ethiopiantimes

April 24, 2014

Russia launches a spy satellite for Egyptian military

Filed under: Egypt — ethiopiantimes @ 3:29 pm
Tags: , , , , ,
A Soyuz rocket with Egyptsat-2 satellite around one hour before launch on April 16, 2014.

A Russian rocket launched a new-generation surveillance spacecraft Wednesday designed to give the Egyptian military a powerful “eye in the sky.”

The launch of the Soyuz-U rocket took place as scheduled on April 16, 2014, at 20:20 Moscow Time (12:20 EST) from Site 31 in the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The launch vehicle was carrying a Russian-built Egyptsat-2 satellite designed to provide high-resolution imagery for the Egyptian military and other government agencies in the country.

The spacecraft was successfully delivered into its planned orbit 520 seconds after liftoff.

The development and launch campaign for Egyptsat-2 has been conducted largely in secret. Only one visual of the operational spacecraft was released to the public by its manufacturer RKK Energia after the successful launch. Notably, in its post-launch press-release, the company avoided the use of name Egyptsat-2, instead identifying the satellite as a “spacecraft for optical-electronic observation developed for the foreign customer.”

RKK Energia announced that the satellite had been inserted into a 720 by 440-kilometer orbit with an inclination 51.6 degrees toward the Equator. Its ground facility established control over the satellite at 21:52 Moscow Time, the company said. Western radar detected two objects in orbit with similar parameters, probably representing the satellite and the third stage of the Soyuz-U launch vehicle. The satellite was expected to use its own propulsion system to enter a final operational orbit.

 

April 23, 2014

Paying for giant Nile dam itself, Ethiopia thwarts Egypt but takes risks

Filed under: Nile — ethiopiantimes @ 7:52 pm
Tags: , , ,


(Reuters) – Ethiopia’s bold decision to pay for a huge dam itself has overturned generations of Egyptian control over the Nile’s waters, and may help transform one of the world’s poorest countries into a regional hydropower hub.

By spurning an offer from Cairo for help financing the project, Addis Ababa has ensured it controls the construction of the Renaissance Dam on a Nile tributary. The electricity it will generate – enough to power a giant rich-world city like New York – can be exported across a power-hungry region.

But the decision to fund the huge project itself also carries the risk of stifling private sector investment and restricting economic growth, and may jeopardize Ethiopia’s dream of becoming a middle income country by 2025.

The dam is now a quarter built and Ethiopia says it will start producing its first 750 megawatts of electricity by the end of this year. In the sandy floor of the Guba valley, near the Sudanese border, engineers are laying compacted concrete to the foundations of the barrage that will tower 145 meters high and whose turbines will throw out 6,000 megawatts – more than any other hydropower project in Africa.

So far, Ethiopia has paid 27 billion birr ($1.5 billion) out of a total projected cost of 77 billion birr for the dam, which will create a lake 246 km (153 miles) long.

It is the biggest part of a massive program of public spending on power, roads and railways in one of Africa’s fastest growing economies. Ethiopia’s output has risen at near double digit rates for a decade, luring investors from Sweden to China.

But economists warn that squeezing the private sector to pay for the public infrastructure could hurt future prospects. Growth is already showing signs of slowing.

Even so, Addis Ababa says the price is worth paying to guarantee Egypt has no veto over the dam, the centerpiece of a 25-year project to profit from East Africa’s accelerating economic growth by exporting electricity across the region.

“We did not want this dam to suffer from external pressures, particularly with respect to financing,” said Fekahmed Negash, a director within Ethiopia’s Ministry of Water and Energy.

DIPLOMACY RECAST

Ethiopia’s transformation from an economic disaster barely able to feed its people into an emerging regional leader capable of self-financing mega-projects has recast diplomacy over the Nile, northeast Africa’s most important resource.

Egypt, which has claimed exclusive right to control the river’s waters for generations, is fuming. Cairo worries the dam will reduce the flow on which it has depended for drinking water and irrigation for thousands of years.

