A new skyscraper has recently risen in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. Built with Chinese money, the shining new home of the African Union, an EU-style body representing 54 African countries, is a symbol of the country’s rapid economic change.
The World Bank reports that this country of 94 million people, although still one of the world’s poorer nations, has seen sustained growth over the past decade, averaging more than 10 per cent a year, in contrast to the regional average of 5.3 per cent.
The effects are easy to see. All around Addis the streets are in chaos as a light-rail system is installed. It is on target to begin transporting passengers next year. China is paying for this too. The nature of “Chinese” funding to Africa is complex, sometimes involving direct financing from Beijing, in other cases involving private funding from companies based in China. The light-rail project is backed by China’s Exim Bank.
Cranes swing into action each morning, erecting new hotels and office blocks to add to the long list of international chains that have opened or expanded here: Hilton, Intercontinental, Radisson Blu, Sheraton and Monarch are all doing strong business alongside African counterparts.
And, according to some, there aren’t enough of them. The Awash International Bank projects that unsatisfied demand for hotel beds in Ethiopia in 2015 will run to 1.3 million – a demand fuelled by an increase in tourism, business travel and the work of the African Union.
Outside the city, major rail links are under construction, including one by a Turkish company, Yapi Merkezi, worth a reported €1.3 billion: the 389km Awash-Woldiya project will connect lines from Mekelle to Hara Gebeya and then Addis to Djibouti.
Ethiopia is funding its own development too. The Blue Nile rises in Ethiopia before flowing on to Egypt and Sudan. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will harness the waterway as the largest hydroelectrical plant on the continent when complete. Cairo is unhappy, fearing that the damming of the Nile will have major impact on Egypt.
Local media reported that BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan have been selected to manage the bond sales.
World Bulletin/News Desk
Ethiopia is planning to build two more hydro-electric dams over the southern Omo River on border with Kenya for generating electricity, an Ethiopian spokesman said Saturday.
"Gilgel Gibe IV and V hydro-electric dams will be part of Ethiopia's next big projects during the next five-year national plan," Bizuneh Tolcha, spokesman for the Water Ministry, told Anadolu Agency.
He said the two dams will have the capacity to generate 2,050 megawatts of electricity.
"Some 1450 megawatts of the total electric power will be produced by Gilgel Gibe IV while Gilgel Gibe V will generate the remaining," he said.
Tolcha said that the cost of the two dams will be announced "when the assessment is completed".
Ethiopia has begun to sell bonds in the capital market as to generate funds for its mega-projects.
Local media reported Friday that BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan have been selected to manage the bond sales.
Ethiopia built the Gilgel Gibe I on the Omo River in 2004. The dam has an electric output of 184 megawatts.
Gilgel Gibe II was inaugurated in 2010 and 80 percent of the construction has been finalized.
Kenyan activists have been lobbying against the construction of Gilgel Gibe dams on the ground that it will significantly impact the lives of communities around Lake Turkana – a claim denied by Ethiopian government.
Ethiopia has the potential to produce more than 45,000 megawatts of electricity from hydro-power.
“There are other hydro-electric projects being considered," Tolcha said.
Ethiopia is planning to build a number of dams for electricity generation, including a controversial hydroelectric dam on the Nile's upper reaches, which has strained relations with Egypt.
Ethiopia says it needs the dam to generate badly-needed energy. Egypt, for its part, fears the dam will reduce its traditional share of the Nile River – its main source of water.
Addis Ababa insists the new dam will benefit downstream states Egypt and Sudan, both of which will be invited to purchase the electricity thus generated.
Ethiopian authorities also commenced the construction of the Geba dam in September of this year in western Ethiopia at a cost of $583 million.
ETHIOPIA— Witnesses in Durban, South Africa, say six people of Ethiopian origin have been killed in alleged xenophobic attacks over the past week.
Yonas Fikru, an Ethiopian businessman in Durban, says he knew all six victims, all of them men in their 20s who he says used to hang out at his shop.
He says they were killed in separate incidents, mostly during daylight hours, by South Africans.
“They just come, steal and attack. In fact, the body of one of the victims is about to be sent to back home … they doused his body in kerosene and killed him. But there were two others who were killed before him,” Fikru told VOA’s Horn of Africa Service in an interview Friday. “[The attackers] didn’t steal anything from them. They just came and killed them.”
Tegegne Aboye, another member of the Ethiopian community in Durban, said locals have tried multiple times to report incidents to the police but “it always falls on deaf ears.”
