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  • Violence pushes some 23,000 Ethiopians to surrender to Saudi authorities


    Riyadh - Some 23,000 Ethiopians have handed themselves in since Saudi authorities clamped down on illegal foreign workers 10 days ago, Ethiopia’s ambassador in Riyadh said in remarks published on Wednesday.

    The crackdown was marred by clashes between police and Ethiopian migrants on Saturday that led to the deaths of three people in the poor Manfuhah neighbourhood of Riyadh.

    Ambassador Mohammad Hassan Kabiera told the English-language Arab News daily that the clashes “occurred because the illegal workers were frustrated they did not have a way to surrender to the police”.

    The workers took to the streets to voice their concerns, prompting “clashes with some youths in the neighbourhood”, he said.

    The crackdown was marred by clashes between police and Ethiopian migrants on Saturday that led to the deaths of three people in the poor Manfuhah neighbourhood of Riyadh.

    Ambassador Mohammad Hassan Kabiera told the English-language Arab News daily that the clashes “occurred because the illegal workers were frustrated they did not have a way to surrender to the police”.

    The workers took to the streets to voice their concerns, prompting “clashes with some youths in the neighbourhood”, he said.
     “We have been informed that so far about 23,000 Ethiopians have handed themselves in,” Kabiera said.

    On Tuesday, Ethiopia said three of its citizens had died during clashes in the Gulf kingdom, without elaborating.

    On Wednesday, Saudi media quoted Riyadh governor Prince Khalid Bin Bandar Bin Abdul Aziz as saying that “casualties and deaths have not surpassed three Saudis and two foreigners”, again without giving details.

    Thousands of workers have handed themselves in to authorities who are holding them in police-run centres pending the finalisation of procedures for their deportation.

    In Addis Ababa, Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti said on Tuesday that “the act of killing innocent civilians is uncalled for, we condemn that”.

    Al Riyadh daily quoted Prince Khalid as defending the campaign, saying it “does not target a specific group but all illegal” workers and residents.

    “We will continue these campaigns until we ensure all residents in our country are staying legally,” he said.

    On November 4, the kingdom began rounding up thousands of illegals following the expiry of a final amnesty for them to formalise their status.

    Among them were foreigners who overstayed their visas, pilgrims who had sought jobs, and migrants working under one sponsor trying to get jobs elsewhere.

    Having an official sponsor is a legal requirement in Saudi Arabia and most other Gulf states.

    Nearly a million migrants — Bangladeshis, Filipinos, Indians, Nepalis, Pakistanis and Yemenis among them — took advantage of the amnesty to leave.

    Another roughly four million were able to find employers to sponsor them.

    Expatriates account for a full nine million of the oil-rich kingdom’s population of 27 million.

    The lure of work, even in low-paid jobs as domestics or construction workers, has made the country a magnet for migrants from Asia as well as from poorer Arab states.

    Despite its huge oil wealth, Saudi Arabia has a jobless rate of more than 12.5 per cent among its local population, a figure the government has long sought to cut.



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  • Ethiopian Embassy and Volunteers Working for Safe Repatriation of Ethiopians

    ( Addis Ababa) - The Ethiopian Embassy in Riyadh announced today that it is working with community members to repatriate Ethiopians in "a safe and dignified manner." Speaking about the current situation in the city, Ambassador Mohammed Hassen said "over the past two day the situation has been calm and no new incidents of clashes with security forces reported."

    The Ambassador and diplomats at the embassy met with the Governor of Riyadh and the head of the police force to discuss ways to work for the safe repatriation of Ethiopians. The Embassy has opened a new registration center in Mureba and started registering Ethiopian citizens, and is providing laissez passer to Ethiopians who failed to legalize their status in the four months grace period allowed by the Saudi government.

    The Embassy has also had meetings with community members to organize efforts to stop any ill-treatment of Ethiopians while they are being moved to deportation centers by Saudi security forces. Volunteers from Ethiopian community members are also supporting the Embassy in registering Ethiopians who are without residence permits. The Ambassador together with the Governor of Riyadh has visited detention facilities to observe conditions. He and other Ethiopian diplomats have confirmed that Ethiopians without resident permits are now moving to the deportation centers without problem.

