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Mega industrial park signals Ethiopia’s manufacturing intent

Ethiopia has commissioned the largest industrial park in Africa, signalling its intention to become one of Africa’s manufacturing hubs.

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The Horn of Africa nation, which is among the fastest-growing economies in the world, recently unveiled the Hawassa industrial park, which is core to its efforts to become one of Africa’s manufacturing powerhouses.

The mega facility, built at a cost of $250-million, is intended mainly for textile and apparel manufacturing and agro processing.

Located in Hawassa town, some 275 km south of the capital,Addis Ababa, the industrial park is located on an area of 1.3-million square metres, making it the largest in Africa.

Ethiopia aims to export textiles and apparel worth $2-billion a year by 2020, up from $250-million currently.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said at the official opening ceremony that the industrial park was part of government’s efforts to achieve growth through increased manufacturing output, attract foreign investment and ensure sustainable economic development.

He added that the Hawassa industrial park would create 83 000 jobs and that the construction of 16 similar industrial parks would be undertaken throughout the country.

“We want to sustain the growth of the manufacturing industry, as stipulated in our five-year Growth and Transformation Plan,” noted Desalegn.

Over the past decade, Ethiopia’s manufacturing sector grew at an average of 11% a year, driven by increasing export earnings from the footwear and apparel industries.

The country, which is endowed with fertile agricultural land, has adopted the Agricultural Development Led Industrialisation strategy, through which it aims to commercialise smallholder agriculture through product diversification, shifting to higher-valued crops, promoting niche high-value export crops, supporting the development of large-scale commercial agriculture and integrating farmers with domestic and external markets.

The Hawassa industrial park has already attracted 15 major manufacturing companies from China, Indonesia and the US.

In recent years, Ethiopia has become an attractive investment destination, thanks to the availability of land, cheap energy and labour and government incentives.

With a population of 100-million, the country boasts a young workforce of about 45-million people. It does not have a minimum wage policy, making it attractive to potential investors.

The country has also invested heavily in energy infrastructure, which has translated into a significant drop in electricity costs to about $0.05/kWh, compared with $0.24/kWh in neighbouring Kenya.

Ethiopia has also introduced incentives such as tax holidays and subsidised loans, while its interest rates are as low as 8% a year.
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Ethiopia Wants To Be Africa’s No. 1 Auto Manufacturer

Local assembly plants in Ethiopia’s fledgling auto industry plan to begin exporting cars in a couple of years in a market dominated by Chinese brands — part of an effort to industrialize the agrarian economy, Reuters reports.

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It’s a grand ambition for the tiny auto industry, transforming a handful of assemblers that bolt together imported kits into a network of factories that can make the country Africa’s biggest car manufacturer over the next two decades.

If it succeeds, it won’t be the first time Ethiopia delivers on an ambitious goal. With one of Africa’s fastest growing economies for more than a decade, Ethiopia has pulled off the Grand Ethiopian dam and others that helped make it an electricity exporter.

Ethiopia’s expanding transport network includes the successful Ethiopian Airlines, the largest and fastest growing African airline, according to GhanaWeb. Ethiopian Airlines won the African Airline of the Year Award 2016 at the 25th Anniversary African Aviation Air Finance Africa Conference & Exhibit in Johannesburg.

This year, a railway will link the landlocked country, population 97 million, to Djibouti port where the Red Sea meets the Indian Ocean, providing a cheap and fast way to import raw materials and export finished goods.

“The aim is to become a leading manufacturing hub in Africa,” said State Minister for Industry Tadesse Haile in a Reuters interview. “We want to become the top producer of cars on the continent in 15 or 20 years.”

In industrial zones around Addis Ababa and the northern city of Mekelle, Ethiopian firms and Chinese partners assemble vehicle kits. Theey imported 38,000 assembled cars in 2015, a 50 percent-plus increase over 2014.

Ethiopia produces about 8,000 commercial and other vehicles a year for the local market, including about 2,000 cars but they could make more if they could get more foreign exchange to import more kits, Reuters reported.

“There is a lot of potential for growth,” said Ma Qun, deputy manager of China’s Lifan auto group in Ethiopia, which has the capacity to assemble 5,000 cars a year but whose output is less than 1000. “We want to start exporting from Ethiopia by 2018, or a year later,” he said.

For now, Ethiopia has to compete with South Africa, which makes 600,000-plus fully manufactured vehicles, and Morocco, which makes 200,000. Egypt, Kenya and Sudan also assemble vehicles.

South Africa has a large domestic market with annual per capita income of $6,800 compared to Ethiopia’s $550, according to World Bank 2014 data. Morocco — annual per capita income, $3,070 — is geographically close to the huge European market.

Assemblers in Ethiopia put together Chinese brands Geely, FAW, BYD and Lifan.

With Ethiopia’s scant currency reserves, assemblers face challenges getting enough dollars to import kits. Another problem is consumers unsure about quality.

Chinese car firms are central to Ethiopia’s vehicle manufacturing plans. Chinese car kits are cheaper than rivals such as Japan, said an executive at an Ethiopian manufacturer.

South Korea wants a piece of the action. South Korean automobile manufacturer Kia Motors Corp. has broken ground on a community-run auto mechanic training center in Ethiopia due to be completed in 2017, EconomicTimes reported. The centers will enable trainee mechanics to work towards national qualifications.

Ethiopia’s car assemblers face another challenge. Their cars don’t hold their prices as well as finished imports. “The big obstacle they face is resale value,” said Araya Lakew, whose mekina.net website links buyers and sellers.

Some used imports, such as Toyotas, even gain value with the weaker currency, unlike locally assembled models.