“The killer vigilante mobs are thinking that it is their right to do what they are doing,” he said. “Even when they are caught or when someone point out criminals, we see them released shortly. Some of them steal and we see them coming out the next day and committing more crime.”
Aboye said the Ethiopian embassy has not given enough help.
“We see our brothers getting killed, doused with a three-liter jerrican of kerosene, and no one is helping us when this happens,” he said. “We haven’t seen anyone sticking up for Ethiopian citizens here.”
VOA attempts to contact South African police about the cases received no response by the time of publication.
South Africa has experienced recurring bouts of attacks against foreigners in recent years. Poor South Africans blame the immigrants for taking jobs and contributing to crime.
The 15 best quips from Anthony Bourdain's tour of Ethiopia.
Traveling from the humming streets of Addis Ababa to rural villages, the latest episode of CNN's series Parts Unknown spans history, culture, and heritage to debunk myths and discover where Ethiopia stands as a country today. According to host Anthony Bourdain, the country is undergoing renewed economic growth "fueled largely by direct foreign investment and a returning Ethiopian diaspora." And appropriate to that theme, New York City chef Marcus Samuelsson and his wife, model Maya Haile, act as Bourdain's guides.
Samuelsson's exploration of his own sense of place plays a major role in the episode. His relationship to Ethiopia is a complex one. Samuelsson was born to a farming family in a rural Ethiopian village in the 1970s and contracted tuberculosis at the age of two. In a last-ditch effort to save her children, Samuelsson's mother walked him and his sister 75 miles to a Swedish hospital in Addis Ababa for treatment. She later died, but Samuelsson and his sister recovered and were adopted by a Swedish couple. Then, at an early age, Samuelsson moved to New York City, where he established himself as an expert chef.
"I always find it such a paradox that I was born into very little food, but yet I've made my whole life about food," he says. "My structure and pragmatism comes from being raised in Sweden. And my sort of vibrancy and warmth to cooking and feel-based food that I love comes definitely from here[Ethiopia]." Samuelsson has since reconnected with his birth father and has forged even more Ethiopian ties through marriage; Maya was born and raised in Ethiopia and has a strong grasp on the language and customs. From skate parks to tej bars and sheep slaughtering ceremonies, the group explores what it means to be a modern Ethiopian.
Here now, the 15 best Bourdain quips from his Ethiopian sojourn:
Breaking news: Teddy Afro and Gossaye Tesfaye didn’t receive the US visa on time for ESFNA tournament
As US scrambles to address visa backlog, international musicians are out of luck. In recent weeks, cultural events across the US had to cope with the sudden disappearance of international performers from their lineups. The Peruvian electronic psychedelic band Dengue Dengue Dengue! was one of many musical groups forced to cancel performances when its members failed to receive US visas in time. The problem stemmed from a hardware glitch at the State Department. The Nigerian musician Sunny Adé, for example, had to cancel a US tour when his band’s visas didn’t come through in time. So did the Peruvian electronic psychedelic band Dengue Dengue Dengue! And Chicago’s Grant Park Music Festival abruptly lost all four of its British vocal soloists — leaving their replacements just one week to learn the music. The cause for all this cultural chaos? A hardware problem at the State Department that prevented the US from issuing visas for more than two weeks. It didn’t just affect musicians. It affected all visa applicants, including tech employees and temporary agricultural workers. “What we’re hearing is that all the embassies are back online now,” says attorney Matthew Covey, whose consulting firm, Tamizdat, helps foreign performers get US visas. “The hardware problem is supposedly solved.”
The State Department said 335,000 visa applications were received while the system was down. Most of those have reportedly been processed — but Covey points out that the “ripple effects” may persist in coming months. For example, Covey works with a British band that doesn’t need a US visa until mid-July. The question is how to get them the visa, since that they’re on the road until then. “Logistically, it’s kind of a nightmare,” Covey says. The immigration process for musicians is always tedious, but it’s usually straightforward enough. “When the system works, which most of the time is the case, it’s nothing more than bureaucratic hoops and a fair amount of expense,” Covey says. But when things do go wrong, immigration restrictions can have huge implications for the movement of musicians across the world.“The kinds of delays you can see can stretch for weeks to months to, in some cases, years,” Covey says. “And that certainly can shut down an artist’s career in the US.”
The Arab Africa Summit yesterday has elected Kassa T/Birhane as the president of the Arab-Africa Summit and Abdulwasi Yusuf as secretary general for the second round.
