Monday, May 20, 2024

G7 countries concerned over Ethiopia, Somaliland MoU, ‘persistent and violent tensions in many areas’ in Ethiopia

 Following the conclusion of the G7 foreign ministers meeting held in Capri, Italy between 17 – 19 April, member states said they expressed concern regarding the Memorandum of Understanding between Ethiopia and the Somaliland region of Somalia announced in January 2024.

G7 countries concerned over Ethiopia, Somaliland MoU, 'persistent and violent tensions in many areas' in Ethiopia | The Reporter | #1 Latest Ethiopian News Today

The countries also said they encourage both Ethiopia and Somalia “to keep all channels of dialogue open to prevent further escalation, working with regional partners, in the framework of the African Union and through bilateral contacts, in accordance with international law and the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity as enshrined in the UN Charter.”

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While welcoming developments in the implementation of the Pretoria cessation of hostilities agreement between the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the group of developed countries including the High Representative of the European Union member states also expressed concern about “the persistent and violent tensions in many areas of the country, as well as reports of human rights violations and abuses, the severe economic crisis and widening food insecurity.”

The G7 countries encouraged lasting developments in the protection of human rights, protection of civilians, political dialogue to resolve tensions, reconciliation and national dialogue, transitional justice, and accountability for crimes committed during the conflict.

The group called for “similar commitment by those involved in conflicts in other regions of Ethiopia to pursue peace through dialogue,” and underscored the importance of delivering peace dividend quickly for conflict-affected populations through recovery and reconstruction support, disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of ex-combatants, and implementation of durable solutions for Internally Displaced People (IDPs).

(Addis Standard)

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Chinese Language Day celebrated in Ethiopia to promote cultural exchanges

The United Nations Chinese Language Day was celebrated in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, on Friday with a call to promote cultural exchanges and mutual understanding through learning different languages.

The day was marked at the Ethiopian Technical and Vocational Training Institute (TVTI) under the theme “Chinese language: connecting cultures through the bridge of mutual learning.”

The event featured Chinese calligraphy, traditional Chinese music, and acrobatics performed by Ethiopian artists who had been trained in China.

Welcoming the guests at the event, Shen Qinmin, minister counselor at the Chinese Embassy in Ethiopia, said the UN Chinese Language Day is part of the Chinese government’s commitment to promoting cultural exchanges, equality, mutual learning, and global civilization.

“An event of such kind will not only promote the all-weather strategic partnership between China and Ethiopia but also enhance mutual understanding and appreciation of each other’s languages and cultures among the peoples of the two countries,” Shen said

Noting that both China and Ethiopia have ancient civilizations, Shen said such kinds of events will further strengthen unity and solidarity between the Chinese and Ethiopian peoples and governments.

Speaking on the occasion, Biruk Kedir, director-general of TVTI, said the event serves as a platform to showcase the beauty of Ethiopian and Chinese cultures, their long-standing relations, and their ancient civilizations.

Highlighting that language plays an indispensable role in the exchanges of cultures and mutual learning in human civilization, Kedir said the development of the Chinese language in Ethiopia has contributed to enhancing the all-weather strategic partnership between Ethiopia and China as well as the economic benefits of the Chinese language learners in Ethiopia.

“Organizing such a celebration event will definitely deepen our understanding of the Chinese language and culture, and simultaneously promote constructive cooperation between the two countries,” Kedir said.

The UN decided to designate April 20 as UN Chinese Language Day in 2010. The date was specifically chosen to honor Cangjie, a mythical figure in China credited with the invention of Chinese characters. 


KPA plans tariff cuts for Lamu port

The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) plans to review tariffs for Lamu port next month as it eyes to woo regional governments to the new facility, targeting bigger cargo.

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The new rates are expected to be more attractive to the port users to increase its throughput from 37,576 metric tons handled in 2023 where a total of 36 vessels docked at the facility.

KPA managing director William Ruto said the authority is willing to offer lower tariffs while maintaining efficiency.

Ruto said with the arrival of Sh4.1 billion ship-to-shore (STS) gantry cranes from China last week, the port is now capable of handling three ships at any time.

“We shall review the tariffs according to our stakeholders’ suggestions to maintain the existing clients and attract more port users,”‘ said Ruto.

This month, Kenya and Ethiopia constituted a joint technical committee (TC) to address key issues derailing the, commercialization of the Lapsset corridor and one of the recommendations was the review of tariffs as the Federal government set to start using the port as their alternative route on a pilot basis this month.

