Saudi investors say Ethiopian govt officials ‘robbed’ them
Source: Arab News
RIYADH: Saudi investors have accused some Ethiopian government officials of robbing them of their land and equipment.
Mohammed Al-Shehri, who leads a body of investors in the African country, claimed that certain Ethiopian officials falsely accused him and others of criminal activities so that they could confiscate their property.
Al-Shehri was quoted as saying in a local publication that the alleged corruption was rife in certain areas, with some investors imprisoned and accused of forgery, and not allowed to bring their equipment back to Saudi Arabia.
He said that all farming operations of Saudi citizens in Ethiopia had come to a virtual standstill six years after their inception. The African country had failed to live up to promises made to investors, he said.
Al-Shehri said that 50 percent of Saudi investors in Ethiopia have left the country, some leaving behind their farms and others selling them. He said many do not want to return there because they fear being framed for crimes they did not commit.
He said that the investors have contacted the foreign ministries of both countries but have yet to get a response on the allegations. Saudi investors were facing similar problems in other countries, including Sudan, he claimed.
Joys and surprises of watching Liverpool and Arsenal in Ethiopia (for 45p)
Premier League’s reach is underlined by hundreds in Lalibela – around 20% of the adult male population – following the matches on a public TV every Saturday
José Mourinho swept a disgusted arm through the air, spun on his heel and disappeared down the tunnel, furious at Chelsea conceding an equaliser to Liverpool well into the third minute of first-half injury time. The majority of the 90 or so people packed into the courtyard of the Sebli Cafe laughed. Outside, a mule trotted past, followed by a man carrying the hide of a skinned goat on a stick. Smoke drifted across the doorway from the charcoal of the woman warming a coffee pot outside the cafe next door.
It’s easy to become cynical about the Premier League’s claim to be the greatest league in the world. When clubs claim to have hundreds of millions of fans in Africa or Asia, based on some spurious research on Facebook, it’s become customary – and reasonable – to mock. But it’s also easy to be blind to just how much interest there is worldwide in the Premier League.
When I arranged to watch Chelsea’s game against Liverpool with Kassahul, the manager of a restaurant in Lalibela, Ethiopia, I was imagining a television stuck in the corner of a cafe or bar. The Sebli, though, is one of three football cafes in Lalibela: it has two TVs and walls covered in photographs of Arsenal and Manchester United players, it lines up its plastic chairs in rows and charges 10 birr (30p) entry.
To those used to watching in a British pub, the atmosphere is strangely sedate. There is a rapt focus on the screen. Barely anyone seems to be drinking – and those who are, are on soft drinks.
Chelsea’s opener provokes a polite ripple of applause; the Liverpool equaliser a response only slightly more raucous. At half-time, everyone piles outside, partly to urinate in the ditch on the other side of the road; partly to chat to those watching in the Sebli’s back room or in the cafe next door. I would guess there were around 200 spectators in the two cafes, all youngish men, with a handful of kids clustering in the doorway so they could get some kind of view without having to pay.
Ethiopian Airlines to order 10 narrow-body planes, eying CSeries or E2-CEO
Ethiopian Airlines, Africa's largest carrier, wants to buy 10 narrowbody planes and is considering Canada's Bombardier (BBDb.TO) and Brazil's Embraer (EMBR3.SA) jets among others, as it plans to nearly double its fleet between now and 2025, chief executive Tewolde Gebremariam said Monday.
Tewolde, speaking on the sidelines of a global aviation forum in Montreal, said that he is visiting Bombardier's Mirabel factory on Tuesday to review the 100-seater CS100.
He said in an interview that he is visiting the 100-seater CS100 at Bombardier's Mirabel factory on Tuesday, but is also considering aircraft made by the company's rivals.
"I'm also looking at E2, the Russians, the Japanese, the Chinese," he said.
Ethiopian Airlines also has 14 firm orders for A350 aircraft between now and 2025. The carrier is looking at ordering 10 more aircraft, and is weighing B777 and A350 planes.
Ethiopian Airlines expects to grow from 77 aircraft and 7.4 million passengers this year to 22 million passengers and 150 aircraft by 2025, he said.