    The Saudi Ministry of Foreigners has urged Ethiopians to go to the nearest Embassy, Consulate office or registration center to process their repatriation in an orderly fashion. Today, Ethiopia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reiterated its reassurance to all concerned Ethiopian citizens that it is working with the Saudi Authorities to repatriate Ethiopians and protect them from any form of abuse. The Ministry has also firmly repeated that it strongly condemns any form of ill-treatment or inhuman actions committed against Ethiopians.


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  • Bono meets PM Hailemariam

    Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Saturday held discussions with Bono - former Irish rock star and philanthropist - on the AU Year of agriculture and Ethiopia’s progress on MDGs.

    Bono was accompanied by Mo Ibrahim, Dr. Sipho S. Moyo - ONE Africa Director, and Michale Elliott - ONE CEO.

    On the occasion, Bono said the development endeavors being carried out in Ethiopia are exemplary to other African countries.

    He praised the effort of the government and people of Ethiopia to eradicate poverty.

    He urged the need for other African countries to introduce and implement effective policies and strategies similar to Ethiopia.

    The rock star lauded the success that the country achieved in improving community health.

    Read more from ERTA

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  • H&M buying clothing from Ethiopia


    STOCKHOL - Clothing retailer H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB is looking to Ethiopia as a new low-cost country in which it will produce clothing, as it races to keep shelves stocked at a growing number of stores around the globe.

    The Swedish clothing retailer relies heavily on Bangladesh for clothes production and a move to Africa would expand its sourcing footprint, but not replace its commitment to production in Asia. One supplier says H&M is looking to source one million garments a month from Ethiopia.

    A spokeswoman said the fashion company has placed test orders with Ethiopian suppliers and says large-scale production can begin as early as this fall. H&M is adding stores in a number of markets, a move needed to help offset stagnant same-store sales in some regions.

    “As a growing global company we have to look at how we guarantee that we have the capacity to deliver products to all our stores where we have a rapid pace of expansion,” H&M spokeswoman Camilla Emilsson-Falk said. “We are doing that by increasing production in our existing production areas and also by looking at new ones.”

    H&M joins a host of rivals looking for alternatives to areas such as southern China, where costs are rising. The Sanford C. Bernstein investment-research firm estimates costs per unit manufactured in Ethiopia were more than half the cost of China as of 2011, which is the latest data available.

    But rising costs in Ethiopia could be a problem in the future. Bernstein analyst Anthony Sleeman said costs rose 18% in Ethiopia in 2011 versus 2010, compared with a 7.7% spike in China. At that rate, Mr. Sleeman expects Ethiopia’s costs per unit will exceed China’s by 2019.

    Still, retailers see advantages in getting a more diverse footprint, and are looking to source closer to the markets they sell in because of a need for lower shipping costs and reduced lead times. Depending on how H&M’s retail network expands, the proximity of production could help offset production cost disparities.

    “We know that [Spain's] Inditex sources from Morocco and Tunisia,” Société Générale analyst Anne Critchlow said. “If [H&M] can play a part in supporting the development of this industry in Ethiopia while benefiting from lower delivery costs and perhaps shorter lead times to Europe than from China, then I think, ‘Why not Ethiopia?’ “

    Ms. Emilsson-Falk said H&M’s test orders in Ethiopia aren’t related to media reports earlier this year that the company was looking for store space in South Africa, and there are no concrete plans for a store in South Africa.

    The spokeswoman reiterated H&M’s long-term commitment to Bangladesh and said the company is growing and increasing sourcing in all the markets where it is active.

    H&M says low production costs aren’t the only thing it looks at as it makes deals with new suppliers. The company says it strives to work with suppliers over the long term that can offer the capacity and quality that H&M needs and that can meet H&M’s conduct rules.

    Ethiopia isn’t a newcomer to the textile and garment industry, and it has aggressive plans for growth in coming years. The first garment factories were built in 1939 during the fascist Italian occupation.

