Eastern Nile Council of Ministers Concludes 26th Meeting, Holds next Meeting in Khartoum
The meetings of the Eastern Nile Council of Ministers (ENCOM) will be held in Khartoum, Sudan, the organization said in a press release.
“The Republic of Sudan has offered to hold the next ENCOM meeting in Khartoum, Sudan. ENCOM has accepted the offer with appreciation. “the release said.
The Eastern Nile Council of Ministers (ENCOM), the highest governing body of the Eastern Nile Subsidiary Action Program (ENSAP) of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) has concluded its Meeting today, January 30, 2014 in Debrezeit, Ethiopia.
The ENCOM Meeting was preceded by a two-day 27th Meeting of the ENSAPT (Eastern Nile Subsidiary Action Program Team), a technical advisory body to ENCOM. The ENSAPT comprises three senior technical experts and officials from each of the member countries. The ENCOM Meeting was attended by Ethiopia, Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan.
Egypt declined to participate continuing on its decision to freeze participation in NBI activities following the signing of the CFA by six upstream member countries of the NBI.
The Ministers noted that the interruption of the ENCOM annual Meetings for the last four years had posed unprecedented challenges to the Eastern Nile Technical Regional Office (ENTRO), the executive arm of ENSAP.
The Ministers thanked the Officer-In-Charge (OIC) of ENTRO, ENTRO Senior Management and staff and development partners, particularly the World Bank Nile Team, for having sustained the cooperation and continuing delivering results notwithstanding the hard times and the challenges.
During their deliberation the Ministers pointed out that the finite Eastern Nile water resources are facing progressively increasing pressures from population growth, rapid urbanization, high economic growth rates taking place in the basin and that the pressures are likely to be amplified due to anticipated Climate Change Impacts.
They further noted that the rapid pace of water resource infrastructure development in the sub-basin makes coordinated management and operation of these structures imperative.
The Ministers, taking into account the foregoing trends, reiterated that it is high time ENSAP member countries embark expeditiously on instituting Eastern Nile wide, if not Nile Basin wide, adaptive management principles, practices and mechanisms. Only such cooperative arrangements, they pointed out, will make possible realization of system wide gains in water use efficiency and productivity; minimization of losses; wise and judicious allocation of water across sectors, including the environment and eventually paving the way for turning the Nile as a vehicle for regional integration and promotion of socio-economic development and alleviation of poverty.
The Ministers, concluding their Meeting, emphasized that:
• The common institution of all Eastern Nile countries set up with so much investment in time, money and energy, has been held hostage by the freeze of Egypt and Sudan and its degree of freedom to discharge its responsibilities and deliver results curtailed for four years. The Ministers, therefore, welcome the unfreezing by Sudan and commit themselves to prevent the recurrence of such situations in the future.
• The admission of the Republic of South Sudan into ENSAP/ENTRO marks a phase in Eastern Nile Cooperation whereby cooperation is expanded and deepened. The Ministers register their satisfaction in accepting RSS into the ENSAP family and express their hope that RSS will play constructive role.
• In spite of its continued freezing, ENCOM still reiterates to the sisterly country of Egypt that ENSAP is still open and welcoming and expects their earliest participation.
• They renew their commitment to further Eastern Nile cooperation and have decided to revitalize ENTRO by putting a new Management (Executive Director, Finance and Administration Head, Senior Project Coordinator) in place; by establishing modalities to cover core operation costs on their own; by expediting preparation of investment projects and strengthening the scientific knowledge base (data, information, analytic tools).
• They call on all friends of the Nile to support their renewed effort to advance Eastern Nile cooperation, which they have resolved to carry through, if need be, by their own efforts alone.
• They call upon and invite the private sector and investors within and outside the basin to take part in their investment programs, including through public-private partnerships and to participate in the planned Investment Round Table.
• The Republic of Sudan has offered to hold the next ENCOM meeting in Khartoum, Sudan.
ENCOM has accepted the offer with appreciation. It is to be noted that the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) is a transitional, 10-Member intergovernmental partnership institution guided by a Shared Vision objective: ‘To achieve sustainable socio-economic development through equitable utilization of, and benefit from, the common Nile Basin Water resources’. NBI Member States are: Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, The Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. Eritrea participates as an observer. Launched on 22nd February, 1999 NBI provides the only all- inclusive regional platform for multi stakeholder dialogue, for sharing information, joint planning and management of water and related resources in the Nile Basin.
