Friday, June 14, 2024

Over 560,000 people affected by floods in Ethiopia: UN

Heavy rains and flooding have affected more than 560,000 people across Ethiopia, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has said.

The OCHA, in its latest situation update issued Wednesday, said some 57,000 people have been displaced due to flooding caused by heavy rains in different parts of the East African country.

It said flooding incidents have sustained significant damage to residential houses, public infrastructure and croplands, further limiting the affected population’s access to services, particularly in areas already affected by conflict, prolonged drought, an ongoing cholera outbreak and preexisting poor road infrastructure.

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The Somali Region, where rivers overflowed, is the worst affected area, with at least 51,000 people displaced, according to the OCHA.

(The Star)

Above-normal rainfall, higher-than-normal temperatures predicted over most parts of HoA

The IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) issued the June to September 2024 seasonal forecast indicating an increased likelihood of above-normal rainfall over most parts of the Greater Horn of Africa (GHA). 

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The areas expected to experience these above-normal conditions include Djibouti, Eritrea, central and northern Ethiopia, western and coastal Kenya, much of Uganda, South Sudan, and Sudan. On the other hand, parts of northern Somalia, isolated areas over western Ethiopia, and north-western South Sudan are expected to experience drier-than-normal conditions.

The climate patterns in the JJAS 2024 period closely resemble those of 1998 and 2010, both of which experienced wetter-than-normal conditions over much of the region.

An early to normal onset is expected in several parts of the region including central and northern Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, and South Sudan. However, a delayed onset is likely in Djibouti, parts of eastern and western Ethiopia, central and western Sudan, and southern South Sudan. 

The temperature forecast shows a probability of warmer-than-normal conditions across the region, particularly over northern Sudan, central and western Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania.

Guleid Artan (PhD), ICPAC’s director noted that the Greater Horn stands as a region that is highly susceptible to the adverse impacts of climate change, which pose significant challenges to the resilience of our communities. “The forecasted wetter-than-normal conditions for June to September 2024 echo the patterns of 1998 and 2010, highlighting the level of impact especially for South Sudan and Sudan, which may experience impacts of floods,” he said. 

“As we observe these recurring extreme climate events, it is important to acknowledge the pivotal role played by early warning systems which serve as key instruments of preparedness, guiding us through climate variability. Through our operations, ICPAC continues to provide actionable climate information that is relevant and key for Early Action,” he added. 

ICPAC has adopted an objective seasonal forecast method to generate climate forecasts for the Greater Horn of Africa.

May 2024 initialized seasonal forecasts from 9 Global Producing Centers (GPCs) were utilized and processed to develop the June – September 2024 seasonal climate outlook. The seasonal forecasts and their hindcast data were analyzed to provide a probabilistic forecast indicating the likelihood of above-normal, normal, or below-normal rainfall. 

(The Reporter)

Ethiopia upgrades Consulate in Somaliland to full-fledged embassy

Ethiopia has reportedly upgraded its consulate in Hargeisa, the regional administrative capital of the Somaliland region,to a full-fledged embassy, which could escalate the existing conflictwith Somalia,

Ali Mohamed Hassan, aka Ali Marehaan, the minister forinformation and culture in Somaliland, said Ethiopia had confirmedthe new status of relations with Somaliland, adding that this is theprocess towards recognition of Somaliland.”

Over the weekend, Somaliland leader Muse Bihi Abdi hinted at thedevelopment, as the region celebrated its 33rd independence day.Somaliland broke away from Somalia in 1991 but since then, it hasnever been recognized internationally.

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In an interview with the BBC, Ali Hassan Mohamed said the decisionby Ethiopia had been announced by Muse Bihi Abdi, adding that thetwo parties shall recognize each other as sovereign states. Ethiopia isyet to openly comment on the matter.

“Upgrading of the Ethiopian representative office in Somaliland to afully-fledged one was officially [a piece] of bonafide information sinceit was revealed by none other than the President himself in his speechto the nation during the most important date of the government calendar,” he said.

Ethiopia signed an agreement with Somaliland which would see it getover 20 kilometers of the Red Sea for the construction of a NavalBase and port. In return, Addis Ababa vowed to recognize Somalilandas a sovereign country contrary to international laws.

Although Ethiopia is yet to confirm, in the recent appointments ofAmbassadors announced by Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewdelast week, Ethiopia’s envoy to Hargeisa, DelilKedirBushra, wasincluded among the names of Ambassadors. DelilKedir served asEthiopia’s envoy to Somaliland since March last year.

The news of the consular upgrade surfaced despite a decision bySomalia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperationto give Ethiopia’s Ambassador Muktar Mohamed Ware 72 hours toleave Mogadishu, and announce the Consulates General in Hargeisaand Garowe, the capital cities of Somaliland and Puntlandrespectively, to be closed “within seven (7) days.

Both Hargeisa and Garowe rejected Somalia’s decision and said itbears no impact on their relations with Addis Ababa. Somaliland andPuntland vowed to work closely with Ethiopia on matters ofdevelopment, ruling out warning from Somalia

In addition to the information on the consular upgrade, Minister AliHassan Mohamed also commented on the January Memorandumof Understanding between Ethiopia and Somaliland and said that theMoU “was right on course and would be implemented duly and in due[course] as per procedural international treaties.”

