Tag: ethiopia

The First Ministerial Retreat for the African Union in Bahir Dar


With the aim of brainstorming and exchanging ideas on critical issues relating to Africa’s Agenda 2063, and the state of the African Union, a three day Ministerial Retreat of the AU Executive Council hosted by and under the Chair Personship of Ethiopia was held in Bahir Dar, capital of the Amhara Regional State (January 24-26). The overall theme was “Defining Agenda 2063 for Africa”, and the retreat was attended by AU Foreign Ministers and Members of the Executive Council, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Dr. Carlos Lopez; Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission; AU Commissioners, and members of the Permanent Representatives Committee and other officials.

Agenda 2063 seeks to elaborate the agenda for Africa for the next fifty years, to galvanize and unite all Africans and the Diaspora in action around a common vision of a peaceful, integrated and prosperous Africa, driven by its citizens and taking its rightful place in the world. The proposed overall framework will provide internal coherence and coordination for various continental, regional and national structures and plans adopted by the African Union, Member States and Regional Economic Communities (RECs).

The discussions in the Bahir Dar retreat were guided by presentations from lead speakers on five sub-themes: “Learning from the Past: State of the Union, Achievements and Challenges over the last 50 years”; “Towards a Paradigm Shift: Keeping the Momentum for sustainable peace and structural transformation in Africa”; “Agenda 2063: strategizing for the realization of a peaceful, integrated and prosperous Africa”; “Threats and Risks: addressing internal and external challenges confronting Africa”; and “Critical Success Factors: creating the enabling condition to unleash Africa’s potential”.

Ethiopia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, the Chairperson of the AU Executive Council, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, in his opening remarks highlighted Africa’s need to address such issues as economic emancipation, peace and stability, acceleration of rapid economic growth, governance and democratization, leadership and the need to build a critical mass of people with a developmental mindset, in order to realize the continent’s long term agendas. He emphasized the significance of Agenda 2063 for the future of Africa and the achievement of the African Renaissance. “If we want to claim the 21st century as ours and realize the African Renaissance, there is a need for a paradigm shift in our political and socio-economic governance and development”, Dr. Tedros stressed.

Dr. Dlamini Zuma, African Union Commission Chairperson, said that Africa had just emerged from the collective reflections on Pan Africanism and African Renaissance that preceded the Golden Jubilee celebrations and looked ahead towards the next fifty years. She noted that the Retreat presented an opportunity to revisit some of the debates in a convivial atmosphere. Dr. Dlamini Zuma said that the decision to hold the retreat to discuss Agenda 2063 was well-timed, offering the opportunity “to enable this august body to add its collective contribution towards the Africa we want and the milestones we must set towards this end”. She pointed out that the Africa’s Agenda 2063 discussions were coming after a year of robust consultations with civil society on the future they wanted.

Representing the host Regional State, Mr. Gedu Andargachew, President of the Amhara National Regional State, welcomed participants to Bahir Dar, noting that the event would offer a good opportunity for our people to enhance their understanding of our continental organization and its activities, and for participants to see something of the development of Ethiopia outside Addis Ababa.

Among presentations was an imaginative e-mail from the future (2063), to Kwame Nkruma written by Dr. Dlamini Zuma, underlining the dreams and aspirations of a peaceful, integrated and prosperous Africa, the dream shared by all Africans. The Chairperson noted in her e-mail “from the future” that “Planning fifty years ahead allowed us to dream, think creatively, and sometimes crazily – to see us leapfrog beyond the immediate challenges.” (http://summits.au.int/en/22ndsummit/events/agenda-2063-e-mail-future-presentation-dr-nkosazana-dlamini-zuma-chairperson-au-co).

At the end of the Ministerial Retreat, members of the Executive Council acceded to the continental consensus of the African vision and agreed that the dream of an Africa that is integrated, peaceful and prosperous was achievable, provided the future is constructed on the basis of action taken now. The Retreat noted that Africa’s transformation was taking place in the context of an unfolding global situation and various trends. These included ongoing realignments of the global economic, geopolitical, security and social landscapes; changes and advances in technology, production, trade, knowledge and labor markets; the opportunities presented by global demographic trends; and the appearance of a growing global middle class in emerging and developing countries and regions. After analyzing previous and potential threats to the continent, the Retreat agreed that the challenges could be mitigated and turned into opportunities through collective strategies and effective public policies and actions. The Ministers agreed on the need to position Africa in the world by strengthening their common perspectives on partnerships that reflects the unity of the continent and on its priorities and perspectives on matters of global importance. This in turn would provide for increased bargaining power.

