International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials are currently visiting Ethiopia for technical discussions to work on an IMF funding program, an IMF spokesperson stated on Monday.
The visit comes after Ethiopian authorities requested financial assistance from the IMF for its economic reforms, following the East African country’s latest drought, the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic conflicts, and the Russian-Ukrainian war.
“A potential program would support the authorities’ Homegrown Economic Reform program and help Ethiopia stabilize its economy so that it can meet its economic, humanitarian, and social challenges, create jobs, and reduce poverty,” the spokesperson said.
The technical discussions are part of the ongoing discussions between the IMF and Ethiopian authorities on how to address the country’s humanitarian and economic challenges, the spokesperson added.
The IMF is welcoming of Ethiopia’s progress to restore peace and stability through the cessation of hostilities agreement, as the implementation has progressed well, such as the restoration of humanitarian assistance and basic services to Tigray, said the IMF.
The IMF program, as well as Ethiopia’s request for debt relief under the Group of 20 Common Framework, were hindered as a result of the conflict in Tigray.
(Amwal Al Ghad)
CRS, USAID join hands amid devastating drought
Catholic church leaders in Ethiopia are welcoming a US-funded food security program that will benefit millions of people suffering from the drought in the Horn of Africa country.
Ethiopia is experiencing a severe drought described as the worst in living memory, following five consecutive failed rainy seasons.
The places most affected are the eastern and southern parts of the country, which are primarily the homelands of farmers and herders.
On March 16, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the overseas aid and development agency of the US bishops, started a five-year program to help drought-stricken Ethiopia. Called the Joint Emergency Operation Program (JEOP), it will provide USD 1.3 billion in humanitarian assistance over five years in support of more than 8.5 million people.
The JEOP is funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Humanitarian agencies estimate that 21 million people are food insecure in Ethiopia.
“We welcome the program. It has come at a time when the people seriously need humanitarian assistance due to the drought,” Bishop Noel Seyoum Fransua of the Vicariate of Hosanna, Ethiopia, said.
He said emergency responses, like the ones being provided through Catholic Church structures, help save lives and improve people’s livelihoods for the future.
PM announces attempt to reach outlawed rebel group in Oromia
The Ethiopian government is attempting to hold talks with an outlawed rebel group operating mainly in the restive Oromia region, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed (PhD), said.
Abiy’s comments to lawmakers on outreach to the Oromo Liberation Army came amid efforts to replicate a peace process conducted for the conflict in the northern Tigray region that saw an agreement signed in November to end the fighting.
“The government has a high level of interest in resolving this conflict (with OLA) in peaceful terms. Not only interest, but also a committee entrusted with the task of leading the peace process has been set up,” Abiy said, adding he hoped Ethiopians would support the process and that more than 10 attempts and contacts had been made with the OLA.
“The problem so far is that there is no centralized group, so every unit has different ideas and positions … the committee is leading the talks, and we will see the result together,” he said.
A spokesman for the rebel group, Odaa Tarbii, tweeted on March 20 to say recent reports on meetings between the group and the government were “false.”
North Korean radio equipment shipped to Ethiopian military last year
Two shipments of radio equipment produced by a North Korean corporation were delivered to the Ethiopian military last year, a forthcoming UN Panel of Experts report states, raising questions about the efficacy of sanctions on the DPRK’s military-industrial complex.
The company, Glocom, which deals in military radio, battlefield radar, and software control systems, has also increased its online product offerings in spite of international sanctions, noting that a total of 15 radio systems were visible on its website as of January 2023.
An unnamed member state reported to the Panel of Experts that the two shipments of Glocom radio equipment were sent to the Ministry of National Defense Directorate of Ethiopia in June 2022 for use by the country’s defense forces.
The transfer apparently took place despite EU sanctions on the firm and its close connections to North Korea’s Reconnaissance General Bureau.
The upcoming UN report also notes that Ethiopian media published a photo of Birhanu Jula (FM), chief of general staff of the armed forces, using probable Glocom radio communication equipment in November 2022, adding that investigators had not received a response from Ethiopia about the report.
