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  10:03:00 pm, by admin   , 127 words  
Categories: Ethiopia

Ethiopia to discard 69 million condoms deemed defective

Ethiopia to discard 69 million condoms deemed defective

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia -- Ethiopian health officials say they will discard 69 million defective condoms because they failed the elasticity test.

Ethiopia's junior health minister, Kebede Worku, said Friday the condoms were rejected by the quality control department after they appeared to rupture easily.

The official didn't say who supplied the condoms, which were bought with a $2 million donation from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. He said the company wants the condoms tested again before it can replace them with a new batch.

Bikila Bayisa, deputy director of Ethiopia's food and medicine control agency, said the condoms had holes "wide enough to pass liquids through, so we have rejected them."  Ethiopia to discard 69 million condoms deemed defective

  10:00:00 pm, by admin   , 1109 words  
Categories: Ethiopia

Ethiopia: For Somali-Ethiopians, life under TPLF rule worse than DERG regime

For Somali-Ethiopians, life under TPLF rule worse than DERG regime

By Ahmed Ugas Yusuf

— The most damning aspect of our communal character as Somali-Ethiopians is our inability to engage in a dispassionate analysis of politics and power dynamics. Instead of trying to understand and predict the behaviors of our rulers through political economy analysis, we invent emotional stories and comparisons and seek an easy way out of our seemingly unending misery. We see everything through identity politics and build herd psychosis where rational conduct and behavior gives way to mass euphoria and hysteria. This is the bane of our politics and invariably puts us in a position of comparative disadvantage.

For instance, in 1991 when the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) toppled the military junta headed by Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam and took power, some of us invented tales of shared lineage with Tigrayans and Eritreans —through the Ismael Jabarti nonsense— as if the new rulers have been fighting for 17 years to liberate poor nomadic Somalis or will engage us from altruistic political standpoint on the basis of a fairy tale.

It took less than four years to realize that the TPLF did not come to give us genuine autonomy, let alone the right for self-determination. That we are called by our name —Somali Region— and that the nominal rulers of the region have our names —Jama, Abdi, Ahmed, or Mohamed— did not and will not change our fate. The center-periphery power asymmetry is not altered and we remain subjects. The TPLF decides for us. In so doing, it not only undermines its own constitution, it openly flaunts its contempt to us as people. This is a humiliation that we did not live through even under the regime of Mengistu Hailemariam.

I know victims of TPLF’s relentless 25 years of propaganda will raise eyebrows, but I will provide a brief comparison of the political situation of Somali Ethiopians under TPLF and the DERG – Mengistu’s military Junta. I will consider three factors: autonomy, development and human rights.

Under the DERG, decisions that affect our lives were made in Addis Ababa and Harar. It remains the same today. General Abraha Kuwarter from Harar is the main puppet master with TPLF veterans like Abay Tsehaye, Debretsion Gebremichael, Samora Younus and Sibhat Nega in Addis Ababa, pulling strings when they have to. The whims of Abay Tsehaye carry more weight and validity than the opinions of six million Somalis.

Under Mengistu, we did not have proper schools, health and water services. We shared this hardship with the rest of the country, a forsaken communist satellite at war with itself. But we were spared the mayhem and bloodletting that ravaged the rest of the country.
From 1977 to 1978, hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian youth were killed over the course of a violent political campaign known as the “Red Terror,” or Qay Shibir in Amharic. The Somali region became a war zone during the Ethiopia-Somalia war of 1977. Somali-Ethiopians supported Somalia during the war. However, once the war ended, Mengistu tried to win hearts and minds, perhaps to avoid another front at a time he was fighting brutal wars with the TPLF and Eritrean rebels in the North. There were no large scale extrajudicial killings, disappearances, and destruction of villages in the Somali region between 1978 to 1991. Members of the military accused of harming civilians faced harsh punishment, including death by firing squad. There was a measure of accountability.

In 1987, the military junta transformed itself into the People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (PDRE) and adopted a new constitution declaring the Somali region as the “Ogaden autonomous region.” The PRDE constitution promised to ensure “the equality, development and respectability of the languages of nationalities.” Although this was a last ditch attempt by the Junta to accommodate the demands of the northern rebels for an ethnic based federal political arrangement, it shows that the regime was making an effort to address the concerns of the Somalis, too. It goes that while today under TPLF we have a regional parliament, we were about to have one if the DERG was not toppled.
There is no much practical difference between the two arrangements; the parliament under the DERG would have been nominal by design, the one under the TPLF is so by default.

