Tag Archives: Addis Abeba

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Ethiopia: Saudi Arabia – an Honest Friend or Pretentious Foe?

The state media never gets tired of telling us how the Arabs are grateful that Ethiopia hosted the “First Hijra” – the relatives and followers of Prophet Mohammed who took refuge in Ethiopia from persecution back home.

It reiterates this version of the story whenever it is reporting about the warm relationship with Arab nations and the influx of investors from the region. But, that is not the whole truth.

An equally, if not more, influential version of the story credits the then Ethiopian king for his hospitality. It describes the state ofEthiopiaas one which stood in the way of Islamic expansion or, as some would say, the first land that “betrayed Islam” and “a land of the ultimate heresy,” – Irtad.

An interpretation, which, although appearing contradictory to the Prophet’s dictum, is prevalent among Arab elites and, presumably, that includes the House of Saud, the royal family of 4,000 plus princes that rules Saudi Arabia and owns most of its oil reserves, driving its legitimacy through a radical clergy.

This religious-come-political view was presumably running in the mind of the Saudi Deputy Defence Minister, Prince Khalid bin Sultan, when he spoke in Cairo, Egypt, this week, at the Third Arab Water Council, for which he is an honorary President.

In the most blistering remark made by an Arab official in decades, Prince Khalid said “Egypt is the most affected party from the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, because they have no alternative water source compared to otherNile Basin countries.

The establishment of the dam 12Km from the Sudanese border is for political plotting, rather than for economic gain and constitutes a threat to Egyptian and Sudanese national security” he added.

He went on to say “there are fingers messing with water resources of Sudan and Egypt, which are rooted in the mind and body of Ethiopia. They do not forsake an opportunity to harm Arabs without taking advantage of it.”

Indeed, neither the Council nor this particular session is aboutEthiopia, but about the Arab water problem. The most water-scarce region gets the bulk of its fresh water from non-Arab countries, in particular from rivers flowing out ofTurkey and Ethiopia.

It is understandable that they needed to agree on the matter, as their problem is projected to get worse, due to decades of mismanagement, with regards to their ground water resources, population growth, the effect of the 2007 drought and global warming.

Most Ethiopians take for granted that Arab nations take a highly partisan position on the utilisation of the Nile water. However, as much as we do not trust them, we are used to the diplomatese, to the extent of doubting historical accounts of how many times they stood in our way.

What surprised most Ethiopians is not that the Prince described Ethiopia as an enemy of the Arabs, but that he dared to say it in public.

The million-dollar question among Ethiopians last week, then, was why a Saudi and why now?

Prince Khalid is not a nobody, and there are no previous reports of him making public relation blunders. He is the owner of the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper and a son of the late Crown Prince and Defence Minister, Sultan bin Abdulaziz.

His daughter’s recent marriage to King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, Al Saud’s son, and the wedding guest-list, indicates that his place is in the inner circle. Indeed, his self-promotion efforts during the 2009 Saudi bombing of Yemen, which he led and could have been his ticket to the top had it succeeded, was seen as a clear indication of his ambitions.

He also authored a personal biography, portraying himself as a military strategist and requested to be promoted to Defence Minister, as far back as 2001. In short, he is not some rambling oil oligarch, but a Prince with eyes on the soon-to-come royal succession and the promotional opportunity it brings.

Again, it does not seem likely that his remarks were taken out of context, though the full version of his speech, which would be further informative, is not yet available. During the speech, as indicated by reports from his government’s news agency, the Prince wondered “whether binding and firm legislations alone would achieve justice when it comes to distribution of water resources, or whether such measures are not enough and should be militarily backed”, adding that – “Arab countries should join forces because power is one of the three effective methods to end water crisis.”

It does not seem plausible that a man of his stature and ambition was speaking at the behest of his Egyptian hosts. This is especially so considering the gravity of the matter, on which even the Egyptians are reserved. The script was certainly written back inRiyadh.

Indeed, the Saudis have an interest in the Prince’s speech, as it kills two birds with one stone, with regards to cementing the anti-Iran coalition of the Sunnis, which the Saudi’s count on.