    The Ethiopian government has said it wants to revitalize its textile and garment industry, and has set a target of $1 billion in textile exports by 2016. In order to reach that target, it is bringing in foreign investors to modernize machines and factories.

    The country’s ability to successfully expand its garment industry could help it achieve its goal of moving from primarily an agricultural economy to an industrial one. The nation has been supporting this push for more than a half decade.

    “Ethiopia not only gives infrastructure support but financial support,” said Rajeev Arora, executive director of the African Cotton and Textiles Industries Federation. He cited competitive interest rates, cheap land and labor, and tax breaks from the government as key incentives leading to extraordinary rates of foreign investment over the past five years.

    The nation’s textile and apparel exports totaled about $99 million for the 12 months ended in June, up 17% from the prior year, according to Fassil Tadesse, president of the Ethiopian Textile and Garment Manufacturers Association. Ethiopia hopes to reach $500 million in these types of exports next year.

    Mr. Tadesse added that it will be difficult for the country to reach its goal of $1 billion in such exports by 2016, but not impossible. “There’s a lot in the pipeline,” he said. “Turkish companies, Indian companies and Chinese companies are coming now.”

    The government has eased the process for companies wanting to establish textile manufacturing in Ethiopia by eliminating trips to multiple offices and setting aside industrial parks for the building of factories, he said.

    H&M established its office in Ethiopia’s capital of Addis Ababa about a year ago, and has been buying clothing from a number of manufacturers including Mr. Tadesse’s Kebire manufacturing company. He said he alone sells H&M about 150,000 “test” garments a month. He didn’t provide a dollar figure for the sales, saying that the prices varied depending on the garments.

    “They are trying to form a cluster of companies because their need is one million pieces per month,” Mr. Tadesse said.

    Tesco PLC and the British arm of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., known as George, are also buying clothing from Ethiopian manufacturing plants, Mr. Tadesse said. He said he wasn’t aware of any U.S. investors yet and stressed that while U.S. trade deals with Africa are beneficial, they aren’t enough on their own to develop an industry.

     source: wsj

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  • Beles comes to Town


    Yoseph Moges, 23, was a waiter until two weeks ago, when he started selling cactus fruit on the streets of Addis Abeba. He is usually found in Atkilt Terra, Piazza, pushing a wheelbarrow full of beles, the local name for the fruit.

    Every two days he purchases 50Kg, paying between 3.50 Br and five Birr a kilogramme. He then spends his days roaming around the neighbourhood looking for customers. He only ventures out to the rest of the city if business in Atkilt Terra is slow.

    He sells a kilo of beles for 10 Br. His supplier, Mikielle Teklay, a wholesaler in the neighbourhood, distributes the fruit to street vendors like Yoseph.

    Mikielle, who came from Adigrat, in the Tigray region, 898kms North of Addis Abeba, claims he is one of the two wholesalers who introduced beles to Addis Abebans, when he started stocking it three years ago. His brother, who still lives in Tigray, sends him 90 wooden crates of cactus fruit every two days, loaded on an Isuzu pickup truck.

    Beles from Adigrat is considered high quality, producing the sweetest fruit in the country. He buys one wooden crate of cactus fruit, containing between 45 to 50Kg, for 70 Br from farmers in the region, he told Fortune.

    Although he is a pioneer in the sale of the fruit in the city, Mikielle claims that more wholesalers stocking beles from other regions have joined the market since its early days. This has reduced the profits he enjoyed two years ago.

    The supply of the fruit in Addis Abeba seems monopolised by street vendors. After visiting numerous supermarkets and fruit stalls, Fortune only found one, in Piazza, which had it in stock. The owner, Tewodros Getachew, says he included the fruit in his store last year, after an Atkilt Terra wholesaler approached him.

    The initial agreement was that Tewodros would just stock the fruit, but all the profit would go to the wholesaler. This arrangement was mutually beneficial, since Tewodros incurred no costs – if the fruit did not sell, the wholesaler took the financial hit. On the other hand, if the demand was promising, the wholesaler would secure a regular buyer in Tewodros. Within the first three sales, the fruit vendor decided to make regular purchases from the wholesaler. He now restocks on a weekly basis, purchasing 40Kg at a time and reselling for 10Br a Kg.

