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  08:47:00 am, by admin, 189 words  
Categories: Ethiopia

David Cameron writes to Ethiopian PM on behalf of British political dissident on death row

David Cameron writes to Ethiopian PM on behalf of British political dissident on death row

David Cameron writes to Ethiopian PM on behalf of British political dissident on death row

Source: The Independent

The Prime Minister has personally intervened in the case of a British father-of-three facing the death sentence in Ethiopia, after the man’s children appealed for his help.

David Cameron wrote to the Ethiopian Prime Minister in a bid to save the life of Andargachew “Andy” Tsege, 59, whose plight was revealed by The Independent last Friday.

His actions were in response to what he described as “very touching messages” from Mr Tsege’s children, who are calling for the Prime Minister to help get their father home.

Mr Tsege, who came to Britain as a political refugee in 1979, was arrested at an airport in Yemen in June and promptly vanished. Two weeks later it emerged he had been sent to Ethiopia, where he has been imprisoned ever since. The Briton, a prominent opponent of the Ethiopian regime, is facing a death sentence imposed five years ago at a trial held in his absence.

Read More from The Independent

  08:41:00 am, by admin, 516 words  
Categories: Ethiopia

Ethiopia should wake up and smell the coffee - FT

Ethiopia should wake up and smell the coffee

Ethiopia should wake up and smell the coffee

Oct 24, 2014 11:50am by Mian Ridge

Source: FT

Ethiopia, Africa’s biggest coffee producer, will benefit from unusually dry weather in Brazil that has lowered the output and helped lift the price of Arabica beans. Arabica prices surged to a three-year high – to over 200 US cents per pound – in October, which is expected to lift Ethiopia’s coffee export earnings by 25 per cent to $900m this year.

But Ethiopia is missing an opportunity to make a lot more money from arabica, which originated in the country’s highlands, and is considered the superior of two main varieties of coffee bean (the other, robusta, is more bitter and tends to be used to make instant coffee).

A note from Ecobank said that:

Ethiopia could position itself as a low-cost Arabica naturals producer, but it faces constraints, notably an inefficient supply chain and the low productivity of smallholder coffee farmers.

Ethiopia dominates east Africa’s coffee production (see chart). After the sector was liberalised in the 1990s its coffee output increased, surging 139 per cent between 2004 and 2013.

And yet Uganda, not Ethiopia, is Africa’s biggest exporter. The reasons for this are manifold.

In Ethiopia, where coffee drinking ceremonies are an important part of culture, local consumption swallows half the national output (and perhaps more in future as coffee shops boom)

And output is lower than it should be. Most of Ethiopia’s coffee is grown by smallholder farmers, on farms of less than two hectares where yields are low: around 300 kg per hectare, around a third of the typical yield in Colombia and a quarter of that in Costa Rica. Only 5 per cent of Ethiopia’s coffee is grown on plantations, where the yields are higher.

Output is likely to go up, however. In September, Saudi billionaire Mohamed al-Amoudi – who was born in Ethiopia to an Ethiopian mother and a Saudi father – bought 18,000 hectares (44,479 acres) of coffee plantation land from the Ethiopian government for $80m last year. Ecobank said his investment would bear fruit in three to five years’ time.

Another problem was inefficient supply chains, said Ecobank, which reduce farmers’ share of the export price, meaning they under-invest in their plots. That made Ethiopia less competitive than its East African rivals, said Ecobank, which noted that:

Ethiopia’s Natural Arabicas have the highest sourcing costs in East Africa, around 40% of the average 2012/13 international price of US$1.29/lb, limiting the farmers’ share to 60% of the export price. This compares with 70% for Kenya’s Washed Arabicas and 72% for Uganda’s Natural Arabicas.

The establishment of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) which sells 85 per cent to local and international markets, was not entirely positive, said the report, because it lacked flexibility. The ECX sold most of the country’s coffee as bulk and only 5 per cent of specialty, and this:

has led to complaints from specialty roasters about the difficulty of accessing single-origin beans in Ethiopia, which are now only available via unions or plantations. Specialty roasters have also raised concerns that ECX grading is opaque

All in all, said Ecobank, Ethiopia’s coffee sector performs below potential.