Lifan’s marketing director Tomi Su said his firm would keep making models that are more attractive to consumers. “There will be new gadgets in every upgrade,” he said.

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Source: afkinsider


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Ethiopia Plans To Increase Coffee Exports By 45% Despite Food Shortages

The Ethiopian government plans to increase coffee exports by 45 percent in 2016 through incentives and increased support to farmers as the population suffers food shortages in one of the worst droughts in 50 years.

Coffee made up almost half of Ethiopia’s gross domestic product in 2014, according to the World Bank, BusinessWeek reported.

The crop was responsible 84 percent of exports and 80 percent of total employment in Ethiopia.

The U.N. estimates that 15 percent of Ethiopians will face food shortages in 2016. That’s 15 million people, ABC reports.

Crop production has failed completely in some areas of Ethiopia and is down 50-to-90 percent in others, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Aid groups are calling Ethiopia’s food shortages a “code red emergency” and questioning the international response, according to ABC.

Ethiopian coffee makes up 18 percent of the German market and 16 percent of Saudi Arabian demand, BusinessWeek reported.

The country has become a favorite source of coffee for major specialty coffee blenders — especially from the U.S. These include Starbucks, which operates 23,450 locations worldwide, including 12,937 in the U.S.

In recent years, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has helped the Ethiopian government and coffee cooperatives improve production, processing and marketing of Ethiopian coffee.

The program has mapped the country’s coffee washing and hulling stations and installed technology to trace coffee purchased through the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange.

Ethiopian coffee exports will increase 45 percent to over 260,000 tons in 2016, the government said in statement early this month.

Incentives will include loans for coffee exporters and processors, links to marketing, and promoting Arabica coffee at trade shows abroad, said a trade ministry spokesman.

Ethiopia earned $780 million exporting 184,000 tons of coffee in 2014 and it also has a strong domestic market, BusinessWeek reported.

The current El Niño, the strongest on record, has caused severe drought in parts of Ethiopia, triggering a decline in food security and massive drop in pastoral and agricultural production, IBTimes reported.

Ethiopia’s livestock population is the largest in Africa. Its cattle, sheep, goats, horses, camels and chickens outnumber the country’s human population, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, UNFAO.

Farmers are running out of available grazing land and water as urbanization expands into rural areas. Some of the land that pastoralists once relied on for herding is overgrazed or has been turned into ranches, private farms, game parks and urban centers, IBTimes reported.

As many as 150 people died and many were arrested by Ethiopian security forces during recent protests against government plans to expand development of Addis Ababa to surrounding towns in the Oromia region. Protesters opposed a plan that would displace farmers and herders from fertile, ancestral lands.

Source: afkinsider


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Multifaceted Effort to Build Green Economy, Mitigate Effects of Climate Change

Though, the major factor attributed to climate change is the emission of toxic gas such as Carbon dioxide to the atmosphere mostly from industrial countries in the past hundred years, it is developing countries that are highly vulnerable to its effects. Countries all over the world have come up with adoptive and mitigation mechanisms based on their respective capacity to respond to the change. Most importantly, it is vital to building environmentally friendly green economy to withstand the effects of climate change in the long run.

Ethiopia has been trying to build a Climate-Resilient Green Economy to addressing both climate change adaptation and mitigation objectives. Various institutions were also established to follow up the proper implementation of the green economy strategy.

The government for more than a decade has devoted its time, finance and energy to establishing institutions and providing capacity building training for their staffs. In addition, significant amount of budget for conducting research on climate change and global warming were allocated to several pertinent institution. Among such institutions, the Ethiopian Environmental and Forest Research Institute (EEFRI) which is set to play pivotal role in sustaining the continued building efforts of the green economy for which the country has gained recognition internationally. The institute would in particular help to reduce the widespread deforestation and enhance the utilization of forest.

Recently, the institution held its annual meeting. Ethiopian Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry, State Minister Kebede Yimam on the occasion said global warming climate change has become a burning global issue as it endangered the very livelihood of human beings. In continents like Africa where economies are mainly dependent on agriculture, the extreme weather conditions resulting from climate change have put the success of the struggle against poverty into question, he said adding, to address this challenge, action plans based on relevant research should be made available for environmental protection, proper land management system and afforestation and EEFRI could play an immense role in this regard.

He further added that while there are several institutions which are concerned about issues of climate change, because of lack of coordination, their joint efforts to mitigate the problem has gone disarray. Hence, coordinating the effort for common action is essential, he added.

The EEFRI Director Dr Wobalem Tadese on his part said EEFRI is established to introduce and adopt new environmental and forest research technologies with the support of stakeholders. It also coordinates national environmental researches and their outcomes to ensuring future achievement.

Currently based on the mission given to it in the second Growth and Transformation Plan, the institution has prepared its own plan and equipped itself with the necessary manpower and laboratory apparatus for the successful implementation of the plan.

He further said based on the 40 years accumulated research documents on forests, the institution has prepared research strategy which will be implemented in the next 10 years. Besides, research will also be conducted to enhance the contribution of the forest sub-sector to the GDP and to deter water and soil pollution.

According to one paper presented at the meeting, Ethiopia spends considerable amount of hard currency to importing forest products. Hence, supporting the sector through scientific research is vital to substitute the import and save the hard currency.

On the other hand, the issue of climate change should also take both dry and liquid waste management into consideration. Because, if not properly managed, the waste generated from individual households, hospitals, garages, open latrine and industries would cause pollution and endanger the various ecosystems. Thus the cumulative effect further aggravate climate change and global warming.

Special adviser to the EEFRI, Professor Fasil Kebede who was also a presenter of a paper emphasized that environmental pollution occurs when the physical, chemical and biological character of land, water and air changes because of pollution.

