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  • From chefs to musicians, talented ‘re-pats’ come back to build a modern Ethiopia

    One of the longest economic booms anywhere in the world in recent years has transformed the lives of tens of millions, and opened commercial opportunities unimaginable a generation ago. Growth rates have averaged about 10% for a decade, and most agree poverty has declined steeply.


    A family enjoying an injera meal at a restaurant in Addis Ababa.

    His dream is to show the world the glories of Ethiopian cuisine, to preserve its rich traditions and to make even his poorest fellow citizens eat better. That Yohanis Gebreyesus Hailemariam’s ambition recalls the aims of a slightly better known chef is no coincidence.

    “I’m a big fan of Jamie Oliver. Many years back, my mum and I used to watch his shows,” he says. The 30-year-old is one of thousands of talented young Ethiopians who have chosen to return to their homeland after being educated or growing up overseas.

    One of the longest economic booms anywhere in the world in recent years has transformed the lives of tens of millions, and opened commercial opportunities unimaginable a generation ago. Growth rates have averaged about 10% for a decade, and most agree poverty has declined steeply.

    A vast dam – one of several enormous hydroelectric power projects guaranteeing cheap electricity – and a new railway from the capital Addis Ababa to Djibouti, the Red Sea port 750km away, opened in December. The national airline – once shunned – now flies new aircraft daily to destinations across south and east Asia, turning Ethiopia into an intercontinental hub. In the new commodities exchange in Addis Ababa, prices for coffee flash across an electronic display on one wall. On a sofa in reception, Haile Tiruneh, a 19-year-old from Washington, sits waiting for a 9am meeting with a CEO. “I don’t want to stay [in the US]. I see all my relatives struggling with loans. I want to be back here … there are so many opportunities,” Tiruneh, who is currently studying finance at Seoul University, says. Other “re-patriates” as they are known here include designers, restaurateurs, musicians and property developers.

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  • Ethiopian shoe designer hopes for repeat success with coffee


    Bethlehem Alemu's shoes have been sold worldwide by Amazon (AMZN, Tech30), Urban Outfitters (URBN) and Whole Foods (WFM). When she started her business the Ethiopian accountant had much more modest ambitions.

    "I wanted to do something that would give me job opportunities myself and the people around me," Alemu said. "I immediately thought 'I have to start a small business!'"

    Alemu felt she had to do something about unemployment and poverty in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

    So she quit her day job in 2005 and founded SoleRebels, which turns scraps of rubber from old tires and other recycled material into stylish footwear.

     The company, which sold 125,000 pairs of shoes in 2016, has already delivered its promise of work. Since opening, SoleRebels has created 1,200 jobs and plans to have more than 3,000 full-time Ethiopian employees by the end of 2018 when a new production facility is complete.

    The jobs pay well too -- three times the average wage, according to Alemu.

    "I was born here in Ethiopia and I grew up here so I saw the state of people -- the way they lived and the way they worked, and I felt if I had a company (it) should pay a certain amount of money so the employees can take care of themselves and their families," she said.

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  • Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway officially completed


    The completion of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, a new 752km track linking Ethiopia’s capital with the Port of Djibouti (pictured), was officially marked today (Tuesday) at a ceremony at Nagad Railway Station in Djibouti.

    In the presence of Djibouti’s President, His Excellency Ismail Omar Guelleh, and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, His Excellency Hailemariam Desalegn, and senior officials from across the region, the new railway – linking Djibouti to Ethiopia – was officially inaugurated.

     

    The new railway can reach speeds of 160 km/h for passenger trains and 120 km/h for cargo trains. It will cut cargo journey times between the Port of Djibouti and Addis Ababa from three days by road to just 12 hours. Trial services for the new $4.2 billion railway began in October 2016, with regular services transporting goods and passengers expected to begin early this year.

    The railway is a major milestone for trade in the region. Currently, more than 90% of Ethiopia’s trade passes through Djibouti, accounting for 70% of the overall activity at Djibouti’s ports. With Africa’s GDP predicted to double by 2035, and the population expected to reach 2.5 billion over the next 30 years, the continent is in need of major new infrastructure links.