During the DERG, genuine community elders used to provide feedback on the quality of governance through periodic consultations with Mengistu, regional governors, and ruling party officials. The DERG authorities may or may not have been responsive to the demands of the elders but at least they used to meet and discuss with genuine and respected elders. Today, TPLF, through its native surrogates, determines who our elders are but does not consult even the fake elders it anoints. They are only used to rubber-stamp decisions made by the army and the ruling party and implemented through the nominal regional administration. That way the “ethnic federalism” system is rigged.
Development wise, the region is in a much better shape today. Schools, roads, hospitals, airports were built and employment is better in both public and private sectors. But development has become the sanitizing ideology that justifies gross violations of human rights. DERG used “Ethiopian unity” to kill its own people and the TPLF is using “development” to rationalize its oppression of other ethnic groups, including Somalis. Since TPLF took power, tens of thousands of civilians were killed in the Somali region of Ethiopia with most atrocities committed after 2007, the latest being the Gashamo massacre in June 2016. This period is our rendition of the “Red Terror.”

The DERG we knew is different to the DERG the TPLF knows. It is understandable if the TPLF considers DERG as the embodiment of evil. Mengistu was evil, but evil did not end with his demise. DERG committed atrocities in the North and during the “Red Terror.” Somali-Ethiopians live in the east and were largely spared Mengistu’s “Red Terror” since they were not involved in the power struggle at the center.
Against this heartrending backdrop, TPLF expects us to vicariously feel its past pain and bask in its present glory, a pain we did not experience and a glory we do not share. It wants us to forget the living torment it inflicted on us in the name of counter-insurgency. It tells us to hate DERG and to love TPLF.

And we oblige. That is where the rain always begins to beat us. We swallow sentimental narratives and uninformed comparisons. It is an Igbo wisdom that a man who does not know where the rain began to beat him cannot say where he will dry his body.
Ahmed Ugas Yusuf is a political commentator from the Somali region of Ethiopia.

  09:47:00 pm, by admin   , 815 words  
Categories: Ethiopia

About the Report of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea

About the Report of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea
About the Report of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea

By Messay Kebede

I post this short memo to explain why I did not sign the petition protesting against the report of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in which it is stated, among other things, that “crimes against humanity have been committed in Eritrea since 1991.” I have agonized over the issue for many days until I realized that my dilemma originates more from the wording of the petition than from the moral scruples of clearing a regime of the accusations of an influential international body.

What stroke me first is the malaise that I felt at the idea of not signing the petition. I could not dismiss the impression that the refusal to sign actually means that terrible violations of human rights do not occur in neighboring Ethiopia. Surely, knowing the complexity of the ties between Eritrea and Ethiopia and their present belligerent attitude toward each other, a report that targets Eritrea as a violator of human rights suggests that Ethiopia is the lucky exception in the Horn of Africa. Indeed, whether one likes it or not, the condemnation of Eritrea had one unmistakable implication: it suggests that, had the UN, as the moral conscious of the global community, observed horrific violations of human rights in Ethiopia, it would have denounced them too in the same irrevocable terms. Since it did not, one must infer that the Ethiopian government is free of such acts. Clearly, in singling out Eritrea, the UN is but absolving the TPLF government so that my refusal to sign turns me into a de facto accomplice of its atrocities.

I have read the indignations posted here and there over the request asking Ethiopians to participate in the signing of the petition. Some agree with the UN report about the violations of human rights in Eritrea; others remind that Eritrea’s secessionist ideology is responsible for the current problems of Ethiopia so that one should never associate in any way with a known enemy. Opposed to these are those urging us to sign, essentially for two reasons, which are: (1) In terms of human rights, what happens in Eritrea is not worse than what happens in Ethiopia; (2) the Eritrean government is an ally in that it gives full support to Ethiopian opposition forces fighting to remove the TPLF government.
I could see in the arguments of those who oppose the signature of the petition nothing but a vindictive attitude. If in singling out Eritrea, the UN Commission is in effect in complicity with the Woyanne regime, you cannot argue that it is the concern for human rights violations that motivates your refusal to sign. You perfectly know that by excluding the case of Ethiopia, the UN inquiry loses all credibility. But then, the consistent and justifiable position is to sign the petition because you expose bias or preferential treatment. Your signature is not a support for the Eritrean government: you denounce hypocrisy. It is a judgment on an international body whose major legitimacy is its assumed impartiality.