Currently, KPA has waived fees charged for every bill of lading to all Lamu Port users and introduced promotional tariffs to woo traders to use the second commercial port.

All importers are exempted from paying Sh1,000 for every bill of lading, a charge that has been one of the trade barriers and a major hindrance to large scale cargo importation.

In the new tariffs, the government is also considering offering at least 60 days of free storage for importers through Lamu compared to 21 days offered at Mombasa port.

The KPA earlier extended promotional tariffs to shippers and transporters including a 30-day free storage period for transhipment and transit cargo, a 14-day free storage period for domestic cargo and a 40 percent discount for cargo-based charges.

The modern cranes delivered recently are energy-efficient and environmentally improved with a capacity to lift more than 18,000 containers with an outreach of 62 meters into the sea and 16 meters on the shore.

Lamu Port has three harbor mobile cranes, two rubber tyre cranes, one mobile crane and now the three STS gantry cranes.

Kenya has assured Ethiopia of the readiness of Lamu port as they agreed to work on diplomatic and other approaches aimed at facilitating the neighbor’s debut at Lamu for the importation of fertilizer on a pilot.

The Lapsset Corridor Development Authority chairman Ali Mbogo and CEO Stephen Ikua assured traders of security and key infrastructure to aid a free flow of cargo.

“The Lapsset management has requested the Kenyan government to consolidate the budget of all Lapsset components with a view to fast-tracking implementation of the missing links,” said Mbogo.

 (Business Daily)

AU holds a workshop on Cyber Diplomacy

The Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) Department of the African Union Commission, jointly with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH partnership for strengthening cybersecurity project, held a workshop on Cyber Diplomacy for the embassies and permanent Missions of the AU Member States in Addis Ababa, at the AU Headquarters from April 15-16, 2024.

Cognizant of the threat, Member States have developed the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection (Malabo Convention), which was adopted by the 23rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU in 2014, and entered into force on 8 June 8, 2023.

The Assembly endorsed the Common African Position, encouraged Member States to issue national position statements on the application of International Law in the cyberspace & to actively participate in regional& international forums on governance of cyberspace, including at the UN.

Ambassador Calixte Aristide Mbari, Head of AU Democracy, Elections and Constitutionalism unit, while delivering opening remarks on behalf of the PAPS Commissioner Bankole Adeoye, said “We are also witnessing cyberspace increasingly becoming a new ground for geopolitical competition and sometimes attacks against national security. Therefore, the need to build trust & confidence in cyberspace among states is increasingly becoming pertinent.”

Vladimir Radunovic from Diplo-Foundation and Ferdinand Von Weyhe, Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Germany in Addis Ababa, also presented their remarks at the opening of the workshop.

The main objectives of the workshop are to initiate an entry point for cyber diplomacy efforts at the AU, raise awareness on existing cyber threats and key priorities for cybersecurity, and jumpstart discussions among the diplomatic community on the nature and extent of the threat.

Participants were from Embassies of the AU Member States in Addis Ababa, the Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) Department, other relevant Departments from the Commission (Infrastructure and Energy, Management and Information Science Directorate), the German Mission in Addis Ababa and GIZ.

(African Union)

Funding target not reached as charities warn of impending famine

A funding drive to help ease a looming famine in Ethiopia has fallen short of its USD one billion [£800 million] target, with charities warning of a “dire situation” in the region.

The High-level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Situation in Ethiopia, co-hosted by the UK, the Ethiopian government and the United Nations in Geneva, raised USD 610 million [£491m].

More than 91 percent of the population of Ethiopia’s Tigray region is at risk of starvation and death, the area’s Interim Regional Administration has warned – and more than 20 million Ethiopians are in need of food aid.

A deadly civil war that displaced millions, destroyed essential infrastructure and health services, and is estimated to have claimed the lives of upwards of 600,000 people raged in Tigray from November 2020 for two years. At the event, the US pledged the highest amount, at USD 243 million [£196m], and the UK USD 125.5 million [£101m].

Tinebeb Berhane, country director at ActionAid Ethiopia, said: “The UK government’s pledge, the second largest at the High-Level Pledging Event on Humanitarian Response for Ethiopia, is a step forward. Yet Geneva’s outcome falls short of addressing the crisis’s magnitude. Ethiopia, flagged by humanitarian watchdogs, faces escalating multi-faceted humanitarian needs for the third consecutive year.

“The pledged amount didn’t meet the USD one billion target, and leaves uncertainty about how “new” the funding allocated is. The international community must fulfil its promises to effectively support Ethiopia through this dire situation.”

