Friday, November 27, 2009

Sir Bob Geldof for the first time in 25 years pays a 3-day visit in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region

From Sudan Tribune, by Tesfa-alem Tekle, Friday 27 November 2009:
Band Aid founder, Geldof back in Ethiopia
November 26, 2009 (MEKELLE) — Since his landmark visit 25 years ago for famine relief efforts, Irish rock star and activist, Bob Geldof for the first time pays a 3-day visit in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, one among worst-stricken region by the 1984’s devastating famine.

Yesterday, Sir Bob Geldof - Joined by Country’s UNICEF director, government officials and key humanitarian players, paid a visit in one of the then most affected village, Korom, where he was greeted by dozens of famine survivors, women, children and residents waving placards emblazoned: "No more deaths from hunger."

"It’s a miracle to come back after 25 years to this beautiful place and see you all in healthy shape" Geldof said to the crowd.

"What happened here deeply affected every human being outside of Ethiopia," he said adding "Nobody who was here 25 years ago doubted that you could rebuild your lives in the way you have now."

Geldof made a speech at a hospital site (under construction) funded by his Band Aid group, and other donors. Up on completion, the hospital is said to provide healthcare services to quarter a million people.

Few weeks ago, the Ethiopian government called for Nearly 160,000 tonnes of emergency food aid to feed 6.2 million of its 80 million people. The appeal was made on the 25th anniversary of the 1984 famine that killed an estimated one million people.

Following Ethiopia government’s appeal, a number of international Medias have related and compared the current drought situation with 1984’s disaster. But Ethiopian officials have reacted to the recent reports saying as incorrect and irresponsible reports.

In recent interview, Ethiopia’s state minister for agriculture and rural development told Sudan Tribune that the situation in Ethiopia was drought and not famine as stated in some media reports.

"There is definitely no famine in Ethiopia" Mitku Kassa, state agriculture and rural development minister said during the interview.

"What we are having is only the cause for famine, drought, and we have taken the current situation under control," the minister stressed.

However, Geldof’s visit is believed to be a witness to reveal the current humanitarian situation on ground and investigate the unfolding crises and challenges the horn of Africa’s country is facing to food-support itself and bring a long term development.

Following an Emergency aid call from Ethiopia, the international aid agency, Oxfam has called for a radical shake-up of aid system to break up the cycle of hunger in Ethiopia.

Oxfam argued that constant food flow from the West is failing to help starving Africans cope with ever-more frequent droughts and Called for a radical shake-up in the way the world tackled food crises

"No longer should we be chasing each drought with food; we should be acting before the next drought comes”. Oxfam statement said in October.

Instead, donors should support programs including weather early warning systems, improved roads, food and medicine stockpiles, cheaper than responding under the stress of urgent appeals, and irrigation schemes.

Sending such food aid "does save lives", Oxfam said. But it is a "knee-jerk reaction" and "the dominance of this approach fails to offer long-term solutions which would break these cyclical and chronic crises".

"Donors need to shift their approach, and help to give communities the tools to tackle disasters before they strike," said Penny Lawrence, Oxfam’s international director.

Geldof is widely recognized for his activism, especially in anti-poverty efforts concerning Africa

In 1984; he founded the charity super group Band Aid to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia.

In total more than 150 million pounds were raised then, largest international appeal until the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. (ST)

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Signing of MoU between African Union (AU) and the government of Germany

Signing of MoU between African Union (AU) and the government of Germany
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, November 18, 2009/APO
Invitation to a press conference for the Signing of MoU between African Union (AU) and the government of Germany

Where: AU headquarters, Media Center

When: Wednesday, 18 November 2009 at 3:30pm

Why: The AU will hold a meeting and signs an agreement with the Federal Republic of Germany on areas of development cooperation.

Who: The press conference will be addressed by the Deputy Chairperson of the AUC and the Deputy Director General for Economic Cooperation and development of the Government of Federal republic of Germany.

All media representatives are invited to attend the signing event and take part on the press conference.

SOURCE: African Union Commission (AUC)
Crossposted on Sudan Watch

Monday, November 16, 2009

IFJ deplores upsurge of attacks against journalists and media houses in Somalia

Radio Warsan and Jubba Radio in Baidoa are closed since 21 October 2009. Currently the compound of Radio Warsan is being occupied by the Al-Shabaab armed men.

From IFJ (MOGADISHU, Somalia) November 16, 2009/(APO):
IFJ deplores upsurge of attacks against journalists and media houses in Somalia
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned the upsurge of attacks against journalists and news media organisations in Somalia.

The IFJ condemns the grave press freedom violations that have been committed by Al-Shabaab extremist group in Kismayo, Baidoa, Bardhere and Mogadishu.

