta Tirfe’s car going up in flames.

“It was like a horror movie! Like he came out and he was all in flames and screaming for help,” said Nancy Ramirez the woman who got the cell phone video.

But what led up to the fire, witnesses on Ransom Island Drive say, is just as much of a horror story.

“We heard screaming and fighting and like slamming and stuff. And they’re on the phone saying that she’s dead. Like we need the cops here now. And they were freaking out,” said Nastassia Abshire who was on Ransom Island Dr. the night of the murder.

Police believe that is when Mulugeta Tirfe stabbed his daughter to death. Witnesses say he drove away before police arrived. What happened next, Ramirez says is something she will never forget.

“It sounded like intentionally. Like he had planned it. Like he did it himself. Because there is no way! I mean the vehicle was just parked there for a while and all we heard was a pop sound and we were like where’s that coming from,” said Ramirez.

A second later she says she learned where, Tirfe’s car. She says the car was covered in flames. Then, she saw Tirfe.

“I mean he was just completely in flames. He didn’t… I mean… On fire and then finally he got out and then started screaming for help,” said Ramirez.

At that time she called police. Officers showed up, then realized he was the man they were looking for. Investigators say Tirfe did intentionally set his car on fire in attempts to kill himself.

Tirfe has not been charged with his daughter’s murder, as police have not been able to question him yet.

Video: 57-Year Old Father Stabs Daughter, Burns Self (KRIS TV)


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Police: Father Was Shooter in Maryland Murder-suicide

Authorities found Benyam "Ben" Asefa, 40, Barbara Giomarelli, 42, and 3-month-old Samuel Asefa dead in Frederick County, Md., but miraculously, a 5-year-old girl survived and alerted police to shooting. (NYDN)

Associated Press

FREDERICK, Md. — The father was the shooter in a murder-suicide last week that left him, his wife and infant son dead in their home near New Market, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office said Monday.

Benyam Asefa, 40, and his wife Barbara Giomarelli, 42, started arguing Wednesday evening as she gave their 5-year-old daughter a bath, said Capt. Tim Clarke.

They took their disagreement downstairs, where Asefa shot Giomarelli with a registered, 9 mm handgun, Clarke said. The bullet passed through Giomarelli and killed their 3-month-old son Samuel Asefa in his mother’s arms, Clarke said.

Asefa then shot himself, Clarke said.

The little girl got dressed, went downstairs and saw the scene, then sought help from a neighbor, who called 911, Clarke said.

He said the bodies of Giomarelli and Samuel were found in the kitchen. Asefa’s body was found in an adjacent living room.

Investigators don’t know what the argument was about, Clarke said. He said investigators have learned about previous domestic problems, but police weren’t aware of them.

Clarke said Asefa, a native of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, lost his job as a contract worker at a National Institutes of Health laboratory in Frederick Sept. 30, when the position was eliminated to cut costs.

Giomarelli, a native of Siena, Italy, had worked at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

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Media Legal Defense Initiative Launched for Eskinder Nega & Reeyot Alemu (Video)

If Eskinder's conviction is not quashed, his seven year old son will be an adult before he is released.

Indie Voices

Eskinder Nega is serving an 18 year prison sentence for writing an article that posed the question: could an Arab Spring-like movement take place in Ethiopia? This is the eighth time in his 20 year career that he has been imprisoned simply for doing his job. If Eskinder’s conviction is not quashed. His seven year old son will be an adult before he is released.

Reeyot Alemu is a teacher and a freelance journalist, sentenced to 5 years in prison on trumped up charges of ‘terrorism’. She wrote about poverty, minority rights and mismanagement of funds on large government projects, including a hydroelectric dam. There is serious concern about her health and she has suffered from mistreatment while incarcerated. The prison authorities refuse visits with her fiancé and her sister. In 2013, whilst in prison, she received the World Press Freedom Award.



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Ethiopia’s Farm Investment Plans Falter on Flood Plain

Employees at a Saudi Star Agricultural Development Plc rice farm work in a paddy in Gambella, Ethiopia, on March 22, 2012. (Getty Images)

Bloomberg News

By William Davison

Gleaming Deere & Co. (DE) tractors and harvesters are sitting idle five years after Karuturi Global Ltd. (KARG) opened a farm in Ethiopia that was hailed as the poster child of the country’s plan to triple food exports by 2015.

Eighty percent of the Bangalore-based company’s land in the southwestern Gambella region is on a flood plain, meaning its 100,000-hectare (247,100-acre) concession is inundated by the Baro River for as much as seven months of the year, according to Managing Director Ramakrishna Karuturi. The company was unaware of the extent of the flooding when it leased the land, he said.