Speaking at the summit, Mike Ryan, deputy director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), told delegates of cholera and malaria outbreaks in the country.

He said: “WHO and our health partners, the health cluster, are on the ground, providing life-saving health services. But without urgent funding we cannot simply continue. Instead of maintaining the scale up to respond to the worsening health and food security emergency in Ethiopia, WHO is forced to scale down due to funding shortfalls.”

The UN’s Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said despite continuing investments by the Ethiopian government to build the resilience of vulnerable communities and implement development programs, the country continued to face recurrent humanitarian challenges resulting from climate-related disasters, conflict and other challenges.


Chinese-built Ethiopia-Djibouti railway earns $50M in 9 months

The Chinese-built 752.7-km Ethiopia-Djibouti railway earned 2.84 billion birr (about USD 50 million) in the first nine months of the current Ethiopian fiscal year 2023/2024, which started on July 8, 2023, Ethiopian officials said.

Speaking to state media outlet Ethiopian Press Agency, Aminu Juhar, chief corporate strategy officer at the Ethiopia-Djibouti Standard Gauge Railway Share Company (EDR), said the revenue generated is up by about USD 1.12 million compared to the same period last year.

Juhar further said the rail line was able to transport 148,664 passengers during the first nine months of the 2023/2024 fiscal year, an increase of 15 percentage points compared to the same period last year.

He also said the EDR’s revenue and passenger figures showed an increase, overcoming challenges such as the ongoing security crisis in the Red Sea region and recent floods that affected Djibouti Port.

The Ethiopia-Djibouti standard gauge railway, also known as the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway, was contracted by China Railway Engineering Corporation and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation.

The railway began commercial operations for both passenger and freight services in January 2018, connecting landlocked Ethiopia to ports in the Red Sea country of Djibouti.


Genome study reveals prehistoric Ethiopian origins of coffee

Researchers now have unlocked the genome of the Arabica species and traced its origins to a natural mating between two other coffee species an estimated 610,000 to one million years ago in the forests of Ethiopia. That makes this species older than our own species Homo sapiens, which arose in Africa about 300,000 years ago.

The researchers sequenced the genomes of 39 Arabica varieties, including a specimen from the 18th century, to create the highest quality genome to date of this species, whose scientific name is Coffea arabica. They also uncovered a specific region of the genome that may be pivotal for breeding or genetically engineering disease resistance.

“Arabica is one of the world’s premier commodity crops, taking up a large part of the agricultural economies of countries in which it is grown,” said plant evolutionary biologist Victor Albert of the University at Buffalo in New York, one of the leaders of the study published this week in the journal Nature Genetics.

“It’s an important part of local small stakeholder subsistence, not just farmed and exploited by major companies. Coffee is a rich source of antioxidants, and of course, caffeine – which helps keep me and the rest of the world awake,” Albert added.

The research showed that Arabica’s population rose and fell over the millennia as the climate warmed and cooled. It was first cultivated by people in Ethiopia and Yemen, and then spread around the world.

“Coffee and humankind are closely related throughout history. In many producing countries, the Arabica coffee represents more than a crop, it is part of the culture and tradition,” said Patrick Descombes, a genomics senior expert at Nestlé Research and lecturer at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), another of the study leaders.

Arabica was found to have low genetic diversity due to a history of inbreeding and small population size. The species, susceptible to pests and diseases, can be cultivated in a limited number of locales where climate conditions are favorable and disease threats are lower.

The research “paves the way to new breeding approaches in coffee, which will ultimately lead to development of new varieties with improved resistance to diseases, climate changes, and with new cup (flavor) qualities,” Descombes said.

Coffee is one of the world’s most widely consumed beverages – an estimated 2.25 billion cups of it is consumed daily – as well as one of the most traded commodities. Arabica represents the majority of the world’s coffee production.

Arabica formed, the researchers said, as a natural hybridization between two parent species – Coffea canephora and Coffea eugenioides. The canephora species is called Robusta coffee and its genome was sequenced in 2014.

Robusta is commonly used in instant coffee, while Arabica is considered to have a superior flavor, generally known for a milder and smoother taste. The Robusta species is indigenous to the forests of equatorial Africa.

“Robusta is also known because it is quite resistant to main coffee pests and diseases – hence its name Robusta, for robust,” Descombes said.

The eugenioides species grows in high altitudes in Kenya.

The 18th century specimen sequenced in the study was from a sample stored in London that had been used by Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus to name the coffea species.

“We were able to sequence its genome, and in fact we found that it was not particularly closely related to varieties in cultivation today,” Albert said.



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