Kenya central bank hikes rates to five-year high
Kenya’s central bank surprised financial markets by raising borrowing costs to an almost five-year high due to sustained inflationary pressures.
The monetary policy committee increased its benchmark rate to 9.5 percent from 8.7 percent, Patrick Njoroge said in a statement. That was more than the median estimate of six economists in a Bloomberg survey, who forecast a 25 basis-point increase. It was the fourth hike since last year.
Kenya’s 10-year eurobond extended its gains after the decision was announced, with the yield dropping 45 basis points to 11.8 percent.
Policymakers acted partly because “inflation is expected to remain elevated in the near term” and because of further increases in electricity prices, he said.
The central bank said that surveys conducted before the MPC met showed declining optimism about business activity and economic growth prospects for the next 12 months.
“Respondents expressed concerns over elevated domestic inflation, the weakening of the Kenya shilling, and high food prices,” Njoroge said.
Kenya joins central banks across the globe, from Ghana to the US that are still increasing interest rates to combat high inflation.
Kenya re-opens its doors for Uganda’s Lato milk
Kenya has allowed Uganda’s Lato Milk to invest in local dairy factories as the state ramps up competition in the dairy sector, which government officials have constantly complained is dominated by one player.
Trade and Investments Cabinet Secretary, Moses Kuria, held bilateral talks with Uganda’s Treasury Permanent Secretary, Ramadan Ggoobi, where the two countries promised to work together to boost their respective dairy sectors.
The Ministry said that Lato, a leading milk processor in Uganda that had significantly penetrated the Kenyan market, has signed a deal with the state-owned financier Kenya Development Corporation (KDC) to invest jointly in dairy ventures.
“The meeting focused on mutual economic and investment objectives by the two countries as a follow-up to the various bilateral meetings between them to facilitate regional co-investment opportunities in strategic sectors,” said Kuria.
He said Lato will invest in Kenyan milk factories that are currently struggling in a bid to revive them, which will see the Ugandan firm take the fight for control of the lucrative milk sector to the doorstep of some well-known local dairy brands.
Brookside Dairy Limited is Kenya’s largest milk company and controls a 40 percent market share.
(The East African)
Ugandan army deploys to DRC
The Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) moved to deploy a contingent to eastern DR Congo as part of the East African Community regional force.
In a tweet, UPDF spokesperson Felix Kulayigye (Brig. Gen.) said the contingent was preparing to be flagged off to join the regional force mandated with restoring peace and security in the east of the DRC.
He posted images of UPDF officers boarding trucks in Bunagana, a town located at the border with the DRC.
Uganda will become the third country to deploy troops under the regional force after Kenya and Burundi, whose troops arrived in North Kivu province in November 2022 and March 2023, respectively.
Since its deployment in November 2022, the regional force has taken control of positions vacated by the M23 rebels as per the Luanda agreement signed by regional leaders in the Angolan capital later that month.
The Ugandan army earlier said it would send 1,000 troops to the joint EAC mission. South Sudan said it would send 750 soldiers.
Under a bilateral mechanism with Kinshasa, Uganda already has troops in the DRC’s Ituri province, where they fight the ADF, a Ugandan militia responsible for various human rights abuses.
(The New Times)
Air Tanzania posts Sh35.2 billion loss
Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) incurred a loss of Sh35.2 billion attributed to flight delays of 25 percent, according to the Controller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report for 2021–2022.
This is despite cutting its losses by some Sh900 million from Sh36.1 billion in the previous financial year. CAGs Charles Kichere told President Samia Suluhu Hassan when he gave him the 2021–2022 audit report that ATCL’s goal was to reach 92 percent. However, findings show that 25 percent of the carrier’s losses were caused by flight delays.
Kichere issued recommendations that public organizations should focus on improving efficiency and revenue collection, adding that the board of directors should compete for that position.
Last year, the CAG report revealed that ATCL’s two Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft recorded losses worth Sh23.6 billion, despite the carrier cutting its losses from Sh60.2 billion to Sh36.5 billion in 2020–2021, the CAG report reveals.
The report also revealed that ATCL was among 42 government entities that recorded losses or overspent in two consecutive years, thus becoming one of the corporations that cannot pay debts within a short period of time.