(Reporting by Allison Lampert; Editing by Bernard Orr; editing by Bernard Orr)
El Nino floods could displace 100,000 in Ethiopia - U.N.
ADDIS ABABA | By Aaron Maasho
Reuters: Floods caused by El Nino could displace more than 100,000 people in Ethiopia, where more than 8 million people are facing a food crisis because of the worst drought since a devastating 1984 famine, the United Nations said on Monday.
Failed rains during both the spring and summer have created food and water shortages in the Horn of Africa nation. The government and aid agencies say Ethiopia needs $600 million to cope with the crisis.
Ethiopia, brought to its knees by famine in 1984 which killed hundreds of thousands of people, now boasts one of the world's fastest growing economies and is far better able to cope with a new crisis, experts say. The government says agriculture has a smaller role and double-digit growth forecasts will not be knocked off track this time.
"El Nino has a dual impact on Ethiopia causing drought in the north, central and eastern parts of the country, and flooding in south and south eastern areas," the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said in a report.
"At least 210,600 people are expected to be affected by flooding and at least 105,300 people risk displacement," it said.
The El Nino weather pattern, marked by warming sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, causes extremes such as scorching weather in some regions of the globe and heavy rains and flooding in others. Meteorologists expect El Nino to peak between October and January and to be one of the strongest on record.
Aid agencies say the number of people needing support in Ethiopia could rise to 15 million by early 2016, with 350,000 children expected to require treatment for acute malnutrition by the end of 2015.
More than 600,000 tons of wheat purchased by the Ethiopian government is expected to arrive in neighboring Djibouti this week, the United Nations said. Addis Ababa has so far allocated more than 6 million birr ($287,480) to tackle the effects, it added.
Abraham Tekeste, deputy head of the National Planning Commission, told Reuters on Monday that Ethiopia's economy was on course to meet growth forecasts of 10 percent in the 2015/16.
"The structure of the economy has changed. It has become diversified now," he said, adding agriculture now accounted for 38 percent of national income versus 60 percent only five years ago. "The economy has become resilient to shocks now."
However, consultancy group Teneo Intelligence said in a note last week growth projections of 10 percent in 2015/16 could be revised down if there is a sustained drought.
(Editing by Edmund Blair and Janet Lawrence)
"We decided to open the railway early because of the drought, the worst in decades," says Getachew Betru, chief executive of the Ethiopian Railways Corporation (ERC).
It is a Saturday, but this thoughtful, intelligent man is busy working. Except for the guards at the gate, nobody else is at the office.
Across the road, a white and green train whisks up to a station platform. It is part of Addis Ababa's newly opened light rail (or tram) system, the first in sub-Saharan Africa.
Mr Getachew shows me diagrams of a vast planned railway network, snaking its way across landlocked Ethiopia, linking Africa's second most populous country to Djibouti, Sudan, South Sudan and Kenya.
The railway is his baby. Like many Ethiopians, he left the country during the harsh years of dictatorship, but returned with a doctorate in engineering and a vision.
"We were driving through the countryside when we came across a railway track. Like so many boys, my sons loved trains and insisted we wait for one. It never came. I asked somebody when it might arrive. He told me it had been 10 years since the last train. I decided to try to do something about it. Now they call me Ethiopia's Brunel, after the famous British civil engineer."
The dream is that one day, the railway will extend from the Red Sea in Djibouti all the way across Africa to the Atlantic Ocean. A few wars will have to end first.
Due to the urgent need to feed the 8.2 million people Ethiopia says are suffering from the drought, the Addis Ababa-Djibouti line opened ahead of schedule on 20 November.
The first train to travel along the nearly 800km track delivered more than 3,000 tonnes of grain from Djibouti port to drought-affected areas. The United Nations says more than 15 million people will be in need of emergency food aid by the beginning of 2016.
The ERC says the railway will completely transform the way humanitarian assistance is delivered, in a country regularly affected by drought. "The trains will deliver bulk quantities of food aid very close to drought-affected people. It will do this in a matter of a few hours," says ERC technical adviser, Muluken Mesfin.
