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    Ethiopia, Switzerland hold 3rd round bilateral political consultation

    Ethiopia and Switzerland this week held their 3rd round political consultation in Bern, Switzerland.

    State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, Hirut Zemene, on the occasion briefed participants on the current situations in the country.

    As countries invest heavily on education, health, infrastructure and other socio-economic services, the demand of the youth for a shared and equitable economic growth as well as better political space increases, she said.

    This was what exactly engendered a political reform agenda and human rights issues, the engagement of the political parties in the democratization process of the country and release of prisoners in Ethiopia, Hirut noted.

    She added anti-corruption efforts have been redoubled and measures to reform inefficient institutional working systems have been set in motion.

    State Secretary for Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) of Switzerland, Pascale Baeriswyl, underscored the need to keep the reform of inclusivity to ensure the sustainable growth of the country and make best use of the recently reinstated State of Emergency. (MoFA)

    South Sudan close to another famine: Aid groups

    South Sudan is close to another famine, aid officials said on Monday, after more than four years of civil war and a number of failed ceasefires in the country.

    Almost two-thirds of the population will need food aid this year to stave off starvation and malnutrition as aid groups prepare for the “toughest year on record”, members of a working group including South Sudanese and UN officials, said.

    “The situation is extremely fragile, and we are close to seeing another famine,” Serge Tissot of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in South Sudan said.

    “The projections are stark,” he added.  

    “If we ignore them, we’ll be faced with a growing tragedy.” 

    A total of 5.3 million people – 48 percent of the population – are already in a “crisis” or “emergency” situation, according to a survey published by the working group.

    “We are expecting to face the toughest year on record,” UN Humanitarian Coordinator Alain Noudehou told reporters in the South Sudanese capital Juba. (Aljazeera)

    Al-Shabaab militants shoot donkeys as part of economic war

    Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia have shot and killed nine donkeys they said were transporting goods to a government-controlled area in the Bakool region.

    A security source told VOA Somali the militants seized the donkey carts early Wednesday near the village of Elboon, 15 kilometers west of Wajid.

    The militants shot the donkeys and abducted two people who were escorting the carts, sources say. Their fate is not known.

    A resident in Wajid town who did not want to be named for security reasons told VOA that militants set fire to the goods and carts. The donkey carts were carrying sugar, rice and flour to Wajid, residents say.

    Al-Shabaab has imposed a siege on several towns controlled by Somali government and African Union forces in an effort to force residents to vacate towns as part of their economic war.

    The Somali government and AMISOM have vowed to end the siege, but several towns in Bakool, Bay, Hiran, Galgudud and Hiran regions continue to be surrounded by the militants. (VOA)

    Kenyan banks among world’s most profitable

    Banks operating in Kenya and other African countries are the second most profitable globally after those in Latin America, a new report by McKinsey says.

    Banks operating in Africa had an average return on equity (ROE) — a measure of profitability — of nearly 15 per cent last year. Those in Kenya registered a higher figure of 24.6 per cent on average on the basis of data from 2016, the year when a law capping interest rates was passed.

    The caps are however expected to adversely affect the lenders’ profitability for 2017, without changing Kenya’s ranking in ROE globally.

    “Kenya’s capping of interest rates in 2016 provides a taste of the impact of increasing consumer protection. If unmitigated, the impact on Kenyan banks’ ROE could be as high as four to 4.5 percent,” McKinsey said.

    This means that the 24.6 per cent registered in 2016 could come down to about 20 per cent, which is still above the African average of 15 percent. (Daily Nation)

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