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U.S. official pledges closer economic and security ties with Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto wrapped up his three East African nations tour on Friday here with a pledge to boost economic and security ties with Ethiopia.

Yamamoto, who started his East Africa tour in Eritrea on Monday and then went to Djibouti on Wednesday, arrived in Ethiopia on Thursday with economic, peace, security issues being priorities for discussion.

Speaking to reporters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, Yamamoto said the U.S. administration led by President Donald Trump sees Ethiopia as a key partner in economic and political issues.

“We discussed a wide range of issues particularly initiatives President Trump is looking at positioning the U.S. in making it a clear and critical partner not only for Ethiopia but for all of Africa on economic development, trade and investment,” he told reporters.

Yamamoto especially singled out Ethiopia’s ambitious industrialization drive which aims to make the country of around 100 million an industrialized middle-income economy by 2025.

“The U.S. government has expressed keen interest to engage in Ethiopia’s industrialization drive, in addition they want to help Ethiopia add value on agriculture, to help Ethiopian goods be able to be exported to U.S. market,” he said.

Meles Alem, Spokesperson of Ethiopia Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), told journalists that the U.S. is very keen on partnership with Ethiopia on specific sectors.

“Yamamoto and his Ethiopian counterparts have reached agreement on how they can proceed on energy and aviation partnership,” said Alem.

The discussion between Yamamoto and Ethiopian officials also touched upon regional and continental peace and security issues.

Alem mentioned discussions focusing on how to end the civil war in the world’s youngest nation, South Sudan, and to counter the threat of Islamic militancy in Somalia.

Ethiopia has been the main base for South Sudan peace talks ever since civil war broke out in December 2013 and is currently hosting about half a million South Sudanese refugees.

Ethiopia is also a major troop contributing nation to a peacekeeping force in Somalia known as the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which since 2007 has been trying to counter the threat of Al-Qaida linked militant group Al-Shabab and support a fragile Somalia federal government based in Mogadishu.

Yamamoto commended Ethiopia’s efforts to bring about peace in South Sudan through its chairmanship of the East Africa Bloc, the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

He pledged full U.S. support for efforts led by Ethiopia and IGAD to end South Sudan’s brutal civil war which has killed tens of thousands and displaced about 4 million people.

Yamamoto also told journalists the U.S. is keen to partner with Ethiopia to help Somalia build institutions and to help security coordination between Somalia federal government and regional administrations.



Ethiopia’s PM in Djibouti on first foreign visit

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Saturday arrived in Djibouti on his first foreign visit after he was sworn in and assumed office early this month.

Local media outlets quoted the Office of Spokesperson of Ministry of Foreign Affairs as saying that the prime minister’s two-day visit aims at further promoting the long-standing bilateral relations between the two East African countries.

The prime minister is expected to discuss with Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh on bilateral and regional issues of common interest.

Prime Minister Abiy is also expected to deliver a speech at the Djiboutian parliament and visit different institutions, including port Djibouti.


Ethiopia to adopt legislation to put term limits on Prime Minister position

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Ethiopia is to legislate a two five year term limit for the prime ministerial position, new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was quoted as saying on Friday.

Speaking to an audience of political and civil leaders in Hawassa city, capital of Ethiopia’s Southern regional state, Ahmed said legislation is underway to amend the Ethiopian constitution to adopt the two term limit on PM position, reported state media outlet Ethiopia News Agency (ENA).

Ahmed told the audience the term limit is needed to ensure smooth power transfer, strengthen the democratic system and fight corruption.

Ethiopia follows a parliamentary political system with the position of PM being more powerful than the President who has largely ceremonial powers.

The Ethiopian constitution has a two term limit on the President’s office, but presently allows an indefinite period of time for a Prime Minister to stay in office.

Ahmed, 41, was sworn in as Prime Minister before Ethiopian parliament on April 2, replacing Hailemariam Desalegn, amid anti-government protests and strikes in various parts of Ethiopia.

