Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, Wins Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize was, last week, awarded to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, one of Africa’s youngest leaders, for his efforts in human rights reforms in the country, and for signing a peace deal with Eritrea following protracted hostility between the east African nations. The award will be bestowed in December this year.

Responding to the announcement, Amnesty International’s secretary-general Kumi Naidoo said: “This award recognizes the critical work Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has done to initiate human rights reforms in Ethiopia after decades of widespread repression.

“Since assuming office in April 2018, it has reformed the security forces, replaced the severely restricting charities and society law, and agreed a peace deal with neighboring Eritrea to end two decades of hostile relations. He also helped broker an agreement between Sudan’s military leaders and the civilian opposition, bringing an end to months of protests.

“However, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s work is far from done. This award should push and motivate him to tackle the outstanding human rights challenges that threaten to reverse the gains made so far. He must urgently ensure that his government addresses the ongoing ethnic tensions that threaten instability and further human rights abuses. He should also ensure that his government revises the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation which continues to be used as a tool of repression, and holds suspected perpetrators of past human rights violations to account.

“Now more than ever Prime Minister Abiy must fully espouse the principles and values of the Nobel Peace Prize to leave a lasting human rights legacy for his country, the wider region, and the world.”

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

 

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Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Ethiopia Unveils Blueprint to Drive Economic Growth

The government of Ethiopia has unveiled what it describes as a “Homegrown Economic Reform” agenda aimed at unlocking the country’s development potential.

“Several months in the making and spearheaded by some of Ethiopia’s finest minds, our initiative aims to propel Ethiopia into becoming the African icon of prosperity by 2030,” said Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia.

He made the remarks during an event to unveil the Reform Agenda at the United Nations Conference Centre in Addis Ababa.

The Agenda outlines macroeconomic, structural and sectoral reforms that will pave the way for job creation, poverty reduction, and inclusive growth.

The P.M. said “in just over one year,” his government has taken a series of measures to shift the economic landscape of Ethiopia, such as reforms in investment laws and business climate, which have helped remove regulatory obstacles that hamper investment.

Mr. Ahmed stated that the private sector was crucial for the next chapter of Ethiopia’s growth and development. Consequently, he said, we have “opened up key economic activities to private investments,” adding that these measures will “surely be reflected in Ethiopia’s ease of doing business ranking.”

The P.M. pointed out that to ensure the success of the Agenda, “we are tightening our fiscal belts, strengthening our public sector finances, shedding our debts, and increasing domestic resource mobilization.”

The Agenda prioritizes sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, mining, tourism, and ICT.

Reflecting on the Reform Agenda, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) said Ethiopia’s aspiration to grow from 865 to 2219 GDP per capita was “very ambitious” but that it was doable, citing the success stories of China, Laos, and Vietnam.

Ms. Songwe cautioned, however, that Ethiopia currently has a USD 10 billion gap – 6 billion in new investment and 4 billion of debt reduction per year – that must be bridged in order to achieve its reform aspirations.

“If you continue to accumulate debt the way you’re doing now, you will likely fall into debt distress in the next two years and a lot of the structural reforms you’ve put in place will not bring in the private sector because you will not be a credit-worthy country.”

Ms. Songwe said credibility is what the private sector will be looking for in the reform package. She recommended paving the way for IPPs in a reformed energy sector as a quick-win that can demonstrate the country’s credibility.

The event was attended by representatives from the World Bank, IMF, UN Agencies and other development partners. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed urged all stakeholders to “support us in crafting Ethiopia’s economic miracle.”

He said, “We realize that our interdependence solidifies Ethiopia’s geopolitical importance in becoming Africa’s gateway to the global market.”

The Reform Agenda was presented by Ethiopia’s minister of state for finance, Eyob Tekalign.

 

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Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

New Air Tanzania and Ethiopian Airlines Routes to South Africa

Air Tanzania

Looking to attract tourists from South African and other business travellers, state-owned Air Tanzania Company Ltd (ATCL) is set to revive its passenger schedule route connecting four major airports in Tanzania with the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, starting June 28.

The four direct flights per week will use ATCL’s recently-acquired Boeing 787- 8 Dreamliner jet, which has the capacity to carry 262 passengers.

This past week, ATCL public affairs spokesman Josephat Kagirwa told The EastAfrican that the four local airports to introduce South African connections are Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar International Airport, Kilimanjaro International Airport in northern Tanzania, and Mwanza International Airport.

Mr Kagirwa said the Dreamliner will be replaced by an Airbus A220-300 on the Johannesburg route from July 16. “We expect to maintain this route as we prepare for long-haul flights to India and China,” he said.

The direct flights to and from Johannesburg will be on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. South Africa is one of the top profit-making routes for most airlines in the Southern and East African region.

Southern African airports are the main linking points to destinations in Australia and the Pacific Ocean rim that are considered upcoming new tourist markets for Tanzania and other East African states. The Tanzania Tourist Board is working jointly with ATCL to market the destinations. South Africa itself is a source market for about 48,000 tourists annually, mostly adventure and business travellers.