During the three-day meeting, key enablers that could be expected to facilitate Africa’s drive for transformation were identified. These included, among others, effective management and the use of African resources to provide for the structural transformation of African economies and societies, for investment in human capital development, for the building and promotion of peace and security, and for effective and visionary leadership with political commitment and accountability coupled with effective, accountable and participatory institutions and governance, domestic mobilization of finances and resources, accelerated regional integration, paradigm shifts in attitudes and values, and taking charge of the narrative and the development of Brand Africa. Two specific propositions were made, one to establish a Ministerial Committee, which will work together with the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the African Development Bank to finalize Agenda 2063. The second to create an African platform where political and business leaders as well as all other concerned stakeholders could regularly meet to brainstorm about the continent’s development and integration agendas.

Agenda 2063 is a broad strategic framework for collective action to fast-track Africa’s socio-economic and political development. Participants of the Retreat identified a number of strategic initiatives to give added impetus to this process. Among key initiatives proposed was accelerating human capital development, encouraging regional integration, strengthening the financial independence of key continental bodies and expanding efforts to end conflicts.

In his closing remarks, Dr. Tedros Adhanom expressed satisfaction at the successful conclusion of the Retreat. He emphasized that “dreams and aspirations will not be translated into a reality without making a paradigm shift in our political and economic governance,” and urged that the meeting “should be the beginning of a strong political commitment to implement our vision and meet the aspirations of our peoples”. Acknowledging Africa’s internal and external challenges still militated against the prospect for peace and prosperity, Dr. Tedros underlined the responsibility of African leaders to lay a solid foundation for the realization of the continent’s dream. We should demonstrate the necessary strong leadership, political commitment and selfless sacrifice to take the tough decisions to ensure a better future for the African peoples, he said.


The 22nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union

African Union Summit 2014
African Union Summit 2014

The 22nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union opened on Thursday January 30, 2014 under the theme of Agriculture and Food Security, launching “2014 Year of Agriculture and Food Security, Marking 10th Anniversary of the Adoption of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP)”.

In its two days of deliberation (January 30-31) the Assembly, which has elected the President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz as the Chairperson of the Union for 2014, will adopt decisions on the basis of the recommendations of the Executive Council and consider reports of the various bodies of the AU. These will include the Progress Report of the Commission on the African Union on Agenda 2063, and the Report of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) on its activities and the State of Peace and Security in Africa, including the activities of the Panel of the Wise and renewal of its membership, as well as the Report on the assessment of the African Standby Force (ASF) and the Operationalization of the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC).

The Assembly will also consider the Reports of President Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal and Chairperson of the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee (HSGOC);  President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone and Chairperson of the Committee of Ten on the UN Reforms;  President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania and Coordinator of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC),  including the outcome of Climate Change Negotiations at the 19th Conference of Parties  (COP 19) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  Other reports considered will include the Report of the Commission on the Implementation of previous decisions on UNCCD and the outcomes of COP 11 held in Windhoek, Namibia, in September 2013; the Report of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia and Chairperson of the High Level Committee on the Post-2015 Development Agenda and the Proposed Draft African Position on the Post-2015 Development Agenda; and the Report on the International Conference on Maternal, New-born and Child Health, Johannesburg, South Africa in August last year.

The Chairperson of the Commission will also present her report on the Implementation of Decision on Africa’s Relationship with the International Criminal Court (ICC), to be considered by Heads of State and Government. The Assembly will adopt the appointment of the ten members of the Peace and Security Council elected for a two year term. Ethiopia along with Burundi, Chad, Gambia, Guinea, Libya, Namibia, Niger, Tanzania and South Africa were elected. It will adopt the decisions and recommendations of the 24th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council as well as the decisions and declarations of the 22nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union.

In his opening remarks, Prime Minster Hailemariam, as the outgoing chair of the AU, noted the theme of this year’s African Union summit, “Agriculture and Food Security” marking the 10th anniversary of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) and said that it was time for Africa to celebrate the progress made over the past decade in implementing CAADP’s goals and objectives and renew commitments to do more in the future. Emphasizing that agricultural transformation holds the key to the success of collective efforts to realize its vision, Prime Minister Hailemariam said more and more countries were allocating 10% of their national budget to the agricultural sector.

Reflecting on Ethiopia’s Chairmanship of the past year, the Prime Minister said Ethiopia has achieved most of the priorities it set when it took over the chairmanship in January 2013. Top on the priorities was the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the OAU/AU. “As a proud host of our continental organization for the last 50 years,” he said, it was a special time to assume the Chairmanship and mark this anniversary together with the Commission, member States and other relevant stakeholders. The Jubilee celebration had been marked by a collective reflection of the past, present and future under the overarching theme of “Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance”.

Prime Minster Hailemariam said Ethiopia had assumed the chairmanship at a time when multilateral negotiations have started in earnest to formulate a global development framework for the post 2015 era. During this formulation process, he said, it was imperative for Ethiopia “to ensure that the progress made thus far in achieving the Millennium Development Goals is sustained and that Africa’s development priorities are fully taken on board in the post-2015 Development Agenda as well as in the formulation of the Sustainable Development Goals.”  Stressing the need for Africa to speak with one voice on the basis of an African Common Position, he said the Post-2015 development Agenda “is currently perhaps the most important process with respect to defining the nature of international development cooperation for the next decades.”  The Committee of African Heads of State and Government to lead efforts in canvassing support for Africa’s development priorities in the context of the post-2015 development agenda under the chairmanship of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a critical element in this. The Committee report will urge the Assembly to take the necessary action soon as negotiations on the formulation of Sustainable Development Goals is going to commence in March.


