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  • Ethiopia to celebrate 6th anniversary of GERD construction commencement

    Addis Ababa, February 25, 2017 (FBC) –Following the upgrading of generators, the installed hydropower generation capacity of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has been increased to 6,450MW.

    Initially, the dam was designed to generate 5,250MW. However, due to the upgrading made on the power plant, its generation capacity has been raised from 5,250 MW to 6,000 MW.

    But six years later, the total installed generation capacity of the dam has been increased by additional 450MW as a result of the improvement made on generators to boost the capacity of the power plant.

    Following the upgrading made twice, the electricity generation capacity of the dam has been increased by a total of 1,200 MW, which is equivalent to the power generated from Tekeze, Beles and Gibe-II hydropower plants.

    Ethiopia is preparing to celebrate the 6th anniversary of the commencement of the construction of the dam with various fund raising programs.

    In a press conference he gave here today in connection with the anniversary, Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Dr Debretsion Gebremichael, announced a 56 percent completion of the dam.

    According to the Minister, works are also nearing completion to enable the dam to generate 750MW in advance.

    “Construction of power receiver and transmission stations as well as installation of power transmission lines have been fully completed. The only thing left is fixing the two turbines that generate 375MW each,” he said.

    The next step is enabling the dam to hold water, he said, indicating the final preparation being made by the government to facilitate ways in which the filling of the dam’s reservoir will take place.

    “We are preparing to discuss with the governments of Sudan and Egypt,” he said, reiterating that “the dam doesn't cause any significant harm on the lower riparian countries.”

    The construction of the dam is being funded by the people and government of Ethiopia.

    According to Debretsion, the people of Ethiopia have continued their support to the construction of the dam through environmental conservation activities and the purchase of dam bonds.

    He said the people have so far contributed 9.4 billion birr for the dam.

    Office of the National Council for the Coordination of Public Participation on the Construction of the Dam recently said various fund raising programs will be carried out in connection with the 6th anniversary of the dam.

    The office planned to collect 1.8 billion birr from the fund raising programs.

    The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is being built in Benishangul Gumuz regional state, approximately 500 km northwest of the capital Addis Ababa.

     At the end of the works, GERD will be the largest dam in Africa.

    Source: FBC

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  • Ethiopia and South Sudan agree to construct oil route

    February 24, 2017 (ADDIS ABABA/JUBA) - President Salva Kiir and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn have agreed to build a road linking the two countries enabling South Sudan to export its oil to the landlocked Ethiopia.

    President Kiir arrived in Ethiopia Thursday afternoon on a three-day official visit.

    Kiir and Desalegn on Friday signed eight cooperation agreements to enhance economic cooperation and border security between the two neighbouring countries.

    Speaking at the signing ceremony in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian prime minister welcomed the agreement saying "We don’t need to go too far distance to import oil while South Sudan is close by here with us," the Ethiopian premier said.

    Hailemariam further said Ethiopia is currently constructing a highway from Dima to Raad and intends to extend this road further to Boma as part of its plans to boost economic ties with the world’s youngest nation.

    The highways due to be constructed will stretch from Gambella-Pagak-Palouge while the second one from Dima-Raad-Boma-Bor.

    The minister at the South Sudanese presidency, Mayiik Ayii, Gai, said the construction of the road comes together with the building of a refinery in Upper Nile with the capacity to process up top 100,000 barrels of oil per day. This project is funded by Swiss and U.S companies.

    "If the construction of this refinery is completed and the road is completed, we will have access to some hard currency through these refined products”, he told Sudan Tribune.

    He went further to say that the refinery will allow South Sudan to export refined fuel products at very decent prices to countries in the region, including Ethiopia.

    South Sudan currently exports its oil crude to the international market through Port Sudan, and imports fuel from countries in the region.

    The leaders said the trans-border highway projects will allow free movement of people, enhance trade exchange and social ties between peoples of the two sisterly countries.

    The two countries have also signed agreements on power, trade, health, infrastructure, information, communication and media.

    Another deal was also reached to establish a joint border committee which follows up implementation of joint development activities along with their shared border.

    A joint border administrators/governors committee will be formed in the earliest time possible to strengthen cooperation on issues of security, trade and infrastructure development.

    With regard to the political turmoil and finding durable solution to the conflict in South Sudan the two sides recognized "the need to work together for the implementation of the agreement on the resolution of the conflict in South Sudan" signed in Addis Ababa in August 2015.

    The two leaders further agreed to jointly work together for an inclusive process of the national dialogue in South Sudan.

    President kiir declared national dialogue on December 2016 in a bid to arrest nearly three-years long conflict.

    He called on armed opposition groups to lay down arms and join the national dialogue.

    Earlier this week, Kiir renewed his call on opposition groups to join the "open forum" arguing the national dialogue is the best option to consolidate peace in South Sudan.

    Source: sudantribune

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  • Turkey restoring tomb of Ethiopian King Najashi, who sheltered Muslim emigrants

    The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) is finishing up a restoration project on the tomb of King Najashi, the former leader of modern day Ethiopia's Kingdom of Aksum.

    TIKA coordinator in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, Fazıl Akın Erdoğan, told reporters that the restoration project on a mosque and tomb located 800 kilometers from the capital would wrap up this year.

    In addition to the restorations, Erdoğan explained that additional buildings were being constructed in the area, "We made a full-fledged food court to serve the needs of the guests and visitors. Besides the kitchen, we built a multi-purpose hall that can fit 500 people," he said.