"One thousand five hundred trucks a day leave Djibouti port for Ethiopia," says the chairman of the Djibouti Port Authority, Abubaker Hadi. "It is projected there will be 8,000 a day by 2020. This is not feasible. That is why the railway is so desperately needed."
Mr Getachew agrees: "It can take trucks two to three weeks to reach Addis from Djibouti. They break down all the time and the road gets congested. Once it is fully operational the railway will cut the journey to about five hours, as the trains will travel at 120 km/h. This will save money as well as time."
The Chinese-built track runs parallel to the abandoned Ethio-Djibouti railway, built more than 100 years ago by France for Emperor Menelik. Costing some $3bn (£2bn), it starts at sea level in Djibouti. It then makes its way through Ethiopia's dramatic, challenging terrain until it reaches Addis Ababa, about 2,500m above sea level.
Mr Getachew expresses bewilderment at the World Bank and Western donors such as the European Union, who, he says, were reluctant to fund the railway project. "I think the road lobby was too strong. We ended up with the Chinese, who are not only constructing the railway, but providing most of the funding too."
The economic potential of Ethiopia's planned 5,000km rail network is obvious. But the railway might do a whole lot more, both in terms of regional integration and maybe even peacemaking.
Railways are being constructed all over Africa. The East African Railway Master Plan hopes to revive existing lines in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, eventually extending them to Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and Ethiopia.
Mr Getachew hints at another potential role. He shows me how the Addis-Djibouti line lies close to Ethiopia's border with Somaliland, which declared independence in 1991 but has not been recognised internationally.
There has long been talk of linking Ethiopia with Somaliland's underused and underdeveloped Berbera port, which is 854km by road from Addis Ababa.
A railway could also bring wealth to Somalis, suggests Mr Getachew. Somalia has the longest coastline in Africa, and has rich fish stocks. But Somalis are not keen on eating fish.
"Ethiopians have two fasting days a week when we only eat fish. As a landlocked country, we only have Nile perch and tilapia. As our economy grows, at about 10% a year, demand increases for more variety. This could be a win-win situation."
Constructing a rail link to Berbera would be a major challenge. This is mainly because Somaliland's ambiguous status means it would be difficult to secure vital international funding. But the territory is relatively stable, and, unlike in conflict-ridden southern and central Somalia, a railway line is unlikely to face threats of sabotage.
Somalia has several ports, and the potential for many more. It is possible to envisage rail lines linking Ethiopia and the Somali interior with ports all the way down the country, from Zeila in the north-east to Kismayo in the south.
This prospect for economic growth might serve as an incentive for the weak, sometimes directionless Somali government, and indeed foreign donors who have poured billions into the country since it fell apart nearly 30 years ago, often to little effect.
Perhaps the idea of a railway would spur on Somalis and their allies to drive out violent groups, including the al-Qaeda linked movement al-Shabab, which controls much of the country.
As one Ethiopian rail enthusiast put it: "Maybe Mr Getachew will be remembered not only as Ethiopia's Brunel but as a peacemaker for the entire region."
Tracking China's rail investments in Africa
That followed a $12bn contract for another Nigerian rail line last year, which at the time was the biggest foreign contract won by a Chinese state-owned firm. The line is planned to run 1,400km along the Nigerian coast.
China is also building major rail projects in Angola (under an infrastructure-for-oil deal), DR Congo, Kenya and Tanzania.
Chinese infrastructure investments overseas are commonly underpinned by finance from Beijing-backed lenders such as China Development Bank. The rail projects are expected to generate billions of dollars in export orders for Chinese trainmakers.
Big Chinese investments in Africa have been controversial for several reasons, including use of imported Chinese labour, alleged poor treatment of workers and lack of transparency at the state-owned companies involved.
Many African countries have a compelling need for new or upgraded rail links, to boost trade, investment and development, but they have lacked finance.
Much of the existing network was built by mining companies in the colonial era to link industrial sites to ports. Passenger services account for less than 20% of African rail traffic, according to the African Development Bank.
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