Prime Minister Hailemariam told the Assembly that there had been enhanced cooperation and partnership between Africa and its strategic partners during the past year. He cited the 3rd Africa-South America Summit, the 5th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V), the 3rd Afro-Arab Summit and the 12th Annual AGOA Forum. These partnership forums, he said, served as platforms to advance Africa’s development agenda and further strengthen its partnerships to ensuring mutual benefit and win-win cooperation. Ethiopia had also participated at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Warsaw (COP-19) representing Africa, he said, and delivered Africa’s key messages on the on-going global climate change negotiations at the G-8 and G-20 Summits held in Northern Ireland and St. Petersburg, advancing the continental development agenda.

The Prime Minister noted that the other major preoccupation during the past year was the issue of peace and security. While he was encouraged to note the progress that Africa has made in resolving some of the conflict situations in the continent, “I am nevertheless deeply concerned by the emergence of new conflicts which, if not addressed urgently, will have a potential to seriously threaten our collective peace and security and undermine the gains that we have made in recent years.”  He referred the unfolding situation in South Sudan and Central African Republic and emphasized the need to find urgent solutions “to rescue these countries from falling into the abyss”. He said: “Failure to do so will have serious implications for peace and security in the region and indeed the whole continent.”Helping these two States in restoring peace and stability and addressing their internal challenges was primarily the responsibility of Africans, he underlined. In South Sudan, he emphasized that “both protagonists should know that the problem cannot be resolved through the barrel of the gun and they should be fully committed to seat at the negotiating table without any preconditions so as to find a political settlement to the crisis.”  He called on South Sudanese political actors to rise to the occasion and avoid the country from falling over the precipice.  The parties should demonstrate the necessary political leadership and compromise in order that the peace process initiated by IGAD and supported by the African Union, the United Nations and other international partners should succeed and achieve peace and durable reconciliation.

On the Central African Republic, he said “the senseless violence that has taken a heavy toll on the civilian population” remained a matter of concern for Africa. He emphasized the necessity to take urgent action to avert the further escalation of the problems. The African-led Peace Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA) faced daunting challenges in restoring peace and security and ensuring a successful transition towards a constitutional order. He urged the international community to remain fully committed to support the Central African Republic in the difficult task of stabilizing itself and organizing elections to ensure a successful political transition.

Prime Minister Hailemariam commended the conduct of legislative and presidential elections in   a number of countries pointing out elections had certainly helped some member States to come out of political crisis and others to consolidate democratic governance. In this regard, he welcomed the restoration of constitutional order in Mali, and urged ECOWAS, the African Union, the United Nations and other partners to continue their support to help consolidate the gains made and enable the country address its many challenges. He also commended “the people of Madagascar for conducting a successful presidential election, which is critical in ending the country’s political crisis.” Looking forward to the holding of elections which are expected to facilitate the restoration of constitutional order in Guinea Bissau in March, he expressed his appreciation of ECOWAS and other international partners for their sustained efforts to assist Guinea Bissau.

Prime Minister Hailemariam cited the adoption of the Strategic Plan of the Union for the years 2014-2017 and emphasized the need to mobilize all necessary efforts of member States, the Commission and other organs of our Union to ensure the implementation of the eight priorities identified in the strategic plan to make a difference in the lives of people. He indicated the importance of elaborating the Framework for Agenda 2063 through a consultative process involving all sections of African society and called on the leaders at the Assembly to add their input and contribution. This would provide a guide to Africa’s efforts over coming years as the AU strives to achieve the socio-economic transformation of the continent. Emphasizing the need to build on the progress achieved in the past year and calling for more effort to address some of the still emerging challenges of the continent, Prime Minister Hailemariam handed over the Chairmanship of the African Union to the President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. He pledged his full support for future work on these issues and for advancing the objectives of the Union.

In his acceptance speech, President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz expressed his gratitude for being elected the Chairperson of the African Union for 2014. He pledged to work achieve the noble objectives to which Africans aspire, including the strengthening of the role and place of Africa in the world, the preservation of its unity in the context of democracy, freedom, peace, security, stability and good governance. President Aziz said he proposed to hold a major international conference, under the auspices of the African Union, devoted to migration and its impact on African economies and societies as well as the countries of destination, to draw up a shared vision on this phenomenon and minimize its tragic dimension.