A blistering remark against Ethiopia uplifts the Egyptians, whilst disguising the more natural target of the Council, the Turks, who, unlike Ethiopians, are less willing to share the waters from the Tigris-Euphrates river system to downstream Arab countries.

However, what gave rise to these hostile remarks is their discontent withEthiopia’s policies and their perception of the current state of affairs.

As much as Ethiopians fail to appreciate the benefit of Saudi Arabian investments, the latter see it as if they are doing us a favour. In fact, their imperial aspirations and sense of superiority is contained byEthiopia’s encroachment on NGOs and personalities with ties to them. Not to forget the expulsion of five of their citizens, as recently as last June, allegedly related to a terrorist plot.

The Saudis would have swallowed their pride, in previous years. Even if they may not expect the EPRDF to change course, quiet diplomacy would have appeared the only feasible game.

But now, following the absence of Meles Zenawi, they seem to feel that they can take a shot with public provocation.

IfEthiopiais on auto-pilot, as the prevailing attitude among most Western diplomats goes, then, Addis Abeba will tremble. It may even retreat.

If not, the Saudis will only have to simply retract their statements. They know the Ethiopian government is too economy-conscious to escalate the matter beyond proportion.

The House of Saud, no matter how opaque its decision making may be, is not mysterious this time around. It is doing the bidding for anti-Ethiopian forces, consciously or not, by testing the strength of the new leadership in Addis Abeba. It seems to think that there could be no better way to do that than by creating a mini-diplomatic crisis.

What we do not know is how effectively the Ethiopian ruling party will react.

Predictably, the EPRDFites would like to underplay the implications of the Prince’s remarks. They rarely share their confusion and dilemma until they figure it out. Even when it is something beyond their control and not a fault of their own making.

However, this is not one of those moments where their traditional self-control works. They should understand the value of acting decisively, with limited information, at this time more so than at any other time. A measured response, even the type that Meles would have taken, would be perceived as weakness now.

Friends and enemies are watching. How Ethiopia is perceived, no matter what the reality may be, to have managed this drama will highly impact its stature in the region for years to come.

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Ethiopia: UK Company to Convert Waste to Power

The Ethiopia Power Corporation (EPPCo) has commissioned a study to supply electric power to condominium apartments from the waste that they produce.

The plan envisages each condominium being able to generate its own power.

Cambridge Industries Energy, a British-based waste management company, is conducting the study, as requested by Mihret Debebe, CEO of the corporation.

“He is the one who came up with the idea first,” Samuel Alemayehu, managing partner of Cambridge Industries Energy for East Africa, told Fortune.

There are 19 condominium sites in the capital, and 72,826 houses have already been transferred to the owners, by the city administration. Of the 19,Cambridgeis currently studying the Jemo site, in which around 10,000 households are located, making it among the largest sites in the capital.

Considering the amount of waste that the households produce; around 10,000tns, the company estimates that 2Mw of power could be produced, according to Samuel. An individual produces around 0.7 to one kilogram of solid and liquid waste on a daily basis.

The power generation plant will be erected at each site on a 10,000sqm area. The power generated will be a supplementary to the electricity power, thus whenever there is a blackout, the site will still maintain sufficient power. However, 2Mw will not be sufficient if the households use equipment that demands high power, like refrigerators.

It is yet to be decided if these stand-alone power generators will be linked to the main power grid.

The state power utility has also awarded a 120 million dollar contract, to the same company, to generate 50Mw of power out of the refuse, which Addis Abeba has accumulated for half a century at Repi, commonly known as Koshe.

The contract was signed on Friday, January 5, 2013, in the presence of Greg Horey, Ambassador of Theunited kingdomand North Ireland toEthiopia, Alemayehu Tegenu, minister of Water & Energy (MoWE), Debretsion Gebremicheal, minister of Communication & Information Technology (MCIT), under the rank of deputy prime minister, and Neway Gebreab, chief economic advisor to the prime minister.

The project will be realised after one and a half years, according to the contract. The Ethiopian government will be financing the project.

The investment cost for one megawatt of power generation from waste is 2.4 million dollars, showing a 100,000 dollar increase, when compared to Adama Wind Farm, which generates 51Mw. It is also much more expensive when compared to hydropower plants. For instance, the cost of a mega watt at Tana Beles, which generates 460Mw, is 1.08 million dollars.