“Karuturi, like many other large-scale investors, underestimated the complexity of opening land for large-scale commercial agriculture,” Philipp Baumgartner, a researcher at the Bonn, Germany-based Center for Development Research who wrote a doctoral thesis on agriculture in Gambella, said in a Nov. 20 response to e-mailed questions. “The land leased out wasn’t properly assessed by either of the contracting parties.”

Karuturi, the world’s biggest rose grower, was one of the first companies to take advantage of a government plan to lease 3.3 million hectares (8.2 million acres) of farmland to private investors.

Read more.

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Have UK Businesses Missed the Train in Ethiopia?

The railway will link Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa with Djibouti on the coast. (BBC)

BBC News

By James Jeffrey

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — Across the Ethiopian countryside 2,000km (1,243 miles) of railway is being built, the first phase of an endeavour to create a new 5,000km network.

Currently no British companies are involved, despite Ethiopia approaching the UK for assistance at the start, and the project being constructed according to official UK railway industry standards.

The centrepiece of the new rail system is the planned line between Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, and the neighbouring country of Djibouti.

So far about a quarter of the preparation work has been completed on this key route, which will enable land-locked Ethiopia to access Djibouti City’s port on the Horn of Africa coast.

Meanwhile in Addis Ababa, construction of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) – similar to London’s Docklands Light Railway – will give the capital its first mass transit system, transforming mobility in a city where nearly 90% of the population travel on foot, or by squeezing in to buses and taxis.

Both projects began in early 2012 and are joint ventures between the Ethiopian government and Chinese companies that successfully bid for the $3.3bn (£2.2bn) Addis-Djibouti contract, and the $500m LRT project.

Read more at BBC.

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Mulatu Astatke’s New Album

(Image: Cover of Mulatu Astatke's new album: Sketches of Ethiopia -- Jazz Village)

Chicago Reader

Ethio-jazz pioneer Mulatu Astatke returned to action recently with the release of Sketches of Ethiopia (Jazz Village), an impressive outing—cut with some of London’s best improvisers—that embraces “jazz” as more than just flavoring. It’s his first album with international distribution. His backing band here is dubbed the Steps Ahead Band, which thankfully has nothing to do with Michael Brecker’s fusion band of the same name—this one includes folks like bassist John Edwards, trumpeter Byron Wallen, and pianist Alexander Hawkins. The record opens with one of its most traditional-sounding tracks, “Azmari,” which was written by Astatke’s longtime colleague and collaborator, Boston reedist Russ Gershon of Either/Orchestra fame. The knotty track is graced by the leader’s crystalline vibraphone and the brittle twang of traditional Ethiopian string instruments like the krar and masinko (played, respectively, by Messale Asmamow and Idris Hassun). From there on out the album stretches stylistically, liberally borrowing this and that.

“Gamo” is one of several songs featuring the gruff singing of Tesfaye, but the sweet-toned kora licks of Kandia Kora lend it a pan-African air. “Hager Fiker,” which is a traditional tune from Astatke’s homeland, gets a heavy jazz treatment, with a deep upright-bass groove from Edwards, percolating hand percussion, and a lyric, halting vibe solo from the leader, as well as dueling improvisations between James Arben on flute and Yohanes Afwork on end-blown wood instrument the washint, regularly prodded by sleek, swerving horn arrangements. You can check it out below.

“Gambella,” another song with Tesfaye, pushes toward a spiritual jazz vibe, while “Assosa Derache” is decidedly moody and subdued, reaching toward a brief post-Miles Davis spaciness in its final minutes before resuming a head-nodding groove. (I don’t think the album title’s closeness to the Davis/Gil Evans collaboration Sketches of Spain is accidental.) The album stumbles on “Gumuz,” which gives a glossy contemporary treatment to another traditional pieces from the titular Ethiopian tribe—the treacly electric keyboards and the George Benson-styled guitar interjections of guest Jean-Baptiste Saint-Martin sap all the life out of the performance. The limpid cello that opens “Motherland Abay” amid cascading piano, oboe, and kora gives the piece an almost Chinese-sounding serenity (partly due to the pentatonic scale), but then a soulful bass ostinato opens up and Wallen takes a lovely Harmon-muted solo to clearly summon the spirit of Davis. The album closes with a collaboration with the great Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara, and her presence—she cowrote the song “Surma” with Astatke—pulls the song toward West Africa.

