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    The National Meteorology Agency has expressed frustrations over the Ethiopian Airports Enterprises for lack of cooperation and information sharing in areas of climatology.

    During stakeholders meeting the Ministry of Transport has organized this week, the Agency expressed resounding concerns over Airport enterprise’s refusal to share crucial information when undertaking airport projects across the country.

    According to Tafesse Regassa, director of Aviation Meteorology Service Directorate at the Agency, the Airports Enterprise repeatedly fails to notify the Agency about the development of new airports facilities to which the meteorology agency provides climatology data pilots depend on in every flight they operate. Tafesse noted that 70 percent of the air accidents are caused due to bad weather conditions and 25 percent are related with climatic cases.

    Signifying the cruciality of climatology data for civil aviation and airport facilities, Tafesse signaled that there exists poor cooperation with the designated agencies. He pointed out that his agency has been facing challenging time as the development of new airports lack facilities of meteorological services that should be built as part of the airports infrastructure. Airports such as Shire, Nekemete and Dembidolo have been set up without the cooperation of the Agency. Yet, in the dying hours, according to Tafesse, the services are demanded to be delivered without the proper facilities in place.

    Tewodros Dawit, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Ethiopian Airports Enterprises, reacted to the claims of Tafesse and said that partly it is the duty of the Agency to follow up and take initiatives to provide the required metrological services. According to Tewodros, the plans and the targets set forth to develop airports are communicated with all relevant government bodies including the agency.

    Both Ahmed Shide, minister of Transport and Abdissa Yadeta, state minister of Transport, urged both the agency and the enterprise to cooperate to overcome the said safety concerns, rather than pointing fingers at one another. The state minister specifically warned that regulatory measures would be considered in the future unless both sides strongly consider working in cooperation.

    That said, apart from the expanding and newly built airport projects in the country, the Ministry of Transport has reported that during the third quarter of the current Ethiopian Fiscal Year (EFY), Ethiopian Airlines has receives 13 passenger and training aircraft.

    During the reported period, the flag carrier has received aircraft which include: two Q400, two A350-900, three B787-8 and one B737-800, a total of eight passenger aircraft. In addition to that, five DA40NG training aircraft have also been acquired. Currently, the flag carrier has been able to cut costs of 1.5 billion dollars as per the cost effective strategies it has launched in recent period of time.

    Climatology data is very critical for the operation of any airline. And in the past, disregard to such services has been known to have caused serve damages to multimillion dollar airport facilities around the world.  A new airport built in the small Island of St. Helena in Southern Africa raised controversy after it was learnt that it was a big challenge for aircraft to land at the airport due to strong cross winds that push aircraft out of the run way.

    Aviation experts attribute the problem to failure to consider meteorological data and hold proper consultations with meteorology authorities before drafting the airport master plan.


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    By Dawit Endeshaw

    In a bid to supply 180,000 digital tablets for the upcoming national census, two IT firms have passed into the financial stage of the tender process. Last week, the Federal Public Procurement and Property Disposal Service, the office which is conducting the purchase on behalf of the Agency, have announced the result.

    In this respect, Bak USA and Huawei from China have managed to pass through to the next stage.

    Out of nine companies who were invited in a restricted tender by the only eight of them were evaluated on the technical stage. A company called G-Tide has failed to pass the pre-technical assessment.

    The reason for the failure was that the document submitted by the so-called representative of G-Tide failed to meet the legal requirement, according to sources from the Service.

    The Service invited G-Tide as an international company, an expert at the Service said. But the document that was submitted on behalf of G-Tide was actually from a local company.

    This is the second time where the Service evaluated the technical proposal of the contending companies after cancelling the earlier one.

    A need for a revision of technical specification of the tablets was said be a reason behind the re-evaluation of the technical documents.

    The cancellation of the first round of the bid has prolonged the delivery time by almost one month. Given the time table when the census will be conducted, the first delivery was scheduled for May, 2017.

    However, due to the delay the delivery is now extended to June 2017.

    During the first round the companies were requested to supply tablets with replaceable batteries. This, however, was later amended into a sealed one.

    The evaluation was conducted by a committee of experts from the Ministry of Communication & Information Technology (MoCIT), and the Information Network & Security Agency (INSA). The committee is chaired by Tabbit Ahmed.

    However, other sources linked the cancellation with irregularities which were observed during the first round of the bid process. According to participants of the bid process, who spoke to The Reporter earlier, the offers of each bidder were circulated before the official opening.