Samuel, ofCambridge, argues that the price is more reasonable than other renewable energy sources. Adama wind farm is dependent on the environment, and thus, does not generate the stated power at all times. Power from waste, on the other hand, is dependent on the existence of humans, he argues further. Waste will always be available as long as human beings exist.

Since production of renewable energy involves high technology, it is assumed that it will be a little expensive, but if a country wants to build a clean energy supply, then that will be the price to pay, according to the energy expert.

“It is worth it.”

The British and North Ireland Ambassador echoed this.

“This project symbolises so much of the ethos of the Ethiopian government towards a green economy,” Greg said at the ceremony.

The city administration has granted seven hectares of land, out of Koshe’s 47ha, for the erection of Cambridge’s power generation plant. The company is considering Mesfin Industrial Engineering, to erect the plant and its electro mechanical works, according to Samuel.

To process the targeted power, the plant will be using around 350,000tns of solid waste, collected from Addis Abeba. This is only one third of the city’s total waste. The company is not allowed to use the already buried waste at the Koshe, which experts say could be worth 400 million dollars.

People, who are currently collecting the waste from households, will deliver the required amount of rubbish from all over Addis. These people are organised through Small and Micro Enterprises (SME’s). For the collection and transportation of the waste,Cambridgeis to manufacture three-wheelers that can hold up to 500kg waste.

The vehicles, specifically designed for this purpose, are to be assembled on a 10,000sqm plot that the company has secured from Gelan town, Samuel claims. The company is planning to sell the vehicles for 40,000Br, on credit, allowing the SME’s to return it within five years.

“This will diversify our power generation,” Mihret said during the signing ceremony.

The EPPCo, which generates 2,000Mw of power to date, is planning to increase its generation to 10,000Mw in 2014/15, of which 6.4pc is to be generated from nonrenewable energy. Nonetheless, power from renewable energies contribute less than one percent, to date.

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Ethiopia: Sanitation Props Undignified

After 125 years of its founding, Addis Abeba has not yet reached at the height of its age to acquire the power to keep itself clean and neat for a capital city of a country, never mind being the host of the union of countries in Africa.

It often is rated as one of the 10 untidy capitals in the world, in spite of our glamorizing narratives of new buildings, roads and city centres, to say the least. We seem to be possessed by the feature of remaining steadfastly backward when it comes to keeping our city clean, a feat that ought to start at our doorsteps.

We may look out at the horizon any time of the day, in a bright sunny weather or a hazy atmosphere, and discover that even fresh air is becoming a scarce natural resource in our fair city.

The smog is perhaps amplified these days by the perennial ritual of burning trash every morning this very month. The ritual follows the 19th century deadly plague that had decimated thousands of people and livestock. Burning trash in open air may produce a community feeling the sound resonating that of a bonfire.

It, of course, may be one way to get rid of rubbish. But it could pollute the very air we breathe, forcing us to inhale hazardous gas, thus, creating a vicious circle of health problems.

Celebrating the City’s 125th anniversary in full gears and colors may not only avail a rare opportunity to enjoy the festivities but may also initiate and remind everybody to use the occasion as a memento that there is more to be done to make the City a more comfortable place to live in.

Urban life demands neatness. Neatness, however, is not only a matter of decent life and pride but also a question of life and death. The habit of keeping our environment clean is said to result mainly from the lifestyles of residents or transiting people and the different cultural practices instilled in them since childhood.

At a time when the aftermath of the fourth, week-long conference on cities is still a hot issue, cynics could shrug off the rhetoric of achievements in the infrastructure area; raising the inadequacies of green areas and parks as breathing lungs, scarcity of parking lots, public libraries, play grounds, resort facilities and what have you.

All these shortcomings, however, require quite a lot of investment capital and entail carefully deliberated sequencing of priorities. This follows the timing of income generation and the ability to collect all forms of taxes.

There are, however, certain essentials that are basic. Take the issue of sanitation, for instance. Just as much as eating and drinking are basic to live so is sanitation because part of what comes in as an intake should go out as a waste, in the form of excretion, in one form or another.