Read more.



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As African Tech Hubs Flourish, Is Ethiopian Government Stifling Telecommunications?

Ermias, 23 (left) and Abiy, 24, collaborate at IceAddis, a tech hub in Addis Ababa. Both hope to launch web-based enterprises, but are constricted by poor connectivity in the capital city. Nov. 15, 2013. (IBT)

International Business Times

By Jacey Fortin

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — I should have known my Wednesday morning phone interview wouldn’t go well.

The mobile reception in my neighborhood had been spotty for days preceding my call with Andrew Rugege, the director of the Africa Regional Office at the International Telecommunications Union. I wanted to talk about information communications technology, or ICT, across the African continent — and here in Ethiopia particularly — to learn how developing countries are using technology to encourage economic growth.

But just as Rugege began to speak, the line went dead. I called back, but promptly lost the signal again. By the end of our talk, we’d had to reconnect seven times.

I had first met Rugege at a conference the week before, when he presented the findings of “Measuring the Information Society,” ITU’s annual report that tracks and compares ICT progress in countries around the world. Speaking in front of journalists, techies and international diplomats in a ballroom at Addis Ababa’s Sheraton Hotel, Rugege had a positive prognosis for the continent. “I’m very optimistic about Africa and the potential that ICT holds for us,” he said. “What countries on this continent are doing for e-commerce, for e-agriculture, for e-education — it’s phenomenal.”

Connectivity across the continent is indeed getting better, and African countries are making some of the biggest leaps in terms of mobile and Internet penetration. But growth is easier when you’re starting from a low base — of the 157 countries surveyed in ITU’s ICT Development Index, the worst-ranking 22 are all African.

Ethiopia in particular is lagging behind. Ethio Telecom, the sole telecommunications provider in the country, is owned by the government, which has no plans to open up the sector to private competition. The country came in 40th out of the 46 African nations included in the ITU report and has an Internet penetration rate of less than 2 percent, despite being home to the continent’s second-largest population, the biggest economy in East and Central Africa, and a fast-developing capital city that hosts the African Union and a number of international summits.

“Although Ethiopia’s ranking is very low, there’s a lot of activity in Addis, and these issues happen when you have very steep growth,” Rugege said during our intermittent phone conversation. “I know the government is making efforts to alleviate these problems.”

Read more.

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Ethiopia and Egypt Meet on Nile Issue

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn (pictured above in file photo) met today with Egyptian president Adly Mansour, in Kuwait. The PM rejected Mansour's proposal to be part of Ethiopia's Nile dam project. (AP)

Al Jazeera

The Egyptian and Ethiopian leaders have met for the first time to discuss tensions over Ethiopia’s construction of a huge hydropower dam on the river Nile but the meeting ended without any agreement, sources said.

The Egyptian interim president, Adly Mansour, and Ethiopia’s prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, met on Tuesday on the sidelines of an Afro-Arab Summit in Kuwait, sources familiar with the meeting told Al Jazeera.

It was the first meeting between leaders of the two countries over the Grand Renaissance Dam since the deposed Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, met Hailemariam in May.

Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile in May to build what will be Africa’s largest dam when it is finished in 2017. Thirty percent of its construction has already been completed, according to Ethiopia. The hydropower station will have a 6,000-megawatt capacity when finished.

Egypt, almost totally dependent on the river, fears the dam could diminish its water supply. Ethiopia, which hopes the hydropower dam will boost its economy through power exports, has said there will be no major impact.

The sources said the Egyptian side had requested the meeting to “negotiate” over the project but that nothing was agreed.

Hailemariam, a source said, rejected a request from Mansour that he be involved in discussons about the project.

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Related:
Ethiopia rejects Egypt’s request to build Renaissance Dam jointly (Egyptian Independent)

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Women in Art 2013: Julie Mehretu

Julie Mehretu. (Photo Credit: ©Sarah Rentz)

Elle Magazine

In September, Julie Mehretu was in Moscow to show, among other pieces, a 24-foot-long abstract painting. It’s mostly white, yet quite eventful, shot through with inky flares, charging vectors, meandering loops, and staccato daubs of dark paint interrupted by washes of bright color. It’s a glorious, complex puzzle; standing before it is a little like walking into speeding traffic.

Like most of her work, the painting suggests the topography and temperature of a large, densely populated city. “It’s based on the architecture of Cairo’s Tahrir Square,” the Acne jeans–clad 43-year-old explains, before taking another trip, this time to escort one of the two young children she has with the artist Jessica Rankin to the bathroom of the family’s Harlem carriage house. The match with Rankin is a “creative project” itself, she says. “A relationship with two artists is its own making.”