UN Deputy Secretary General, Ambassador Jan Eliasson, in his statement to the Assembly said the Summit was being held at a time of advancement and impressive growth for Africa while the rest of the world still struggled to recover from the economic crisis. He reminded the Assembly that this growth should now be translated into transformative economic development, more jobs, greater equality and better living conditions and said “the United Nations is your unwavering partner in this pursuit.” He said that the AU Agenda 2063 could serve to mobilize Africa to fulfill its potential. It was a fitting tribute to the OAU/AU jubilee, and he noted Africa had already made major strides towards the Millennium Development Goals, especially in education, maternal and child health, and in gender equality, but many MDG targets remained unfulfilled. The Deputy Secretary General expressed his admiration for the leadership Africa had shown in formulating the post-2015 agenda and applauded the emerging African Common Position’s focus on structural transformation and inclusive economic growth. There was hardly any higher priority for the United Nations than tangible and sustainable development in Africa, he said, and he pledged UN support to African-owned and African-led efforts to achieve this objective.

Source: http://www.mfa.gov.et/weekHornAfrica/morewha.php?wi=1310#1310

PM Hailemariam attends the World Future Energy Summit

21 January 2014, The Ethiopian delegation led by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Tuesday attended the World Future Energy Summit which is being held in Abu Dhabi.

While taking part in the panel discussion on renewable energy, Prime Minister Hailemariam noted that Ethiopia and the African continent had ample opportunities to develop renewable energy and investors should be strongly encouraged to engage in the sector and use the opportunity to develop this resource.

The Prime Minister also explained Ethiopia’s efforts to use and expand renewable energy resources including hydroelectric power as well as wind and geothermal power sources which would benefit the region and beyond.

He stressed that Ethiopia encouraged private sector participation in these efforts and called on investors from the Gulf region to invest in the sector.

The World Future Energy Summit is the world’s foremost event dedicated to renewable energies, energy efficiency and clean technologies.

The event included a number of exhibitions depicting renewable energy and environmental displays.

Source: http://www.ertagov.com/news/index.php/component/k2/item/2215-pm-hailemariam-attends-the-world-future-energy-summit

Ethiopia’s model families hailed as agents of social transformation

MDG : Ethiopia's model family

Ethiopia is boosting its healthcare statistics by encouraging rural households to adopt and disseminate a range of good habits


Wudinesh Demisse raises her hand above her head, showing off the matchstick-sized birth-control implant embedded just beneath the skin of her upper arm.

Wudinesh, 28, is a farmer in rural West Arsi, in Ethiopia‘s central Oromia region. With three children already, Wudinesh says it is time to stop. “For me, three is enough,” she says, through a translator. “If they are too many, they are too expensive.”

Wudinesh, who lives in a small village 200km south of the capital, Addis Ababa, is one of millions of Ethiopian women who have gained access to modern forms of birth control over the past decade. Today, her local health post stocks a range of products, from condoms and pills to longer-acting injections and implants.

Ethiopia is increasingly touted as a family planning success story. The government, which has made maternal and child health national priorities, is proud of its statistics – the country’s contraceptive prevalence rate, for example, jumped from 15% in 2005 to 29% in 2011 – and says efforts to reach remote, rural areas lie at the heart of its success.

Along with trained, salaried health extension workers – all of whom are female, a step to make families more comfortable with door-to-door visits – thousands of volunteers have been enlisted nationwide in the government’s “health development army”.

At the centre of this are people like Wudinesh and her husband, who head one of the government’s celebrated “model families” and are foot soldiers in a massive social engineering project to redefine healthy behaviour.

“They are role models and change agents for social transformation in each village across the country,” says Kesetebirhan Admasu, Ethiopia’s health minister, who explains that the project is based on a theory of how innovations spread that assumes change happens step by step. The idea is that there are “trendsetters” in every community, and that others can be persuaded to admire and, eventually, copy their behaviour.

To become a model family, a household has to adopt most if not all of the government’s 16 priority interventions – from vaccinating their children and sleeping under mosquito bed nets to building separate latrines and using family planning.

Model families get certificates, are celebrated at village ceremonies and are asked to support five other households in adopting the priority interventions.

Ethiopia, Africa‘s second most populous country, is overwhelmingly rural and this has hampered the expansion of formal healthcare services and infrastructure. Estimates from 2009 suggest there was only one doctor for every 50,000 people. The government’s health extension programme is a strategy to bridge the gap and build capacity while expanding the services.

The NGO Marie Stopes International has urged rich countries to adopt some of Ethiopia’s techniques, saying they could save millions of dollars if they too trained up frontline health workers, nurses and midwives to carry out tasks – such as the fitting of implants – otherwise done by doctors.

For Kesetebirhan, the biggest successes have come from targeting “cultural and attitude-related bottlenecks”, which limit rural women from taking up services even when they are available.

In one region, Kesetebirhan says the health development army helped the government understand why women were not giving birth in health facilities. The army discovered women were fearful of the traditional stretchers used to carry them to hospital (which had become associated with bad luck) and did not want to go without the traditional coffee and religious ceremonies they could get at home. This led to changes including a newly-designed stretcher and plans to bring coffee beans, traditional food, and religious leaders to health facilities.