Study shows that in Addis Ababa and its vicinity, there are about 2500 medium and small industries and 90 percent of them have no liquid waste treatment plant. Annually, they release about 5 million cubic meter of polluted water which is released to rivers around Akaki. As a result, in downstream areas near Akaki, farms and their cattle who utilize the water from the main Akaki river have been affected and exposed to health risks. As to Fasil, though the Addis Ababa city administration environmental protection proclamation clearly stipulate that polluters should be accountable to their actions, there is still gap in enforcing the law.

Regarding dry waste management, Fasil noted that, each day about 250 tones of waste is released from households, institutions, markets and factories. However, only 65 percent of the waste is properly dumped while 20 percent is utilized for compost and recycled.

Fasil further said that 60 percent of Addis Ababa’s waste is bio-waste and it can easily be converted to fertilizer but though a lot remain to be done in this regard. In addition, the waste generated from aggro-industries can be converted to bio-gas and bio-fertilizers. In general, if the necessary technology, finance and human resources are made available, waste can be converted into something useful.

Source: allafrica


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The new ‘arms’ race? These 5 countries are vying to be Africa’s first green ‘superpower’ and the winner is…

Through to 2050, the world needs an addition $36 trillion in clean energy, or nearly 15 times Africa’s nominal GDP.

US President Barack Obama Monday unveiled a final set of rules to cut greenhouse gas emissions in a big initiative which would form a major plank of his legacy as he winds down his term in office.

In what has been termed the strongest action ever taken in the United States to combat climate change, the rules will see the country’s hundreds of coal-fired—and polluting—power plants gradually shift towards cleaner energy sources such as natural gas, and significantly, renewables.

The change adds to the global push towards using more clean energy in an attempt to limit global temperatures to two degrees above pre-industrial levels to head off the worst effects of climate change, which include food and water shortages and unpredictable and more intense floods and droughts.

Such scenarios hold big implications for Africa, which  is worst hit despite being the least polluter with 3% of carbon dioxide emissions (even this is relative—a lot of the haze over the Indian Ocean is believed to be from cooking fires run on fuelwood and charcoal, but by international agreement are not counted as their raw material is renewable).

major meeting in Paris in December is expected to provide a deal on global climate change and which would take effect in 2020.

But as the developed world lurches towards a greener future, Africa will struggle to keep up even with this disjointed pace, starved of the funds needed to adapt. UNEP’s Africa Adaptation Gap Report has estimated that adaptation costs for Africa alone could reach approximately $350 billion annually by 2070

The continent already has a major energy deficit, which it has identified as the biggest impediment to its growth. Fossil fuels in Africa are, like the rest of the world, big business, but on the continent they represent a more existential problem. Power generation from oil and coal (and the lower-carbon but still-polluting natural gas) brings about much-needed economic expansion, including through fuelling key industries such as transport and manufacturing, in the process creating millions of jobs.

African oil importers, who are the majority, would also be eying the economics of the fallout in the developed world: less fossil fuel use means they get it at a cheaper price. One scenario forecastsdemand for oil products, and for coal, from sub-Saharan Africa as doubling in the next 25 years.

Green energy, despite its increased desirability and cheaper running costs, is also expensive to start up. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that to have an 80% chance of maintaining the warming limit through to 2050, the world needs an addition $36 trillion in clean energy, or nearly 15 times Africa’s nominal GDP.

As such, requiring African countries to apply the squeeze on fossil fuels is, to put it mildly, a big ask. The general sentiment has been that feeding its citizens now is a bigger priority than focusing on the shift to clean energy, even if the benefits, and consequences of not doing so, are apparent.

The outgoing president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Donald Kaberuka, voiced this in March when the bank’s decision to continue financing power plants that use dirtier coal was questioned.

“It is hypocritical for western governments who have funded their industrialisation using fossil fuels, providing their citizens with enough power, to say to African countries, ‘You cannot develop dams, you cannot develop coal, just rely on these very expensive renewables,’” Kaberuka said. “African countries will not listen.”

“To every single African country, from South Africa to the north, the biggest impediment to economic growth is energy, and we don’t have this kind of luxury of making this kind of choice.”

Read: African Development Bank defends lending to support coal power over ‘expensive’ solar, wind

But some African countries have however been taking on the challenge for more predictable renewables, even if for disparate national reasons. Ethiopia for example has no oil or coal, and with agriculture employing the vast majority of its people, building a climate-resilient economy has become a top priority for the government.

The new ‘arms’ race? These 5 countries are vying to be Africa’s first green ‘superpower’ and the winner is…

LEE MWITI

Through to 2050, the world needs an addition $36 trillion in clean energy, or nearly 15 times Africa’s nominal GDP.

Two thirds of sub-Saharan Africa's wind potential is concentrated in just five countries. Harnessing it could change growth trajectory.
Two thirds of sub-Saharan Africa’s wind potential is concentrated in just five countries. Harnessing it could change growth trajectory.

US President Barack Obama Monday unveiled a final set of rules to cut greenhouse gas emissions in a big initiative which would form a major plank of his legacy as he winds down his term in office.

In what has been termed the strongest action ever taken in the United States to combat climate change, the rules will see the country’s hundreds of coal-fired—and polluting—power plants gradually shift towards cleaner energy sources such as natural gas, and significantly, renewables.

The change adds to the global push towards using more clean energy in an attempt to limit global temperatures to two degrees above pre-industrial levels to head off the worst effects of climate change, which include food and water shortages and unpredictable and more intense floods and droughts.