Since 2000, when her work had its first major public appearance, in a group show at MoMA PS1, Mehretu’s career has been meteoric—or it would be, if her paintings didn’t take so long to make. Mural, commissioned by Goldman Sachs for the lobby of its Lower Manhattan tower, is enormous for a painting—23 by 80 feet—and required three years to complete.

Read more Elle magazine.

Related:
Tadias Interview with Julie Mehretu: Celebrating Women’s History Month 2012

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World Cup 2014: Nigeria Beat Ethiopia to Book Berth in Brazil

(Getty Images)

BBC Sport

Continental champions Nigeria became the first African side to qualify for the 2014 World Cup after beating Ethiopia 2-0 in Calabar on Saturday.

Goals from Victor Moses and Victor Obinna sealed a comfortable victory and a 4-1 aggregate win.

Moses converted from the penalty spot after Aynalem Hailu was harshly adjudged to have handled in the area.

Substitute Obinna cemented victory when his long-range free-kick deceived Sisay Bancha in the Ethiopia goal.

Read more at BBC.

Related:
Ivory Coast qualify for Brazil 2014 (BBC Sport)
Nigeria vs. Ethiopia: World Cup Playoff Highlights, Recap (Bleacher Report)
Nigeria v Ethiopia: Blow-by-blow account (KickOff.com)

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Severe Flooding in Saudi Capital Riyadh Claims Several Lives

Severe flooding in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia has killed at least three people. The government has ordered schools to be closed and is urging the city's residents to stay indoors. (Photo: RT)

Gulf News

By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief

The heavy rains that have been lashing the Saudi capital have claimed at least three lives, according to civil defence officials in Riyadh on Sunday.

Two men and one woman died in the floods caused by the rains on Saturday, a civil defence official was quoted as saying in Saudi news site Sabq, adding that the search was ongoing for those reported missing.

“There were 5,015 reports of incidents out of which 4,968 were in Riyadh, and 47 in the provinces,” said the spokesperson for the civil defence, Captain Mohammad Al Hammadi.

“98 trapped people were rescued,” he said, adding that three people were reported missing in Riyadh.

Civil defence teams had recovered 148 waters that had been submerged in water, out of which 101 were in Riyadh.

The rain reportedly caused damage to public and private property. The damage became apparent on Saturday as the bad weather eased.

Schools in Riyadh and some of its suburbs were closed on Sunday as the authorities worked on reopening roads shut down due to heavy rains.

The education ministry said that it decided to shut down the schools “due to the weather conditions and to the expected rains,” the official news agency (SPA) reported.

Read more at Gulf News.

Video: Saudi Capital Riyadh Hit With Rare Floods, Residents Urged to Stay Indoors

Al-Arabiya English

Heavy rainfall flooded Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh late Saturday, disrupting road traffic and prompting authorities to close schools.

Saudi Arabia’s Civil Defense urged people in Riyadh to remain indoors until the floodwater subsides.

Pictures and videos circulated on social media showed the streets of Riyadh, a city of about 5 million people, flooded.

Road traffic and normal life was brought to a near halt in the usually bustling capital, Al Arabiya television reported.

The correspondent said security and civil defense forces were heavily mobilized in the capital to deal with any emergencies that may arise.

Read more at Al-Arabiya.

Related:
Saudi capital hit with rare floods, residents urged to stay indoors (RT)
Crazy photos are coming out of Saudi Arabia After rain leaves capital flooded (Business Insider)
Heavy rains lash Riyadh (Arab News)

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United Nations Rejects AU Bid to Halt Kenya Leaders’ ICC Trials

Kenyatta, right, and Ruto stand accused of fomenting post-election violence which killed 1,100 people [Reuters]

BBC News

New York — The UN Security Council has rejected an attempt to suspend the trials of Kenya’s president and vice-president at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

A resolution had been proposed by African states to suspend the trial of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto for a year.

Eight of the 15 council members abstained and the motion did not pass.

Both men face charges over violence following the disputed 2007 election, which left some 1,200 people dead.

The resolution was proposed by Rwanda and seven members of the Security Council – including Russia and China – voted in favour.

However, nine votes are needed for a resolution to be successful at the council.

The resolution had been widely expected to fail, the BBC’s Nick Bryant reports from the UN in New York.

Read more at BBC.

Related:
Most Kenyans want their president to be tried at Hague for vote violence crimes, poll finds (AP)

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