The rejection also takes place even before it is streamlined into the alimentary canal. One may peal of the kernels or hard covers of fruits and sugar cane. Spitting out the residues is an issue to be recognised.

Anything that we wash like the clothes we wear or the crockeries we use also generate a large volume of sewerage that we have to get rid of. Septic tanks are only provisional facilities. They need to be connected to the collective sewerage or the open sewers as the case may be.

The smog polluting the air may also be emanating from the exhaust pipes or kitchen chimneys. When we come down to the ground and see the impacts of wastewater coming out from sewers or broken ducts, the problem is even more hazardous. It is exacerbated by the fact that the sewerage system functions by lines laid underground and are often invisible. The sewers may also get mixed up with the lines of water pipes where the contents of the sewer could easily infiltrate into the water system resulting in despicable.

A recent report on sanitation facility availability in the capital puts the figure not to exceed the 47pc mark, generously putting. The lack or almost nonexistence of public toilet services obviously compounds the problem.

People are forced to relieve their bowels anywhere around. Urination at the bottom of walls or fences, oblivious of who is watching, seems to be a social practice atypical of Addis Abeba. All the press and electronics media reporters have time and again condemned the act. But many probationers of the embarrassing deal do not seem to budge an inch.

Incidentally, city officials are have enacted laws to punish pedestrians waling or crossing roads at the wrong spot or outside the Zebra Crossing. That kind of venality ought to also consider offenders violating good practices of keeping the city clean and free from excretions, solid or liquid, against walls and fences or the backs of bus stop sheds.

But such legal actions will have to be preceded by provision of adequate public toilets or rest rooms. These are not as costly as the other amenities and facilities mentioned earlier on.

The services can be made available against payment of dimes. The public toilets can also be sources of gainful employment for many people.

The scarcity of toilet facilities has, of late, been exacerbated, following the sealing off existing toilet rooms and converting them into bed rooms, the demand of which has grown sky high. The occupiers use plastic bags to collect their excretions and throw them on the sidewalks, nocturnally. This is observed at the Kochira Area in Merkato and the many narrow tracks and paths passing through the villages of the City.

The open ditches passing through villages crossing boundaries have always been not only the causes of conflict between neighbours but also stumbling blocks of developmental activities at residential slums and quarters. Many people agree that adequate facilities are the best ways to keep our city clean and comfortable to enable us lead a comfortable and dignified life.

Many places in the capital city witness untidiness as their daily order. One such place is Merkato, the largest open market inEthiopia, as could be seen in the photograph. An overloaded container is seen serving as a focal point of throwing garbage out, with the environment polluted by it, though it is placed in the middle of a highway.

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Ethiopia: Authority to Relocate Megenagna-Mexico Water Line

As the result of the construction of the first phase of the light railway project stretching from Torhailoch to Ayat, the Addis Abeba Water and Sewerage Authority (AAWSA) is forced to relocate nine kilometers of its pipeline.

The Addis Abeba Water and Sewerage Authority (AAWSA) is relocating nine kilometres water pipe line from Megenagna to Mexico.

The relocation has been necessitated by the light railway construction, which follows the same line as the water pipe. Sample construction has already started around Meri CMC by China Railway Group Limited (CREC).

Different companies, including the China Geo-engineering Corporation (CGC) and China Gezhouba Group Company Ltd (CCGC) are making offers to AAWSA for the relocation, following an invitation extended to them by the Authority, according to Assegid Getacew, the Authority’s general manager.

The Authority expects the relocation of the pipes to be completed within eight months from now to free the area for CREC; in the meantime residents will continue getting water from the reservoir located behind the Ministry of Mines near Gurd Shola, according to SeyoumBrehanu (Eng), Development & Expansion Project officer at AAWSA.

“We formed a steering committee to complete the relocation as fast as possible,” Seyoum said.

Members of the steering committee are drawn from the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo), Ethio Telecom, Ethiopian Railway Corporation (ERC) and AAWSA. They are currently looking into the offers made by the invited bidders.

AAWSA has so far achieved 93pc water supply coverage for Addis Abeba. This water comes from the Gefersa, Dire and Legedadi dams, as well as water wells at Akaki.

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