Ethiopia Grants First Financial License to Foreign Lease Company

By Nizar Manek, August 8 2019

  • Company to import equipment worth $600 million in three years

  • Ethiopia is opening up its economy to more foreign capital

Ethiopia’s central bank granted its first financial services license to a leasing company that plans to bring into the east African country equipment worth $600 million.
Ethio Lease, a unit of New York-based Africa Asset Finance Company Inc., said it will purchase equipment from agricultural machinery to medical equipment and drilling rigs, and receive payment in Ethiopian Birr.
(157 words)

Death on the Nile Haunts Ethiopia’s Rebirth

By Marc Champion and Nizar Manek, August 2 2019
The day Simegnew Bekele was found dying at the wheel of his Toyota Land Cruiser in central Addis Ababa—doors locked, engine running and a bullet wound to his head—he had left home holding a plane ticket and a packed bag.
The plan on that July afternoon a year ago was to return to the construction site of the vast hydroelectric dam that Simegnew had been overseeing since 2011, according to his mother-in-law, Membere Mekonnen. The project on the Nile had made its chief engineer a national hero. His was the public face of plans for a new Ethiopia that would no longer be known for famines and war, but as Africa’s powerhouse—literally.
Membere, like many Ethiopians, still doesn’t believe the police finding of suicide. “Why do you buy a ticket and pack your bag to go, if you are going to shoot yourself?” the 72-year-old said in an interview at her home in the capital, where she now cares for the youngest two of the three children he left behind.
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Ethiopia Offers Hope for Phone Providers With African Dreams

By Thomas Seal, Nizar Manek and Angelina Rascouet, July 19 2019

  • Africa’s second-most populous country to open up mobile market

  • Orange, MTN, Vodacom lead companies eager to access industry

(Bloomberg) --
Yabsira Tadesse had no trouble getting a new SIM card when he popped into an Ethio Telecom store in northern Addis Ababa the other day. He still thinks it’s intolerable that the state-owned behemoth is the only option for phone and internet users in a country of 100 million.
“The status quo is terrible,” the 22-year-old student said, standing next to a dirty sign displaying the company’s green logo. As the owner of a fledgling cryptocurrency business, Yabsira is dependent on Ethio Telecom’s occasionally patchy service. He also said he fears the state uses the group to spy on him. If a new wireless carrier “can come here and government lets them be competitive, I would be the first to line up and support it.”
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Ethiopia Plans Vote on Regional State to Quell Autonomy Demands

By Nizar Manek and Samuel Gebre, July 18 2019

  • Sidama group had mulled unilateral declaration of statehood

  • Ethiopia has nine regional states, more than 80 ethnic groups

(Bloomberg) --
Ethiopia’s electoral agency plans to conduct a referendum this year on the creation of a 10th state, the first of a series of votes that are anticipated as ethnic groups demand greater autonomy.
Regional groups have intensified calls for more self-determination since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in April 2018 with a pledge to reform the country’s political system. The country has been governed by a federation of ethnic states since 1991, when a more than decade-long military dictatorship ended.
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Asmara and Amhara

Africa Confidential, Vol 60 No 14, 12 July 2019
Attention is focusing once more on last November's meeting of Eritrean President Issayas Afewerki with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed one month after retired Brigadier-General Asaminew Tsige, the leader of last month's alleged coup attempt, was appointed head of Amhara's regional security. Asaminew was shot dead two days after the 22 June killings of three top Amhara state and federal officials.
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Abiy Ahmed's Reforms Have Unleased Forces He Can No Longer Control

(Foreign Policy) --
Nizar Manek, 4 July 2019
Ethiopia’s prime minister oversaw the chaotic release of thousands of prisoners, including many ethnonationalist militants. His amnesty may now be coming back to haunt him.
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia—Former comrades in arms described retired Brig. Gen. Asaminew Tsige, who was shot dead on June 24, as a mediocre soldier and a poor administrator. Asaminew was gunned down by government forces two days after allegedly masterminding the assassination of three senior officials of Ethiopia’s Amhara state, including its president—events labeled part of “an orchestrated coup attempt” by the Ethiopian prime minister’s office.
Asaminew had a long history in Ethiopian military circles—and in rebel movements. He was an ex-rebel fighter in the Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement in the struggle that in 1991 felled the Derg, a Marxist junta that preceded Ethiopia’s current ruling system. Asaminew met in 2009 with leaders of the banned opposition movement Ginbot 7 in Dubai, according to members of that movement. On April 24, 2009, the National Intelligence and Security Service and Federal Police Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force arrested 35 people allegedly involved in plotting a coup against Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s government; most were members of the military or the police. Asaminew was one of them, and he was imprisoned for nearly a decade.
Last February, Asaminew emerged from prison, having allegedly faced solitary confinement and torture, among tens of thousands of prisoners released following a 12-point reform plan handed down by Ethiopia’s ruling politburo in December 2017.
Under Abiy Ahmed, who became Ethiopia’s new leader in April 2018, Asaminew was honorably retired with full pension rights—and he was appointed by Amhara state later that year to head its administration and security bureau. The effort to release and reintegrate former rebels who had once sought to overthrow the federal government was widely hailed as a bold reform effort. But as the high-profile June 22 killings have shown, that policy has also unleashed forces that Abiy may no longer be able to control.
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By Ryan Beene and Nizar Manek, May 30 2019