  08:29:00 am, by admin, 273 words  
Categories: Ethiopia, Tourism

Ethiopia touts ancient churches, dramatic landscape in tourism drive

The Semien mountains, Ethiopia Photo Credit

Ethiopia touts ancient churches, dramatic landscape in tourism drive

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA, Oct 24 (Reuters)
- When Scottish explorer James Bruce published a five-volume work in 1790 about his search in Ethiopia for the source of the Nile, European readers dismissed his account of ancient churches and castles: surely no such things existed in the heart of Africa.

Fast forward to 2014 and Solomon Tadesse sometimes feels he faces similar preconceptions as he seeks to attract tourists three decades after images of famine and communist purges filled TV screens and shaped the world's view for a generation.

Yet Solomon's Ethiopian Tourism Organisation is making headway in the battle to change attitudes. Visitor numbers have risen 12 percent a year in the past decade to reach 600,000 in 2014. His target next year is one million.

"That aspect has definitely diminished: the old clichés, the old paradigm, the old mentality of Ethiopia being a country of famine and war, but rather now with a potential for economic growth," said Solomon, chief executive of the organisation, a joint initiative between the state and private enterprise.

In the capital of Addis Ababa, the transformation from the starvation years and the "Red Terror" purges of the 1970s and 1980s is plain to see. Construction is booming and a metro opens next year, cutting through the sprawling city -- the only such network in sub-Saharan Africa.

Ethiopia's goal is to boost tourist revenues to $3 billion next year from $2 billion in 2013 and, if it achieves that, it will start challenging the dominance of regional rivals on Africa's eastern seaboard, such as Kenya and Tanzania.

Read More from Reuters ...


  08:49:00 am, by admin, 235 words  
Categories: Ethiopia

Addis Ababa’s monorail project keeps Ethiopia on track for transformation

Addis Ababa’s monorail project keeps Ethiopia on track for transformation

Source: The Guardian

Although there will be shortfalls in the country’s infrastructure programme, the railway will be an impressive achievement

Out of the dust and rubble of decimated junctions, soaring slabs of concrete are returning a semblance of order to the centre of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s mushrooming capital.

The edifices are there to prop up Africa’s first light rail system, an arresting sign of Ethiopia’s progress since the dark days of famine and military rule (pdf) in the 1980s. The government hopes the project, funded and built by China, will be running next year – possibly in time to transport voters to polling booths at national elections in May.

The $475m (£295m) electrified rail is one of many projects in an ambitious five-year growth and transformation plan that ends in July. Although there will be shortfalls in the Soviet-style strategy based more on aspiration than expectation, the rail is set to be an impressive achievement by a nation desperate to shed its tag as a poster child of poverty.

“It’s magnificent in Addis to construct 34km [21 miles] of railway along the main arteries of the city which is extremely busy with pedestrians and vehicular traffic flows,” says 31-year-old project manager Behailu Sintayehu. “In the last couple of years especially we have achieved great progress and now we’re almost on completion phase.”

Read More from The Guardian

  08:39:00 am, by admin, 226 words  
Categories: Ethiopia

Ethiopia leaps towards middle income 30 years after the famine

Ethiopia’s ‘African tiger’ leaps towards middle income

The Guardian

Progress has been remarkable since 1984’s ‘biblical famine’, but inequality, ethnic tension and civil rights issues need to be addressed

It is now three decades since Ethiopia experienced the infamous famine that cost the lives of more than a million people. The tragedy prompted the BBC’s Michael Buerk to describe it as “a biblical famine in the 20th century” and “the closest thing to hell on Earth”.

In sharp contrast with that devastating poverty, Ethiopia is now widely considered to be one of a pack of “African tigers”, with ambitious plans to become a middle-income country by 2025. The nation has, “like the proverbial phoenix, managed to rise from the ashes to become Africa’s fastest-growing non-energy-driven economy”, a senior tax adviser at KPMG Kenya recently noted.

The changes that have taken place in Ethiopia since the 1984 famine are commendable. Despite some dispute over the figures, there is consensus that Ethiopia has registered impressive economic growth for the past decade of somewhere between 8% and 10%. One effect of the progress is a greater capacity to cope with drought, preventing the descent into famine conditions that have occurred in the past. Ethiopia’s development efforts are also praised internationally for meeting some of the millennium development goals, particularly universal primary education and a reduction in infant mortality.

Read More from The Guardian

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