    The Service has then invited 18 companies where nine of them showed interest.

    In the latest result, seven companies have failed to pass the technical stage. This includes companies such as I-Life, Tecno, ZTE, Simbo Resource, Lenovo and Mustek Africa Ltd.

    “Those who failed the technical evaluation have filed their complaint to us,” Solomon Beter, head of the procurement, told The Reporter.

    “We will look into each case separately,” he said.

    The finance for the procurement will come from the three billion birr budget allocated for the national census. The tablets will cost over one billion birr.

    Once the purchase made, the delivery will be done using airplanes. In order to minimize the risk the battery of the tablets will be charged up to 30 percent only.

    After the upcoming census conducted in late 2017 the tablets will be used for other nation wide data gathering.

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    EX-IM India says sugar loan not performing well

    By Asrat Seyoum, New Delhi, India

    Pursuant to the pledge made by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the third India-Africa Forum to extend a total of 10 billion dollars in the form of concessional credit to African countries, which was to be disbursed in the coming five years since the summit, the Export Import (EX-IM)Bank of India and Indian government has counted Ethiopia to be among the major recipients of the Indian-government backed Line of Credits (LoCs) in tune of 1.004 billion dollars following Tanzania with dedicated LoC worth 1.115 billion dollars.

    Speaking at the 12 CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India and Africa Project Partnership held in New Delhi on March 9 and 10, 2017, officials of the bank revealed that the two east African countries are currently by far the largest recipients of LoC from India mainly going into infrastructure development in the countries. Just behind the two countries at 864 million dollars LoC is Mauritius, which is also one of the biggest trade partners of India in Africa, followed by Sudan, benefiting from 737.07 million dollars and Mozambique 639 million.

    Since the third India-Africa Summit held in October, 2015, the bank has activated most of the credit facilities dedicated to Africa countries, financing close to 120 projects in 4o countries across the continent. As of the end of last year, the Indian government has supported 149 LoCs reaching some 7.6 billion dollars.

    According to data obtained from the EX-IM Bank of India, Ethiopia’s active LoCs amounts to 1.004 billion dollars including the recently (2013) accessed loan facility towards the construction of the Ethio-Djibouti Railway Line extending to the Port of Djibouti, which is the major sea gate for the country of 90 million.

    Ethiopia’s seven operational LoCs from India are mostly dedicated to financing the development of an ambitious sugar development project on top of the railway project and financing for energy transmission and distribution project in order of 65 million dollars. The remaining five LoCs are extended to the sugar development project, which, according to the deputy managing director of EXIM India, Debasish Mallick, is not doing particularly well at moment.

    The Bank participated in the financing of the expansion of two old sugar factories in Ethiopia, Wonji and Metehara, while providing the finances for the development of the Tendaho Integrated sugar project. Tehndaho is known for notorious delay in the completion of the projects, and other disputes between the contractors. At one point, the contracting Indian companies have gone to the extent of suing each other in court back home (India) contributing to the delay further.

    According to the document, around five of the LoCs dedicated to Ethiopia from India went to sugar projects including loans worth 122 million dollars, 166 million, 213, 91, 47 million dollars approved for sugar projects in Ethiopia at different times.

    “We have found out that most of the sugar development projects financed by our bank are not doing well at the moment,” Mallick noted. According to him, the main failure is in sugarcane plantation. Sugarcane growing is something that should be looked at carefully, he told The Reporter, at the sidelines of the 12th India-African conclave. Mallick also promised to do something about the sugar plantation to revive the sector. It is his opinion that PPP arrangement, where private sector partners with the government, is the best way to go for improved sugarcane production.

    At end of the day, the country’s dream to expand sugar production and have surplus to export looks to be seriously affected. As per the original plan, Ethiopia should have started to export sugar but the government is still importing sugar.

    The 12 CII-EXIM Conclave was opened last Friday by president Shi Paranab Mukherejee of India where he greatly emphasized the partnership between Africa and India and on the backdrop of the global economic slowdown reflected optimisms for opportunity. With combined population of four billion and of GDP 35 trillion Africa and India could look into each other for partnership.

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    Heineken installs 3 treatment facilities

    Factories that discharge toxic waste into rivers in Addis Ababa and its environs were supposed to install water-treatment facilities by December 2013. That deadline has come and gone, and the polluters have not yet mended their ways owing to inaction by the Addis Ababa Environmental Protection Authority.