  • ライオンエア機の惨事の再発防止で乗務員訓練の強化必要-メール

  • 昨年12月にパイロットが訓練強化を上司に求めていた


Long Before Crash, Ethiopian Pilot Warned Bosses of Dangers

By Ryan Beene and Nizar Manek, May 30 2019

  • He called for more communication to 737 crews after Lion Air

  • In email to airline managers, he cited need for more training

(Bloomberg) --
An Ethiopian Airlines pilot told senior managers at the carrier months before one of its Boeing Co.737 Max jets crashed that more training and better communication to crew members was needed to avert a repeat of a similar disaster involving a Lion Air flight.
According to emails and documents reviewed by Bloomberg News, the pilot in December urged his superiors to bolster training on a 737 Max flight-control feature so crews would be better prepared for what the Lion Air pilots encountered in October before plunging into the Java Sea, killing all aboard.
(1,138 words)

Perils of a rail link built with Chinese funds

(The Hindu) -- 
Nizar Manek, 19 May 2019
Due to electricity shortages, the railway could be blocked for a whole day of operations
The train had crossed the frontier on Chinese-built rails between Ethiopia and Djibouti. Barren escarpments and acacia trees were flowing past the windows. Behind lay Ethiopia and a disclaimer at the ticket booth warning passengers to travel at their own peril. Funded by China’s Exim Bank for $4.2 billion, this is Africa’s first electrified railway, except that it is not really. “Look at the electricity shortage: the train could be blocked for a whole day of operations,” Djibouti’s Finance Minister Ilyas Dawaleh told this writer in his office in Djibouti City.
In January, Mr. Dawaleh said, operations were halted for half a day when a train was blocked by protesters amid conflict on the border between Ethiopia’s Afar and Somali States. Ethnic Afar feared Somali annexation of villages. “Everyone’s taking hostage of the infrastructure,” Mr. Dawaleh said. Besides the Ethiopian unrest, nomadic people demanding compensation for run-over camels too were not factored into a feasibility study Exim Bank approved for the over 700-km Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway in 2013, before disbursing the loan ($490 million) for Djibouti. In April, an Ethiopian freight train skidded off the tracks. Revenue forecasts for the railway, meant as a pivot for Ethiopia’s export-oriented industrial development dream, have been cut to a third against the feasibility study. The track remains incomplete in both the nations and the railway transports only one commercial train a day, not three as planned, said Ahmed Osman, Governor of Djibouti’s Central Bank.
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Ethiopian Region Demands Probe Into Killings Near Sudan Border

By Nizar Manek, May 7 2019

  • Friday violence left 200 people dead in Amhara state

  • Ethnic nationalists want territorial boundaries dismantled

International investigators should probe the killings of more than 200 people in Ethiopia amid a territorial dispute near the Sudanese border, a regional official said.
The violence occurred on Friday in Agew Awi Zone in Amhara state, according to Adigo Amsaya, the deputy president of neighboring Benishangul-Gumuz state.
(336 words)

Ethiopia Pays Too Little to Clothing-Factory Workers, Study Says

By Nizar Manek, May 7 2019

  • State assured customers its workforce would accept low wages

  • Nation supplies retailers including H&M, Gap and PVH

Ethiopia should gradually increase base wages for workers in its nascent clothing-making industry and address ethnic unrest in a region housing its flagship industrial park, according to a study by New York University.
The entry-level pay for those producing for retailers including Hennes & Mauritz AB, Gap Inc, and PVH Corp. at Hawassa Industrial Park is 750 Ethiopian birr ($26) a month, according to the report by the Stern School of Business’ Center for Business and Human Rights. The annual wages are 40 percent below the average Ethiopian per capita income of $783, according to the study.
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Ethiopia Charges Ex-Security Officials With Abuses, Fana Says.

By Nizar Manek, May 7 2019
(Bloomberg) --
Ethiopia charged 26 former officials of its National Intelligence and Security Services, including ex-Director General Getachew Assefa, the ruling party-funded Fana Broadcasting Corp. reported.
Four of them, including Getachew, were charged in absentia at a court in the capital, Addis Ababa, with gross human rights violations. They include torture, forced confessions, sodomy, rape, electrocution, and arbitrary detention of people in secret facilities, Fana said, citing a statement from the Attorney General’s Office.
(125 words -- Bloomberg Terminal)

South Sudan Parties Agree Delay to Transitional Government

By Okech Francis and Nizar Manek, May 3 2019
(Bloomberg) --
South Sudan’s government and rebel leaders agreed to postpone the introduction of a transitional government for six months to complete the conditions of their peace deal.
The postponement came after two days of talks in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, where rebel leader Riek Machar sought to delay the formation of a unity government later this month to address issues including an agreement on regional boundaries and the implementation of security measures that all sides are confident in. Its creation was agreed in September, the last in a series of deals since December 2013 when fighting started that cost the lives of almost 400,000 people and displaced more than four million others.
(172 words -- Bloomberg terminal)

`There Was Nothing Left,' 737 Crash Kin Lament, as Agony Deepens

By Nizar Manek, Todd Shields and Janan Hanna, May 2 2019

  • Jet slammed into ground, leaving crater and shattered debris

  • ‘We had nothing to cremate’ says a relative of six victims

(Bloomberg) --
A crater surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by police marks the spot where Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 plunged to earth after a terrifying six-minuteflight, killing 157 people and sending Boeing Co., the plane’s manufacturer, into turmoil.
In the seven weeks since the disaster, the grief of family members has been joined by growing frustration over what they say is a lack of information from authorities and the failure to receive the remains of their loved ones.
(1,143 words)