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  • BBC: The man who taught Mandela to be a soldier

    In July 1962, Col Fekadu Wakene taught South African political activist Nelson Mandela the tricks of guerrilla warfare - including how to plant explosives before slipping quietly away into the night.

    Mr Mandela was in Ethiopia, learning how to be the commander-in-chief of Umkhonto we Sizwe - the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC).

    The group had announced its arrival at the end of 1961 by blowing-up electricity pylons in various places in South Africa.

    Then on 11 January 1962, Mr Mandela had secretly, and illegally, slipped out of South Africa.

    His mission was to meet as many African political leaders as possible and garner assistance for the ANC, including money and training for its military wing.

    And to be moulded into a soldier himself.

    During this trip, he visited Ethiopia twice and left a deep impression on those who met him during his stay in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

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  • Ethiopia and Eritrea: Brothers at war no more

    The relationship between Eritrea and Ethiopia is arguably the most important and volatile in East Africa. The fall-out between the former brothers-in-arms initiated a two-year-long border war in 1998, which claimed around 100,000 causalities, cost billions of dollars, and continues to serve as the main source of regional instability in the Horn of Africa.

    The fighting was brought to an end with the signing of the Algiers Peace Agreement and establishment of the Ethiopia-Eritrea Border Commission (EEBC) in 2000. However, Ethiopia's refusal to implement the rulings of the EEBC prior to negotiations and Eritrea's insistence on an unconditional and immediate demarcation of the border, have locked the two governments in an intractable stalemate.

    Despite the official cessation of hostilities in 2000, Ethiopia and Eritrea continued their war through proxies by supporting various rebel movements throughout the Horn of Africa. In this way, they have been fuelling conflict and instability in each other's countries as well as the wider region.

    Thirteen years after the Algiers Peace Agreement, domestic conditions in both states and the regional geopolitical equation have undergone substantial changes.

    Ethiopia lost its long-time strongman, Meles Zenawi, in 2012. There are strong indications that Eritrea is also very likely to see the departure of its own leader, President Isaias Afwerki, in the near future. Moreover, Ethiopia has been experiencing robust economic growth and political stability over the last decade, a development that has also coincided with a significant weakening of its regional adversaries. 

    The political standoff between Ethiopia and Eritrea has very much been tied to the role, interests and historical experiences of particular individuals and circles that hail from one generation - the Marxist-Leninist student movements turned guerrilla fighters in the 1960s and 1970s. With the political and generational changes that are taking place in both countries, a normalisation of relations between these two states might take place in the not so distant future.

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  • Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir praises Ethiopia's dam project

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn (C) and Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir review troops during a welcome ceremony at Khartoum airport on December 3, 2013 (AFP Photo/Ashraf Shazly)

    Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Wednesday confirmed his country's support Ethiopia's multibillion-dollar hydroelectric dam project, noting that Khartoum would enjoy a large share of the electricity thus generated.

    "We support the Renaissance Dam because we believe it will benefit all countries of the region, including Egypt," al-Bashir told a rally in Al-Qadarif on Sudan's border with Ethiopia, where he inaugurated a joint energy project with visiting Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

    It was the first time that al-Bashir personally confirmed his country's support for the Ethiopian dam.

    A tripartite committee of experts from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan was drawn up in 2011 and tasked with assessing the dam's possible environmental, economic and social effects on downstream countries Egypt and Sudan.

    The committee, which includes ten water experts from the three countries along with international experts, recently called for further study of safety issues related to the dam's construction and the project's possible impact on the two downstream states.

    Ethiopia, for its part, insists the new dam will benefit Egypt and Sudan, both of which will be invited to purchase electricity generated by it.

    Source: World Bulletin

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  • BBC: Up to 30,000 Eritreans abducted since 2007

    Up to 30,000 Eritreans have been abducted since 2007 and taken to Egypt's Sinai to suffer torture and ransom demands, new research says.

    The study, presented to the European parliament, says Eritrean and Sudanese security officers are colluding with the kidnap gangs.

    At least $600m (£366m) has been extorted from families in ransom payments, it says.

    Victims are kidnapped in Ethiopia, Sudan and Eritrea and taken to Sinai.

    Eritrea has denied its officials are involved in the kidnappings.

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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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