Ethiopia is preparing to launch the fourth filling of its mega-dam reservoir on the Blue Nile, the country’s deputy prime minister announced on June 22, 2023, despite opposition from its downstream neighbor Egypt.
The massive USD 4.2 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has been at the center of a regional dispute ever since Ethiopia broke ground on the project in 2011.
“The GERD is now approaching its fourth filling. The last three fillings have not affected lower riparian states. Likewise, the rest of the fillings will not be any different,” said Demeke Mekonnen, who also serves as foreign minister.
“The project is near completion, withstanding the rhetoric of some actors that seek to monopolize the use of the shared African river,” he said, opening a conference on the Nile in Addis Ababa.
The meeting includes a “high-level ministerial round table”, with Demeke and his foreign minister counterparts from some Nile Basin nations such as Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Tanzania participating.
But neither Sudan nor Egypt, the two countries located downstream of the Ethiopian dam, are represented. Khartoum and Cairo have previously cited it as a threat because of their dependence on Nile waters, while Ethiopia deems it essential for its electrification and development.
(The South African)
Ethiopian celebrates 25th anniversary of direct US flight
Ethiopian Airlines is celebrating the 25th anniversary of beginning its services to the United States.
Ethiopian connected Africa with the U.S. in June 1998 with its cross-Atlantic flights to Washington, D.C., the capital and federal district of the United States.
A spokesperson for the airline in Nigeria stated that Ethiopian and the U.S. aviation industry have an impressive relationship dating back to the 1940s when Ethiopian Airlines was founded in December 1945, in partnership with Trans World Airlines (TWA).
The spokesperson noted that in the years since, Ethiopian has been a proud partner to American aviation firms like Boeing and GE Aerospace.
Commenting on the anniversary, Ethiopian Airlines Group Chief Executive Officer Mesfin Tasew expressed delight, noting that Ethiopian was the pioneer African flag carrier to start services to Washington, D.C. in June 1998. He stressed that its flights have been instrumental in facilitating trade, tourism and strengthening socio-economic ties between Africa and the U.S.
Ethiopians caught in the middle
Reports indicate that Ethiopians have begun dying of hunger following the pause in food aid deliveries to Ethiopia by the US and UN several weeks ago over massive theft of supplies.
Earlier this month, the US announced it was suspending food and medical aid to Ethiopia because storage facilities were being looted—including by government officials—and sold on the commercial market.
The move delivered a huge blow to Addis Ababa as the US is by far its largest humanitarian donor, providing USD 1.8 billion since the beginning of 2022. Confirming the findings, the UN World Food Programme promptly followed suit.
The US says it is looking at food aid reforms in the country, though it remains unclear when shipments will resume or if the central government will cooperate, given that some of its own officials have been implicated in the scheme. The Ethiopian government has agreed to conduct a joint probe with the US, while the UN is conducting its own investigation.
Ethiopian Cargo Logistics, IATA sign live animal certification program
The signing of the CEIV Live Animal Project Initiation will be the first step enabling Ethiopian Airlines to work with IATA to obtain CEIV certification, which will in turn allow customers to see that Ethiopian meets global standards and requirements while transporting animals.
CEO Mesfin Tasew said that the agreement ensures “our commitment towards demonstrating quality services.”
Mesfin says he is confident that IATA CEIV Certification, a landmark in the transportation of live animals, will help improve operational standards, quality management systems, facility and infrastructure requirements.
“We want to assure our customers that Ethiopian will continue to comply with the requirements of IATA, which sets the industry’s policy and provides seamless aviation processes.”
Ethiopian Cargo and Logistics services carries out the transportation of special cargo like medical products, live animals and perishables in compliance with international and industry standards. In recent years, Ethiopian has invested heavily in infrastructure, equipment, people, systems and processes to enhance its special cargo and logistics handling capabilities across its network.
US gives $89m for clean energy projects in East Africa
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced a grant of up to USD 89 million over the next five years to step up investment in renewable energy and reduce electricity access gaps in East and central Africa.
The money will be used to directly support the creation of about 10 million on-and off-grid electricity connections, a move expected to connect at least 50 million people to electricity generated from clean sources.
Besides the grant, the American embassy in Nairobi said the US would mobilize new public and private investments of up to USD 4.7 billion in the region’s renewable energy projects through its ‘Power Africa’ program.
The investment is projected to deliver up to 1,227 MW of electricity and develop about 1,500 kilometres of new transmission lines, connecting more households and businesses to the grid.
USAid Administrator, Samantha Power, said that since the Power Africa program has proven that “clean energy investment delivers meaningful returns,” the new grant would be used as leverage to help mobilise more investments in the region’s clean energy projects.
(The East African)
Tanzania central bank warns against dollarization
In a bid to ease pressure on the local currency, the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) has ordered businesses to stop pricing goods and services using the American dollar, noting they are violating regulatory directives.
The central bank governor, Emmanuel Tutuba, stated that the Tanzanian shilling remains the only legal tender in the country.
The government banned the use of the US dollar in August 2007 and again in December 2017.
“The government’s directives issued are still valid and should be adhered to at all times,” the central bank said in a notice dated June 20.
“Tourists and non-residents who pay in foreign currencies must provide their identification documents such as passport and certificate of incorporation for companies for proper capturing and classification of statistics,” reads the notice.
Demand for forex has increased in recent months, especially in real estate, health, transport and education sectors as businesses move to cushion themselves against a weakening local currency.
Tutuba has also warned about parallel foreign exchange markets (black market). “It should be noted that institutions registered to determine exchange rates are commercial banks and bureaux de change only,” he said.
(The East African)
Unilever puts up mega warehouse for regional market
Global fast-moving consumer goods firm Unilever has commissioned a modern in-house warehouse in Kenya as part of its East Africa growth efforts.
The move also aims to reduce operating costs and in turn cushion consumers from high product prices amid soaring inflation, the firm says. It notes the investment seeks to promote the manufacturing sector by providing players with a wider market base while increasing their revenue streams.
The facility is designed to handle high-mix, low-volume beauty and health products. It comprises a total surface area of about 23,000 square meters and cost Sh500 million to establish.
The warehouse is also equipped with the latest automated storage and retrieval systems. “Significantly, it has a greater pallet capacity of more than 10,000, which will help the company store, process and ship its products in a much more efficient way,” said Luck Ochieng, Unilever EA’s general manager.
Ochieng said with increasing demand for Unilever products and limited warehousing capacity in the market, they aim to close the gap between higher demand and shortage of supply through this new facility.
Rwanda’s economy expands by 9% in first quarter of 2023
Rwanda’s economy expanded by nine percent in the first quarter of this year, compared to 7.9 percent growth in the same period of 2022, due mainly to a strong rebound in the service sector, according to data from the country’s Institute of Statistics.
Meetings, incentives, conferences, and events otherwise known as MICE helped the Rwandan services sector recover to contribute 44 percent of the GDP.
Recent multi-million dollar investments in infrastructure to host conferences and events have helped boost the country’s prospects as a MICE destination.
At an average of over seven percent growth every year over the last two decades, Rwanda enjoyed strong economic growth before the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the latest government statistics show a strong economic recovery, the performance of the country’s economy this year could hit a few bumps.
According to the government, the economy is expected to slow to 6.2 percent in 2023, compared to 8.2 percent last year.