It has demanded building be halted pending negotiations between the countries, and had offered to take on joint ownership of the project, an offer Addis Ababa dismissed.

Cairo no longer wields the same leverage it once did when upriver sub-Saharan countries were too poor to build such huge projects themselves.

Still, the dam’s cost of more than $4 billion is roughly 12 percent of the annual output of Ethiopia, a steep price to pay for a country spurning outside help.

Ethiopia has resorted to measures like forcing banks that lend to private borrowers to lend the equivalent of 27 percent of their loan books to the government at a low return, effectively a tax on private lending.

Along with other projects, the dam is draining so much financing from the economy that private investors’ access to credit and foreign exchange is being jeopardized, hurting growth, the International Monetary Fund says.

The IMF forecast in November that output growth would slow to 7.5 percent this fiscal year from 8.5 percent in 2011/12, and said the economy needed restructuring to encourage private sector investment now crowded out by huge public projects.

Ethiopia needs high growth to fulfill plans to lift its population out of deep poverty. Per capita income was still just $410 in 2012, the World Bank says.

The government disputes the view that lavish public spending is hurting overall economic performance, and forecasts a higher growth rate than the IMF.

Italy’s biggest construction firm, Salini Impregilo, which is building the dam, says all payments have been made on time so far and it has no worries about Addis Ababa continuing to come up with the needed billions.

“We have full confidence in the government of Ethiopia,” the firm said in an e-mail to Reuters.

And the dam is just the start for Ethiopia’s ambition of becoming a regional power hub. A government plan seen by Reuters would see Africa’s second most populous nation target installed capacity of 37,000 MW within 25 years – far more than the World Bank’s estimate of just 28,000 MW for the entire current output of sub-Saharan Africa excluding South Africa.

More dams are being built and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn is fast securing deals to sell power abroad.

In the Ministry of Energy, a building whose stark design is a throwback to when communists ran Ethiopia’s economy into the ground, a poster maps Ethiopia’s energy goals.

From a dot on the Nile, lines run north through Sudan and across the Sahara desert as far as Morocco while extending southwards to South Africa, linking Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and other power-hungry economies.

Djibouti, Kenya and Sudan already take 180 MW, which, though a small amount so far, is already changing the economics of electricity in the region, Ethiopian officials say.

“Before it started getting power from Ethiopia, Djibouti’s tariff was 30 U.S. cents per kilowatt hour. We are selling to them at 6 cents,” said Mekuria Lemma, corporate planning chief at Ethiopia’s state-run power corporation, EEPCO.

Kenya has signed an agreement to buy about 400 MW. Rwanda too inked a deal in March to take 400 MW by 2018 and a similar arrangement with Tanzania is expected. Beyond Africa, talks are expected over supplying 900 MW to Yemen via an undersea cable.

NATIONAL SECURITY

As long as Ethiopia spurns outside funding, there seems to be little an angry Cairo can now do to stop the dam.

The sparkling streams at the foot of Ethiopia’s Mount Gish spill into Lake Tana from where the Blue Nile meanders gently towards Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, where it joins the White Nile and flows north through Egypt and drains into the Mediterranean.

Among Cairo’s worries is concern that years of filling the new dam’s 74 billion cubic meter reservoir will temporarily cut the river’s flow, and that surface water evaporation from the huge new lake will then reduce it permanently.

“Water problems even without this dam are sky high,” said water expert Klaus Lanz in reference to Egypt’s shortage.

Egypt leans on a 1959 treaty with Sudan which hands Cairo the lion’s share of water. Some Egyptian politicians even urged military action last year against Ethiopia, raising concerns of a “water war”.

The public political bluster has died down, but Egyptian officials still refer to safeguarding their nation’s quota of the Nile’s flow as a matter of national security.

In a government white paper, Cairo calls the construction of the dam a “violation” of international legal principles, in particular the duty to prevent harm to other riparian nations.

“We have no other resources,” Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty told Reuters. “So it’s not a joke. We will not allow our national interests, our national security … to be endangered.”