Such scenarios hold big implications for Africa, which  is worst hit despite being the least polluter with 3% of carbon dioxide emissions (even this is relative—a lot of the haze over the Indian Ocean is believed to be from cooking fires run on fuelwood and charcoal, but by international agreement are not counted as their raw material is renewable).

major meeting in Paris in December is expected to provide a deal on global climate change and which would take effect in 2020.

But as the developed world lurches towards a greener future, Africa will struggle to keep up even with this disjointed pace, starved of the funds needed to adapt. UNEP’s Africa Adaptation Gap Report has estimated that adaptation costs for Africa alone could reach approximately $350 billion annually by 2070

The continent already has a major energy deficit, which it has identified as the biggest impediment to its growth. Fossil fuels in Africa are, like the rest of the world, big business, but on the continent they represent a more existential problem. Power generation from oil and coal (and the lower-carbon but still-polluting natural gas) brings about much-needed economic expansion, including through fuelling key industries such as transport and manufacturing, in the process creating millions of jobs.

African oil importers, who are the majority, would also be eying the economics of the fallout in the developed world: less fossil fuel use means they get it at a cheaper price. One scenario forecastsdemand for oil products, and for coal, from sub-Saharan Africa as doubling in the next 25 years.

Green energy, despite its increased desirability and cheaper running costs, is also expensive to start up. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that to have an 80% chance of maintaining the warming limit through to 2050, the world needs an addition $36 trillion in clean energy, or nearly 15 times Africa’s nominal GDP.

As such, requiring African countries to apply the squeeze on fossil fuels is, to put it mildly, a big ask. The general sentiment has been that feeding its citizens now is a bigger priority than focusing on the shift to clean energy, even if the benefits, and consequences of not doing so, are apparent.

The outgoing president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Donald Kaberuka, voiced this in March when the bank’s decision to continue financing power plants that use dirtier coal was questioned.

“It is hypocritical for western governments who have funded their industrialisation using fossil fuels, providing their citizens with enough power, to say to African countries, ‘You cannot develop dams, you cannot develop coal, just rely on these very expensive renewables,’” Kaberuka said. “African countries will not listen.”

“To every single African country, from South Africa to the north, the biggest impediment to economic growth is energy, and we don’t have this kind of luxury of making this kind of choice.”

Read: African Development Bank defends lending to support coal power over ‘expensive’ solar, wind

But some African countries have however been taking on the challenge for more predictable renewables, even if for disparate national reasons. Ethiopia for example has no oil or coal, and with agriculture employing the vast majority of its people, building a climate-resilient economy has become a top priority for the government.

Kenya recently struck oil, but had drawn up a growth blueprint that identified electricity as key to its execution, informing its earlier focus on alternative energy sources that are faster developed, while other countries like rich but oil-scarce Morocco have few options. Sometimes it is almost by accident: The biggest foreign direct investment in Ghana’s history, approved last week, will be in costlier offshore natural gas, which has been untapped in favour of ground oil and hydro, challenges with which led to debilitating load shedding.

But in addition to the consequences to Africa’s agriculture-heavy economy of doing little to mitigate, green energy is increasingly good business. It cuts fuel costs, and is said to have a greater job-creation potential than fossils.

The IEA projects that renewable energy will make up nearly half of sub-Saharan Africa’s power generation by 2040.

The global shift to cleaner energy is also expected to spark a boom for renewable energy—investors are looking for green investments— including a potentially billion-dollar trade in pollution credits. Whoever gets the mix right could feasibly become a continental energy powerhouse.

We take a look at what the leaders are doing:

Ethiopia

Only 25% of the country’s 94 million are connected to the national grid, while its fast-growing economy(pdf) needs to ramp up its electricity output, currently at just over 2,000 MW, by at least 20% annually to just keep up.

With its famed Grand Renaissance dam due for completion in 2017, the country is seeking alternatives to boost generating capacity from 2,300 MW. It has the potential to generate 45,000 MW, the second-highest after the DR Congo, but under its 25-year national strategy the plan is to generate 37,000 MW by 2037, with a cost tag of $100 billion.

The Horn of Africa country last month opened the 153-megawatt (MW) Adama wind farm, currently the largest wind-farm in sub-Saharan Africa, but only the latest of three giant wind farms.

Adama, which can power an estimated 10 million efficient light bulbs, was built within two years—a third of the time required to put up the 6,000 MW Renaissance Dam that had also earlier run into environmental concerns. Another wind farm is expect to be located near its north-eastern border with Djibouti, and would produce 300 MW.

The country also has a geothermal project in its central Oromia region, with developer Corbetti saying $2 billion would be needed to generate the full 500MW by 2023. The Ethiopia government in the wake of Obama’s visit agreed to buy power from the plant, the first by private countries in the tightly-controlled country.

Ethiopia has set itself a target of cutting its carbon emissions by almost two-thirds by 2030—the highest national target yet of those presented to the December UN climate change conference.

Kenya

The first African country to build geothermal energy sources, this stream now accounts for 51% of the country’s electricity needs, making it Africa’s largest producer and freeing it from over-dependence on dams. Kenya aims to expand its installed capacity to 6,700 MW by 2017, the bulk of it from renewables, from just 1,700 MW in 2013, as it anticipates a peak demand of 15,000 MW by 2030.

In 2010, geothermal accounted for only 13% of Kenya’s power, now it holds a 5% share of the global installed capacity. This has seen its electricity bills shrink by 30% since 2014, according to the World

Its Olkaria project is one of the largest in the world, with the plan to raise production to 740 MW by 2018, as part of the east African country’s fast-tracked green energy growth plan. It has a geothermal capacity of 5.5 Gigawatts.

Geothermal energy, generated from natural steam from the earth, some reaching up to three kilometres underground is not affected by weather changes, unlike hydro. Together with Ethiopia, the two countries have 80% of the continent’s untapped geothermal power.

