Foreign investor interest in Ethiopia’s telecoms sector is waning due to concerns over legislative changes, recurring security problems, and doubts about the government’s commitment to true competition, according to sector experts and insiders.
Safaricom, the only company currently granted a license to compete with state-owned Ethio Telecom, has faced challenges during its first two years of operation in the country. The government’s investment regulations enacted in the past year did not include telecoms in the list of sectors entitled to fiscal incentives, which has further deterred potential investors.
Last month, the process to issue a third telecommunications license was suspended after investors expressed dissatisfaction with the conditions. France’s Orange withdrew from buying a stake in Ethio Telecom due to unfavorable conditions for its strategy deployment.
Safaricom reported an enthusiastic uptake of its products and services in Ethiopia, with 7 million users and 1.2 million customers for its mobile money service. It expects to break even in Ethiopia in the 2026 fiscal year, despite early losses.
Ethio Telecom, on the other hand, recorded a more than doubling of profit in its latest financial year and has over 72 million subscribers.
The telecoms sector initially garnered interest from major operators, but enthusiasm waned due to concerns about the civil war in the northern Tigray region and ongoing fighting in other parts of the country.
Safaricom has faced difficulties in getting equipment through customs, and there are allegations of government favoritism towards Ethio Telecom. These issues have discouraged potential bidders for the third telecoms license. Despite the challenges, insiders believe investors will remain interested in Ethiopia’s telecoms sector in the long term.
Ethiopia puts early warning for all into action
In response to a growing climate crisis, Ethiopia is taking action by implementing a Roadmap for Multi-hazard, Impact-based Early Warning and Early Action System (2023-2030), with millions of people suffering from prolonged droughts and devastating floods.
Since 2020, consecutive failed rainy seasons have caused widespread drought in the northern, southeastern, and southern parts of the country. The current drought has left approximately 24 million people affected, with over 11 million in urgent need of food assistance, particularly in regions like Afar, Oromia, Southern Nations, and Somali.
A recent workshop, organized by the Disaster Risk Management Commission (EDRMC) in collaboration with UNDRR and the United Nations Country Team, brought together over 60 technical experts from various organizations and regions. The aim was to strengthen Ethiopia’s early warning systems and improve prevention and risk reduction measures by harnessing valuable risk data.
EDRMC and its partners have made significant strides in mapping vulnerable areas and populations exposed to climate-related hazards.
To further enhance risk information, they plan to establish a risk information management system, which will be linked to Emergency Coordination Centers at national and regional levels. This system will enable better access to real-time risk data, facilitating preparedness and early action during crises.
Acknowledging the pivotal role of the private sector, Microsoft’s presence at the workshop emphasized the importance of digital innovation and collaboration. The integration of technology, including artificial intelligence and exposure mapping, can play a key role in supporting the implementation of the Roadmap.
As Ethiopia grapples with the consequences of the climate crisis, urgent investments in early warning systems and risk reduction are crucial to protect vulnerable communities and critical infrastructure from the devastating impacts of droughts and floods.
EU pledges to join US-led Red Sea patrol effort
The European Union (EU) said that member countries will contribute to the US-led Operation Prosperity Guardian aimed at protecting commercial shipping in the Red Sea from attacks by Iran-backed Houthi rebels from Yemen.
“Irresponsible Houthi actions are a threat to freedom of navigation in the Red Sea,” tweeted Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, after an emergency meeting of the bloc’s Political and Security Committee.
The EU’s endorsement will make it easier for countries to join the American effort.
The United Kingdom has joined, while Italy is sending a warship. France, which has a destroyer in the area, said on Tuesday it was interested but had not yet committed to joining the operation.
Other countries were waiting for the EU to move. The bloc is already running the Atalanta anti-piracy mission off the coast of Somalia, which is led by Spain and has included vessels from countries like Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Italy.
Spain was mentioned by the US as a member of its Red Sea coalition, but Madrid later clarified it was not taking part in a mission that didn’t have the backing of either NATO or the EU.
Germany has similar qualms. The country’s military needs a mandate from the parliament to take part, as the coalition includes the potential use of force but does not fall under the auspices of the EU, NATO or the UN, government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit told reporters earlier today.