NBI is governed by a Council of 10 Ministers in charge of Water Affairs in the NBI Member States (Nile-COM), which is the highest decision and policy-making body. The Nile-COM is supported by a Technical Advisory Committee (Nile-TAC), comprised of 20 senior government officials from the partner states.
Professional day to day management of NBI is from three centers – a basin-wide Secretariat, the Nile Basin Initiative Secretariat (Nile-SEC) located in Entebbe, Uganda responsible for overall corporate direction.
The Eastern Nile Technical Region comprising Egypt, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Sudan.
The Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Program Coordination Unit (NELSAP-CU) based in Kigali, Rwanda executes the Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Program (NELSAP)- comprising Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
In each Member State there is an NBI office, the Focal Point, which coordinates and links trans-boundary NBI, and national plans and activities. At national level, the Ministries in Charge of Water Affairs are the NBI focal point in each Member State.
NBI core functions:
Basin Cooperation -To facilitate, support and nurture cooperation amongst the Nile Basin countries so as to promote timely and efficient joint actions required for securing benefit from the common Nile Basin water resources
Water Resource Management – To assess, manage and safeguard the water resource base that supports the peoples of the Nile Basin through applying the principles of knowledge-based integrated water resources management to water development planning and assessment
Water Resource Development – To identify, prepare and facilitate investment in Regional/trans-boundary water development projects and programs whilst avoiding negative impacts on the health of the Nile Basin’s resources through applying the principles of integrated water resources management.
US market offers growth potential for Ethiopian-based food manufacturer
Anyone who has been to an Ethiopian restaurant will be familiar with injera, a slightly spongy pancake-like flatbread used simultaneously as food, eating utensil and plate. Ethiopian cuisine is traditionally served on injera. Using one’s hand, small pieces of injera are torn and used to grasp the stews and salads for eating. The injera under these stews soaks up the juices and flavours of the foods and, after the stews and salads are gone, this bread is also consumed.
Hailu Tessema, owner of Mama Fresh Injera
Mama Fresh Injera, based in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, is said to be one of the largest commercial manufacturers and exporters of fresh-baked injera. The family business was started in 2003 by Hailu Tessema. His wife is production manager and his son is in charge of marketing.
While Mama Fresh has a decent local clientele in Ethiopia, supplying hotels such as the Sheraton and Hilton, the company sees growth opportunities in the export market.
In an interview with How we made it in Africa, Tessema explained that 50% of the company’s output is currently exported to markets such as the US and Europe. He said the Ethiopian diaspora in these countries are the main end-consumers.
The company recently received investment from a network of angel investors supported by US-headquartered advisory firm RENEW. This investment is expected to bankroll the construction of a new export-focused factory that will allow Mama Fresh to triple production.
“We are excited to partner with the US angel investors and RENEW,” said Tessema in a statement. “They bring considerable expertise on the US market, and they will be helping us improve our quality, strengthen our marketing and develop our US distribution.”
Injera is traditionally made from teff, a gluten-free grain. Mama Fresh sources its teff from hundreds of smallholder farmers in Ethiopia.
In addition to injera, the company also intends to research new teff-based gluten-free products.
A low-cost manufacturing hub
Ethiopia is shaking off its image as a land of poverty and famine and is today one of Africa’s fastest growing economies. International Monetary Fund figures show that GDP growth remains robust, with the economy expected to expand by around 7.5% this year.
According to a 2012 statement by the World Bank, Ethiopia has ample low-cost labour, giving it a comparative advantage in less-skilled, labour-intensive sectors, and abundant natural resources that can provide valuable inputs for light manufacturing industries serving both domestic and export markets. The country’s resources include cattle for leather; forests for wood; cotton for apparel; and farmland and lakes as inputs for agro-processing industries.
Foreign companies are also looking at Ethiopia as a potential manufacturing destination. Swedish-based fashion retailer H&M is one of the latest global companies to experiment with sourcing its products from Ethiopia, and recently placed test orders for garments with Ethiopian suppliers. Retailers such as Tesco and Walmart reportedly already source some products from Ethiopia.