According to the IFJ’s Somalia affiliate, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), Al-Shabaab says there have been a number of oppressive edicts that the extremist group wants the media to implement. Radio Warsan and Jubba Radio in Baidoa are closed since 21 October 2009. Currently the compound of Radio Warsan is being occupied by the Al-Shabaab armed men.

The IFJ says these edicts are unacceptable and restrict the work of the media in Somalia. “We fully back the position of NUSOJ. These interventions are intolerable and have the effect of intimidating independent journalism,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary.

Six journalists in Kismayo were forced to flee their town after they received from Shabaab threats ranging from arrest to expulsion working independently and reporting what is going in Kismayu.

A number of media houses in Mogadishu and Bardhere have been intimidated by Shabaab. There have been statements from politicians and diplomats saying the media in Somalia was “influenced” and is thus “compromised” by Shabaab.

“Our Somali colleagues and their media houses are doing everything they can to operate in line with their profession in the face of deadly violence,” said White. “We will give them full support against this deplorable intimidation.”

For more information contact the IFJ at +221 33 867 95 87
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 123 countries worldwide

SOURCE : International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

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Mo Ibrahim's mobile revolution - 'Africa must think big to thrive'

From BBC News 20:14 GMT, Sunday, 15 November 2009:
'Africa must think big to thrive'
Mo Ibrahim

Mo Ibrahim was speaking at a two-day forum in Dar es Salaam

Many African states are too small to continue to exist independently, Sudan-born magnate Mo Ibrahim has told a conference in Tanzania.

Mr Ibrahim said the idea that 53 small African countries thought they could compete with China, India, Europe and the US was a "fallacy".

Trade within Africa accounts for just 4-5% of the continent's international trade, something that is "not viable".

The tycoon said Africa "needs scale" to compete with the big economic players.

"We need scale and we need that now - not tomorrow, the next year or the year after."

The BBC's Peter Greste in Nairobi says Mr Ibrahim was referring to economic integration rather than political unification.

Mo Ibrahim's mobile revolution

Speaking to an audience that included Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, Mr Ibrahim said Africans were poor, hungry and going without.

"Something is drastically wrong. I think we have the right to ask our leaders: are they really serious?" he said.

Mr Ibrahim surprised African leaders last month when the $5m (£2.9m) Ibrahim prize for good governance was withheld.

The prize is given to a democratically elected leader from sub-Saharan Africa who has served their term and left office.

South Africa's Thabo Mbeki and Ghana's John Kufuor had been among the favourites.
Sudan-born mobile phone entrepreneur
Moved to UK in 1974 to study
By 1983, director of BT Cellnet
Founded Mobile Systems International, which he sold to Marconi in 2000
Then set up Celtel, used by 25m Africans
2007: Started African leadership prize
2008: Named UK's most influential black person

African leadership prize withheld 
19 Oct 09 |  Africa
Mo Ibrahim's mobile revolution 
16 Oct 09 |  Africa
Botswana's Mogae wins $5m prize 
20 Oct 08 |  Africa
African governance 'is improving' 
06 Oct 08 |  Africa

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ethiopia rebels Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) 'capture towns'

Note, the reports could not be verified and Ethiopia has in the past dismissed rebel accounts of military gains.

From BBC News at 10:29 GMT, Saturday, 14 November 2009:
Ethiopia rebels 'capture towns'
Ethnic-Somali rebels in the south-east of Ethiopia say they have launched an offensive against government forces and captured several towns.

The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) said it began attacking on several fronts on Tuesday.

The separatists said a "significant number" of Ethiopian troops had been killed and their equipment captured.

The reports could not be verified and Ethiopia has in the past dismissed rebel accounts of military gains.

"The operation involved thousands of ONLF troops and resulted in two days of heavy fighting," an ONLF statement said.

The group added that its forces had been "warmly welcomed" in the towns it claimed to have captured - Obolka, Hamaro, Higlaaley, Yucub, Galadiid, Boodhaano and Gunogabo.

The ONLF, formed in 1984, is fighting for the independence of ethnic Somalis in the oil-rich Ogaden region.

It says the Somali-speaking population has been marginalised by Addis Ababa.

Fighting has escalated over the past two years following an ONLF attack on a Chinese-run oil exploration field.

More than 70 people died in the attack, including Ethiopian guards and Chinese workers.

Addis Ababa calls the rebels "terrorists" and has cut off all access to the region.

However, watchdogs have accused the Ethiopian government of human rights violations.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ethiopia inaugurates Africa’s first ever biggest power dam

From Sudan Tribune, Sunday 15 November 2009:
Ethiopia inaugurates Africa’s first ever biggest power dam
November 14, 2009 (TEKEZE) — Ethiopia today officially inaugurated Tekeze hydropower plant, whose 44 meter concrete Arch dam is biggest of its kind in African continent.