LIMITED OPTIONS

“We are still for cooperation, negotiation, but only serious negotiations, not to waste time,” Abdellaty added.

But distracted by militant violence and political turmoil at home, Cairo appears to have few levers with which to force Addis Ababa to halt the project. Ethiopian officials say the dam could be completed as early as 2016.

Ethiopia denies Egypt will suffer and complains that its northern neighbor has flexed its political muscle to deter financiers from backing other Ethiopian power projects.

Fekahmed of the water ministry said Cairo had influenced a decision by China’s Electric Power Equipment and Technology Co. to pull out of a $1 billion deal to connect the dam to the grid.

“The authorities in Egypt made a noise,” Fekahmed said, adding that another Chinese group was now lined up to fund the high voltage lines. Egypt’s Abdelatty did not comment on the specific case but confirmed that Cairo was trying to use its influence to push foreigners away from backing the project.

“We have contacts with everybody,” said Abdelatty. “(The minister) raised it with Russia, with China, you name it.”

In a diplomatic coup for Ethiopia, and a political blow to Egypt, the other major down river country, Sudan, has slowly warmed to the dam project and lifted its own earlier objections. Sudan may benefit from cheap power and irrigation water.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy told Sky News Arabic this month he rejected a military solution and dismissed referring the dispute to the International Court of Justice, which would require the agreement of both sides.

Instead, Egypt continues to push hard for further studies on the dam’s design and impact on downstream countries. All the while, Ethiopia shows no sign of ordering the downing of tools.

“We will finish it whether they like it or not,” said a senior Ethiopian official who requested anonymity. “But of course, we will continue negotiating in the meantime.”

(Additional reporting by Richard Lough in Nairobi, Stephen Kalin in Cairo and Danilo Masoni in Milan; Writing by Richard Lough)

By Aaron Maasho

Brehanu Damte aka Abamela and The TPLF story

Filed under: Brehanu Damte — ethiopiantimes @ 5:50 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

April 22, 2014

Ethiopia’s ‘villagisation’ scheme fails to bear fruit

MDG:  Ethiopia's forced villagisation scheme in Gambella province

In the village of Elay, people are defying the government and returning home. Photograph: William Davison

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.

 

“All the promises were empty,” says Apwodho Omot, an ethnic Anuak, sitting in shade at Agulodiek. There is a donor-funded school at the village whose dirt paths are swept clear of debris, and the government built a hand pump in 2004 that still draws water from a borehole. Apwodho’s community says they harvest corn twice a year from fertile land they have cleared. “We don’t know why the government picked Elay,” she says.

 

Gambella region’s former president Omod Obang Olum reported last year that 35,000 households had voluntarily moved from a target of 45,000. The official objective had been to cluster scattered households to make public service delivery more efficient. Critics such as Human Rights Watch said the underlying reason was to clear the way for agricultural investors, and that forced evictions overseen by soldiers involved rape and murder. The Ethiopian government refute the allegations.

 

Last month the London-based law firm Leigh Day & Co began proceedings against the UK Department for International Development (DfID) at the high court after a man from Gambella alleged he suffered abuse when the agency supported the resettlement scheme. Since 2006, DfID and other donors have funded a multibillion-dollar programme in Ethiopia that pays the salaries of key regional government workers such as teachers and nurses through the Protection of Basic Services scheme.

 

A DfID spokesman said: “We will not comment on ongoing legal action, however, the UK has never funded Ethiopia’s resettlement programmes. Our support to the Protection of Basic Services Programme is only used to provide essential services like healthcare, schooling and clean water.”

 

Karmi, 10km from Gambella town, is a newly expanded community for those resettled along one of the few tarmac roads. Two teachers scrub clothes in plastic tubs on a sticky afternoon. A herd of goats nibble shrubs as purple and orange lizards edge up tree trunks. There is little activity in the village, which has bare pylons towering over it waiting for high-voltage cables to improve Gambella’s patchy electricity supply.