“All these innovations and interventions, they seem to be simple but it is changing the way services are perceived,” Kesetebirhan says. In the case of family planning, he says products like implants were not popular before but are now being used by a significant number of rural women. “It’s all because of the information that they get from their neighbours, from their friends and so on,” he says. “That is how they break all those cultural norms.”

Many African countries have set up extensive community health worker schemes to reach rural areas. Understanding why people behave the way they do, and structuring projects accordingly, is also an increasingly popular approach in development, and a response to the failures of many expert-led schemes. The World Bank, for example, is working on a major report on the behavioural and social foundations of economic development, expected this year.

The military metaphors in Ethiopia’s programme set it apart from many others, however. “Such a movement would not be successful without the discipline of the army,” insists Kesetebirhan. “We said this is the way we really want to mobilise the community – they participate in the meetings, they work with the discipline of an army, and they address the critical bottlenecks.”

Kesetebirhan says it is the government’s policy to ensure women are not coerced into taking up health interventions. But some are suspicious of the development army model, which is also being pursued in agriculture with a nationwide network of “model farmers”…


Ethiopia, the land of Sheba

By Linus Wamanya

Dec 22, 2013: Ethiopia never ceases to amaze and enchant guests. While there I was enmeshed in its wealth of history. I was never braced for the contrasts and surprises in the remote and wild places. These sandy brown hosts are such a friendly people who are descendants from some of the world’s oldest civilizations.

You have perhaps heard of the fabled Queen of Sheba, the Biblical home of the Ark of the Covenant, the birthplace of coffee. As if that was not enough, “Lucy” the world’s oldest known almost-complete hominid skeleton, more than three million years old, was discovered in this part of the Horn Of Africa had its roots there.

Covernant Church

To any visitor, the Ethiopia menu of attractions is lengthy and diverse. There is the Historic Route which includes the ancient town of Axum. Then there is the amazing piece of art obelisks. This is crowned by Christian festivals and relics, including the Ark of the Covenant; Gondar. I am yet to find out how ancient Ethiopians built these magnificient castles and palaces. There is Lalibela, with its remarkable rock-hewn Churches. This is contrasted with, Negash, one of the earliest holy Muslim centers dating to the Prophet Muhammad Era. To lend it legitimacy, in Islam, is the Negash Amedin Mesgid, the walled Muslim city of Harar and Lega Oda, near Dire Dawa where you can see vibrant cave paintings considered to be thousands of years old.

“This place was declared free from Jihad by prophet Mohamed,” Methenik, a guide told me. “Here a day has twelve hours. A day begins with the sun coming out and ends with it going down.”

I gasped for breath on seeing Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile. It is the largest lake there boasting with 37 islands. The Monasteries like Kibran Gebriel and Kidanemhiret boasting settlements dating far back to 14th century are also of interest

Legend has it that Emperor Menelik I, the son of the Queen of Sheba and king Solomon, brought the Ark of the Covenant from Jerusalem to Axum, where he settled and established one of the world’s longest known, uninterrupted monarchical dynasties.

This is only one example of Ethiopia’s magnificent history, which encompasses legend and tradition, mystery and fact, from a powerful and religious ancient civilization. The well -trodden path through Ethiopia’s famous and fascinating historic places takes you through a scenically magnificent world of fairy -tale names, such as Lalibela, Gondar and Bahar Dar.

2. The rock-hewn churches of Lalibela (North Wollo Zone) this is called the african petro with credible rock carved churches made in the 13th century by king Lalibela

Lalibela, a 45 minutes flight with Ethiopian airlines from Addis Ababa, is internationally-renowned for its rock-hewn churches which are sometimes called the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. Physically prised from the rock in which they stand, these monolithic churches were originally thought to have been built in the 12th century during the reign of King Lalibela. It took me maximum of four hours to tour all the eleven churches assembled in three groupings

For sure Lalibela stands out to be the a must visit destination while in Ethiopia

Njera and wot; Ethiopia’s traditional dish

Lake Tana is the source of the Blue Nile and the biggest lake in Ethiopia having 30 islands.  There are monasteries constructed on 27 of them in the 13th – 17th century AC containing unique old paintings which depict the churches and biblical history.

The churches were used as treasure houses by the emperors of that period. There are still some collections of this antique treasure to be admired.

Gonder: the Camelot of Africa

Gondar was the capital of Ethiopia in the 17th century with its notable medieval castles and churches.

The city’s unique imperial compound contains a number of castles built between 1632 – 1855 by different emperors who reigned during that period. These amazing castles, unlike the others in Africa, display richness in architecture which reveals the Axumite architecture and the influence of the Portuguese, the Arabian and the Indian.

Like Uganda, Ethiopia is home to a wealth of birds and animals. There are also the high, rugged, Simien Mountains in the north and the Bale Mountains in the southeast. They are endowed with unique wildlife, rich flora and ideal for nature walks.