Last month president Uhuru Kenyatta flagged off the 310-MW Lake Turkana Wind Power project, which when complete would become Africa’s largest wind power plant. First production is scheduled for late 2016, with the full project coming on board by mid-2017.

The country is also rich in solar energy, with US-based microgrid developer Powerhive set to offer off-grid electricity to more than 200,000 homes following a successful pilot that saw people pay for the energy using their mobile phone. First Solar, the biggest US solar panel producer, made an undisclosed investment in Powerhive in 2013.

Morocco

Morocco’s Tarfaya wind farm has 131 turbines compared to the 365 turbines that will power Kenya’s Turkana project, but at completion will generate 301 MW, pipping the Kenya project.

This year its “Nour 1” thermo-solar plant was to begin going online, with the first capacity of 160 MW and at a cost of 600 million euros ($657 million), and at completion would total 510 MW, or about 8% of the country’s 6,700 installed capacity.

The oil and gas-scarce North African country is aiming to be a world-class renewable energy producer, including exporting clean power to nearby Europe. It expects to build five new solar plants by 2020, which would have a combined output of 2,000 MW and cost $9 billion, and the general project is the largest of its kind in the world.

It has also planned a string of wind farms along its Atlantic coast, with a target of 2,000 MW by 2020 which would lift its renewable energy production to 42% of its total power mix in that year.

South Africa

South Africa’s Cookhouse wind farm was the biggest in Africa before Ethiopia’s, with 138 MW provided by some 66 turbines, and which started coming online in late 2014. A $300m wind energy project is also set for the eastern cape, in addition to plans for smaller initiatives.

South Africa has been putting up renewable energy systems as it seeks to reduce its overwhelming reliance on coal, which places it among the top 15 producers of carbon dioxide globally.

The country, at 30,000 MW, accounts for about 45% of Africa’s electricity, but it is generated on ageing coal-fired plants, causing it to struggle to meet demand. It is however adding to this with the construction of Medupi, which at 4,746 MW of higher-capacity power will be the largest dry cooled coal power station in the world.

According to the government, renewables have added some 4,300 MW of cheaper capacity in the last four years, with the government projecting that 9% of annual electricity would be from renewables by 2030, which researchers say is too little. In 2010, just 1% of energy was from renewables, and almost all of it hydro.

It is also set to buy up to eight new fixed-cost nuclear plants from Russia, which would cost an estimated $84 billion (in addition to attendant concerns over waste management) as it looks to add 9,600 MW of nuclear power to its creaking grid.

A new study by Stellenbosch University released last week found that renewable energy in the country would be cheaper by at least half than nuclear.

Djibouti

The unlikely country of just 850,000 people currently depends on Ethiopia for 65% of its electricity needs, but has set its sights on becoming completely reliant on renewable energy by 2020.

The country has been on infrastructure expansion drive and needs cheaper power to attract investment and create more jobs for an economy dependent on services based on its strategic location at the entrance of the Red Sea, and which puts it almost at the centre of the world’s energy transport trade.

Its Vision 2035 growth plan foresees it as the largest logistics hubs in Africa but needs more than the 173 MW of power—75% produced by diesel— it currently produces. It has identified 13 potential geothermal sites and will next year drill four wells to size up capacity.

Boiling water underneath its desert landscape was first detected in 1970 but the lack of technology hindered exploitation, in addition to a civil war and the effects of the global financial crisis on western partners.

This has since changed—it is now a one-party dominant state while investors have been lining up to take a punt.

Solar and wind projects are also in the pipeline, with renewables the only viable source of energy for its grid, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.

In addition, given its lower targets relative to the size of its (highly-urbanised) population and market, possibilities of economies of scale are deep, suggesting the country could very well become Africa’s first green “superpower”.

Source: mgafrica


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Africa needs more infrastructure investment that boosts long-term jobs growth

President Barack Obama’s trip to Kenya and Ethiopia has focused on trade, investment and entrepreneurship.

One of the highlight of the visit occurred this past weekend when he hosted the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi, where thousands of top business leaders, entrepreneurs and politicians gathered to discuss opportunities and challenges in today’s Africa. Obama called on American investors to fund African entrepreneurs to support job creation, backing it up with a pledge of more than US$1 billion in new private and US government commitments for start-ups.

Less discussed, however, was infrastructure investment and the role it plays in driving employment, particularly as China and others pour billions into projects across Africa.

Africa has seen a surge in infrastructure investment in recent decades, most notably in the construction of roads, ports, bridges and airports, yet the continent still has a serious infrastructure gap. The World Bank estimates the continent must spend $93 billion a year through 2020 to close it.

More importantly, however, questions linger over how successful these investments have been in promoting long-term growth in employment.

In particular, concerns have been raised that many of the recent developments suffer from a short-term mindset and make only a small dent in employment beyond the life of the project. Others, such as some financed by the Chinese, bring in their own labor force for much of the work, which further limits the long-term impact on local employment.

So the question is: with hundreds of billions of cash in the pipeline, how can countries on the continent get the most out of all that investment?

An infrastructure surge

Africa has experienced a surge in major infrastructure development projects over the past two decades, which has created many employment opportunities for local communities. They’ve also boosted the marketability of local products.

For instance, due to lack of viable railway infrastructure and machinery, the food chain supply between rural communities (zone of production) and cities (place of consumption) has been disconnected, creating food insecurity for many people. To address this challenge, the Democratic Republic of the Congo invested $31 million in new locomotives and millions more restoring railways to make it easier to market and sell local products.