Persistent protests over allegations of economic and political marginalization since 2016 in Amhara and Oromia regional states which together account for about 65 percent of Ethiopia’s estimated population of 100 million had caused fears about the stability of one of Africa’s star economies.

Many Ethiopians hope Ahmed will bring about political and economic changes as the country moves closer to a general election in May 2020.


Ethiopia launches project to boost fishery, livestock production

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Ethiopia’s newly established Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Resources on Saturday disclosed a 176-million-U.S.-dollar livestock and fishery sector development project.

The six-year project was launched shortly after the East African country’s decision to merge the former ministry of livestock and fisheries with the ministry of agriculture, saying it would spur developments in all involved sectors.

According to the ministry, the Ethiopian government has obtained a loan of some 170 million dollars from the World Bank while 6 million dollars was obtained from the International Development Association (IDA), which would enable the project’s implementation.

The project, which will be implemented in six regional states from 2018 to 2023, is expected to enhance productivity of the livestock and fishery sectors.

According to the ministry, the project would benefit more than 1 million fish and animal breeders and cooperatives, with particular emphasis on women and youth.

Ethiopia is one of Africa’s largest livestock-endowed countries. However, as a landlocked country, Ethiopia solely depends on lakes and rivers for its demands and consumption for fish products.

Accordingly, the new project is expected to improve breeding techniques as well as strengthening the necessary infrastructures to maintain reliable market linkages.

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Science and Technology has previously called for investment in fish development and processing endeavors so as to minimize the existing dependence on imported fish products for the domestic market.

According to Getahun Mekuria, Ethiopia’s Minister of Science and Technology, due to the existing lack of modern technologies in the sector, Ethiopia was not so far able to fully utilize its “abundant fish resources.”


Ethiopia’s largest hydro dam 66 percent complete: official

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Africa’s largest hydro dam project, the 6,450 MW Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), is 66 percent complete, an Ethiopian official said on Saturday.

Speaking to Xinhua, Bizuneh Tolcha, Director of Public Relations and Communications Directorate at the Ethiopian Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy (MoWIE), said the construction of the hydro project is going well and is expected to start partial test power generation soon.

The project is a major part of a massive energy infrastructure project the Ethiopian government is undertaking which aims to see the country’s power generation capacity increase from the current 4,280 MW to 17,300 MW by 2020, he said.

The Ethiopian government has embarked on massive energy projects across the country with a view to succeeding in its plans to make the East African country a light industry hub in Africa and a middle-income economy by 2025.

GERD, whose construction started in April 2011, is being built at a cost of 4.7 billion U.S. dollars, fully financed from domestic resources and is expected to have a reservoir with a total of 74 billion cubic meters of water upon completion.

The hydro dam, which is being built on Blue Nile river 40 km from Sudanese border, has been billed as a landmark project signaling Ethiopia’s renaissance.

Already, a high voltage electric transmission line built by State Grid of China Electric Power Equipment and Technology Co. Ltd (SGCC) at a cost of 1 billion dollars has been inaugurated, waiting for GERD’s total commissioning to be operational.


100 Ethiopians repatriated from Yemen: foreign ministry

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The Ethiopian government said on Friday 100 of its nationals were repatriated from Yemen.

In a press statement sent to Xinhua, the Office of the Ethiopia Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), said the Ethiopians arrived from Yemen with the help of the Ethiopian Embassy in Djibouti and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The statement said the 100 Ethiopians had initially arrived in Yemen as a transit point to be trafficked to Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries, but were stranded because of the ongoing civil war in Yemen.

MoFA has in the last nine months repatriated 1660 Ethiopians who were trafficked to Yemen via Djibouti and Red Sea but then were left abandoned by human traffickers.

It is estimated that every year thousands of Ethiopians looking for better economic opportunities abroad are trafficked through Somalia, Djibouti and the Red Sea to reach the Arabian Peninsula.


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