    The restoration team also met the water needs of the tomb area by building 160 ton water depots in two different places.

    Noting that the project had been ongoing for three years, Erdoğan said that Ottoman architectural examples were evident in the marble, door, and window details of the mosque and tomb.

    Erdoğan emphasized that Turkey had made various negotiations with Ethiopia's Religious Services Consultancy and that they would like King Najashi's tomb to be added to the route of pilgrimage and umrah organizations in Turkey. If this happens, he said, the tomb would be a huge contribution to the tourism industry in Ethiopia.

    Imam Mohammad Ibrahim of the Najashi Mosque explained that, before the renovation works, the mosque was not in a good condition, but that everything had changed with the restoration effort.

    The imam also stated that he always prayed for Turkey and Turkish people saying, "Turkey is not only helping us, it is helping all Muslims."

    Getachew Berhe, an Ethiopian engineer who has worked on the project and speaks Turkish fluently, explained that after studying civil engineering in Turkey, he returned to his country and began working on the restoration efforts.

    Bearing in mind that the project is very significant for both Muslims and Ethiopians, Berhe said, "I am very pleased to have contributed to this work."

    King Najashi, also known as Armah, was the ruler of the Kingdom of Aksum from 614-631. The Empire was a trading nation situated in modern-day Eritrea and Ethopia, existing from approximately 100-940 AD.

    King Najashi gave shelter to early Muslims from Mecca who were seeking refuge from Quraysh persecution by traveling to Aksum, which was at time a Christian Kingdom. In Islamic history, the journey is known as the first hijra.


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  • Ethiopia's tourism potential yet to be fully exploited

    In 2016, over 800,000 tourists visited Ethiopia, bringing over ETB 128 billion ($5.6 billion) to the country. This is a decrease of approximately 11% from over 900,000 visitors in 2015. This is according to a new report by Jumia Travel Ethiopia, which further states that the Ministry of Culture and Tourism hopes to increase the number of tourists to one million, and the revenue to well over ETB 675 billion ($29.8 billion) in 2017. On the other hand, a remarkable growth has been achieved in terms of investment in the sector, rising by 3.7% end of 2016.

    “The country is looking for a transformational growth that will take the sector to the next level, marketing Ethiopia locally and internationally to list the country among Africa’s top five destinations. We are also shifting gear to incorporating technology into the industry,” said Solomon Tadesse, CEO of Ethiopian Tourism Corporation.

    Challenges abound but the sector is resilient

    Among top challenges leading to the decline of tourist arrivals are recent safety and security concerns that have been a major setback to the country’s growing leisure and conference tourism industry. However, the sector remains resilient as the country continues working towards prioritising security to ensure the safety of visitors and citizens, as well as minimise the impact of security threats.

    Paul Midy, CEO of Jumia Travel remains optimistic saying, “Challenges abound but the future is inspiring. We look forward to bringing the intended growth and progress into reality.”

    The report focuses on interesting findings, indicating that although conference tourism is growing in Ethiopia, leisure spending contributes 84.4% to GDP while 15.6% is from business spending. In 2015, the direct contribution of travel and tourism to GDP was ETB 51.3 billion ($2.26 billion) - accounting for 4.1% of total GDP, and is forecast to rise to ETB 85 billion ($3.7 billion) by 2026.

    In terms of hotel booking, Addis Ababa has the highest demand at 39%, followed by Hawassa at 11.2%, Bishoftu at 8.1%, and Bahir Dar at 7.5%. The majority of international arrivals are from other African countries (31%), and Europe (30%). While domestic tourism continues to gain popularity among Ethiopians (31.3%), foreign visitor spending is still higher at 68.7%.

    According to Alexander Burtenshaw, the country manager of Jumia Travel Ethiopia, expansion of tourism activities has reduced Ethiopia's dependence on agriculture. “Until recently, little had been invested in mapping the country’s tourism, but the last decade has seen intensified interest from investors.”

    Preferences are high for the 2 and 3-star hotels, attracting 37% and 36% of total hotel bookings respectively. Notably, a large number of customers favor online payment (59%) as compared to pay-at-hotel (41%). The rising growth of online payments can be attributed to foreign travelers who book hotels with international credit cards.

    Find the full report here.

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  • UN Boosts Aid for Ethiopia, Somalia to Head Off Famine

    U.N. aid agencies are appealing to international donors to provide money to scale up lifesaving operations in drought-stricken Ethiopia and Somalia, where millions of hungry people are at risk of death and illness.

    FILE - Southern Somali women carry food aid donations from the UNHCR as they make their way to their refugee camp in Dollow, Somalia, Aug. 30, 2011. Hunger is again stalking the country, and the U.N. is appealing for aid.

    Five years after a devastating 2011 famine killed nearly 260,000 people in Somalia, famine again is stalking that country. The worst-affected areas are in northern Puntland and Somaliland, where dozens of drought-related deaths and many illnesses already are being reported.

    "On Sunday, we received reports of 38 deaths due to drought-linked reasons in the Bakool region of south-central Somalia," said Leo Dobbs, spokesman for the U.N. refugee agency. "Medical cases include people with acute malnutrition — especially children — watery diarrhea and cholera. These problems are likely to grow without substantial aid."

    The United Nations estimates that half of Somalia's population, 6.2 million people, is threatened by the drought. The U.N. Children's Fund said children were the most vulnerable.

    Christiane Boulierac, a UNICEF spokesman, said the number of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition "is expected to rise to 270,000 in the next few months."

    Read more at VOA

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