International rights organizations have urged Ethiopia to stop “arbitrary arrests” of journalists and respect citizens’ right to peaceful protest.
The calls this week by Amnesty International and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) came after Ethiopian authorities arrested at least seven journalists in their latest crackdown during the past two weeks following anti-government protests in the country’s Amhara region.
The two rights groups urged the Ethiopian authorities to immediately release the journalists and drop all charges pressed against them.
In a statement, Amnesty International said “Ethiopian authorities must immediately release seven media staff detained against a backdrop of rising violence in the Amhara region, investigate allegations of physical assault against one of them, and protect the right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest for all.”
Amnesty expressed its concern about reports of violations and violence in Amhara, where exchanges of gunfire have been reported in multiple locations.
“Journalists and media workers need to be able to work without any threat, intimidation, or harassment to effectively carry out their professional duties of informing the public and contributing to holding authorities accountable,” said Flavia Mwangovya, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for East and Southern Africa.
Ethiopia moves towards liberalization of services
Ethiopia has been undergoing crucial economic reforms in line with regional and international developments. The goal is to gradually yet effectively liberalize the economy, enhance competitiveness in production, and export of goods and services.
Trade in services plays a key role in the economic growth and development of a country. Services directly support production but also value chains and create jobs and other economic and non-economic opportunities.
For Ethiopia, there exist numerous strategic services, namely transport (air transport, where Ethiopia Airlines remains a leader when it comes to air connectivity), arts, sports, and recreational services. Others are financial, tourism, and energy-related services.
Chris Onyango, Director of Trade and Customs in COMESA, says it is in such a context that COMESA undertakes to provide technical assistance and capacity-building in services to Member States to facilitate the negotiations.
Addressing the Ethiopian services negotiators and stakeholders attending the COMESA Training Workshop on Trade in Services in Addis Ababa, he said this will facilitate speeding up the preparation of the country’s services offer. It will enable the country to participate fully, not just in the COMESA regional integration but also in the broad continental and multilateral contexts.
(Africa Business Communities)
Food taboos cause malnutrition in pregnant women
One in five pregnant women in Ethiopia consider staying undernourished for fear of fetal deformities and giving birth to big babies, public health researchers say.
Many pregnant mothers in Ethiopia are suffering from nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy due to harmful myths and cultural beliefs, even though their nutritional needs increase during this period.
Food taboos are a set of proscriptions against certain foods or food combinations and are prevalent around the globe for different reasons, such as cultural, spiritual, or ethical. A taboo against certain foods, such as dairy products, fruits, vegetables, meat, and honey, can lead to nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition for both mothers and unborn children.
These practices can perpetuate a cycle of malnutrition and poor health in families, as children who experience malnutrition may suffer from long-term physical and cognitive deficits, researchers say.
Researchers, as part of the study published in Nature, systematically reviewed data from 16 separate studies to understand the prevalence of food taboos in Ethiopia.
“Our goal is to provide a more complete understanding of the prevalence of food taboos across the entire nation,” Berhanu Gidisa, lead author of the study, told SciDev.Net.
Meloni pushes forward ‘Mattei Plan’ in Ethiopia trip
Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni discussed Italy’s so-called Mattei Plan, which focuses on cooperation on energy and curbing migration flows from Africa, as she visited Ethiopia on Friday and Saturday.
Meloni was welcomed in Addis Ababa by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) and then met with African Union president, Moussa Faki Mahamat on Friday.
The talks focused on cooperation between Italy, Ethiopia, and Somalia, stability in the Horn of Africa, and migration to Europe.
“There is support that this nation needs, particularly financially,” Meloni told the press. “We are dealing with it, just as we are doing in Tunisia, to support the unblocking of financing and support financial certainty.”
Meloni is the first leader of a Western government to visit Ethiopia since the truce that triggered the pacification process with the Tigray region—a bitter, two-year civil conflict that has interrupted the country’s growth path.
The Horn of Africa “is crucial and sensitive for us,” said Meloni. According to Ansa, it is home to 823,000 refugees and 4.2 million displaced people, partly because of the drought that fueled migratory flows to Europe.
