Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Digital media laboratory at AAU opens with Qatari grant

The Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs inaugurated a digital media lab at Addis Ababa University, developed by Al Jazeera Media Institute with a Qatari grant.

Tassew Woldehanna (Prof.) and Dr. Abdulaziz Dino from AAU attended along with Ethiopian officials.

The Qatari official said the lab will help journalism students gain quality training and fulfill their dreams of changing Ethiopia’s media landscape. He sees the lab as a milestone in Qatari-Ethiopian cooperation and a way to build on their successful experiences.

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The digital lab contributes to AAU’s digital transformation and develops journalism education with Al Jazeera Institute. It promotes innovation and practical skills through mobile journalism and artificial intelligence. The lab will provide training for AAU journalism students and Ethiopian journalists.

The Qatari official inaugurated the lab at an event attended by AAU and Ethiopian officials, lawmakers and newspaper editors. He delivered a speech highlighting how the lab represents Qatar’s commitment to support development projects that benefit the Ethiopian people.

(Africa Newsroom)

Ethiopian Airlines adds flights to Gatwick Airport

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Ethiopian Airlines has launched thrice weekly flights from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport to London Gatwick Airport starting November 21.

The Airline was unable to secure more slots at Heathrow Airport, where it currently operates daily flights.

Ethiopian Airlines will utilize Airbus A350-900 aircraft on the new Gatwick route, making it the second sub-Saharan carrier to operate at the airport after Air Mauritius. The outbound flight from Addis Ababa departs at 00:15, similar to Ethiopian Airlines’ other European flight times.

The inbound flight from Gatwick arrives in Addis Ababa at 20:40. The new route connects several destinations in Eastern and Southern Africa with London, including Entebbe, Harare, Johannesburg, Kigali, Lilongwe, Lusaka and Nairobi.

In 2019, Ethiopian Airlines carried the most passengers between Heathrow Airport and Lagos, Nigeria despite the longer journey time compared to nonstop flights.

However, for flights between Heathrow and Lagos in the first half of 2023, data showed that Ethiopian Airlines was only the fourth largest operator for that route after Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc and RwandAir.

(Simple Flying)

Safaricom M-Pesa, Hibret Bank enter mobile banking and agency partnership

Safaricom Ethiopia has partnered with Hibret Bank to allow soon-to-be M-Pesa customers and agents to deposit and withdraw cash from all Hibret Bank branches.

Hibret Bank will act as a super-agent to facilitate cash transactions for M-Pesa agents and customers. Hibret customers can also transfer funds between their bank accounts and M-Pesa wallets using Hibret’s mobile banking channels.

Customers must visit a Hibret Bank branch and provide ID to activate their Safaricom number on their Hibret account.

The partnership paves the way for the official launch of M-Pesa in Ethiopia, which was granted a mobile money license this year.

Ethiopia’s population of over 120 million make it an attractive market for Safaricom M-Pesa.

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In the last period, Safaricom Ethiopia added three million subscribers, built a network of 114 outlets and has over 1300 network sites with over 900 Ethiopian staff.

(Africa Tech)

Japan, Ethiopia to work on Black Sea Grain deal resumption

Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi expressed hope that Japan and Ethiopia can work together to resume the Black Sea Grain Initiative during a meeting with Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen.

Hayashi condemned Russia’s termination of the initiative and said Japan hopes to cooperate with Ethiopia to resume it. Over 262 metric tons of wheat have been exported to Ethiopia under the initiative since July 2022.

Drought, climate shocks and conflict in Ethiopia have left over 20 million people in need of food aid.

Hayashi also expressed support for implementing the peace deal that ended the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

Demeke said the meeting produced productive discussions and pledged to deepen cooperation between the two countries, especially in investment, trade and development.

The visit wrapped up Hayashi’s six-nation tour of Southwest Asia and Africa.


Mid-term growth for East Africa region projected highest on the continent

East Africa is projected to post the highest economic growth in Africa in 2023–2024, according to the African Development Bank’s East Africa Economic Outlook report. The region is projected to see economic growth of 5.1 percent in 2023 and 5.8 percent in 2024, outpacing other African regions.

Growth will be driven by Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti and Tanzania. The region’s services sector contributed two percentage points to GDP growth in 2022, lower than its 2.5 percent average from 2015 to 2021.

The region faces risks that could impact the growth outlook, including a global economic slowdown, rising commodity prices, the Russia-Ukraine war, tightening financial conditions, exchange rate issues and a potential COVID-19 resurgence.

Domestic risks include infrastructure gaps, conflicts, macroeconomic imbalances and climate change impacts. Africa faces significant climate financing challenges despite contributing less than four percent of carbon emissions.

Boosting private sector financing for climate change is key for a green transition in East Africa.

(APO Group)

Kenya to import sugar from outside Bloc

The Kenyan government has granted licenses to Kenyan sugar companies to import sugar from outside the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) to bring down high sugar prices currently at Sh510 for a two kg packet.

President William Ruto said the supply of sugar in COMESA has declined, necessitating the need to source from international markets.

The government reluctantly opened imports to protect sugar farmers in the country. The President expects sugar stocks to arrive within one to two weeks, by mid-month. The government is working on a roadmap to address issues in the sugar sector, which will be discussed at the next cabinet meeting.

The cabinet plans to ratify the decision next week to import sugar outside COMESA to cushion Kenyans from high sugar prices.

The import licenses were granted to Kenyan sugar companies to cool escalating prices of the commodity.


East Africa currency woes hurt Diageo’s full-year sales volumes

Diageo’s dip in annual sales volumes was largely related to its business in East Africa, according to the company’s finance chief. Diageo’s full-year organic sales volumes declined 0.8%, but the finance chief said volume across the globe was actually flat.

A significant impact came from the East African markets of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda due to currency devaluations and inflation. Diageo raised prices to offset some of the inflation impact.

The Kenyan shilling and Tanzanian shilling have weakened against the dollar, weighing on the East Africa business. Excise tax increases also led Diageo to raise prices, impacting the East Africa business.

East Africa net sales declined two percent as spirits growth, driven by scotch, was more than offset by a beer volume decline following price and duty increases.

However, the finance chief noted Diageo’s Scotch business grew nine percent in East Africa and called it a “very healthy business” despite periodic economic difficulty in the region. Beer rival Heineken reported that it sold 5.6 percent less beer in the first half of the year, with declines in all regions. Over half of the drop was due to Vietnam and Nigeria, with price increases also having an impact.


Kenya gets vaccines for major push against cholera outbreak

The Ministry of Health has announced a nationwide Oral Cholera Vaccination (OCV) campaign targeting eight high risk counties.

The drive starting on August 3 aims to cover Suba South, Kajiado East, Moyale, Nairobi’s Kamukunji, Embakasi Central, Wajir North, Mandera East, Machakos and Garissa counties.

As of July 18, Kenya has reported over 11,000 cholera cases and 196 deaths in 26 counties. The case fatality rate stands at 1.7 percent. The Ministry has received 1.5 million doses of oral cholera vaccines for the campaign from the International Coordinating Group.

Principal Secretary Muriuki stressed the urgency of complementary interventions to vaccination like water, sanitation and hygiene measures. She called on citizens to support the vaccination drive and adhere to public health measures to fight cholera.

Muriuki sees the OCV campaign as a significant step to curb the cholera outbreak. The Ministry has strengthened coordination, WASH efforts, risk communication, community engagement, case management and laboratory testing in collaboration with counties and partners.


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