This part of Africa has eleven national parks and four sanctuaries, where 277 species of wildlife and more than 850 species of birds fly. The Simien Mountains National Park is registered by UNESCO as a world heritage site and is home to three of the endemic mammals, Walia Ibex, Gelada Baboon and Abyssinian Wolf. Ras Dashen, the fourth highest peak in Africa with an altitude of 4,620 meters, is also located within the National Park.

Other National Parks include Bale Mountains and Abijatta-Shalla in Oromia, Nech Sar, Mago and Omo National Parks in the south and Yangudi Rasa in Afar, Gambella National park in Gambella, as well as Awash in both Oromia and Afar Regions.

Comparably, Addis Ababa is a friendly and safe capital city. There are first-class hotels and restaurants, museums and palaces, and good shopping malls Mercato – Africa’s largest open-air market. Ethiopia is a mosaic of people with more than 80 languages, different lifestyles, costumes and cultural dances.

Ethiopia has been called ‘the land of a thousand smiles’. By the way if you are destined to Ethiopia go ready to eat Njera and wot and to drink strong coffee brews.

Ethiopian fests

New Year’s Day September 11

To the religious calendar it is also the Feast of St John the Baptist. Here it is called Enkutatash, meaning the ‘gift of jewels’. When the famous Queen of sheba returned from her visit to King Solomon in Jerusalem, her chiefs welcomed her back by replenishing her treasury with jewels. The festival is marked by dancing and singing. The night before, people light fires outside their houses, and run around with flaming torches to welcome the New Year. Traditionally young girls would pick a special kind of grass, called engicha or enqwutatash, and would go round signing goodwill messages for the new-year. They present the grass to whomever they meet and would be given a modest gift in return.

MESKAL 27 September.

Celebrated in the country for over 1,600 years, this important feast commemorates the discovery of the cross upon which Jesus was crucified, by the Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great.

The day before tall branches are tied together and yellow daisies, popularly called Meskal flowers, are placed at the top. During the night these branch are set ablaze to symbolise Empress Helena lighting incense and praying for help to find the Holy Sepulchre was after nobody would show her. Following the direction of the smoke, she dug and found three crosses, including the True cross. A part of the True Cross is said to be in the mountain monastery of Gishen Mariame located in the South Wollo administrative zone. The priests of Gishen safeguard a gold box containing a fragment of this cross.

During this time of year flowers bloom on mountains and plains and the meadows are yellow with the Meskal daisy. Dancing, feasting, merrymaking, bonfires and in the past even gun salutes mark the occasion.

The writer: Linus Wamanya


The Ethiopian Christmas, also called Lidet, is celebrated by all-night church services, with people moving from one church to another. Traditionally, young men played a game that is similar to hokey, called genna, on this day, giving the feast day the name. This celebration is unique to Lalibela and attracts many visitors.

Timket, Feast of Epiphany, is the greatest festival of the year. It is a three-day fest, beginning on the eve of Timket with colourful processions. The following morning, the great day itself, marks Christ’s baptism in the Feast of St Michael, the archangel, one of Ethiopia’s most popular saints. There are religious rites performed by the priests from the eve of the day.

The ordinary people prepare special beers, Tej and tella, bake special bread and slaughter sheep that have been fattened for the occasion. Children receive gifts and everyone turns out in new clothes. Visitors can observe the ceremonies in most parts of the country.


US$ 85 million IFAD loan to scale up pastoral community development in Ethiopia

Rome, 16 December 2013 – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide a loan of US$85 million to the Federal Democratic of Ethiopia to finance a third phase of the Pastoral Community Development Project. The Government of Ethiopia and the World Bank, will co-finance the $218.2 million project.

Gessese Mulugeta Alemseged, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to IFAD and Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD, signed the loan agreement today.

Pastoralism relates both to an economic livelihood system that is based primarily on extensive livestock production and to the unique characteristics of communities that live in the arid and semi-arid lowlands of Ethiopia.

The first phase of the Pastoral Community Development Project provided the basis for scaling up into a second phase, which is being further scaled up into the third phase of this project. This underscores the importance the Government of Ethiopia attaches to pastoral development as a way of reducing poverty among the most neglected and vulnerable rural households in the country. The increased demand for livestock, both domestically in Ethiopian markets and in neighbouring countries, such as Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia and the Sudan, has been driving changes in pastoralist livelihood systems. Many pastoral households have been able to improve their livestock-based livelihoods, an increasing number have been unable to maintain their traditional livelihoods. As a result, a growing segment of the traditionally pastoralist population is dropping out of pastoralism.

The project aims to improve access to community driven social and economic services for Ethiopia’s pastoralists and agropastoralists. It is expected to improve their livelihoods by increasing andimproving their nu stabilizing their incomes,improving their nutrition, health and education status, and empowering them to be involved in decision-making on local development initiatives.