Somaliland maintains that implementation of the MoU is in the finalstages but Ethiopia has remained silent, following reprisals frommembers of the international community. Somalia insists thatEthiopia must withdraw the agreement for any meaningfuldiscussions to take place.

(Garowe Online)

Safaricom Ethiopia eyes new Sh46bn loan from IFC

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is set to lend Safaricom Ethiopia an additional Sh46 billion (USD350 million) to support its expansion of telephony and mobile money services.

In its latest disclosures, the global private sector financier has revealed plans to top up the debt (USD157.4 million) and equity investment (USD 100 million for a 7.25 percent stake) it already injected into the telco last year.

If approved, this will bring IFC and its partners’ total financing to Safaricom Ethiopia, which is majority owned by Safaricom Plc, to Sh80 billion (USD607.4 million).

“IFC’s further proposed loan of up to USD 350 million will support STEP (Safaricom Telecommunications Ethiopia Private Limited) with the ongoing expansion of its telecommunication network and mobile money services and enhance the competitiveness of the local telecommunications market,” the lender said.

IFC said it is ready to lend between USD150 million and USD200 million, noting that the rest of the balance will be sourced from development finance institutions and other lenders.

The lender had last year committed a total of Sh34 billion in debt and equity investments in the Ethiopian entity, which is owned by the Global Partnerships for Ethiopia (GPE), a consortium of international investors in which Safaricom Kenya’s stake is 51.7 percent.

IFC said the initial investments “have had satisfactory environmental and social performance,’ based on the assessment done by its team, paving the way for the extra investment.

The multilateral lender expects that its expanded investment will further boost its ability to increase competitiveness in the mobile connectivity industry in Ethiopia, in addition to increasing access to quality phone networks.

Safaricom Ethiopia is the first private sector-led mobile operator in the country, after entering the industry in 2021 when Addis liberalized the telecommunications sector.

Since starting operations in the country in late 2022, the subsidiary is yet to break even, and has been weighing down its parent company’s profits for the last two financial years due to start-up losses that are estimated to have peaked in the year ended March.

In the period, the Ethiopian subsidiary made a net loss of Sh42.66 billion as the Kenyan arm posted profits of Sh84.7 billion.

Safaricom Ethiopia is also eying a potential USD 150 million (Sh19 billion) local currency denominated debt from the Ethiopian Stock Exchange.

(Business Daily)

Abiy urges China’s CCCC to expand engagements in Ethiopia

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed called on the Chinese construction company, China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), to further enhance its positive engagements in Ethiopia.

The call was made during his meeting with Wang Tongzhou, chairman of the CCCC, in the Ethiopian capital, according to the Office of the Ethiopian Prime Minister.

Noting the CCCC’s “active engagements” across various construction activities in the East African country, Abiy emphasized the need for the Chinese construction company to further strengthen its positive contribution to the country’s construction sector.

During his discussion with Wang, the Ethiopian PM “shared the various national potential areas that warrant further engagement and investments from the CCCC,” the statement indicated.

The CCCC has won acclaim for its robust engagements across large-scale infrastructure development projects in Ethiopia, including industrial parks, roads and major national development projects.

Last week, Ethiopian Airlines commended the CCCC upon the successful completion of its newly inaugurated USD 50 million domestic passenger terminal project at Bole International Airport, which is set to more than double the terminal’s annual passenger handling capacity.

The Addis Ababa-Adama expressway, regarded as the first expressway in Ethiopia and East Africa, is one of Ethiopia’s flagship infrastructure projects constructed by the CCCC. The expressway went operational in September 2014.

The CCCC is also praised for its success in the construction of the China-aided Friendship Square in Addis Ababa, a landmark development project covering an area of around 30 hectares, containing an artificial lake, a plaza that can accommodate tens of thousands of people at a time, several restaurants and areas for sports exercise.

(People’s Daily Online)

Ethiopia faces fiscal strain due to instability, high humanitarian spending

Finance Minister Ahmed Shide presented a challenging fiscal picture to the House of Peoples’ Representatives’ Planning, Budget, and Finance Standing Committee yesterday.

While presenting the ministry’s nine-month report, Minister Ahmed highlighted the impact of instability in “some regions,” which has driven up humanitarian aid and reconstruction costs.

According to him, government revenue for the past nine months reached 331.1 billion birr, while expenditures ballooned to 470 billion birr, resulting in a significant deficit.

The minister confirmed that the deficit was financed domestically, raising concerns from DesalegnWedage, chair of the Standing Committee.

Desalegn emphasized the rising domestic debt and urged a shift in policy direction.

State Minister of Finance Eyob Tekalgn addressed the budget gap by calling for increased revenue generation from regional governments and enhancing their financial self-sufficiency to help bridge the budget gap.

Furthermore, the state minister informed legislators of the challenges faced by federal development projects due to the inflated compensation demands during implementation, which he said have impeded progress across various regions.

The parliament is currently debating amendments to the land expropriation bill, aiming to transfer responsibility for compensation, disbursement, and execution from the federal government to regional and municipal authorities.

Despite significant challenges, Minister Ahmed reported progress in combating inflation, which has substantially increased the cost of living and eroded the disposable income of Ethiopian households.

“With the measures taken to stabilize escalating prices in the fiscal year, headline inflation has been brought down by 23 percent,” he told legislators, adding that the plan is to reduce it to 20% by the end of the fiscal year.

Official data released by the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) indicate that headline inflation stood at 27.7 percent in September 2023. 

(AS)

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