The new power plant which went functional as of today was inaugurated in the presence of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, other senior government officials, Ambassadors and invited guests.

In the inaugural ceremony, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zemawi said that the new power plant will contribute a major role to the ongoing efforts to speed up development in the country.

He added that his government will put its utmost efforts to speed up the completion of other hydropower projects under construction to alleviate power shortage.

The premier extended his condolences to families of the 47 workers including two Chinese, who died in different accidents during the six-year long construction period of the power project.

Tekeze hydro power plant is expected to ease the sever power shortage that hit the nation. It has a potential of generating 300 MW. Country’s power demand currently stands at 1600 MW.

Ethiopia’s electric and power corporation (EEPCO) on June 2002 signed an agreement with Chinese National Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Corporation for the construction.

The power project was entirely funded by the federal democratic government of Ethiopia.

The total project construction has cost the horn of African’s nation nearly 4 Billion Birr (about 360 million Dollars).

Land lock Ethiopia is a country with mainly high mountainous landscape which provides a vast hydroelectric potential up to an estimated 40, 000 MW.

After the current prime Minster Meles Zenawi led government came to power in 1991, it has made its top priority that of overcoming the environmental, financial and technical obstacles necessary for the implementation of several major hydroelectric developments.

Last week Ethiopia electric and Power Corporation announced that 3 among the 5 hydro power projects now under construction will go operational this year.

When Ethiopia’s hydro power projects go into completion, nation will begin power export to neighboring countries of Sudan, Djibouti and Kenya. (ST)

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Ethiopia discovers Gold deposit worth $ Billions

From Sudan Tribune, Saturday, 14 November 2009:
Ethiopia discovers Gold deposit worth $ Billions
November 13, 2009 (ADDIS ABABA) – Ethiopia’s ministry of mines and energy this week announced that it has discovered more than 40 tonns of gold deposit in two sites in the western parts of the country.

According to Ethiopia news agency, A British firm has found 23 tons of gold deposit at a local area known as Tulu-Kapi, some 450 Km west of the capital near the border to Sudan. While a Saudi company discovered 18 tonns of gold deposit at Lege-Dembi locality.

When extraction is began from the new mine sites, Ethiopia’s annual income from the sector is said to jump to 1.7 Billion US dollar a year from what it is now, only USD105 Million.

However this will cost Ethiopia 200 million dollars to extract and process it within a period of 5 to 10 years.

Currently there are some 44 companies engaged in gold exploration. Statistics by the national bank indicates that the nation has earned 450.5 million dollars from exports of some 48 tons of gold over the past 10 years.

Studies indicate that Ethiopia’s mineral resources still remain unexploited. Geological surveys indicate that there is an estimated 500 tonns of gold deposit across the horn of Africa’s nation. (ST)

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NEW PUBLICATION: Peace and Security Council Report - November 2009

Here is a copy of an email received
From: Security Council Report
Subject: Peace & Security Council Report
12 November 2009

Readers of Security Council Report may be interested to know of the recent launch in Addis Ababa of a similar publication designed to provide monthly information about the work of the AU Peace and Security Council. It is called the "Peace and Security Council Report" (To access the November 2009 edition you can click here).

Peace and Security Council Report is produced and published by the Addis Ababa office of the Institute for Security Studies of South Africa. Security Council Report has assisted ISS with the development of this concept and it is pleased that ISS has taken SCR's Monthly Forecast as a model. We are pleased to have been able to help.

You are able to subscribe to regularly receive the Peace and Securty Council Report by clicking here.

Further details may be obtained from the programme directly at:
Peace and Security Council Report Programme
Institute for Security Studies
PO Box 2329
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Tel: +251-11-372-11-54
Fax: +251-11-372-59-54


Security Council Report
One Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza
885 Second Avenue at 48th Street, 31st Floor
New York NY 10017

Tel: 212.759.9429 • Fax: 212.759.4038
Cross-posted to Congo Watch and Uganda Watch and Sudan Watch and Kenya Watch.


Friday, November 13, 2009

IMPORTANT NEWS: Some Sudanese living abroad may vote in elections - Ten arrested for impersonating registration officials in Rumbek, Southern Sudan

Report by Sudan Radio Service, Thursday, November 12, 2009:
Some Sudanese Living Abroad May Vote in Elections
(Nairobi) - Sudanese living in Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Malaysia will now be able to register for the elections scheduled for 2010.

The National Election Commission had earlier exempted some countries from participating in the voter registration exercise which started on November 1.

The Sudanese Ambassador to Kenya, Majok Guandong, told Sudan Radio Service in Nairobi on Thursday that he had received a circular from the NEC instructing him to start the voter registration. exercise in Kenya.