Implemented over a 15 year period by the Ministry of Federal Affairs, the project will cover more than 90% of pastoral and agropastoral woredas (districts) in the country. Improved access to public services will enhance the quality of life and support the livelihoods of about 4.7 million pastoralists and agropastoralists. In addition, the project will introduce community driven models of service delivery that will benefit pastoral and agropastoral communities throughout the country.

With this new project, IFAD will have financed 16 programmes and projects in Ethiopia since 1980 and brings the total of IFAD portfolio investment in Ethiopia to $ 387.9 million.

Press release no: IFAD/64/2013

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) works with poor rural people to enable them to grow and sell more food, increase their incomes and determine the direction of their own lives. Since 1978, IFAD has invested over US$15 billion in grants and low-interest loans to developing countries through projects empowering more than 410 million people to break out of poverty, thereby helping to create vibrant rural communities. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized UN agency based in Rome – the United Nations’ food and agriculture hub. It is a unique partnership of 172 members from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), other developing countries and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).


Ethiopia: Royal Visit Highlights Need for Financial Inclusion

Máxima Wiesbaden 2013.jpg


Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA), led by Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands, visited Ethiopia last Monday.

Her Majesty was accompanied by Ertharin Cousin, UN World Food Programme (WFP) executive director; Maria Helena Semedo, UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) deputy director general; and Adolfo Brizzi, director of the Policy and Technical Advisory Division of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

The visit was aimed at highlighting Ethiopia’s efforts to make financial services more accessible to the rural poor while also emphasizing the role that expanding financial inclusion plays in strengthening food security.

Queen Máxima stressed the importance of the Ethiopian government’s moves to strengthen the financial sector and make financial services more inclusive.

The delegation met Prime Minister Hailemarim Desalegn and officials from the bank and microfinance sector to discuss their role in helping to improve food security in rural areas of Ethiopia.

After the high-level talks, the delegation travelled to Hawassa, the capital city of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR), to see the overall activities of the three UN food security agencies.

The UNSGSA and the three food agencies work with the government and the private sector to extend financial services to marginalized groups, especially women, who often face legal and policy barriers, as well as irregular obstacles to services, training and information.

Greater financial inclusion can also help increase the success of small producers who are not served by microfinance but are often perceived as ‘too risky’ by commercial banks.

The development of microfinance institutions in Ethiopia is a recent phenomenon, coming to prominence after the proclamation in July 1996 that offered help for their establishment. Since then various institutions have legally registered and started delivering microfinance services.

In this regard, over the recent years 31 microfinance institutions have been established, 7,160 Rural Savings and Credit Cooperative Organizations, and 77 Unions, reaching nearly three million rural clients, set up.

Financial inclusion is the universal access to a wide range of reasonably priced financial services provided by a variety of institutions. It enables and accelerates progress toward numerous development goals and national priorities, such as job creation, equitable growth, poverty alleviation, health, education and food security.


Ethiopia spearheads green energy in Africa

Addis Ababa, December 5 (WIC) – Ashegoda – From the sky, the 84 glimmering white turbines at Ashegoda wind farm shoot up from the ground like massive spokes, standing out high amid vast expanses of yellow wheat.
Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, mostly populated by cattle farmers who grow the country’s staple grains, is an unlikely site for a modern French-run wind farm, let alone sub-Saharan Africa’s largest.
With its multi-billion dollar projects in wind, hydropower, solar and geothermal energy, Ethiopia’s pioneering green energy efforts aim to supply power to its 91 million people and boost its economy by exporting power to neighbouring countries.
“Ethiopia stands alone in Africa as using green energy for transformative growth,” said Ahmed Soliman, from Britain’s Chatham House think tank.
Current energy production capacity stands at 2 177MW, with ambitions to reach 10 000MW by 2015.
Ashegoda’s turbines, which tower above young boys in tattered clothes watching over their livestock, have a total capacity of 120MW, making it the biggest on the sub-continent.
Growing interest
The project was built by France’s Vergnet Group, and is the first of several planned wind farms in the country, including a 204MW Chinese-built site under construction in the southeast.
Ashegoda, 780km from Addis Ababa, is part of ambitious plans to transform Ethiopia into a middle-income, carbon-neutral country by 2025.
The $313m wind farm, funded by the French government and several private French banks, is an indication of growing interest from European companies in Ethiopia, where Chinese, Indian and Turkish investments are also growing.
Both France and Ethiopia’s government are “very enthusiastic to reinforce even more links”, said Romano Coutrot, site manager at the wind farm, adding Ashegoda is one of Vergnet’s “most important” projects globally.
The project took four years to complete and became fully operational in October, but faced several hurdles along the way.
Soaring up to 80m high, the turbines had to be driven to landlocked Ethiopia on semi-paved roads from Djibouti, which posed a major challenge.
Completion was further delayed to relocate the site 5km north after the aviation authority said it was interfering with its airspace.
Coutrot admitted that doing business in Ethiopia can be challenging, with infrastructure shortfalls and crippling bureaucracy.
“The taxation system, customs, the relationship with authorities, it’s sometimes a bit difficult,” he said, speaking from his office on site amid the imposing turbines.
“Government services like customs, land issues, other government services are improving,” said Minister for Water and Energy Alemayehu Tegenu, insisting the government was committed to improving conditions for investors.
Aggressive investments
The government says its investment in green energy is a central pillar of its development plan, crucial in a country where the majority of people live on less than $2 a day.