Nearly 16,000 children a day plunged into hunger in 2023: Save the Children
A new analysis by Save the Children has revealed that approximately six million children have been pushed into hunger in the top 10 countries facing worsening food crises this year. This marks a 32 percent increase compared to 2022.
Based on Integrated Food Security Classification (IPC) data, 5.8 million children, equivalent to around 16,000 children per day, have entered chronic levels of hunger in Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, Djibouti, Gambia, Haiti, Lebanon, Liberia, Senegal, and Malawi in 2023. This means that a combined total of 24 million children are now experiencing hunger in these countries.
Sudan has experienced the most significant deterioration, with two out of every five children in the country not knowing where their next meal will come from. The outbreak of violence in April exacerbated the situation, pushing four million children into crisis levels of hunger or worse this year, a staggering 74 percent increase from 2022. In Sudan, the number of children on the brink of starvation has doubled to 2.9 million from 1.4 million last year.
Somalia witnessed the second-worst deterioration in hunger, with an additional 500,000 children facing hunger this year compared to the previous year, bringing the total number of hungry children to 3.5 million.
The analysis did not include the hunger emergency in the occupied Palestinian territory as the IPC does not monitor it.
Nana Ndeda, head of advocacy and policy for hunger at Save the Children, emphasized the need to address the root causes of global hunger, including conflicts, economic instability, and the climate crisis.
Save the Children is urging world leaders to tackle these issues and build resilient systems to combat food and nutrition insecurity.
(Save the Children)
Spread of fighting in Sudan displaces 150,000 children, UNICEF Says
The spread of fighting in southeastern Sudan has forced humanitarian groups to temporarily suspend operations in some areas, while UNICEF expressed concern about millions of children at risk amid escalating violence.
UNICEF said that at least 150,000 children have been forced from their homes during the past week in Jazeera state, located southeast of Khartoum, Sudan’s capital.
The development came as the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces announced they had taken control of Wad Medani from the army.
UNICEF said in a statement that Wad Medani is a key hub of resources in the region and was hosting hundreds of thousands of children who had already fled from other parts of Sudan.
UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said “With reports of renewed fighting elsewhere in the country, millions of children in Sudan are once again at grave risk.”
The World Food Program also said its operations were being affected by the spread of fighting, announcing a temporary suspension of food assistance in parts of Jazeera.
“The safety of humanitarian staff, supplies and premises is paramount and must be ensured no matter the circumstances. We urge all parties to adhere to their obligations under International Humanitarian Law for the sake of innocent civilians who so desperately need support,” Eddie Rowe, WFP representative and country director in Sudan, said in a statement.
Climate disasters claim 12,000 lives globally in 2023: Save the Children
A recent analysis by Save the Children found that deaths caused by floods, wildfires, cyclones, storms, and landslides rose by 30 percent compared to the previous year.
The analysis, based on data from the international disaster database EM-DAT, recorded around 240 such events. The study highlights alarming figures, including a 60 percent increase in landslide-related deaths, a staggering 278 percent rise in deaths from wildfires, and a 340 percent surge in deaths from storms between 2022 and 2023. The devastating floods in Libya resulting from Storm Daniel in September contributed heavily to the death toll.
Save the Children’s analysis also emphasizes the disproportionate impact on low-income countries, where over half of the fatalities occurred. Shockingly, 45 percent of the deaths (5,326) were from countries responsible for less than 0.1 percent of global emissions.
Kelley Toole, Global Head of Climate Change at Save the Children, stressed the urgent need for increased climate finance and a more child-centered approach to address the crisis. The analysis serves as a stark example of the profound impact of climate change on children, families, and communities, leaving them homeless, hungry, and fearful.
2023 witnessed other notable climate disasters, including Cyclone Freddy, which caused extensive destruction in Madagascar, Malawi, and Mozambique, resulting in over 1,400 deaths and massive displacement. In Pakistan, the monsoon season claimed the lives of nearly 200 people, with children accounting for almost half of the casualties.
While better forecasting, disaster preparedness and management have over the last century reduced the number of people who die from weather-related disasters, the number of global extreme weather events has increased five-fold over the past 50 years according to the World Meteorological Organization.
(Save the Children)