More broadly, the value of mega-projects under construction in Africa soared 46% last year to $326 billion, according to Deloitte. Almost half of that was in southern Africa, and 80% involved the transport or energy and power sectors.

Such developments have provided significant opportunities for both skilled and unskilled residents alike as the projects are usually quite labor-intensive.

Every $1 billion invested in infrastructure has the potential to generate, on average, about 110,000 related jobs in oil-importing countries and 49,000 jobs in oil-exporting countries, according to the World Bank.

In 2012, the African Development Bank raised $22 billion from a pan-African infrastructure bond to invest based on its Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) project. Another $368 billion is expected to be invested through 2040 on roads, ports, hospitals, schools and other key infrastructure, which is expected to create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Resource-rich Angola in the south and Kenya in the east are two countries that have been among the biggest beneficiaries of this growing investment and show how these projects can facilitate strong economic growth.

Angola, for instance, is a prime example of the success of state-led infrastructure spending, primarily through its partnership with China. The impact of these projects on job creation has been encouraging, helping reduce unemployment to 26% in 2014 from 35% eight years earlier. That’s still quite high, but it’s a start.

Kenya, where Obama spent most of his Africa trip, has invested mainly in its energy and railroad infrastructure. That investment is estimated to have boosted growth in the country to 6%–7% through 2017, compared with 5.4% in 2014, providing its citizens with additional employment.

These examples and many more demonstrate how promising infrastructure investment in Africa can be.

Costs versus benefits

But the promise isn’t always fulfilled. One of the main concerns about these projects is that they are contract-based, tied to the duration of the development.

While they generate useful economic opportunities during implementation, many of them often provide only short-term employment gains and fail to provide a long-term sustainable solution to Africa’s persistent underemployment problems. Because the initial jobs are tied to contracts, most people employed in these infrastructure development projects will not be able to secure long-term employment at the closure of their contracts.

Other complaints include the poor working conditions, which are often below international standards and provide limited safety, especially in labor-intensive infrastructure projects. And again, their contract-based nature mean they lack minimum wages, legal protections and security.

The question then becomes: are these projects worth it, despite the problems?

Anticipating what comes next

All in all, despite the shortfalls, infrastructure development in Africa has been positive. Whether in developed or developing countries, the economic benefits of such projects can generally be seen over the long run.

But these projects give a greater boost when they are linked with critical economic sectors such as agriculture, energy and farming. Or when officials anticipate what economic opportunities could be kickstarted by a project and ensure they translate into serious long-term employment.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for instance, roads, ports and other projects are serving as a means toward developing other economic sectors, notably agriculture, tourism, mining and trade. This serves as an anticipatory mechanism within government planning to help ensure sustainable economic growth and social development.

Policies along these lines will be of greater benefit to other African countries as well.

How to get the most out of a project

Governments can follow a few policy suggestions to help ensure they get the most out of infrastructure investment.

For example, governments and other stakeholders should emphasize skills transfer so that after a project is complete, locals can be employed in keeping up the road or bridge. The Democratic Republic of the Congo can be used again as example of how local governments are establishing maintenance and public recycling groups in major cities. This will not only help ensure sustainability of the infrastructure, it will also guarantee long-term jobs for a large number of people.

Anticipating what comes after a project ends is key so that during its development workers can be trained in other jobs that will result, thus offsetting the sudden drop in unemployment at completion.

Africa has complex economic and politic issues and huge infrastructure needs that will drive growth and employment for decades to come. The benefits are many. By taking a careful strategic approach, countries can ensure the short-term projects translate into long-term economic and employment gains.

Source: theconversation


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Ethiopia: Sidama’s New Year

Ethiopia has been named to be the World’s Best Tourism Destination for 2015. It was given the award by the the European Council on Tourism and Trade, who praised Ethiopia’s outstanding natural beauty, dramatic landscapes and ancient culture.

Thirty-one countries were considered for the illustrious award this year, with Ethiopia coming top of the pile. Ethiopia has nine UNESCO World Heritage sites, which were heralded by the commission and the aim is to boost tourist revenues to USD three billion this year – in 2013 revenues from tourism were at USD two billion. But instead of beach holidays and safaris, Ethiopia is promoting its imperial past, its natural beauty and its cultural heritage, one of which is Sidama’s New year, Fitche-Cambalala, writes Henok Reta.

Ethiopia has long been known for its cultural diversity. Words such as multi-lingual, multi-cultural and a typical heterogeneous society have been used by many to express these massive contrasts.

However, this time, the diversity includes the use of a different calendar. Visiting the land of the Southern Peoples, Nations and Nationalities at the present time would be an extraordinary experience for one who still wonders if Ethiopia uses a different calendar. Indeed, many have been surprised that the latest millennium celebration in Ethiopia took place nearly eight years after the rest of the world.

In Hawassa, seemingly attracting more massive numbers of local and foreign visitors than other bigger towns in the country, an ambitious plan is taking place–a plan that would probably make it an ideal tourist destination in East Africa due to its massive potential for tourism.

With a population of over 300,000 Hawassa is ever-working, ever-growing. The city is located 275km south of Addis Ababa, 180 km South of Ziway and 20 km south of Shashemene.

It is one of the fast growing cities in the country and can be considered to be model for many other towns all over the country. Since the current political administration took power almost 25 years ago, Hawassa has been named the capital of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Regional State.

Founded more than 50 years ago, Hawassa typically distinguishes itself as a home for more than 45 tribes in the southern region, which does not happen in other regional capitals. In spite of previous tribal conflicts in the regional capital, particularly between the indigenous Sidama tribe and others, nowadays Hawassa remains a capital of diversity. It draws tens of thousands of people for annual festivals and rituals.

