Wednesday, February 8, 2023
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Ethiopian flights to China set to return to pre-COVID levels

The frequency of flights to Chinese cities will increase as of February 6, ultimately returning to the pre-COVID levels on March 1, following the lifting of restrictions by China, says Ethiopian Airlines.

As of February 6, Ethiopian Airlines will operate daily flights to Guangzhou while increasing its weekly flights to Beijing and Shanghai to four each and maintaining its trice weekly operations to Chengdu.

Starting from March 1, the flights will surge back to the pre-COVID levels, with daily flights to Beijing and Shanghai, as well as 10 and four weekly flights to Guangzhou and Chengdu, respectively. Accordingly, Ethiopian will operate a total of 28 passenger flights per week to China when the services are fully restored.

Ethiopian Group CEO Mesfin Tasew said: “We are glad that we are ramping up the frequencies of our flights to Chinese cities thanks to the easing of flight restrictions by the Government of China. China is one of the largest markets for Ethiopian Airlines outside Africa, and the increase in flight frequencies will help revive the trade, investment, cultural, and bilateral cooperation between Africa and China in the post-COVID era.

(Trade Arabia)

China FM sidesteps AU call for UN council seat

China’s new Foreign Minister, Qin Gang, has sidestepped a new call by the African Union (AU) for permanent representation on the United Nations Security Council during his visit to Ethiopia.

Speaking at the opening of the Chinese-built headquarters of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, Qin instead stressed China’s partnership with Africa in security and economic development.

African Union Commission Chairman, Moussa Faki Mahamat, told a joint press conference that Africa’s lack of permanent representation on the Security Council is a “burning issue” considering that most issues on the council agenda are related to African countries.

“It is unacceptable that others decide in the place of others. It is not fair. We need a new order at the international level that will respect the interests of others,” he said.

Qin, who was appointed in December, is on his first overseas visit as foreign minister and is beginning a weeklong trip to Africa. He will also visit Gabon, Angola, Benin, and Egypt.

For more than three decades, China’s foreign ministers have started their terms by visiting Africa. China has invested heavily in infrastructure in African countries, including roads, railways, and hospitals.

(Aljazeera)

Ethiopian risks losing 15-year tax holiday, other incentives from Nigerian gov’t

The court battle between Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Nigeria Air Limited, and the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, could cost Ethiopian Airlines incentives from the Federal Government.

Ripples Nigeria reported last year that the AON sued the yet-to commence national carrier and the Federal Government over its deal with Ethiopian Airlines.

In November, the Federal High Court in Lagos restrained the government from going ahead with its national carrier agreement with Ethiopian Airlines, preventing the commencement of Nigeria Air in December 2022.

With the court set to resume hearing on the AON lawsuit on January 16, 2023, to determine the validity of the agreement between the foreign airline operator and the Nigerian government, court documents have shown that Ethiopian Airlines has more to lose than the stake it plans to acquire in Nigeria Air.

The government had offered 49 percent of Nigeria Air to Ethiopian Airlines, while handing out 46 percent to Nigerian investors and retaining five percent.

According to court documents with suit number FHC/L/CS/2159/2022 submitted by Ethiopian Airlines to defend its position, it was learned that aside from the stake, the foreign operator also intends to benefit from tax holidays and other incentives.

(Ripples Nigeria)

Birr devaluation set to be a mixed blessing for economy

The country’s central bank, the National Bank of Ethiopia, is battling a severe shortage of foreign exchange reserves that hurts efforts to service the dollar-denominated debt.

While precise figures are not publicly available, Ethiopia’s reserves have dropped sharply recently amid a widening current account deficit sparked by the civil war.

Last year, the central bank tightened forex controls in an attempt to strengthen its dollar reserves. This included banning the use of foreign currency in local transactions and reducing the number of days that a returning resident could hold their foreign currency from 90 to 30 days.

Mirkarim Yakubov, the Chief Financial Officer at 54 Capital, an Africa-focused asset management firm based in Addis Ababa, tells The Africa Report that “the government is taking measures to cut down on any kind of foreign exchange spending.”

It appears unlikely that these measures will be enough to avoid an IMF bailout.

Fitch Ratings recently downgraded Ethiopia to a CCC-credit rating in light of “the lack of identified external financing necessary to meet substantial external financing gaps, along with a material decline in Ethiopia’s external liquidity.” Fitch Ratings also noted that the CCC- status “reflects the significant risk of a default event.”

