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Nation conducts aerial spraying operations to prevent spread of desert locust

Local Brief

The Ministry of Agriculture on Tuesday said efforts are underway to prevent the spread of desert locust into the country from Eastern Africa.

According to Sani Redi, State Minister of Agriculture, further swarms are spreading to the southern, south-western and south-eastern parts of the country.

Moyale, Borena, South Omo, Konso, Arbaminch, Guji and Robe are among the areas where the infestation is increasing at an alarming speed. The swarm is destroying pasture, vegetables and fruits, bushes and forests.

Data from the Ministry of Agriculture shows that from 3-5 swarms of locusts, each swarm with a population of up to 40-80 million, crosses into Ethiopia per day from neighboring countries.

In an exclusive interview with FBC, Sani said aerial spraying operations are underway at border points and three regions affected by the migratory pests.

In addition to aerial spraying, farmers are fighting the swarm using traditional methods, the State Minister said.

The locust swarms, which hit East Africa, could last until June in Ethiopia, he said. (FBC)

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Orange Invests in Ethiopian Telecoms, E-commerce Start-up

South African giant telecom operator, Orange, is investing in Ethiopian start-ups that plans to develop software talent across Africa for telecom and e-commerce, the company announced on Thursday.

Investment Manager at Orange Digital Ventures Africa (ODV), Marième Diop, said Orange will introduce the company, Gebeya, to its existing commercial partnerships across Africa and supports its expansion in French-speaking African countries.

She stated that it is a well-timed investment for Orange, which is expected to be interested in one of Ethiopia’s new telecoms licenses, as the government opens up the market to competition.

The investment will support the implementation of several vital changes, a decisive time for the start-up, and allow the start-up to gear up for future growth and implement its vision to Empower Africa through Technology, she pointed out.

“With more than 60 percent of VC-backed tech start-ups in Africa created in the last five years, our ecosystem is growing very fast and investments are booming, yet the talent gap remains wider,” Marième said. (ENA)

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UNHCR welcomes Ethiopia’s ratification of Kampala Convention

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomed Ethiopia’s ratification of the African Union (AU) Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Africa, known as the Kampala Convention on Thursday.

The Convention, a key regional legal instrument aimed at protecting, assisting and resolving the plight of IDPs, was unanimously passed by Ethiopia’s parliament.

This represents a significant achievement for a country that has had to recently manage massive internal displacement within its borders.

“The ratification of this Convention underscores the Government’s concern and attention to the large number of people who are displaced, whether as a result of conflict or changing climatic conditions,” said UNHCR’s Representative in Ethiopia, Ann Encontre.

“UNHCR welcomes the opportunity to support the Government in implementing the tenets of the Convention and honoring its commitments, including through the development of a national action plan for IDPs.”

Ethiopia is the 31st African Union Member State to ratify the Convention since its adoption in 2009. It will now take effect domestically after the country’s President signs it into law within a few weeks. (UNHCR)

Horn in Brief

Sudan signals its preparations to send Omar al-Bashir to ICC

Sudan on Monday suggested it is prepared to hand over the former dictator Omar al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to face trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The decision marks a dramatic shift from the previous official position of the country’s new rulers, though observers warned that many obstacles still needed to be overcome, before the 76-year-old reached a court room.

The exact details of how and when the ex-president might be handed over are unclear and apparently depend on a comprehensive peace deal between authorities and rebels. There are also doubts about the support of Sudan’s powerful military for such a move.

Bashir has been in prison in Khartoum since being ousted from power in April, when security forces withdrew their support for his repressive regime after months of protests.

In December, he was sentenced to two years in a reform facility for corruption, a sentence dismissed by the victims of his brutal 29 year rule. (The Guardian)

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Djibouti first renewables project launched

Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), Climate Fund Managers (CFM), FMO, the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank and Great Horn Investment Holdings (GHIH) are funding the construction and operation of a 60MW wind farm in the Ghoubet area, near Lake Assal in Djibouti.

A country with expanding energy needs, Djibouti is located in the Horn of Africa and span over 23,000 km2. The country imports from Ethiopia its electricity consumption and is in need of domestic renewable energy capacity addition. Djibouti's electricity demand is expected to considerably increase due to various large-scale infrastructure projects including ports, free trade zones and railways that the government has undertaken.

The country aims to transition towards 100 percent renewable energy-based electricity production and reduce its emissions by 40 percent by 2030. (Smart Energy)

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SPLM-IO leader declines consultation meeting on South Sudan’s state numbers

The SPLM-IO on Wednesday rejected to participate in a consultation meeting convened by South Sudan on Friday.

The South Sudanese government on February 12 issued a statement calling on the government, speakers of the two chambers of parliament, state governors, religious leaders and dignitaries for a consultation meeting to take place at the presidency on 14 February.

In addition, all the peace signatory groups were called to the meeting which comes in line with a request made by President Salva Kiir to consult "his constituents" before to report back to the IGAD Chair on 15 February on the compromise proposal to form 23 states in the country.

The SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar in a statement issued on Thursday said Kiir requested to consult with his own constituents and not with the parties and stakeholders signatories, to the revitalized peace agreement.

"The SPLM/SPLA and parties not allied to President Salva’s party are therefore not included in the said consultations," Machar stressed. (ST)

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UN warns of famine in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Somalia

The East African region could be on the verge of a famine if huge swarms of locusts devouring crops and pasture are not brought under control, a top UN official told the BBC on Friday.

It would create a food crisis, Dominique Burgeon, director of emergencies for the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said.

Efforts to control the infestation have so far not been effective. Aerial spraying of pesticides being the most effective way of fighting the swarms, the region does not have the right resources.

There are fears that the locusts - already in there hundreds of millions - will multiply further.

The FAO says the insects are breeding so fast that numbers could grow by 500 times by June.

The UN body has now called on the international community to provide nearly USD 76 million (£58m) to fund the spraying of the affected areas with insecticide. (BBC)