Nevertheless nothing is as dominant as Fitche-Cambalala, the Sidama people’s New Year. According to socio-cultural heritages handed down by forefathers through generations to descendants, Sidama New Year (Fitche) has been celebrated for more than 2000 years.

The basis for such unique local New Year’s Day determination and celebration is the Sidama calendar which was an outcome of unreserved and relentless innovative efforts of selected knowledgeable and highly respected group of people who were actively involved in a profound study of the solar system among which the moon, earth, sun and stars are included.

Starting from the ancient times up to the present day this selected group of people has been undertaking comprehensive study on characteristics including shape, color, volume, distance between each other, mobility, change of their position through time and related situations of the solar system.

To accomplish the very tasks of such unique phenomenon in the locality, they get out of their living house at midnight and assemble outside and observe situations of the moon and stars for several hours a day for at least four to six days per month. Most of the time they perform such tasks collectively and on some occasions they carry out their study individually.

When undertaking the investigation in groups each will present analyzed findings of what he has observed and thoroughly discussions on observations and findings will be conducted to arrive at plausible conclusion. If observations and related investigations are done individually, investigation findings will be presented on appointed time and place where general meeting of the group is held.

Basically, it marks the herald of spring at least by a month beforehand. According to Aklilu Adelo, chief of Sidama zonal administration, the New Year celebration is based on a traditional wisdom of astronomy. Ayantos, respected elders, are the people who declare the day on which the New Year falls on after having appraised the stars in their calm night sky. He explains that Fitche-Cambalala has long been the most exciting holiday, featuring dramatic rituals for the Sidama people.

“Now, we have embarked on a new era to celebrate it with festivities and gatherings,” he says.

The regional capital is decked out with the Sidama clothing, dance and culinary activities on this three-day long festivity while the countryside continues celebrating for more than a couple of weeks.

From the very day the ayantos announce the start of the New Year, millions of Sidama people commence preparations at home. Somewhat conforming with another popular holiday – Meskel – everything, including food making, is held months ahead across the region. False bananas, locally known as enset, are the most significant source of food. A variety of Sidama’s traditional foods are made from enset.

Dances and merrymaking, popular activities among Ethiopians, have, for some time, been an incredible identity amongst the peoples all over the country. The first day of the festival features an eve revelry.

The eve of the New Year is popularly called Fitaari. During this event households residing nearby gather in the house of this eldest father in the neighborhood to celebrate the event.

As mentioned above, preparations made by each household to celebrate New Year had commenced several months ago and kocho or preferably bulla is prepared and mixed with butter. It will be served with milk to those who gather for the feast to welcome the New Year. Similar events take place on that very special event in each household in the communities.

Thousands of young men tour the city, dancing, chanting and carrying out the rituals that used to be made by their forefathers. The eve revelry starts at the city’s grand monument named Suduma and ends at the city’s rift valley lake.

The next day, the ayantos, gather at Gudumale, a savanna venue, to announce through a series of rituals that the New Year has arrived. An intense look into the lamb cecum (a pouch considered the beginning of the large intestine) by elders is also a basic part of the rituals held at the Gudumale that determines what is good or evil.

“We are not performing witchcraft, but we have an ancient traditional wisdom of prediction from the stars above and the pouch below,” Elder Shumumale Aluda, says. Despite a stern approach many of the youth have towards this practice, he believes they will ensure that their rituals live on. “Look at them. They are eager and willing to learn from us. They are all happy and proud of what we do.”

In fact, this reality is made clearer as the city sees an influx of young men holding spears and sticks, and wearing animals skins like their fathers did.

“We love our culture. We want to show Sidama’s culture is the best amongst the many Ethiopian cultures,” Teshale Fugamo, 24, says.

Sidama’s New Year, which is primarily celebrated in the Southern Region, does not only promote the young men, but also has a spot for girls and young women to display their attractive looks as well. Hundreds of young women and girls put on their typical traditional outfits for the festivities.

“I really enjoy it. I’m extremely happy to be a part of it. That’s why I can’t miss it every year, even though I live in Addis Ababa,” Lemlem, in Miss Sidama pageant winner, says.

Born from a traditional protestant family, Lemlem sees nothing that contrasts with her belief.

“I understand what many of my friends think. They’re wrong. It’s just a practice regardless of belief,” she explains.

According to the Sidama Zone Culture and Tourism Bureau, the regional government, along with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, are working hard to get United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO’s) recognition for its valuable preservation in the area of traditional rituals that can be used as a basis for science.

“We have a positive view with regard to its UNESCO registration. I hope it will be realized in a few years’ time,” Workneh Flate, the head of the bureau told The Reporter.

Source: allafrica


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Drought Spells Disaster for Food Systems Worldwide … But the Solution Might Just Start on Our Plates

Water is central to our food system. It irrigates crops, hydrates livestock, and is even used as a mode of transportation to get food products moved from one region to the other. Not only does water grow crops to sustain communities at a local level, it also fuels supplies for international trade and economic growth. Water certainly is the lifeblood of society and without it, our food system would cease to exist. And that is why water shortages worldwide are increasingly becoming a concern – we simply cannot survive without enough water to produce the food we eat.

It is estimated that as soon as 2025, two-thirds of the world population will face water shortages. That is two-thirds of the world population that doesn’t have enough water to drink, maintain adequate hygiene, provide proper sanitation, and grow food. It is safe to say that water scarcity has the potential to create a disaster for mankind in the future.

While projections for future water shortages are concerning, the reality is that many regions across the planet are already facing water shortage issues. And while this is bad news for many aspects of everyday life, it is the food system that is taking a massive hit from water shortages.

Take a look at how several countries around the world are dealing with their own water scarcity problems, and how they are struggling to produce enough food in the process.

