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    Djibouti, China ink deal for mega project

    China’s POLY-GCL Petroleum Group Holdings Ltd on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to invest USD four billion in a natural gas project in the tiny Horn of African nation of Djibouti.

    The project includes a natural gas pipeline, a liquefaction plant and an export terminal to be located in Damerjog, near the country’s border with Somalia.

    Djibouti, with a population of less than one million, has long punched above its weight due to its strategic location on the Gulf of Aden, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes connecting Europe to Asia and the Middle East.

    The country hosts large US and French naval bases and China is also building a naval base.

    Energy Minister Yonis Ali Guedi told Reuters after the signing of the MoU that further negotiations over concession agreements for the project would happen within the next six months and construction would begin next year. He said the project would “generate substantial income for the state”. (Reuters)

    Ethio-telecom launches online mobile airtime recharge system

     

    Ethio Telecom announced it has begun electronic payment services in its 214 sales centers which allow customers to recharge their mobile airtime online.

    The new service allows customers to buy recharge cards starting from the minimum amount five birr up to the maximum amount of their demand.

    Abdurahim Ahmed, corporate communication head of Ethio-telecom, said

    The new system helps to address shortage of recharge cards as well as to reduce foreign exchange spent to print cards abroad, he said.

    Customers have so far been using manual recharging system. They recharge their mobile phone by scratching the hidden numbers on five, 10, 25, 50 and 100 birr recharge cards.

    According to him, the manual system will continue side by side with the electronic one.

    Abdurahim said the electronic payment system was launched only on the company’s sales centers.

    However, after two months, about 3,000 agents will join the sales service and the number of agents will go up to a total of 12,000 at the end, he said. (FBC)

    UN renews mandates of peacekeeping force in Abyei for six months

    The Security Council on Wednesday extended until May 15, 2018 the mandate of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Abyei, a contested area on the Sudan-South Sudan border.

    Unanimously adopting a resolution, the 15-member body also extended, for the same duration, the tasks of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) set out in the resolution that authorized the deployment of UNISFA in 2011.

    Further, the council extended until April 15, 2018 UNISFA’s support for the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism, which was established by the two countries as part of the negotiations on South Sudan’s secession from Sudan in July 2011.

    In doing so, however, the council decided that this renewal of UNISFA’s support for the mechanism will be “the final such extension” unless Sudan and South Sudan ensure the free, unhindered and expeditious movement to and from Abyei and throughout the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone of all personnel, as well as equipment, provisions, supplies and other goods. (UN News Service)

    US escalates Somalia fight while Pentagon downplays buildup

    There are now 500 U.S. troops in Somalia, where the military has carried out daily airstrikes in the past week, but the Pentagon refuses to call it a buildup.

    “I would not associate that with a buildup, as you’re calling it,” Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie told reporters Thursday in Washington. “I think it’s just the flow of forces in and out as different organizations come in that might be sized a little differently.”

    McKenzie said the boost in attacks was simply a matter of hitting targets as they emerge. “So there’s no particular rhythm to it, except that as they become available and as we’re able to process them and vet them, we strike them,” he said.

    Still, the sudden surge of service members into Somalia over the past several months and the rapid spike in airstrikes — 28 so far this year — is a reversal from the past, when there were no regular troops in the country and airstrikes were extremely rare. (Stars and Stripes)

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