Wednesday, February 8, 2023
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Ethiopia signs deal with UAE’s Masdar for 500 MW solar plant

The United Arab Emirates renewable energy company Masdar and Ethiopia have signed an agreement for the joint development of a solar project with a capacity of 500 megawatts, Ethiopia’s prime minister said on Wednesday.

The move could potentially allow Ethiopia to significantly expand its energy capacity and also diversify its energy mix, a key part of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s industrialization drive.

At present, Ethiopia has a total installed power generating capacity of about 4,898 MW, with 91% of it coming from hydroelectric power, based on data from state-run Ethiopian Electric Power.

“Pleased to see the signing of a joint development agreement (JDA) between the Government of Ethiopia and Masdar to develop two solar photovoltaic plants,” Abiy said in a tweet, adding the two plants would have a combined generation capacity of 500 megawatts.

Abiy did not give details on where the plants would be located or their cost.

Billene Seyoum, Abiy’s spokesperson, and Mamo Mihretu, CEO of state-run Ethiopia Investment Holdings, did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for more information.

Masdar did not immediately respond to a Reuters message seeking comment.

(Reuters)

Over 22 mln Ethiopians face severe food crisis

Over 22 million people are facing severe food shortages in Ethiopia due to back-to-back droughts caused by five failed rainy seasons, according to the non-profit Save the Children.

More than half of these 22.6 million people are suffering from climate-related shocks such as conflict, inflation, and forced displacement, causing even more misery and putting children at risk of death from malnutrition, according to the report.

The Tigray region of Ethiopia continues to experience one of the worst food security emergencies globally. Food consumption deficits are expected to be the most severe in the southern, south-eastern, and northern parts of the country, located in the Horn of Africa, it added.

Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely in northern, central, southern, and south-eastern Ethiopia through at least May 2023, even with ongoing assistance, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network by the United States Agency for International Development.

Almost four million children in Ethiopia are severely malnourished, accounting for around half of those suffering from malnutrition across the Horn of Africa.

Millions are unable to generate income and access food due to the drought, which is likely to lead to widespread and severe levels of food shortages through at least mid-2023.

(Down To Earth)

Ethiopia hopes new air sensor will improve athletes’ performance

Ethiopia is going a step further to improve the performance of its athletes by investing in cleaner air quality.

The eastern African country, known around the world for producing some of the best marathon runners, has now joined regional rivals Kenya and Uganda in investing in air monitoring. Other countries that are leading in the same cause are Senegal, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tanzania.

The country’s first air sensor has been installed at the Ethiopian Youth Sports Academy (EYSPA) grounds in Addis Ababa, on the margins of the 2023 Annual Congress of East Africa Athletics Region, hosted by the Ethiopian Athletics Federation (EAF).

“Our athletes need to be supported by our air quality program; otherwise, without a healthy environment, their health will be affected,” Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) president Hamad Kalkaba Malboum tells Quartz.

The installation was coordinated by the Ethiopian Athletics Federation (EAF), the United Nations Environment Program Regional Office for Africa (UNEP ROA), and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) Africa Center.

The sensor will collect data on carbon emissions and dangerous gases such as ozone and nitrogen oxide and send it to a central data analysis point.

(Quartz)

Safaricom Ethiopia partners with banks for mobile airtime top-up service

Safaricom Ethiopia announced this week the launch of a strategic partnership with various banks for mobile airtime top-up service to provide ease and convenience to customers on the 07 network.

In the first phase of integration with partner banks, customers can access the mobile airtime top-up service through USSD menus and the mobile apps of Bank of Abyssinia (*815#), Awash Bank (*901#), and NIB International Bank (app).

“We are delighted to announce this new mobile airtime top-up service that directly addresses our customers’ needs by introducing a solution that fits into their digital lifestyle. We are keen on engaging in more strategic partnerships within the financial and technology industries to further innovate and serve our customers’ needs,” said Anwar Soussa, CEO, Safaricom Ethiopia.

The new mobile airtime top-up service will allow customers to purchase up to 5,000 birr worth of airtime.