 

The teachers work in an impressive school built in 2011 with funds from the UN refugee agency. It has a capacity of 245 students for grades one to five – yet the teachers have only a handful of pupils per class. “This is a new village but the people have left,” says Tigist Megersa.

 

Kolo Cham grows sorghum and corn near the Baro river, a 30-minute walk from his family home at Karmi. The area saw an influx of about 600 people at the height of villagisation, says Kolo, crouching on a tree stump, surrounded only by a group of children with a puppy. Families left when they got hungry and public services weren’t delivered. “They moved one by one so the government didn’t know the number was decreasing,” he says.

 

The Anuak at Karmi have reason to fear the authorities, particularly Ethiopia’s military. Several give accounts of beatings and arrests by soldiers as they searched for the perpetrators of a nearby March 2012attack on a bus that killed 19. The insecurity was a key factor in the exodus, according to residents.

 

As well as the Anuak, who have tended crops near riverbanks in Gambella for more than 200 years, the region is home to cattle-herding Nuer residents, who began migrating from Sudan in the late 19th century. Thousands of settlers from northern Ethiopia also arrived in the 1980s when the highlands suffered a famine. The government blamed the bus attack on Anuak rebels who consider their homeland colonised.

 

David Pred is the managing director of Inclusive Development International. The charity is representing Gambella residents, who haveaccused the World Bank of violating its own policies by funding the resettlement programme. An involuntary, abusive, poorly planned and inadequately funded scheme was bound to fail, he says. “It requires immense resources, detailed planning and a process that is truly participatory in order for resettlement to lead to positive development outcomes,” he adds.

 

Most of flood-prone Gambella, one of Ethiopia’s least developed states, is covered with scrub and grasslands. Inhospitable terrain makes it difficult for villagisation to take root in far-flung places such as Akobo, which borders South Sudan. Akobo is one of the three districts selected for resettlement, according to Kok Choul, who represents the district in the regional council.

 

In 2009, planners earmarked Akobo for four new schools, clinics, vets, flourmills and water schemes, as well as 76km of road. But the community of about 30,000 has seen no change, says 67-year-old Kok, who has 19 children from four wives. “There is no road to Gambella so there is no development,” he says. One well-placed civil servant explains that funds for services across the region were swallowed by items such as daily allowances for government workers.

 

A senior regional official says the state ran low on funds for resettlement, leading to delivery failures and cost-cutting. For example, substandard corn grinders soon broke and have not been repaired, he says. The government will continue to try to provide planned services in three districts including Akobo this year and next, according to the official.

 

However, the programme has transformed lives, with some farmers harvesting three times a year, says Ethiopia’s ambassador to the UK, Berhanu Kebede. The government is addressing the “few cases that are not fully successful”, he says. Service provision is ongoing and being monitored and improved upon if required, according to Kebede.

 

At Elay, Oman Nygwo, a wiry 40-year-old in cut-off jeans, gives a tour of deserted huts and points to a line of mango trees that mark his old home on the banks of the Baro. He is scathing about the implementation of the scheme but remains in Elay as there is less risk of flooding. There was no violence accompanying these resettlements, Oman says, but “there would be problems if the government tried to move us again”.

April 21, 2014

Egypt to ‘escalate’ Ethiopian dam dispute

While construction of Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam continues apace, downstream neighbour Egypt is crying foul.

In the three years since construction began on the 1.8km Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam across the Blue Nile River, Egypt and Ethiopia have been engaged in a war of words over its potential impacts.

Ethiopia believes the massive dam will herald an era of prosperity, spurring growth and attracting foreign currency with the export of power to neighbouring countries. But Egypt has raised concerns about the downstream effects, as the Blue Nile supplies the Nile with about 85 percent of its water.

Both sides say they seek a negotiated solution, but they remain at loggerheads, with negotiations stalled. Ethiopia insists the dispute must be resolved through negotiations between the two parties, with Mahamoud Dirir, the ambassador to Egypt, noting in a statement last month that “there are only two… countries in the entire world which are well-placed to mediate between Egypt and Ethiopia.”