Ethiopia supports companies engaged in investment: President
President Dr. Mulatu Teshome said Ethiopia is providing and will continue to provide various incentives to companies investing in Ethiopia.
While discussing with a business delegation from Malaysia, UAE, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq, the President said the government will provide every support for investors in a bid to make them successful.
The president said Ethiopia offers a number of investment opportunities and incentives that benefit investors.
He explained to the companies that the country has various agro ecological zones suitable for every kind of crop production and abundant natural resource.
The six companies are assessing investment opportunities in Ethiopia, according to a high level official who attended the meeting.
Diaspora complain about impediments in investment sector
Merid Zeleke,Diaspora and Investor in industrial and construction area
Members of the diaspora and foreign citizens of Ethiopian origin engaged in various investment ventures have complained about malpractices marring the golden investment climate the incumbent government created.
In an exclusive interview with The Ethiopian Herald, Merid Zeleke, who invested in the industry and construction sector, said that the government is expected to facilitate things overcoming all stumbling blocks in the policy. “I had a worthwhile project in manufacturing. After I designed a pilot project, I bought the necessary tools and stuffs. And finally I found things very scary. So, I am forced to cancel that project. I couldn’t do anything about it.”
Expressing his anxiety, he said that in manufacturing sector there is a big problem.
“ Though a sound investment policy is already in place, executive bodies do not seem caring to encourage and support local manufacturers.”
Sadly, the import of all kinds of manufactured goods is encouraged. The government gives a big opportunity to them. The government is expected to be strict on the import of manufactured goods by just raising tariff to encourage local manufacturers and help them boost products and promote export,” he said.
He said if one wants to do something in this country he/she will be discouraged as most governmental institutions are not cooperative when one approaches them. “They discourage you in different ways. Actually, they don’t say “No!” but under numerous pretexts procrastinating work they prove less cooperative. They don’t consider national interest but their own. If I go to some governmental office seeking service they rather want money from me. I am a very conservative person. As such, I don’t give money to anyone who doesn’t deserve. I give only when I am convinced that the money goes to the government’s coffer. I am against corruption, Merid added.
Kidney dialysis centre owner diaspora Thomas Hailu also said: “There are hard and easy ways. You have to be ready to confront hard things. You have to fight to the last till justice reigns. When I started to invest, I was purchasing commodities from other countries. The first step was very easy. You pay the money and the commodity comes to Djibouti. Then it takes over a month to take the commodity from Djibouti to Ethiopia. All that time you have to cover the prices for warehouses and related things associated with the delay. It hurts me when I incur loss which could have been avoided. That is the worst thing. And also when investors visit investment offices, some less courteous employees give you a cold shoulder. They do not even consider one’s application.”
He also mentioned the problem of getting hard currency. “Black market here is illegal. You have to get it from banks standing in a long queue for some time. Wasting time there is so boring. But, still investing your hard won money in your own country is something gratifying. Creating job opportunities for your brothers and sisters and for your own citizen gives you satisfaction.”
Ethio-Holland Training School Director Dr. Birhanu Belay said : “The reception to investors particularly in service giving areas is not satisfactory. So, we have to redress it. We have to be positive towards investors. Investors that contribute greatly to national development should feel comfortable and treated very well. There is attitudinal problem towards investors. For instance, if the normal taxi fare from the airport to a given hotel is 100 birr, taxi drivers charge them 300 birr. Also when investors go to a hotel, they are charged double the normal payment. But, when Ethiopians go abroad they pay the same price as citizens of that specific nation.”
Addis Ababa City Administration Trade and Industry Development Bureau Head Shisema Gebre-Sillasie said: “ We have identified capacity limitation and other constraints in the sector and efforts are underway to address them accordingly.”
“We are supposed to make the new investment code viable. We need also to work hard in providing one window service.” he added.
Italy reinforcing relations with Ethiopia, Africa
Being a seat for the Africa Union, Ethiopia has been a playing field for the initiation and signing of agreements of various sorts. The country, as usual, has remained instrumental to discuss regional and international affairs. Similarly, the 22nd Ordinary Session of the Africa Union has become a significant arena to create possibility of discussion of common agenda not only for Africa but also for other countries of the World. Many countries use this unique opportunity to establish and bolster bilateral and multilateral ties with nations in the sideline events which they organize. This year, for instance, Italy through its officials has made a leap beefing up its relations with country representatives who were in Addis Ababa to participate in the summit.