Kassa T/Birhane who is going to serve as the president of the Summit for the coming one year said on the occasion that he will work hard to secure a good economic and social bond between African and the Arab countries.
When the two days summit is concluded yesterday afternoon the summit’s participants have expressed their determination to strengthen their tie and combat terrorism.
Participants of the summit from 22 African and Arab countries are expected to visit the building projects of condominiums and light train projects on today.
Today, Mayor Ed Murray announced he is nominating Sam Assefa – the senior urban designer for the City of Boulder, Colorado – as the next director of Seattle’s Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD).
Prior to Boulder, Assefa served as Director of Land Use and Planning Policy for the City of Chicago, and as a deputy chief of staff to former Mayor Richard Daley.
“Sam Assefa brings leadership and a holistic approach to urban planning that integrates land use, transportation, design and sustainability,” Mayor Murray said. “Throughout his career, Sam has shown a passion for placemaking and a commitment to working with all communities to solve the challenges of growth. His experience will be invaluable to implementing our shared vision for building neighborhoods that are affordable, livable and equitable.”
OPCD was created to better integrate strategic planning across departments, while coordinating public investments in transportation, parks, housing and other areas.
“I have always admired the City of Seattle for its natural beauty, innovative spirit and strong commitment to social justice,” Assefa said. “I am thrilled at this opportunity to help implement Mayor Murray’s vision for building thriving and vibrant communities through an integrated and equitable approach to city planning and community development.”
Since 2010, Assefa has worked for Boulder’s Department of Community Planning and Sustainability, where he was responsible for urban and building design policies and directed the City’s Sustainable Streets and Centers Program.
Prior to Chicago, he served the City of San Francisco as director of Special Projects for the Department of Planning and Development. He was responsible for the implementation of various urban design policies and redevelopment plans, including the Hunters Point Shipyard, the Trans Bay Center, Rincon Hill, and the Better Neighborhoods Program.
Assefa has a master’s degree in city planning from MIT, and a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He brings perspective as an immigrant to the United States, having fled Ethiopia as a teenager when his father was killed in a coup. In San Francisco, Assefa served on the city’s Immigrant Rights Commission.
Assefa, if confirmed by Seattle City Council, will replace Diane Sugimura, who has served as interim OPCD director since the new integrated planning agency launched January 1. Assefa is expected to start June 1, with an annual salary of $167,000.
“This is a very exciting time for Seattle — to have someone of Sam’s caliber, experience and talent coming to Seattle to lead the Mayor’s new Office of Planning and Community Development,” Sugimura said. “I look forward to seeing great things happening as we grow toward becoming a more equitable city for all.”
“I am thrilled to join the Mayor in endorsing the nomination of Sam Assefa as the new Director of the Office and Planning and Community Development,” said Councilmember Rob Johnson, chair of the Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee. “Mr. Assefa’s list of accomplishments achieved during his tenures in Chicago, San Francisco, and Boulder reflects his passion for urban design and transit oriented development, and but I am mostly impressed by the manner in which he so thoughtfully engages the citizens of the communities he serves. I look forward to the prospect of working side by side with such a creative, big-picture thinker with the knowledge and experience to tackle Seattle’s complex housing, gentrification, and affordability challenges.”
As Seattle grows, OPCD will play a role in implementing Mayor Murray’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA). HALA provides a comprehensive strategy to creating 50,000 housing units over the next 10 years, ensuring that Seattle can remain an affordable, walkable, and equitable community for people of all incomes and backgrounds.
Seattle is currently one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation, adding 70,000 residents and 63,000 jobs in the past five years. The city is expected to be home to another 120,000 residents and 115,000 jobs by 2035.
“I loved to draw,” says Sam Assefa. Architecture influenced him a lot, especially as a child, growing up in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. He used to draw a lot of the old Ethiopian monasteries. “Very monolithic, platonic forms, cubes and models formed out of living rock. I was always fascinated by that,” he explains. By seventh or eighth grade, he knew he wanted to study architecture. He once got punished for a drawing he did very meticulously, with correct three-dimensional proportions for a very tall building. His art teacher didn’t believe he drew it.
Fortunately, for many under-engaged communities in San Francisco, Chicago and Boulder, Colorado, Assefa did not take the punishment to heart. He still loves architecture, and still makes a life of exceeding expectations. In a few months, he’ll take all of his experience with him to Seattle, where he was recently named the next director of Seattle’s Office of Planning and Community Development.
“I have always admired the city of Seattle for its natural beauty, innovative spirit and strong commitment to social justice,” Assefa said in a statement on the announcement.