Latest official figures show that about 16,000 tourists from Australia visited Tanzania in 2017, mostly using connections through Johannesburg. In the same year, there were 3,300 visitors from New Zealand and 2,600 from the Pacific Rim (Fiji, Solomon, Samoa and Papua New Guinea).

Ethiopian Airlines

Ethiopian Airlines has commenced its maiden flight from Lagos to Johannesburg with its code-share partner, Asky.

With that service, Ethiopian Airlines/Asky to South Africa has become the only non-South African airline on the route between Nigeria and South Africa. It flight was welcomed with Water Canon salute and received by staff of Asky and Ethiopian Airlines. The Airport Community also joined in the reception. The flight was operated with an Asky B737-700 commanded by Captain Dawit Muluneh. It left Lagos for Johannesburg by 16: 45 pm on Saturday.

The General Manager of Ethiopian Airlines in Nigeria, Mrs. Firihiewot Mekonnen, at the inaugural ceremony said, “Asky is the operating airline, while Ethiopia Airlines is the marketing carrier.”

“Nigeria is one of our biggest markets where we bring the best of our aircraft and we always strive to give our best to Nigerians.

“As part of this motive we found out a lot of Nigerians travel to South Africa so we decided to help improve the connectivity for the passengers.

“We have also availed many promotional fares so we invite Nigerians to use the best deals to Johannesburg,” she said.

The inaugural flight had a 70 per cent load factor. The flights are daily from Lagos to Johannesburg. Some days the flights go through Libreville on other days it will go through Douala.

 

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Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: Captureson [1], [2].

African Development Bank Starts Electricity Cooperative Feasibility Studies in Nigeria and Ethiopia

The African Development Bank has kicked off a feasibility study to explore the potential of electricity cooperative business models in Nigeria and Ethiopia.

The effort is part of the Bank’s goal of achieving universal electricity access across Africa by 2025. Currently, power shortages diminish the region’s GDP growth by 2-4% per year, holding back job creation and poverty reduction efforts.

The study, funded by the South-South Cooperation Trust Fund, will be conducted by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) International over three months. NRECA will consider regulatory, legal, technical and socio-economic factors that impact the creation of electric cooperatives in the two nations.

Electricity cooperatives are tax-exempt businesses set up and owned by the consumers who benefit from the services provided in generation, transmission and/or distribution.

They are used in many parts of the world to provide last mile connections to rural areas through grid extensions and cooperative enterprises. Where successful, they also improve rural electrification, while creating sustainable businesses.

Speaking at the kick-off meeting, Batchi Baldeh, the Bank’s Director of Power Systems Development, thanked the South-South Cooperation Trust Fund for financing the initiative. “This study is timely and aligned with the Bank’s New Deal for Energy in Africa. We look forward to working with NRECA International to execute the study, and to leverage its extensive experience in electricity cooperative business models to pave the way for the implementation of transformational projects across Africa” he said.

Underscoring the importance of Government cooperation and commitment, he added that the cooperatives rely on strong partnerships among governments, rural/local communities and development partners for implementation and success.

“We selected Nigeria and Ethiopia following dialogue with their respective ministers of energy during the Bank’s Africa Energy Market Place held in July 2018, where they expressed their governments’ commitment to improve rural access through established models. We rely on this cooperation to explore this innovative model of delivering our High 5 to light up and power Africa”, said Baldeh

Findings of the study will be delivered in May this year. They will inform the viability of plans to pilot the model in the selected countries.

For more information about the African Development Bank Group, click here.

 

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Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: VOA [1], [2].

Prime Minister: Ethiopia Has No Option But Multi-party Democracy

Ethiopia has “no option” but to pursue multi-party democracy, the country’s reformist new prime minister said Sunday, again shaking up Africa’s second most populous nation that for decades has been ruled by a single coalition.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s chief of staff announced the remarks on Twitter, saying they were made during a meeting with leaders of more than 50 national and regional parties, including ones from overseas, who demanded reforms in election law.

A multiparty democracy would need strong institutions that respect human rights and rule of law, Abiy said, according to his chief of staff.

The 42-year-old prime minister has announced sweeping reforms since taking office in April, including the release of opposition figures from prison and the embrace of a peace deal that led to the surprising restoration of diplomatic ties this month with longtime rival Eritrea.

Just months ago Ethiopia, a nation of more than 100 million people, faced widespread anti-government protests demanding wider freedoms, with the U.N. human rights chief and others expressing concern over hundreds of reported deaths and tens of thousands of people detained.

Ethiopia’s ruling coalition, which has been in power since 1991 and along with affiliated parties holds every seat in parliament, came up with Abiy after former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn stepped aside early this year. Abiy notably doesn’t come from the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, a party in the ruling coalition that has been the dominant force in government for most of the past 27 years.

Since taking office the new prime minister has surprised Ethiopians by acknowledging past torture by security forces, announcing the opening-up of the state-run economy and suggesting that his own position should have term limits.

 

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Sources: Associated Press via Voice of America [1]. Image sources: [1].