Lapo Pistelli, Italian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs was one among the many key personalities who took part in the 24th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union.
“Italy and Ethiopia have long standing relations,” he said and went on to say, “Addis Ababa is not only the capital city of one of the emerging new powers of Africa but it is also a city where the AU has its headquarters.” According to him, Ethiopia is playing a significant double layered roles— creating landscape for bilateral relations and being hub for the multilateral diplomacy for the continent. Ethiopia is our priority country in terms of cooperation and aid policy. We have one of the largest packages of aid which was signed during my last visit in May, Pistelli added.
According to the Deputy Minister, Italy considers Ethiopia as an emerging player from the economic perspectives. Numbers are not that much big in terms of trade volumes between the two countries. However, we are looking forward to relaunch inter trade between the two countries. In the next couple of weeks, there would be another visit from the Deputy Minister of the Italian Economic Development in order to promote areas of cooperation and to accommodate new Italian companies to engage in Ethiopian economic activities. Pistelli also noted that Italy is having strategic cooperation with Ethiopia in regional and international matters. Ethiopia is a key player in helping the international community deal with regional crisis particularly in finding out a way to solve Somalia and South Sudan.
He further indicated that it is interesting that IGAD has been considered in recent times as emerging multilateral arena to deal with regional crises, he said. In fact there are some organizations, but regional authorities are more effective in resolving crisis. In this regard, the Italian government is co-chairing the IGAD partners forum giving Italy a role to convince other actors on how it should play a meaningful role, he added
The Deputy Minister also underlined that both countries see the world in different perspective, but both believe that multilateral diplomacy is the best way to deal with complex crisis. The cooperation shown during IGAD Public Forum meeting last September was a good signal for the cooperation existed between the two countries.
Like it always happens, economy can be a good instrument to strengthen and boost bilateral relations.
As far as the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam construction is concerned, of course, Salini, an Italian company, is taking part in the construction. The Italian government believes that water and energy can be a shared source of potential regional development, as iron and cool, has been the history of European Union from the very beginning. Shared resources can be both the source of conflict and regional development and integration. But the main point is to look for best management that can ensure mutual benefits for every country. Like I said, if the technical trilateral committee is able to agree on the couples of the points it could be easy to share the financial burden. And it is clear that the Nile River can be the source of regional development and integration. I thought that Ethiopia has been able to find a compromise from the Sudanese government at the commencing of the project. I hope that either Ethiopia or Egypt should be able to find away to deal and mange with the critical issues.
He also told this reporter about the tragic story of illegal migrants who lost their lives on their way to Europe. To be frank, the number of Ethiopians who head for Italy illegally is very few. The highest number of victims are people who come from Eritrea which is a tragic story. Usually, those migrants who make journey to Italy are from conflict driven countries that is why most Ethiopians are not coming to us.
It is not only a problem for the immigrant’s country of origin but is an impediment for European countries’ efforts of building European community. Moreover, we are trying to put in place the European mechanism. First of all, we provide relief to migrants. Secondly, we are attempting to manage the global new phenomena of migration not giving to the single member of State of Union that task to deal with the problem rather it is the task of every European country. It is quite obvious that countries like Italy cannot solely manage the biggest phenomena. But, the fact is that European countries lack strategy of management of migration with the single government. So, every country needs to have a pattern of bilateral agreement with a single government this is what we have done and continue doing it. The main solution to coup up with the challenge is to apply multilateral mechanism.
Many countries are looking towards Africa because the continent is booming with some countries have already emerged. And some of the seven fast growing economy would be in Africa in the years to come. We are coming to Africa not only focusing on giving donation. We are proposing partnership to possibly establish common understanding. We understand the size of Italy and the nature of friendship Italy has with Africa. And such initiative would be instrumental to strengthening partnership. The initiative will have two segments with that the first one will be in Rome this February about agriculture aiming at sharing the best practices of Italy to Africans. The second one will be held before summer time concerning energy. It is not one size fit all programme, Italian private and the public sector provide assistance to our partner and let them choose the way on how the partnership should be. This would play a significant role to develop partnership.