Egypt, meanwhile, is quietly lobbying the international community for support against what it says is a violation of international law, diplomatic sources confirmed to Al Jazeera.

“Egypt plans to take actions to escalate the situation against Ethiopia,” said a western diplomat in Cairo, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “But the exact implications of these actions [are] still unclear.”

Egypt’s main concern is water security, as the country faces a future of increasing scarcity. Nearly all of Egypt’s water comes from the Nile, and its population of 83 million is growing at nearly two percent annually.

Already, water shortages cause problems. The most common response is the reuse of wastewater in agriculture, often untreated. The 2005 UNDP Human Development Report for Egypt stated that “poor water quality affects both health and land productivity with damage costs estimated to have reached LE 5.35 billion [$7.7m] or 1.8 percent of GDP.”

Doaa Ezzat Zaki al-Agha, a water management specialist conducting research in the Nile delta, said five members of her family died from liver disease, which she believes resulted from poor drinking water. “They have no other choices, only the Nile water,” she said.

Mohamed Abdel Wahab, a farmer from a small village of 300 families near the delta city of Alexandria, an area that regularly experiences water shortages, believes the government should be “more strict with Egypt’s sovereign right to water” – and his view reflects that of many Egyptians. Any threat to the country’s water supply is treated as an existential threat. Accordingly, Egypt has long opposed upstream development projects on the Nile. In the past this prevented Ethiopia from receiving money from international organisations like the World Bank, which has a “no objection” rule for projects it funds. Now, Ethiopia is funding the $4.8bn project itself.

Tensions peaked in May 2013 when Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile. Former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi told a national conference: “We will defend each drop of Nile water with our blood if necessary.”

Today, statements from the Egyptian Foreign Ministry are more conciliatory, with spokesperson Badr Abdelatty saying he hoped the situation could be resolved through “cooperation”. A recent statement by Abdelatty on the State Information Service website, however, adds: “The Ethiopian dam is an issue that can bear no compromises.”

The last negotiations in Addis Ababa in February stalled over whether international experts should be included in a technical committee being formed to implement the recommendations of a May 2013 report on the dam. Written by an international panel of experts (IPOE), the report proposed more extensive assessment of the dam’s potential transboundary environmental and social impacts. “We must have an international member on the committee and the Ethiopians refused this,” said Khaled Wasif, a spokesperson for the Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources.

 

April 18, 2014

Haile Selassie’s Africa: A Legacy Ignored by a Generation

Filed under: Haile Selassie — ethiopiantimes @ 7:27 pm
Tags: , ,

 (Photo: Courtesy Tsehai Publishers)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Published: Thursday, April 17th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — In a new book by Dr. Belete Belacehw Yihun, entitled Black Ethiopia published by Tsehai Publishers, the diplomatic history of Ethiopia and the legacy of Haile Selassie is revisited with the scales of history rebalanced to show more sides of the embattled leader. According to Dr. Christopher Clapham at the Centre of African Studies at Cambridge University, “This book tells the remarkable story of how Ethiopia seized the diplomatic leadership of Africa.” While many historical materials on Haile Selassie’s diplomatic efforts remain inaccessible to the general public, Belete’s book is among the few compiled resources on Ethiopian diplomacy in modern Ethiopia, which studies the time period between 1956 and 1991 as Ethiopia took the reigns of African diplomacy that continued in subsequent governments.

“If we are to truly understand the events of the present, we must look to the past for answers,” adds Elias Wondimu, founder of Tsehai Publishers. “We must look with a critical eye toward the past and examine why events happened and why people are perceived and ultimately preserved a particular way.” The scarcity of compiled documentation of Ethiopian diplomacy, especially in a time of great change and modernization, makes this book a particularly valuable piece of history.

