Sunday, July 21, 2024

600 obsidian 1.2-million-year-old handaxes found in Ethiopia

A trove of nearly 600 obsidian handaxes, dating back at least 1.2 million years, has been unearthed in Ethiopia, indicating the presence of a prehistoric “knapping workshop”. Knapping is the technique used to create handaxes, which are often referred to as humanity’s “first great invention.”

Made by chipping shards off a piece of stone to make a sharp edge, handaxes were not attached to handles, but held in the hand. They have a distinctive teardrop or pear shape. They were made out of flint or, later, obsidian – a type of volcanic glass.

The first handaxes in the palaeontological record date back to at least 1.5 million years ago and were found in Tanzania’s Olduvai Gorge. Handaxes are believed to have spread throughout Africa, south Asia, the Middle East and Europe around 500,000 years ago. They were still being made as recently as 40,000 years ago.

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Ethiopia wants to open its banking sector, but it won’t be walk in the park for new entrants

Ethiopia is on the cusp. Since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came into office in April 2018, Ethiopia has laid down a series of reforms, most notably softening its stranglehold on key sectors of the economy, namely aviation, logistics, telecoms, and energy. But there is a prelude to all this.

Between 2003 and 2011, Ethiopia recorded sustained double-digit real gross domestic product (GDP) annual growth rates, after which growth peaked in 2017. In the fiscal year 2015/16, the country’s annual economic output slumped to a 12-year low (with real GDP printing at eight percent year-on-year).

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The output numbers could even be worse in 2022, given that growth has been negatively impacted by the conflict in the Tigrayan region. But perhaps a rather more worrying trend was recorded in the country’s external position, as the current account balance worsened to a deficit of USD 6.5 billion in 2017 (or just about nine percent of its GDP at the time).

To help reverse the situation, authorities thought the country could do with some currency devaluations, which delivered little or no harvest, and the country’s reserves have taken a hit.

(The Africa Report)

Pak-Ethiopia forum to start on Feb 15

The two-day Pak-Ethiopia Pre-Delegation Forum is set to kick off in Sialkot on February 15 and is aimed at boosting the participation of a business delegation bound for Addis Ababa this March.

The delegation, representing businesspeople from the industrial cities of Punjab, is scheduled to visit Addis Ababa from March 5–10 to explore investment opportunities and enhance bilateral business and trade between the two countries.

The decision to this effect was taken during a meeting between Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Pakistan, Jemal Beker Abdula, and the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) and State Minister, Romina Khurshid Alam, on Tuesday.

Alam briefed Abdula about the progress made so far on the pre-delegation forum, saying “all the preparations have been done in this regard.” She explained that the business fraternity from different industrial cities across Punjab will be attending the pre-delegation forum to get firsthand information about business, trade, and investment opportunities in Ethiopia.

“An invitation to the business community of Ethiopia has also been sent, and a delegation is expected to take part in the forum,” said the Ethiopian envoy.

He also proposed arranging meetings between the two business communities on the sidelines of the forum to boost the already flourishing ties.

(The Express Tribune)

Hospitals in Ethiopia’s Tigray region struggle to deliver care

Improved security in Ethiopia’s Tigray region since a November ceasefire has allowed aid to reach some previously inaccessible areas, but humanitarian needs remain urgent, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

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A two-year war that broke out in November 2020 between the federal government and forces led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the party that dominates the region, killed tens of thousands of people, created famine-like conditions for hundreds of thousands, and displaced millions.

The government and Tigrayan forces agreed to end the hostilities in November, which has allowed additional aid to reach the region and for some services to be restored.

However, the destruction of hospitals and looting of ambulances during the war mean medical services are still lacking, the ICRC said in a news release.

At the Yechilla Primary Hospital, located in a part of central Tigray that saw intense fighting, the walls are riddled with bullet holes and supplies are short.

“We are only managing to give what we have in our hearts. But that’s not enough, because seeing patients who come to be treated die in your hands is very painful,” Erdey Asefa (MD), the hospital’s chief executive, said in the footage.