According to a press release of the Italian Embassy in Ethiopia, “Italy-Africa Initiative”, was officially launched by the Italian Government last 30 December in Rome. The aim of the initiative is to put Africa at the centre stage, upgrading Italian-African partnership in the political, economic, social and cultural fields. Through this initiative_Italy_will promote economic forums focused on the areas of mutual interest (from energy to the environment, from agriculture to infrastructure); collaborations in the fields of institution-building, good governance and rule of law; cooperation in the cultural field (between Universities, research centres) and promotion of cultural and sport events. Not only the Governments, but also the private sector and the civil society will be involved.
Deputy Minister Pistelli has participated to the launching ceremony of the second phase of the “General Education Quality Improvement Project (GEQIP)”, a programme owned by the Ethiopian Ministry of Education and which Italy supports with 7.5 million Euros trough a multi-donor Trust Fund managed by the World Bank.
FAO hails ‘historic’ new commitment to end hunger in Africa by 2025
The head of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has welcomed a breakthrough commitment by African leaders to end hunger on the continent by 2025, and has pledged the UN’s support as they work to “transform vision into reality.”
“This is the first time in history that African leaders have made such a strong pledge to eliminate hunger and it is also a show of confidence that, working together, we can win the fight against hunger in Africa in our lifetimes,” UN News quoted FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva as saying January 31,2014 after African Union (AU) member States officially adopted the target at the AU Summit in Addis.
“Africa is witnessing economic growth of unprecedented proportions, but it is also the only continent in the world where the total number of hungry people has gone up since 1990,” he said, underscoring that: “The challenge now is to transform the vision of a food secure Africa into reality by tackling the multiple causes of hunger.”
“Investing in agriculture, creating safety nets and social protection for the poor, guaranteeing the right of access to land and water resources and targeting smallholder famers and young people will be key,” Mr. Graziano da Silva, adding that FAO would continue to support Africa in its efforts to eradicate hunger.
The 2025 target was initially hashed out at a high level meeting on food security in Africa organized by the AU, Brazil’s Lula Institute – headed by former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – and FAO in Addis Ababa in July 2013.
Governments, international organizations, civil society and the private sector agreed on the target as a means of promoting concrete actions that build upon the momentum of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
Mr. Graziano da Silva also highlighted the leadership of the AU Commission and Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma in taking this process forward, calling the measure a “fully Africa-owned effort.”
According to FAO, 11 African countries have already met the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) hunger target to reduce by half the proportion of hungry people between 1990 and 2015: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Djibouti, Ghana, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Togo.
“This is clear evidence that African countries are moving in the right direction,” Graziano da Silva said.
Three countries – Djibouti, Ghana, and Sao Tome and Principe – have also met the even more ambitious 1996 World Food Summit goal to reduce by half the total number of hungry.
The new 2025 AU target aligns the continent with the Zero Hunger Challenge launched by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in 2012.
Ethiopia to reap over 253 mln quintals of agricultural output
The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) said that over 253.8 million quintals of agricultural output is expected to be reaped in the 2013/14 harvest season.
Ministry Public Relations Head, Tarekegn Tsige, told WIC the stated output will be harvested from 12. 28 million hectares of land developed across the country.
The agricultural output expected to be harvested in the reported period exceeds that of the previous harvest season by 22.5 million quintals, he said.
He attributed the increase to the awareness raising and skill trainings given to leaderships and 9 million framers as well as well-timed distribution of agricultural inputs.
Over 1.6 million metric tons of chemical fertilizer, 37 million metric tons of compost, 92, 300 bags of bio fertilizer and over 2 million quintals of select seeds were distributed among farmers, he said.
The application of improved farming system by farmers such as planting teff, wheat and pulses in row also played their part for the increase in the output, he said.
Out of the total land developed in the 2013/14 harvest season, over 3 million hectares was planted in row, he said.
According to Tarekegn, the agricultural produce to be reaped in the reported period would have a significant contribution towards stabilizing the market.
He said efforts are underway to attain the five-year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) through increasing agricultural productivity by 20 per cent in 2014/15 harvest season.