(Safaricom Ethiopia)

IMF executive board approves $240 mln disbursement to Uganda

The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) executive board approved two reviews of a financing agreement with Uganda that allow for the immediate release of about USD 240 million to the East African country.

In December, Uganda and IMF staff reached an agreement for the combined second and third reviews of its 36-month Extended Credit Facility, paving the way for the release of the financing, which brings total disbursements under the arrangement launched in June 2021 to USD 625 million.

“The Ugandan authorities have managed to preserve macroeconomic stability while sustaining the post-COVID-19 recovery despite rising pressure from global shocks and successive domestic shocks, including new public health challenges,” the IMF said in a statement.

The Fund reiterated December forecasts that Uganda’s economy will grow by 5.3 percent in the 2022–23 fiscal year starting last July, down from a six percent growth forecast issued in March 2022.

IMF Deputy Managing Director, Bo Li, said in a statement that Uganda met most quantitative targets with a slight relaxation of fiscal deficit targets to support vulnerable households and provide public sector cost-of-living adjustments amid high inflation.

(Reuters)

End of Uganda outbreak leaves no clear path to test vaccines

There is no clear path to test the three candidate vaccines developed to combat the Ebola Sudan strain now that Uganda’s outbreak is over.

The three candidate vaccines—produced by IAVI (called SUDV), Sabin (ChAD3), and Oxford (ChAdOx1)—were delivered to Uganda with much fanfare in mid-December. But scientists attending a meeting convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday could not agree on how to test them now and discussed options including regulatory approval based on animal-only studies and “immunobridging.”

So far, only one vaccine, BioThrax, developed to protect against anthrax, has been given US Food and Drug Administration approval based solely on animal studies.

BioThrax had already been licensed in the 1970s to prevent anthrax inhalation but received further FDA approval as post-exposure prophylaxis for anthrax exposure in 2015, based on the FDA’s Animal Rule.

Under the “Animal Rule,” efficacy is established based on “adequate and well-controlled studies in animal models of the human disease or condition of interest,” and safety is evaluated under the “pre-existing requirements for drugs and biological products,” according to the FDA.

(Health Policy Watch)

Uber resumes services in Tanzania after fare dispute resolved

Uber, a big ride-hailing company, said on Wednesday that it was back in business in Tanzania after a dispute with the government over fares was resolved.

Uber suspended services in the East African country last April after the government introduced legislation capping the maximum commission from drivers at 15 percent, down from the previous 33 percent.

Uber said the new regulations made it difficult to continue operating, while the government defended them as maintaining competition and ensuring affordable taxis.

After months of negotiations, Tanzania’s transport regulator last month allowed ride-hailing companies to charge up to 25 percent commission and a 3.5 percent booking fee.

“We are excited to kick off the year on such a positive note by re-entering the Tanzanian market,” Uber said in a statement.

“It is our priority to provide a platform where drivers can make substantial earnings while providing convenient and reliable options for riders in Tanzania.”

The San Francisco-based company, founded in 2009, arrived in Tanzania in 2016, capitalizing on the country’s low levels of personal car ownership and lack of efficient mass transport.

(The East African)

Africa will get a new $1 bln spaceport in Djibouti

Africa could soon get a new spaceport after Djibouti signed a partnership deal with Hong Kong Aerospace Technology to build a facility to launch satellites and rockets in the northern Obock region.

According to the preliminary deal, the Djibouti government will “provide the necessary land (minimum 10 sq km with a term of not less than 35 years) and all the necessary assistance to build and operate the Djiboutian Spaceport.”

The USD one billion spaceport project will also involve the construction of a port facility, a power grid, and a highway to ensure the reliable transportation of aerospace materials.

The deal’s signing was presided over by the president of Djibouti, Ismail Omar Guelleh, and the project is set to be completed in the next five years.

The spaceport is a massive milestone for Africa, making it the first orbital spaceport on African soil.

The preliminary deal, signed in partnership with Touchroad International Holdings Group, clears the path for a formal contract signing, planned for March 2023.

According to Victor Mwongera, Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Kenyatta University, the projection will provide a launch base that will serve all Africans.

(Quartz)

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