Ethiopia has famously never been colonized, despite repeated invasions and partial occupations by foreign powers throughout its history. But amid political strife in the 1970s, Assefa’s father was executed. Assefa fled the country by foot and became a refugee in Kenya. He spent the rest of his high-school years in Nairobi, where he picked up two key influences: an international group of best friends with whom he remains in touch (one each from Austria, Sweden, the U.S. and Chile, and two others from Ethiopia), and a love for Chicago, probably due to its architecture.
“I used to read about Chicago specifically for some reason, while I was in high school,” Assefa says. He would eventually move there (after a short stint in Rome), and study architecture at the University of Illinois. While there, he met his wife, Jill Kongabel, a native Chicagoan.
In his first job in architecture, he noticed a pattern that didn’t fit with his personal ethos. “The first few years of design work I was doing was for very wealthy people. It was a wonderful place, a small design firm,” Assefa says. “But I started thinking about is that what I wanted to do.”
The answer was no. He and his wife left Chicago for Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Assefa went to graduate school for city planning at MIT. He took classes at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government too. He focused his studies on issues of equity, particularly around public housing. Meanwhile, outside the classroom, he was involved in the divestment movement seeking to end apartheid in South Africa by urging university endowments, foundation endowments and other supposedly socially minded pools of capital to dump South African companies.
After graduate school — after another false start with a private San Francisco architecture firm — Assefa landed at one of the early leaders in socially and environmentally conscious design firms, SMWM (since merged with Perkins+Will), where he joined forces with Karen Alschuler to start the planning practice at the firm. Their first big project: planning around the long-shuttered Hunters Point Shipyard in the largely black neighborhood, which was still reeling from the site’s closure around two decades earlier. The shipyard became one of the first Superfund cleanup sites.
“San Francisco was where I cut my teeth in equity and planning policy,” Assefa says. He would later work in the city of San Francisco’s planning department. He moved to become director of policy for Chicago’s department of planning and development in 2000. In Mayor Richard Daley, Assefa says, he found a willing ally for bringing more equity and diverse voices into the planning process (Assefa served as the city’s liaison for the neighborhood-centric New Communities Program), while simultaneously integrating departments and disciplines whose silos were clearly holding the city back from its potential.
Assefa’s department led Chicago’s first rewriting of its zoning code in 40 years, addressing issues where growth was happening where some communities didn’t want it and not happening where other communities did. He recalls loosening parking requirements for buildings within close proximity to public transportation, and putting in incentives for LEED-certified construction of affordable housing so that residents’ bills could be reduced. While attempting to incentivize and make room for more affordable housing where it was desired, Assefa also recalls protecting manufacturing zones from redevelopment as residential or other use (while others were creating the training infrastructure to make sure new high-skilled manufacturing jobs in Chicago would be accessible to all).
After a stint in Boulder, Colorado, Assefa will now take his silo-busting, social justice-informed approach to the Pacific Northwest.
“In Seattle, as in a lot of cities, a lot of the underrepresented communities or immigrant communities may not be at the table when major planning decisions are being made. Or they are economically affected as a result of the economic shift that is taking place in some of the major cities as well as global shifts,” he notes.
Seattle will be the eighth city where he has lived, spanning four countries on three continents.
“There are differences in context, but fundamentally from a planning perspective, all people are looking for the same general things,” he says. “They want to be safe, they want to love the place where they live, and they want to reap the benefits of what it has to offer.”
Assefa is expected to take his new office on June 1.
Eritrean men have been allegedly ordered to marry more than one wife
— Any man who does not do so, goes to jail according to reports
The government of Eritrea has reportedly ordered men in the country to marry at least two wives. This is said to be coming in order to ‘help’ the situation of shortage of men caused by enormous casualties suffered during the civil war with Ethiopia.
In the statement written in Arabic the government gave the assurance that it will give financial support to the polygamous marriages. Read the translated version in part as posted by sde.co.ke below:
“Based on the law of God in polygamy, and given the circumstances in which the country is experiencing in terms of men shortage, the Eritrean department of religious affairs has decided on the following :
”First that every man shall marry at least two women and the man who refuses to do so shall be subjected to life imprisonment with hard labour.
“The woman who tries to prevent her husband from marrying another wife shall be punished to life imprisonment,” alleged the activists in their translation.
May 1998 to June 2000 Eritrean-Ethiopian war saw 150,000 soldiers killed from either sides but having a bigger impact on male population in the tiny Eritrea nation who were then just million people in total.