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  • Ethiopian wins Ernesto Illy International Coffee Award

    Last week, the espresso-focused Italian coffee giant Illycafé presented its first annual Ernesto Illy International Coffee Awards, recognizing the top quality producers in its supply network.

    Held at the Delegates Dining Room of the United Nations in New York, the event notably pulled the mask off Illy’s signature blend, while more importantly recognizing and promoting the individual producers behind it in the spirit of quality through collaboration. The company has been holding a similar awards program annually in Brazil, yet in UN-fashion, decided to expand the program to include a number of additional major producing countries.

    From its quality lab in Trieste, Italy, Illy identified the three best lots from the 2015-16 crop year from each of nine countries that have regularly contributed to Illy’s signature blend, before an international jury selected the top lot from each country. The awards gala itself recognized all 27 finalists.

    The countries represented included Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, India and Nicaragua, while the international jury — calibrated by Mark Pendergrast and Illy Quality director David Brussa — was composed of coffee professionals, chefs and members of the coffee-focused media, including Peter Giuliano, Kerri Goodman, Corby Kummer, Grace Hightower, Suvir Saran, Viki Geunes, Luigi Taglienti, Maria Loi, and Adolfo Henrique Vieira Ferreira.

    In the end, Ahmed Legesse from Ethiopia was presented with the Ernesto Illy International Coffee Award, with coffee praised by the jury as having an intense yet delicate flavor, and unique high-intensity floral jasmine notes mixed with a hint of citrus and fresh fruit. Receiving an equal score, a Honduran lot from Juan Angel Milla received a special honorable mention.


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  • Trump's daughter to relocate fashion line production company to Ethiopia

    As her father’s political foes are fond of pointing out, Ivanka Trump’s exclusive line of shoes for the working woman are made in China. Soon, they may be made in Africa.

    The head of Huajian Group, a Chinese shoe manufacturer that produces for the Trump’s eponymously named brand, this week discussed plans to relocate the company’s production to Ethiopia, where labor is cheaper.

    “My goal is to create 30,000 jobs in Ethiopia by 2020, with exports reaching $1 billion to $1.5 billion,” Zhang Huarong told the French news agency AFP. Zhang is building a “light industrial city” complete with production facilities, dorms, and its own hospital in Addis Ababa. Keeping in theme, the complex will be in shape of a woman’s shoe.

    Click here for more...

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  • Ethio-Djibouti railway sets new model for China-Africa cooperation

    Chinese conductor Ding Jihua (R) trains the Ethiopian attendants at a railway station in suburban Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Oct 1, 2016.[Photo/Xinhua]

    The railway, which links the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and the port of Djibouti in Djibouti, will officially open service on Wednesday as Africa's first electric railway. It is constructed by China Railway Group and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, a subsidiary of CRCC.

    Meng told Xinhua in an interview Tuesday that the project has set two successful models: introducing Chinese standards overseas to facilitate export of Chinese equipment and management; building railways to boost development of industrial parks, logistic centers and real estates along the route.

    The Ethiopia-Djibouti railway is the first railway built using a complete set of Chinese standards outside China, which Meng said is key to its success.

    Thanks to China's outstanding performance in building and managing railways, Chinese railway standards eventually helped Chinese firms win over the project in Ethiopia, which, like many other countries, once viewed Western standards as the orthodox.

    "After rounds of negotiations, The Ethiopian government came to realize that the Chinese standards are no inferior to Western ones, and more importantly, they best suit the country," Meng said.

    The option for Chinese standards facilitated the use of Chinese equipment, trains and materials in the construction. Working together, the Chinese firms ensured the railway's completion in just four years, despite the conclusion of Western experts who evaluated the project that for Ethiopia to have an electric railway was a mission impossible.

    The railway's construction has also seen Chinese investments channeling into the industrial parks and other development projects along the line, which will help create jobs and boost industries for Ethiopia, Meng added.


    In-Picture: Ethiopia-Djibouti railway inauguration

    The 3.4 billion US dollars built railway is a historical project which will take the relationship between the three countries into a new era, said Prime Minister Hailemariam at the ingural ceremony held at Lebu Station.

    The railway line will greatly reduce the travel time between the two countries and will contribute to the development of Ethiopia’s hinterland.

    Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti and Xu Shaoshi, Special Envoy of Chinese President Xi Jinping jointly inaugurated the Ethio-Djibouti railway today.

    This is an electrified system and environmentally friendly. This is what makes it different from other railway projects in Africa.