    In an exclusive interview with The Reporter, Lemessa Gudeta, head of the Environmental Awareness Raising and Pollution Control Department with the authority, said that the authority is to blame if polluters were let scot-free. Referring to applicable rules and regulations, Lemessa noted that “one who discharges waste in excess of the legal limit, or one who turned a blind eye when such things happen, are both culpable.”

    Still in guilt-admitting mode, Lemessa went on: “Through lab tests, we have determined that the factories have been causing pollution. We should have taken corrective measures earlier. But we have failed to do that.”

    Out of the five rivers flowing in and around Addis Ababa, the small and large Akaki Rivers have particularly been heavily polluted by toxic discharges flowing from industries, hospitals, and other business entities.

    Even though there are several industries in the city, leather factories have long been known to be the main culprits, Lemessa said, and further explained that, “Chrome is a chemical used in the tanning process to improve softness. This chemical has also been linked to brain damage.” Without any prior treatment, these plants release this harmful chemical into rivers, Lemessa said.

    While the majority of the factories are recklessly discharging their waste to the detriment of the health and well being of residents, there are others who take their responsibility seriously. Lemessa noted that Kality-based Heineken SC is one entity that has taken the initiative to install water treatment facilities at the cost of 176 million birr.

    Even though Heineken is conducting its waste disposal by the book, the discharge emits foul odor, leading to complaints by the community. The factory argues that the discharge is absolutely harmless, but will take measures to deal with the stench.  Apart from its brewery in Addis, Heineken has also installed treatment facilities at its branches in Harar and Bedele.

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    A puny USD 1.4 billion in 7 months

    The decline in the export trade shows a continuous nose diving performance, worsening an already lop-sided trade balance of the country that has never shown any sign of change since this government came into power.

    The seven-month report The Reporter obtained from the Ministry of Trade reveals that the performance is way below the target set for the period of time. Accordingly, it was planned to generate USD 2.48 billion in export revenue during the current fiscal year, but the result fell far short at only 1.4 billion dollars, showing a deficit of 57 percent. A shortfall of USD 37.5 million in export revenue has been seen compared to the same period last year.

    Based on the analysis of the ministry, commodities that have shown a 50 percent or lower performance rates include leather and leather goods, textile and apparel, gold, meat and live animals, among others.

    Coffee, the major export commodity of the country, has seen a weak performance this year as well.  During the seven-month period, coffee was able to fetch USD 360.8 million from the export of 96.6 thousand tons, even though the target was for USD 384 million.

    Last year, during a seven-month period, 100.4 thousand tons of coffee was exported, generating USD 346 million in hard currency. Hence, a 3.7 thousand ton decline has been witnessed despite a USD 14.6 million increase from this year’s export.

    The reason for the declining performance of the export sector, according to some with insider information, was the state of emergency decree enacted last October. According to reports, it has become difficult for the government to control the illegal cross-border flow of commodities that should have been traded at the central market.  At a recent closed-door meeting the Ministry of Trade held with exporters, many raised concerns that exportable items were in short supply from the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX).

    The report the ministry issued indicates that for instance coffee has been facing market price dilemmas. Prices for purchasers of export commodities have been shown to be much lower than what the central commodity market had issued. The reason, according to the ministry, is that the country’s bumper yield of coffee harvest has made buyers to lower prices. Illicit cross-border trade as well as under-performing gold mines has been cited as causes for poor performance of the mining sector. In general, performance by agricultural commodities and manufactured items has shown a huge discrepancy from the targets.

    The trade balance the country has seen in the years since this government assumed power has been worsening due to the increasing mismatch and trade deficits. The import bills have been sharply increasing to a point where the government has become forced to ration and allocate hard currency based on sector prioritization. After years of resistance, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn admitted that the country is facing sizable shortage of hard currency. Most private banks remain unable to provide hard currency to their customers. 

    According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), back in 2016, the country’s external current account deficit was 10.7 percent of GDP.  “The current account deficit is estimated (as of July 2016) at about US$7.4 billion (10.7 percent of GDP), broadly unchanged in US dollars from last year. Export revenue stagnated as significant merchandise export volume growth (7.7 percent) was offset by sharp declines in  export prices (16 percent for coffee, 33 percent for oil seeds, and 6 percent for gold)”, reads a 2016 IMF report. Other documents show that since 2006, the balance of trade deficit in Ethiopia averaged at more than USD two billion dollars. But last year, the deficit was as high as USD 3.5 billion.

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