(Reuters)

Regional heads plan joint push against al-Shabab in Somalia

The leaders of Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya have agreed on a joint “search and destroy” military campaign against the Somali al-Shabab Islamic militant group that has carried out attacks in the region, including firing mortars near the meeting venue in Mogadishu before officials gathered Wednesday.

In a joint communique issued after the meeting in Somalia’s capital, the four heads of state said the operation would “prevent any future infiltration of elements into the wider region.”

“The Summit agreed to make the final push for joint operations in the areas that remain under the control of terrorists to completely liberate the whole of Somalia from Al-Shabab,” read Wednesday’s communique from the four countries.

Somalia´s government is currently running what has been described as the most significant offensive against the al-Shabab extremist group in more than a decade.

Al-Shabab´s thousands of fighters have held back the nation´s recovery from decades of conflict by carrying out brazen attacks in Mogadishu and elsewhere.

The streets of Mogadishu, which regularly face attacks, were shut down with limited movement on Wednesday amid strong military patrols, and all commercial flights were suspended while the heads of state visited.

(Mail Online)

US concerned over Sudan freeing diplomat’s killer

The US says it is “deeply concerned” by Sudan’s release of a man convicted in the 2008 killing of a US diplomat and embassy employee in a drive-by shooting in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement that Abdel-Raouf Abu Zaid, the Sudanese man who was found guilty of the murders, remains a “specially designated global terrorist.”

He was convicted of murdering John Granville, an official with the US Agency for International Development, and his Sudanese driver, Abdel Rahman Abbas, who were shot on January 1, 2008, while returning from a party.

Price said any insinuation that the release was agreed to by the US as part of a settlement between the US and Sudan was false.

In 2020, Sudan agreed to pay USD 335 million to settle compensation lawsuits at US courts related to the 1998 bombings of its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the 2000 attack on the USS Cole at Yemen’s southern port of Aden that killed 17 sailors, and Granville’s killing.

The settlement was made by Sudan’s former transitional government with the Trump administration to stop any future compensation claims being filed against the African country in US courts.

(Associated Press)

Kenya Power plans to develop roadmap for electric motorization

Kenya Power is set to conduct a conference with more than 300 stakeholders from the energy, finance, and transport sectors, as well as development partners, in a bid to develop a framework for electric motorization in the country.

The E-mobility Conference is scheduled to take place in Nairobi from February 7 to 8.

The lighting company partnered with the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) to develop a consultative framework that will support a coordinated approach toward the implementation of electric motorization.

The forum will advocate for the amalgamation of policies under development by different stakeholders to ensure that they capture all opportunities presented through the entire e-mobility value chain.

“The conference will offer an opportunity to map out the entire e-mobility value chain to drive investments and attract the participation of potential stakeholders to increase the uptake of electric vehicles,” said Kenya Power’s Ag. Managing Director, Geoffrey Muli.

He added, “We are at the center of electric motorization and therefore well positioned to ensure that we provide adequate and reliable electricity supply to spur the growth of this nascent industry.”

(The Star)

Fighting erupts in eastern Congo as Pope condemns “murderous” exploitation

Even as Pope Francis condemned the “murderous, illegal exploitation” of the Congo’s natural wealth that has fueled warfare in the east of the country, heavy fighting was erupting again between the Congolese army and a Rwandan-backed militia group in the mineral-rich region.

The army battled on Wednesday to recapture the strategic town of Kitshanga, seized by the Rwanda-supported M23 rebel group last week. More than 122,000 people were forced to flee their homes within the space of a day when M23 attacked the town and surrounding area, according to Save the Children, a humanitarian group. Most of the displaced are children, who are “incredibly vulnerable to abuse,” the group warned.

On his first visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pope Francis spoke to victims of the eastern conflict on Wednesday and denounced the “internal and external organizations” that “orchestrate war” in the country to plunder its resources.

“It is, above all, a war unleashed by an insatiable greed for raw materials and money that fuels a weaponized economy and requires instability and corruption,” he told the war survivors in an emotional meeting.

(The Globe and Mail)

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