Just over two years ago, on the the eve of the fifty year anniversary of the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) / African Union (AU) was celebrated as the new AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia opened its doors for its inaugural summit to large fanfare. The celebration included the unveiling of a bronze statue of one of the most famous leaders of the organization, Kwame Nkrumah. A quote from Nkrumah was inscribed in front of the statue in golden letters, “Ethiopia shall stretch forth her hands unto God. Africa must unite.” The quote epitomizes the significant role that Ethiopia played towards the founding of the OAU.

Nkrumah, the leader of the Casablanca Group, fought for a completely united Africa under the motto “One continent, one nation”. Nkrumah’s contributions to African unity are invaluable, and yet the statue has stirred debate not just in Ethiopia, but worldwide as Nkrumah’s legacy is only one part of OAU’s origins. Emperor Haile Selassie, who was a uniting figure among the different factions, is another person who played a major role in convincing African leaders to bypass their ideological divisions to work together. As a well-regarded international statesman of his time, Emperor Haile Selassie led the way to the establishment of the OAU in Addis Ababa in 1963.

Dr. Theodore M. Vestal, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Oklahoma State University, sums up Ethiopia’s impact on African politics in the following way, “Ethiopia has a long history of leadership in the Pan-African Movement, the complicated mosaic of continental and regional political and economic association liberation movements and mediation efforts.” Undoubtedly Haile Selassie was a major part of this tradition as he set a standard of statesmanship that has helped to advance Ethiopia and all of Africa towards a united global force.

- See more at: http://www.tadias.com/04/17/2014/haile-selassies-africaa-legacy-ignored-by-a-generation/#sthash.HNlNaqam.dpuf

April 17, 2014

Amhara Nationals living in Sululeta town beaten by a group of Sululeta town youth

Filed under: Suluta — ethiopiantimes @ 5:37 pm
Tags: , , ,

Amhara Nationals living in Sululeta town beaten A group of Sululeta town youth who claimed that the Oromo nationals have been mistreated at the sport festival held in the Bahir dar city beaten the Amhara nationals living in Sululeta town.

The beatings on Thursday, April 10, 2014 heavily injure three individuals who are now taking medical treatment in Addis Ababa. Besides the beatings, damage has occurred on house and properties.

Sululeta town’s communication office head said that four suspects of the rampage are in custody. He also said that those who caused the beatings and the damage are hooligans that can’t represent the town.

April 16, 2014

Minister of Federal Affairs and Benishangul Gumuz Region Charged


Blue party has filed a charge on the minister of federal affairs and Benishangul Gumuz region on the case of the 1, 346 families displaced from their homes and properties in the Benishangul Gumuz region’s Masha zone and Yaso woreda without any warning on February, 2013.

Blue party has been asking for the displaced citizens to return back to their places, to be compensated for their losses and those responsible be put to justice. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has said that the citizens are displaced due to a mistake done by rent seekers and the offenders would be put to justice.

But the Federal Affairs Minister neither returned the displaced citizens back to their places nor compensated them. The responsible offenders also haven’t been charged. Therefore, Blue party’s charge document that was prepared by Dr. Yakob Hailemariam is accepted by the court and tomorrow on April 17, 2014 the charge document will be read to the Federal Affairs minister, the Benishangul Gumuz region and the responsible offenders at the Federal High Court’s eighth criminal bench.

It is noted that the Benishangul Gumuz region’s president Ahmed Nasir has admitted the accusation and promising to return the displaced citizens back to their places.

Egyptian President Hopeful Threatens War with Ethiopia, Qatar, and to Revoke Camp David Accords

Filed under: Egypt — ethiopiantimes @ 7:27 pm
Tags: , , ,

April 15, 2014

9 Killed in Benishangul-Gumuz Region

Filed under: Benishangul-Gumuz — ethiopiantimes @ 8:41 pm
Tags: ,


More than Nine people are killed and six injured in a suspected gun shooting on a car last night in Benishangul-Gumuz Region, the shooting happened on the car near “Teyeba”, 100KM from Asosa Sherkole Woreda.

According to Fana,  The Federal Police is hunting for the shooters.

Next Page »

The Rubric Theme. Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 34 other followers