    Although the fruit is new to Addis Abeba, it is ubiquitous in Tigray, where it has long been used as a food source as well as cattle feed. A study published in the Agricultural Organisation of the UN (FAO) newsletter, Cactusnet, in May 2010, stated that 6.74pc of Tigray is covered by cactus plant. A total of 30,000ha is used for cactus cultivation by farmers, with an additional 300,000ha being covered with wild cactus. The Tigray Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) gives different figures, however. They state that Tigray has a total coverage of 320,000ha of beles, of which 120,000ha is occupied by farmers, according to Mizan Amare, crop research director at the Institute.

    The cactus plant, which can bear up to 300 fruits on each plant, of which there could be 3,000 to 4,000 on one hectare, is particularly popular during periods of drought. This is because it thrives in arid conditions, sustaining the population until conditions improve. This has earned it such appellations as “life-saving crop” and “fruit of the dark days”.

    The importance it holds in Tigray’s agrarian circles is aptly described by a local proverb – “a farmer without beles is like a stream without water”.

    A study conducted by the FAO in 2008 showed that 25pc of the income of farmers in Tigray is generated from the sale of cactus. While cactus is also found in the Eastern and Southern parts of the country, it is not held in the same esteem as in the North.

    In Tigray, the fruit is finally ready for consumption during the long rainy season – from June through mid-September. This is just in time for farmers to sell it and use the proceeds to cover their children’s educational needs. The children, who are in the midst of their annual school break, also help to sell the fruit that will keep them in school the following year. It also provides a good job opportunity for local women.

    Back in Addis Abeba, Yoseph’s customers, mostly pedestrians, tend to buy one or two fruits at a time, paying up to two Birr a beles. Others purchase as much as 15 Kg at once. While Fortune was talking to Yoseph, a customer, Semira Ahmed, bought four kilogrammes for 40 Br. Semira, who was observing Ramadan, said she broke her fast every evening with cactus fruit, after she observed other families using it during the fasting season. She found that the fruit helps her to avoid gastric issues. Like his customers, Yoseph also enjoys his merchandise, eating as many as 20 fruits a day.

    While its popularity in the city is growing, many Addis Abebans are still unfamiliar with the fruit. Tewodros, the fruit stall owner, states most of his customers are originally from Tigray, and selling to Addis Ababans is more difficult.

    “I have to persuade them even to taste it, if I want them to buy,” he said.

    Some see it in the wheelbarrows and ask to taste it out of curiosity. In fact, Fortune met Tagay Hussein as he was enjoying his first taste of the fruit. Tagay, who had previously heard of beles, declared he found it “delicious.”

    In addition to consuming it directly, cactus fruit can be prepared in a variety of ways, such as in beverages, vegetarian dishes, jam and even in cosmetics and drugs. The leaves are also used for human consumption, as a salad.

    However, while cactus fruit-based recipes are popular in countries like Mexico, this trend is yet to reach even Tigray, where it is most consumed, let alone Addis Abeba, a city still getting acquainted with this exotic fruit. The chefs Fortune contacted stated their knowledge does not extend beyond the basic step of juicing the fruit. Chef Yonas Tefera, a teacher at Bienvenido Catering & Tourism Institute, says that although he has never prepared a cactus fruit recipe, he is aware of its nutritional value and its use in juice, fruit salad and syrups. The same idea was echoed by Giordana Kebedom, producer of the Giordana’s Kitchen Show on EBS television.

    For a while it had seemed like cactus would have more uses, when an investor tried to export the cochineal insect that feeds on the plant. This insect is used to make red dye. The export effort did not last long, however, because of the damage caused on the cactus while breeding the insect, according to Mizan. The flowers of the plant were also, a year ago, exported to Europe for cosmetics production, but that too was suspended, as it came at the expense of the fruit.

    Source: addisfortune

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