     

    In addition to building links with Djibouti’s port facilities, the railway will support the development of Djibouti’s International Free Trade Zone (DIFTZ), which will help spur the nation’s manufacturing industry and provide employment opportunities for its citizens. The railway project has been coupled with a US$15 billion expansion programme to improve Djibouti’s port facilities, and build new highways and airports in the country.

     

    Aboubaker Omar Hadi, Chairman of the Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority (DPFZA), said: “This railway marks a new dawn for Africa’s integration into the global economy. From today, millions more Africans are now linked to Djibouti’s world-class port facilities. Connecting Africa, Asia and Europe, Djibouti is at the heart of the world’s trade routes, and we are proud to play a vital role in developing the region and wider continent.”

     

    The railway was previously inaugurated from Ethiopia’s side on 5th October 2016. With journeys now also possible from Djibouti, the new railway represents the next step in plans for a 2000km long track that will also connect Djibouti and Ethiopia to South Sudan. The vision is that this could one day evolve into a Trans-African railway crossing the continent from the Red Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, a journey which by sea currently takes eight weeks.

    Source: dpfza.gov.dj

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  • VILALTA completes mall in Ethiopia with perforated envelope

     
    located in addis ababa, ethiopia, the ‘lideta mercato’ brings a contemporary expression to the rapidly growing city. the vast carved volume connects two parallel streets that create the boundary of the plot. this diagonal connection creates a shortcut for pedestrians and places focus on the entrances of the building.


    The striking envelope of the building takes into consideration of the local climate conditions and place. the façade acts as a protection from the harsh sun, controlling the natural light and ventilation into the internal spaces. using a lightweight concrete prefab system, the perforated skin references a traditional ethiopian fractal pattern commonly found in local fabrics. the passive ventilation system and controlled natural lightening created between the building’s layers and the interior atrium enables the interior space to be airy with a balanced illumination. Images © gonzalo guajardo


    The façade pattern was taken from local ethiopian fabrics

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  • Ethiopia's bubble is not bursting - CNN

    (CNN) - After a decade of rapid growth, Ethiopia's bubble is not bursting.

    Dubbed the 'African Lion' by economists, Ethiopia is the home of booming industry, new infrastructure, and showpiece summits. It has become a powerful force in the region and beyond.

    To maintain this golden age, the East African state is pressing ahead with ambitious development plans, and renewable energy is core to the mission.

    Ethiopia was among the most daring signatories to the Paris Agreement on climate change, committing to cut carbon emissions by 64% by 2030. The government has ploughed billions of dollars into hydropower megaprojects such as the Grand Renaissance Dam -- which will be the largest dam in Africa -- and the freshly-inaugurated Gibe III Dam.

    The next target is to become the wind power capital of Africa.


    The turbine of Ashegoda wind farm in Northern Ethiopia, which was the largest wind farm in sub-Saharan Africa when it was inaugurated in 2013. The $300 million facility represents a major step forward in Ethiopia's plans to become a renewable energy powerhouse.

    Breezing ahead

    Ethiopia inaugurated one of the continent's largest wind farms in 2013 -- the $290 million, 120-megawatt (MW) Ashedoga plant. This was followed by the even larger 153 MW Adama II facility in 2015.

    But wind accounted for just 324 MW of Ethiopia's total output of 4,180 MW at the end of 2015, with the vast majority coming from hydropower.

    This picture is set to change with the government's second "Growth and Transformation Plan," which will see total output pass 17,000 MW by 2020, and a vastly increased share from the air.

    The government has plans for at least five further wind farms, and potentially many more, aiming to deliver up to 5,200 megawatts from wind power within four years. The cost is officially calculated at $3.1 billion, although other estimates place it over $6 billion.

    "We are conducting research and studying the data to see the number of plants we can connect (to the National Grid)," says Misikir Negash, head of communications for the Ethiopian Electric Power company. "It is important to have different energy sources for a reliable system. Wind is a big focus and we need it."

    Read more at CNN

     

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