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  • Ethiopia rolls out dollar millionaires at the fastest rate

    Ethiopia registered 108% growth (topping all of Africa from a low base) in dollar millionaires in the six years period between 2007 and 2013 to have 2700 of high net worth individuals (HNWI) while South Africa recorded moderate growth in this period but remains on top in Africa in terms of total number of HNWI.

    This comes out of the latest survey results of New World Wealth, an Oxford based wealth consultancy. The survey looked at millionaires across the African continent. It says Millionaires refer to individuals with net assets of US$1 million or more excluding their primary residences.

    “This study focuses on HNWI performance between the end of 2007; the peak before the global financial crisis; and 2013. This enables us to determine how well the country’s HNWIs have performed through the crisis,” said the statement announcing the findings.

    Key findings have Ethiopia as the fastest growing African country for millionaires over the past 6 years followed by Angola, Tanzania, Zambia and then Ghana.

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  • Vodacom opens office in Ethiopia

    Dec 3 (Reuters) - South Africa's Vodacom Group opened its first office in Ethiopia on Tuesday, eyeing a foothold in a nation which is the last remaining large market on the continent to maintain a state monopoly in telecoms.

    Africa's rapidly expanding telecoms industry has come to symbolise its economic growth, with subscribers across the continent totalling almost 650 million last year, up from just 25 million in 2001, according to the World Bank.

    Ethiopia's state-run Ethio Telecom signed a $1.6 billion deal in July and August with Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE Corp to expand mobile phone infrastructure, including rolling out 4G services in the capital.

    But Addis Ababa has ruled out liberalising its telecoms sector, saying the 6 billion birr ($321 million) it generates each year is being spent on vital infrastructure projects.

    Romeo Kumalo, Vodacom Group's chief executive, told Reuters in the Ethiopian capital the firm would apply for a licence to provide value-added services - essentially all services other than standard voice calls - in the Horn of Africa country.

    "But more importantly we want to position ourselves so when the market opens and the government does decide to grant licences in the consumer sector," he said.

    "We would invest here tomorrow. Ethiopia is probably the most fantastic telecoms market on the continent. One operator, 80 million people, the economy growing at 7 percent - it's a great market."

    The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology says it has received applications from more than 200 firms to provide such services.

    South Africa's MTN Group, Africa's largest mobile phone company, has already been granted a similar licence to open an office and offer value-added services.

    Kenya's top telecoms operator Safaricom has in the past expressed an interest in Ethiopia.

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who took office last year, told Reuters in October that the government would not sell Ethio Telecom, which has a monopoly.

    He said foreign investors were attracted to telecoms because it was a "cash cow" that required none of the effort to make profits that was needed to establish factories in manufacturing, an area which would create more jobs and growth.

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  • Explorer Levison Wood takes on River Nile walk

    An explorer is attempting to become the first person to walk the length of the River Nile.

    It will see Levison Wood, 31, set out from the highlands of Rwanda on Sunday on the start of a 4,250-mile journey that is expected to take 12 months.

    Mr Wood, originally from Forsbrook in Staffordshire but now living in London, is a former captain in the Parachute Regiment.

    He now works as an expedition leader and photojournalist.

    "I've been travelling there [to Africa] for the past 10 to 15 years on and off," he said.

    "So for me it's been a life-long passion and this is the culmination of that and an opportunity to explore Africa in all its glory."

    Mr Wood will be initially following the route of the longer White Nile, until it joins the Blue Nile at Khartoum in Sudan.

    While the source of the White Nile is disputed, Mr Wood will start in Rwanda and travel through six countries and some of the most remote locations on earth.

    The challenge has been described by Sir Ranulph Fiennes as "one of the last world firsts, demonstrating a very British determination and fortitude that has marked many of the great expeditions in Africa".

    Mr Wood said he had been inspired by some of the British explorers of the 19th Century, as well as Ed Stafford, who became the first man to walk the length of the Amazon in 2010.

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  • BBC: Eritrea's 'Bob Marley' moment?

     

    A musician from tiny Eritrea has caused a stir on YouTube, with a protest song that appears to criticise the government of President Isaias Afewerki.

    Eritrea is the kind of a place where protest songs don't go viral every day. It is one of Africa's smallest and most tightly-controlled states. Yet a track named Hadnetna (or "Our Unity") now has over 100,000 clicks. The artist behind the track is Yohannes "Wedi" Tikabo, and while his song sounds gentle and lilting, his words are not.

    "It isn't a secret that two generations of youngsters have perished," he sings. The lyrics also appeal to the memory of the struggle for independence, known as "Ghedli". The song has been widely interpreted as being a criticism of President Isaias, who has been in power for 20 years and whose government is regularly rated at the bottom of international tables for its record on human rights.

    One of those commenting on YouTube calls him the "Bob Marley of Eritrea" and "the voice of the people". Another writes: "If this does not wake our people, I really don't know what will."

    Yohannes is well-known in Eritrea, but what makes this video all the more surprising is that he was once more famous as a nationalist. His songs were widely used as an inspiration for Eritrean troops during the two-year border war with Ethiopia, but he recently joined the thousands of Eritreans who flee the country every year. The BBC has not been able to reach him for a comment.

    Activists are delighted. "Music has always been a mass mobiliser in Eritrea - before and after independence," says Sennai F of the opposition Youth Solidarity for Change movement. Yet internet usage is very low in Eritrea - only 6% according to one estimate - and where there is internet, it tends to be slow and unreliable - meaning the vast majority of those listening are probably Eritreans living outside the country. But the diaspora has found ways to get the song into in Eritrea, according to activists, via the Paris-based Radio Erena.

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  • An underwater hotel opens in Africa

    Joining a list of other experimental under-the-sea hotel rooms in Florida, Sweden and the Maldives, the underwater room at Manta Resort on remote Pemba Island in Tanzania’s Zanzibar Archipelago immerses guests 4m below the surface. The room sits on the bottom of a three-level floating structure, located 250m from shore in the Indian Ocean.

    Above and below each of the room’s eight windows, spotlights illuminate the sea life that swims by. Frequent visitors include a trumpet fish known as Nick, as well as squid and octopus at night. Above the underwater space, guests can climb a ladder to the water level, which contains a bathroom and lounge, or ascend to the rooftop to soak up the sun or lay beneath the stars.

     

    The floating structure was designed by Swedish artist Mikael Genberg, who also constructed the structurally similar Utter Inn in Sweden’s Lake Malaren. For this project, he sought a more remote location with clearer waters, and found it off Pemba’s coast in the form of “the blue hole”, a circular clearing within the coral reef, measuring about 50m in diameter.  The open space made it the ideal location to anchor the new underwater structure.

    The room officially opened for guests on 1 November. Since Manta Resort has only one underwater space within the now 17-room resort, single nights in the room can be added to an existing stay for $1,500 per night.

    Click here for more pictures from BBC

     

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