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  • Interview with Ethiopian Fashion Designer Abai Schulze

    There’s an odd sense of vertigo when you see a face you recognize in a glossy magazine. Still, I shouldn’t have been surprised to see Abai Schulze confidently gazing at me from the magazine rack. In an economics class full of the standard George Washington University overachievers, she stood out. Even then she spoke about her twin passions of fashion and improving life in Ethiopia, the country of her birth.

    That struck me as an odd pairing at the time. But not long after graduation, Schulze founded ZAAF, a premium leather goods and accessories collection handcrafted by artisans in Ethiopia. She’s one of a rising tide of African designers, such as Maki Oh from Nigeria, aAks from Ghana, among others.

    Schultze recently turned 28 but started the business when she was 25. ZAAF brought in revenue of $160k last year and has 15 full-time employees and an additional 5-7 part-time employees depending on the season. They are based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. However, I wanted to know more about Schulze’s company. How did the company work? What was it like for a young woman born in Ethiopia but raised in the U.S. to start a company that would help people in her home country as well as make a profit? And, was it all too good to be true? Here’s what she had to say:

    Leah Wald: What have you learned from building a company at the young age of 25?

    Abai Schulze [Founder and Creative Director at ZAAF]:It’s been an amazing rough and tumble adventure full of challenges. I’m lucky enough to have made mistakes that will serve me well for the future (where the stake will be greater) but in a context where missteps are not fatal for the endeavor. It’s also made it very clear that each and every entrepreneurial project I take on is very binary – I either go 120% or not at all. You shouldn’t be half-hearted about blazing a personal trail or endeavor.

    Wald: Economically, how do people view Ethiopia? What do find people typically associate with the country?

    Schulze: Unfortunately, the “Ethiopia” brand is stuck in the stereotypes of hunger and instability reaching back to events of the past. This brand needs to be updated to reflect the reality of the nation’s remarkable growth and its human and cultural capital. Ethiopia is now one of the strongest economic movers on the continent, applauded for significant development advances — particularly in its rural areas — and a very aggressive industrial policy around textiles and light manufacturing. A country of nearly 100 million with near consistent double-digit GDP growth can only reasonably perceived as a bold global contender.

    Read the full interview here

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  • KIA Motors signs agreement with Belayab Motors to set up car assembly plant

    Ethiopia’s vehicle assembly company Belayab Motors PLC has entered into an agreement with South Korean car manufacturer KIA Motors Corporation that will see the manufacturer assemble cars in Ethiopia even as it contemplates expanding such operations to the rest of Africa.

    "It is important to penetrate the African market. We are also looking at the prospects of opening similar plants in Algeria and other countries," Soon Nam Lee, President of Kia's Middle East and Africa said.

    Speaking at the agreement signing ceremony, Mr. Fekadu Girma, General Manager of Belayab Motors, expressed his excitement at the partnership. “Our company has been in the forefront building the automotive industry in Ethiopia since 2006. This agreement with Kia Motors is a testament to our unwavering efforts towards accelerating the growth of the local manufacturing industry.”

    Mr. Fekadu noted that Belayab’s commitment is evident to the success of the Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Plan (GTPII) by intensifying its investment and facilitate foreign direct investment (FDI) through its alliance with KIA Motors. “This potentially adds value to the Ethiopian Economy at a macro and micro level” said the Manager.

    The agreement will bring the global automotive brand to Ethiopia as the first car assembly plant in East Africa for Kia. Mr. Soonnam Lee, Kia Motor’s President of Middle East & Africa Regional Headquarters explained that Kia’s business partnership with Belayab will allow the company to expand production capacity to meet growing global demand. "As one of the most youthful and exciting brands in the world today, Kia offers some of the best-looking, high quality vehicles to its customers and we are excited to bring our products to Ethiopia with this partnership. Kia Motors’ agreement with Belayab is also partnership based on mutual understanding on the need for capacity building and knowledge transferring endeavors,” he said.

    The assembly facility will have the capacity to assemble 12 cars per day in a single shift; 240 cars per month. It is estimated that a total of 3000 KIA vehicles will be assembled each year. The 30,000 m2 assembly plant located in Adama expects to add 100 more employees who recently graduated from the technical college. The first Kia vehicle assembly is expected to be completed in January 2017.

    Ethiopia produces about 8,000 commercial and other vehicles a year for the home market, about a quarter of which are cars. Among those present include Chinese firms Lifan and Geely.

    Though a minnow in the continental market, the government wants to turn the industry into one of the biggest on the continent through incentives such as cheap labor and tax breaks.


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