Kenya seeks relief in new Eurobond as debt trap crisis deepens
Kenya targets issuing a new Eurobond to manage the maturity of a Ksh270 billion (USD two billion) 10-year bond next year, exposing a deepening debt trap.
Faced with the stark reality of handling the large maturing loan amid highly ballooned debt-servicing costs in recent years and the country’s highly weakened local currency against the US dollar, the country’s national treasury has opted for another Eurobond, yet again putting off a chance to confront the worsening debt situation.
“The government of the Republic of Kenya, through its national treasury, is considering accessing the international capital markets before the end of the fiscal year 2023-24 (July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024) to issue a sovereign bond,” the Treasury said in a tender call for lead arrangers to express interest in the new Eurobond plans.
This comes as the government is about to conclude a deal to raise a slashed USD 500 million (Ksh67.53 billion) from a syndicate of banks over the next few weeks, down from the USD 600 million (Ksh81.03 billion) initially targeted as part of the planned USD 900 million (Ksh121.55 billion) in commercial borrowing for the current financial year.
(The East African)
RwandAir to operate first-ever Paris-Kigali flights
The national flag carrier of Rwanda, RwandAir, is set to launch a new direct flight between the Rwandan capital Kigali and Paris, the French capital, on June 27, 2023.
This will be the first time the route has been flown, bringing the two nations closer than ever with a new air link.
RwandAir flights will depart Kigali each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 12:30 am, arriving at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport at 9:30 am the same morning as flight WB700. The returning leg will be flying as WB701 from Paris at 9:30 p.m. each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. The returning flight will arrive in Kigali at 6:00 a.m. the next morning.
Passengers will be able to fly with one of Africa’s leading airlines, RwandAir, which provides the only direct service between Rwanda and France.
It shows the momentum and ambitions of the Rwandan flag carrier, as Paris is now the 25th destination on its route network.
Kenya’s economy to overtake Angola as Ethiopia widens lead
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected that the size of Kenya’s economy will overtake that of Angola this year, even as Ethiopia stretches its lead.
In its latest World Economic Outlook, the IMF says Angola’s gross domestic product (GDP) will shrink during the period, allowing Kenya, whose economy is expected to grow by 5.3 percent, to overtake it and perch itself at the fourth spot behind Ethiopia.
However, Ethiopia, which the IMF had projected in its October 2022 outlook would overtake Kenya to become Eastern Africa’s largest economy, is now expected to overtake both Angola and Kenya to become the third largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa.
This is after the IMF revised its earlier forecast for Ethiopia’s GDP in 2023 from USD 126 billion to USD 156.1 billion, stretching its newfound lead over Kenya.
Nigeria remains the largest economy in the region with a GDP of USD 506.6 billion, followed by South Africa (USD 399 billion) and Ethiopia (USD 156.1 billion).
In October last year, the IMF had projected the size of Kenya’s economy at around Ksh15.7 trillion (USD 1117.6 billion), but this has since been revised slightly upward to Ksh15.8 trillion (USD 118.1 billion) in the April 2023 outlook.
(The East African)
Uganda’s debt likely to reach 50% GDP threshold, says AG
Uganda’s debt could soar to 53 percent this financial year, above the debt to gross domestic product (GDP) threshold, which threatens to upend an economy rebounding from the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic and a blip caused by the geo-political conflict in eastern Europe.
“Suffice to note, debt-to-GDP ratios are projected to go 18 percentage points slightly above the 50 percent policy threshold by the end of FY2021/22 and to peak at 53.1 percent in FY2022/23,” the Auditor General stated in his latest report for the 2022 financial year.
The debt-to-GDP ratio is a measure that compares a country’s total debt with what it produces. The ratio reliably indicates a country’s ability to pay back its debt. A high debt-to-GDP ratio may make it more difficult for a country to pay both internal and external debt and may lead creditors to seek higher interest rates to compensate for financing risk due to a likely default or unnecessary debt extension.
Though the IMF has recommended 50 percent as the point of safety, many developed countries have gone up to 200 percent. However, according to the IMF, developing countries are more susceptible to economic shocks and exchange rate risk, thus limiting them to 50 percent.