“Health, education, communication, water supply, industry, these all need sustainable and reliable power supply,” Alemayehu said.
Only 53% of the country currently has access to electricity, with large swathes of Ethiopia’s rural regions in the dark and relying on firewood for basic household needs.
“Unless you have this kind of ambitious plan, the pace of population pressure will take over and you won’t see any change,” said Belay Simane, professor of environment at Addis Ababa University.
The country is already exporting power to Djibouti and Sudan, with a line to transport energy to Kenya under construction.
Soliman said it will solidify Ethiopia’s role as a leader in green energy in the region.
“Ethiopia will have a competitive regional advantage, not having to rely on economically and technically less-feasible sources of energy such as gas or oil to meet growing demands, which many East African countries are doing,” Soliman said.
The hard currency earned from these power exports will go toward increasing the number of renewable energy projects in Ethiopia, according to the government.
Heavy investment in the green energy sector extends beyond economics: the country is keen to avoid the mistakes of countries such as China or India, that experienced rapid economic growth but with grave environmental costs.
“If we invest in these resources, we can develop in a green way without affecting the environment like they did in Europe,” said Fisseha Gebremichael, Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation’s Ashegoda project manager.
Alemeyahu said he hopes Ethiopia’s aggressive investments in wind and other renewable energy resources will persuade other African countries to follow suit.
“We don’t want to keep African populations in the dark for a long time, we have to run very fast to access light for industry and for social and economic development,” he said. (AFP)



FDRE Statement on the Death of Former South African President Nelson Mandela

Addis Ababa (Dec 06, 2013) The People and Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia received with profound sorrow the news of the passing away of former South African President Nelson Mandela – a visionary leader, who dedicated his life for the achievement of freedom and justice for his people. His legacy will live on for generations to come.

President Mandela did not only lead his country’s struggle against Apartheid but has also been the torch bearer in the quest for Africa’s freedom. He inspired generations of world leaders to stand for justice, human dignity and freedom across the globe.

H.E. Mr. Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Chairperson of the African Union expressed most profound sympathies and sincere condolences to the family of President Mandela as well as to the People and the Government of the Republic of South Africa. In his message, Prime Minister Hailemariam stressed the special place President Mandela has in the hearts of all Ethiopians. He recalled the brief period that the former freedom fighter spent in Ethiopia during his exile in the 1960s and expressed Ethiopia’s commitment to uphold his messages of selflessness, humility and dedication to the struggle for freedom and human dignity that this towering African icon taught humanity.

Indeed, President Mandela leaves behind a great vision from which all of us Africans should draw inspiration. The Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia will continue to value the principles of democracy, freedom, justice, tolerance and reconciliation for which President Mandela dedicated his life.

EU signs 212.4 mln euro aid deals with Ethiopia for roads, health

ADDIS ABABA Mon Nov 25, 2013 5:46am EST

Nov 25 (Reuters) – The European Union signed a development grant with Ethiopia on Monday worth 212.4 million euros ($287.26 million) to help finance road construction and projects targeting maternal health and drought resilience.

Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country after Nigeria, is midway through a five-year economic plan that foresees almost tripling the country’s road network and beginning the building of 5,000 km of new railway lines.

Addis Ababa’s big push on infrastructure is aimed at connecting remote regions and has propelled the economy to double-digit growth for much of the last decade.

“Expanding and upgrading … (the) road network is playing a central role in the country’s economic development – notably in improving access for the rural population to marketsand basic service,” Andris Piebalgs, the EU’s Commissioner for Development, told a signing ceremony.

Once run by communists, Ethiopia’s economy is now sub-Saharan Africa’s fifth biggest economy, leap-frogging Kenya, after a decade of robust growth. But it remains one of the world’s largest aid recipients.

The package includes 49 million euros earmarked for road building. Another 50 million euros will be to help fight the effects of drought in the country’s arid south and east and 40.4 million euros will go to improving maternal health.

Earlier this month the United Nations said Ethiopia was making slow progress in improving maternal health and that the rate of maternal mortality – dying in childbirth – was among the highest in the world.

The International Monetary Fund projects the Ethiopian economy will expand 7.5 percent in each of the next two fiscal years but cautions it needs to be restructured to encourage more private sector investments to avoid a slowdown.

There are signs the huge public spending is hampering the private sector’s access to credit, the IMF says. ($1 = 0.7394 euros) (Reporting by Aaron Maasho; Editing by Richard Loughand Alison Williams)