As to the arguments of those who call for our signatures, I find them to be too calculative, too inspired by the principle that the end justifies the means. We can appreciate the support that Eritrea gives to opposition groups without, however, denying the violations of human rights. In so doing, we appeal to the common interest of the two countries, which is a pragmatic attitude that falls short of implying that the UN report is based on erroneous facts. Moreover, that the two countries have a comparable record of human rights violations should in no way compel us to downplay the one at the expense of the other. The irony is that the attitude is no different from that of the UN: we condemn the one we dislike and remain silent as regards the one we like or do business with, even though similar crimes are committed by both.

I maintain that a petition denouncing the UN report is legitimate and expedient, but it must be inspired by moral outrage at the partiality and hypocrisy of the international body. It must be clearly directed at the UN while also denouncing the attempt to turn Ethiopians into an accomplice of the Woyanne regime by sponsoring a document of human rights violations that fails to mention Ethiopia. That is why I ask those Ethiopians who invited us to sign the petition to come up with a new one in which the focus is more on the UN than on Eritrea. This will enable us to display to the world the complicity of the UN and the Woyanne regime, while at the same time denouncing the unilateral attempt to destabilize Eritrea on grounds that have little to do with human rights, since the same violations are tolerated in the case of Ethiopia.

  09:36:00 pm, by admin   , 1300 words  
Categories: Ethiopia

Ethiopia is on track to become Africa’s industrial powerhouse

Ethiopia is on track to become Africa’s industrial powerhouse

Ethiopia is on track to become Africa’s industrial powerhouse

Source: Quartz

Ethiopia seems to be attracting the attention of economists interested in Africa, and for good reason. Except for Rwanda, Ethiopia is the only African country whose economic growth has been consistently high for more than a decade without relying on a natural resource boom.

Between 2004 and 2014, per capita growth in Ethiopia was 8% per year. This was the highest on the continent during this period, and is impressive by any standard.

The growth has been attributed mainly to a construction boom and increased agricultural productivity. But manufacturing has also been vital. It has grown at 11% per year and manufacturing exports increased more than elevenfold. This was largely thanks to the increasing export earnings of the footwear and apparel industries. The growth represents more than a doubling of manufactured exports’ share in total merchandise exports, which itself more than quintupled during the period.

It’s not a long-shot Ethiopia will catch up with China and Vietnam in low-tech manufacturing in the near future.

Nevertheless, manufacturing as a share of gross domestic product in Ethiopia remains 5%, well below the African average of 10%. The country also scores below the African average on diversification, export competitiveness, productivity and technological upgrading.

Despite this, it’s not a long-shot to predict that Ethiopia will catch up with countries like China and Vietnam in some low-tech manufacturing industries in the near future. These are industries for which labour costs are very important. And right now you’d be hard pressed to find a country in the world that has cheaper labour than Ethiopia. Even beyond these obvious industries, there are reasons to believe that Ethiopia might be on the right track to catch up with more advanced economies.

The developmental state

First is the country’s developmental orientation. In many ways it resembles that of successful catch-up experiences in East Asia, such as Korea and Taiwan, with a relatively “authoritarian corporatist” structure and centralised economic planning.

Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia’s recently deceased prime minister who ruled from 1995 to 2012 and whose legacy remains strong in today’s ruling political coalition, repeatedly expressed admiration for the East Asian experience. He stressed that its success was based on a prudent combination of market forces and state intervention. The state not only provided basic infrastructure and services but also a conducive environment for the private sector.

The second reason to be optimistic about Ethiopia’s prospects is the impressive industrial policymaking capability it has accumulated since the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front government came to power in 1991.

The quality of this capability becomes clear if you read the Growth and Transformation Plan covering 2010-2015. According to economist Kenichi Ohno the plan is unusual in its brevity, coherence and strategic direction. Priority manufacturing industries were designated based on resource availability, labour intensity, linkages to agriculture, export potential and relatively low technological entry barriers. They include apparel and textiles, agro-processing, meat processing, leather and leather products, and construction.

Supporting institutes have been set up for each industry to coordinate the value chains effectively, for example by ensuring efficient supply of inputs to manufacturers and to assist firms with technological upgrading.

Two state-owned banks, the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and the Development Bank of Ethiopia, provide most credit to firms in these industries. Foreign banks are simply not allowed to operate in Ethiopia. The understanding is that they will be allowed in only when domestic banks have developed the capacity to compete.

Education and infrastructure

While the Ethiopian government is formulating policies to support specific industrial sectors, for most of the past 20 years the federal budget has been devoted to policies that are more “horizontal” in nature, like education and infrastructure. Results so far are impressive.

Enrollment in primary schools has increased from below 20% in the early 1990s to about 94% in 2012. The number of universities has increased from one in 1990 to more than 30.