Brazil
If you’re a coffee drinker, you’re in for a doozy. Water shortages are spelling bad news for coffee producers worldwide, including Brazil which has been the leading supplier of java for the last century. A staggering 35 percent of coffee beans originate in Brazil. But a drought that began in January 2014 caused coffee production to drop 20 percent that year. And given that coffee is not harvested once a year but rather throughout the year, stress on the plants will stunt their growth and continue to have an impact on production into the future, even once the drought hopefully eases. While some may argue coffee isn’t an important food crop entirely necessary for sustenance, it still does hold a place in the food system as a widely distributed good as well as a crop that provides a livelihood to many individuals worldwide. Water shortages act as a direct threat to that.

Coffee isn’t the only Brazilian crop hit by the drought. Perhaps surprisingly, Brazil is actually the largest producer of soybeans in the world. China has shifted to being the number one importer of Brazil’s soybeans as water for soybean production in Asia becomes more scarce. And while Brazil has historically had enough water for soybean production, the country has seen declining production numbers for soy due to recent drought. Water rationing for citizens is already taking place in some regions, and food security is being challenged by the lack of available water to grow crops important to the world’s food system, soybeans included.

United States
The United States is currently facing a problem of epic proportions when it comes to food production in the face of drought. Water shortages have gripped the Western U.S., and especially California where a third of the country’s vegetables and two thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts are grown. With 80 percent of the state’s water going to agriculture, the shortage has had a huge impact on California’s food production. In 2014, farmers planted 25 percent less rice than the year before, and 34 percent less corn in response to the drought. With the decreased production of many crops, prices for items such as broccoli, berries, lettuce and melons grown in California increased. With California playing such a major role in providing the rest of the country with its produce, the drought is threatening to upend a system that has historically provided enough fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts to the nation. These healthy and nutritious foods become less available and less affordable, especially to the disadvantaged members of society.

Afghanistan
Over the recent years, Afghanistan has faced a series of droughts that have threatened its food security. By 2001, a three tear-old drought had caused a famine that depleted the necessary cereal grains needed to feed the country’s population by half. Animal agriculture was also impacted by the decrease in cereal crops, and poppy farms had to be abandoned as irrigation was not available. The job losses resulted in five million Afghans having little no or no access to food.

Last year in the Ghor providence of Afghanistan, residents began fleeing their homes in response to the food insecurity caused by drought. Water in the region decreased by 60 percent, making drinking water and irrigation water much less available. And because 80 percent of the providence’s people rely on agriculture as a livelihood, many lost their source of employment and thus ability to even pay for food.

Ethiopia
Ethiopia has seen a drought-induced food crises similar to that in Afghanistan. In 2011, Ethiopia was in the midst of the worst drought the country had seen in six decades. The resulting widespread hunger was staggering. Roughly 700,000 were in need of food aid and medical workers in the area noted the sharp increase in severely malnourished children they were treating. While the country continues to yo-yo in and out of drought and famine cycles, the resulting sanitation and health issues only compound the problem. With only 21 percent of Ethiopians having access to adequate sanitation, the spread of disease and waterborne illness in the country is all too real for an already undernourished population.

The Big Picture
We may not “run out” of water on planet earth as it will still be maintained in one form or another. But fresh water may become less accessible to us as we withdraw it at unsustainable rates and continue to carelessly use it. With unstable water supplies, we also face unstable food supplies. Production levels will drop and there will not be enough food to go around. Prices stand to increase as supplies fall, making the first victims in the crises those with the least money. Beyond food availability, international trade and business, as well as, the livelihoods of those that grow and produce food are also put at risk. The impacts of this issue become far-reaching, touching many aspects of life and society all over the planet and forcing us into survival mode. Yes, it is very important to recognize the importance of water within our food system.

Do Your Part
Global water scarcity is a massive problem and not one that any single individual can address on their own. However, your efforts paired with those of other concerned individuals does stand a chance in making fresh water sources more stable and in helping solve food security problems in the process. By addressing your personal water footprint, you can help ensure that fresh water resources are used sparingly and efficiently, reserving it for important uses like food production.

There are a variety of ways to lower your water use to help ensure the future our food system, but interestingly, one of the best ways to cut your water footprint comes in the form of your diet. On a whole, agriculture sucks up around 70 percent of the world’s fresh water supplies and one-third of that goes to irrigating feed crops for livestock. That all translates into the amount of virtual water that is hidden in our diets. Did you know that a person who eats meat and animal products uses on average, 162, 486 more gallons of water than someone who adheres to a plant-based diet? If you send animal products packing, in converse, you can save that many gallons of water annually.

Looking at the breadth of our global water scarcity issue, it is clear that if we want to ensure a sustainable future for our food supply, we need to start taking into consideration how our personal choices impact the world around us. As a defining voice in the space, One Green Planet has made it a point to draw the connections between our individual food choices and the broader impact they have on the planet. As Nil Zacharias, One Green Planet’s co-founder puts it, “If we want to have any hope for a sustainable food system that can feed our growing population, we need to exercise our power to be a part of the solution with every food choice we make.” Starting with the #EatForThePlanet campaign and our commitment to promoting plant-based foods, One Green Planet has worked to empower individuals to see the incredible opportunity they have three times a day to craft a better food system.

Plant-based foods are the future of sustainable food and the best part is they are already readily available. Join One Green Planet’s #EatForThePlanet campaign and start making a difference with your food today! Together we can create a more sustainable food system, one meal at a time.

Source: onegreenplanet


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East African Countries Move to Adopt Renewable Energy Technologies

The East African region is leading the continent’s charge to embrace renewable energy, including solar, geothermal and wind power.