(The Africa Report)

Kenya’s electricity capacity crosses 3,000 MW mark

Kenya added 102.34 MW to its installed capacity for electricity generation in the 2021–22 financial year, boosting efforts to provide stable power at a time when peak demand hit a fresh high.

Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) data shows Kenya’s installed capacity stood at 3,074.34 MW as of last June, up from 2,972 MW the previous year.

“The installed capacity increased by 102.34 MW from 2,972 MW as of June 2021 to 3,074 MW as of June 2022. Geothermal and solar generation increased by 86 MW and 120 MW, respectively,” says Epra in the report.

Installed capacity refers to the maximum amount of electricity that a power plant can generate for onward supply to the national grid. The plants that were added to the grid are: 86 MW from the Olkaria 1 unit 6, 40 MW from the Selenkei and Malindi solar plants, and another 40 MW from the Cedate solar power plant.

The increase in installed capacity came at a time when peak demand hit a high of 2,057 MW on June 14 last year, up from 1,993.63 MW a year earlier, as economic activities remained on a steady rise with the easing of the coronavirus-induced curbs.

(Business Daily)

Kenya, Tanzania resolve 23 trade barriers after Samia visit

Kenya and Tanzania resolved 23 restrictive regulations that had impeded trade between the two countries following President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s Nairobi visit in May 2021, a government paper shows.

A new government paper shows that Kenya had initially targeted to resolve about seven non-tariff barriers (NTBs)—restrictive regulations such as licenses, quotas, embargoes, foreign exchange restrictions, and import deposits—in the financial year 2021–22, but this jumped to 31, reflecting a warm relationship between the two countries.

The drop in the number of these trade barriers, which pushed the cumulative number of NTBs resolved and eliminated to 256 by the end of June last year, came moments after the visit to Kenya by Suluhu, who had just replaced the late John Pombe Magufuli.

“The over-achievement was as a result of collaborations between Kenya and the United Republic of Tanzania to resolve NTBs to create market access,” reads part of the Report for General Economic and Commercial Affairs Sector, a sector working group for the budget preparation that also includes the Treasury.

A year after the visit by Suluhu, trade between Kenya and Tanzania crossed the Sh100 billion mark for the first time, signaling improved ties between the two states.

(Business Daily)

Chinese companies break ground on new oil field in East Africa

Two Chinese state-owned companies, Offshore Oil Engineering Co. and China Petroleum Engineering and Construction Corp., have started building onshore facilities for an oil field in western Uganda, the Kingfisher oil field central processing facility (Kingfisher CPF), that will be owned by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC).

The Kingfisher CPF will feed into the controversial East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) that will run from Uganda’s Lake Albert oil fields, just near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to the port of Tanga on the Indian Ocean in Tanzania, nearly 1,000 miles away.

EACOP has been criticized for a variety of reasons, including concerns about environmental damage and a lack of benefits to locals.

The Kingfisher CPF project broke ground last week and is expected to be able to process about 40,000 barrels of oil per day when completed by the end of 2024.

The associated pipeline, EACOP, is designed to have a peak capacity of 246,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd) and is expected to last 20 years.

Another upstream development project that will feed into EACOP, Tilenga, is owned by French oil giant Total Energies and will produce some 200,000 bopd.

(The China Project)

Ebola outbreak in Uganda declared over

Uganda declared the end of the Ebola disease outbreak caused by the Sudan ebolavirus on January 11, 2023, less than four months after the first case was confirmed in the country’s central Mubende district on September 20, 2022.

The country’s Ministry of Health hasn’t recorded new Ebola cases since November 30, 2022.

“Uganda put a swift end to the Ebola outbreak by ramping up key control measures such as surveillance, contact tracing, infection prevention, and control,” said Jane Ruth Aceng Ocero, Uganda’s Minister of Health.

Since September 20, health authorities have recorded 164 cases, 55 confirmed deaths, and 87 recovered patients.

It was the country’s first outbreak caused by the Sudan strain in a decade and its fifth overall for this kind of Ebola.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the case-fatality ratio was 47 percent.

The last patient was released from care on November 30, when the 42-day countdown to the end of the outbreak began.

“While we expanded our efforts to put a strong response in place across the nine affected districts, the magic bullet has been our communities, who understood the importance of doing what was needed to end the outbreak and took action,” Ocero said.

(The New Times)

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