And the government has invested massively in infrastructure development, focusing on transport and power generation. The road network expanded from 26,550km to 53,997km between 1997 and 2011. The country is set to quadruple its power generation capacity when the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile is finished in 2017/18. One of the largest hydroelectric power stations in the world, the dam will generate 6,000MW.

Cement and floriculture

Feeding on the boom in construction, cement production has grown dramatically since 1999. The average annual growth of cement production has been more than twice the world average. As a result, Ethiopia is now the third largest cement producer in Africa.

State support has been both direct and indirect. Direct measures include entry incentives for domestic firms, like long-term loans for capital investments, easy access to mining resources and the allocation of foreign currency on a preferential basis.

Additionally, government provision of transport and energy has been crucial.

Like the cement industry, the Ethiopian floriculture sector has made important contributions to overall economic development.

Cut flower exports increased from three tons in 2003/04 to more than 50,000 tons in 2011/12, substantially raising export earnings. From 2007 to 2012, the sector’s employment doubled from 25,000 to 50,484. The industry grew from a single firm in 2000 to about 100 in 2014.

The industry has also created indirect jobs through the expansion of horticulture. Related activities, such as packaging production, cold chain logistics and air transport have all benefited.

While Ethiopian firms initially kicked off the floriculture industry, foreign firms have increased their investment. In 2012 they accounted for 63% of all firms operating in the sector.

This foreign investment has contributed to technological development and improved market access.

Foreign investors say Ethiopia has become an attractive investment location because of natural endowments such as land and altitude, cheap labour and government incentives. These incentives include tax holidays on profits for up to five years, duty free privileges on all capital goods and the provision of construction material.

Subsidized loans have been the prime source of long-term investment financing for firms in the floriculture industry. Almost two-thirds of firms in the industry have relied on loans from the Development Bank of Ethiopia. And private banks, seeing the success of these loans, have also started lending to the industry.

Sectors destined for future success

Both the leather products and the textile and apparel sectors have been designated as top priority manufacturing industries in the recently released five-year development plan (2015 to 2020). One reason for this is because they have strong linkages with the agricultural sector as they use inputs from the livestock and cotton sectors. They are also both labour intensive, thus absorbing labour from the agricultural sector, and have major export potential and low entry barriers.

To become internationally competitive, the Ethiopian government has invited foreign investors to provide much-needed investment capital and technological capabilities. A slew of incentives has been created to induce these firms – as well as domestic ones that can meet international standards – to export.

These include:

  • subsidized land rent in industrial zones;
  • generous credit schemes;
  • 100% exemption from the payment of duties on imported capital goods and raw materials for the production of exports; and
  • five-year tax holidays on profits.

Export figures from the past two years indicate positive trends for both industries. But the results are not yet near where they need to be to make a significant contribution to structural change.

However, considering all the positive signs, Ethiopia might very well be on its way to become Africa’s industrial powerhouse.

This article is an edited extract from Transformative Industrial Policy for Africa, a report produced by Ha-Joon Chang, Jostein Løhr Hauge and Muhammad Irfan on behalf of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.The Conversation

Jostein Hauge, PhD candidate, University of Cambridge and Muhammad Irfan, PhD student, A Political Economy of Subsidies and Countervailing Measure in International Trade and Development – Issues of Policy Space and the WTO’s SCM Agreement, University of Cambridge

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


  10:26:00 am, by admin   , 226 words  
Categories: Ethiopia

Egypt asks Israel to help solve Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam crisis

Egypt asks Israel to help solve Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam crisis

Egypt asks Israel to help solve Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam crisis

Source: Middle East Monitor

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is reported to have asked the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to intervene and help solve his country’s dispute with Ethiopia over the Renaissance Dam crisis.

The Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper reported Arab diplomatic sources as saying on Monday: “Sisi has recently asked Netanyahu to help Egypt resolve its dispute with Ethiopia over the Renaissance Dam, due to Ethiopia’s intransigence and refusal to respond to the Egyptian calls to coordinate efforts during the construction and storage stages.”

The sources added that al-Sisi’s move came after Ethiopia rejected all pressures exerted by Arab parties, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, because Addis Ababa believes “the national project will help lift its deteriorating economy”.

The sources said that Egypt has finally resorted to asking Israel for assistance, a strategic ally of Ethiopia and a number of Nile Basin countries.

Speaking to the newspaper, an Egyptian diplomat warned against al-Sisi’s move, saying it could lead to the transfer of the Nile water to Israel, explaining that current and former Israeli leaders have been calling for this since the signing of the Camp David agreement.

Addis Ababa and Tel Aviv enjoy close ties on the economic side, with Israel having provided a range of grants to Ethiopia over the past years.

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