[Majok Guandong]: “Yes it is true, the news came yesterday morning (Wednesday) that the NEC has allowed us to establish voter registration centers in Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Malaysia. So since yesterday we have been informing the Sudanese who are residing here, starting from tomorrow (Friday). The registration process will start at the Embassy and the GOSS liaison office. This is good news, because it is a constitutional right for the Sudanese to vote in the elections.”

Majok Guandong said that the registration period will be extended to compensate for the late start. He emphasized that the exercise will take 30 days, as required by NEC.

[Guandong]: “If we start tomorrow (Friday), we will be counting the days we have missed since the official start day, because it should be 30 days as scheduled. Secondly, all the documents are available at the Sudanese Embassy, and all Sudanese have the right. Since 1997, more than 5000 Sudanese have managed to get official documents, the passport, identity cards etc. The process is still on. So they have the right, if they need any official documents, there is no problem at all.”

Earlier, the deputy chairman of the NEC, Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, told Sudan Radio Service that NEC was only concentrating on the countries with large Sudanese populations.

The countrywide voter registration exercise is scheduled to finish at the end of November.
- - -

Report by Sudan Radio Service, Thursday, November 12, 2009:
Ten Arrested for Impersonating Registration Officials in Rumbek
(Rumbek) - Ten people posing as registration officers have been arrested in Rumbek, Lakes state.

The 10 are under police custody as investigations are going on. They are being held for registering voters, collecting people’s identification and convincing people not to register at the official registration centers set up by the state High Elections Commission.

Our correspondent in Rumbek, Mageng Wade, sent this report.

[Mageng Wade]: “These people said that they were being sent and given money by the NCP to come and register people locally in order to prevent them from registering for the elections next year. So that is the agenda behind the registration of people in their houses.”

Rumbek Central county commissioner Abraham Akol Bol also spoke to Sudan Radio Service.

[Abraham Akol] “They have been arrested by the police and they are now under police investigation and we have not yet received information from the police whether this group belongs to a political party. They were trying to register people and were telling them not to go to the registration centers because they had already been registered. They also took ID cards from the citizens, those who tried to register but the culprits were found by police and they are now under investigation.”

The deputy governor of Lakes state, David Ngok, said that the people are trying to sabotage both the voter registration exercise and the elections.

[David Ngok]: “If there are some people who are trying to sabotage the voter registration process then they are also sabotaging the elections. We will not tolerate this as the government because this is government policy and it’s part of the CPA and the constitution so we will not allow them to do it.”

The deputy governor of Lakes state, David Ngok, spoke to Sudan Radio Service on Thursday
Click on 'Election' label (here below at Sudan Watch) to read news report Nov. 10, 2009, entitled "SSDF to sue NEC for denying Sudanese in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia a chance to register as voters in the general elections"

Cross-posted to Sudan Watch and Kenya Watch and Uganda Watch and Egypt Watch and Congo Watch.
- - -

UPDATE: From Sudan Tribune by Ngor Arol Garang, Friday, Nov. 13, 2009:
National election board accepts additional countries for Sudanese Diasporas
November 12, 2009 (MALAKAL) — The National Election Commission (NEC) of Sudan today confirmed acceptance of additional countries to the previous list for registration and voting to enable Sudanese abroad to participate in the upcoming elections next year.

Following the publication of a list of countries comprised mostly the Golf countries where the members of the Sudanese Diaspora are from northern Sudan, the SPLM asked to take in consideration African countries where Southerners reside massively.

The initial list includes Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Sultanate of Oman, Bahrain, the UK, Belgium (for all Western Europe) and Washington, New York, Los Angles for the USA.

"We have allocated more registration and voting centers in Africa and Asia, said Abel Alier, NEC chairman at Malakal airport as he was en route to Khartoum after inspecting southern states voter registration centers.

Countries newly agreed upon for inclusion by the two parties in Africa includes Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa as well as and Malaysia, he said adding discussions are underway to add other neighboring countries.

Therefore, as commission, "we request Sudanese people residing in those countries to immediately establish contacts with the Sudanese embassies and other designated offices for registration," he emphasized.

Asked why being selective with countries hosting number of Sudanese people abroad to participate in the ongoing voter registration, he said, national election commission gets approval of countries to be included in the registration process from the presidency.

"The Presidency is the highest authority which decides on issues pertaining to country affairs such as voter registration," he commented expressing wishes all Sudanese people abroad open registration centers.

However, he was quick to say the Commission tries its best to ensure inclusion of more centers so that every Sudanese participates in the upcoming elections.

He said constitution allows participation of legally registered citizens to elect their leaders in the upcoming April 2010 elections.

"If you are not registered, it will be hard to vote for the person one sees as leader," he said adding voter registration remains opened to the last day of November 2009.

Alier also requested local authorities to give logistical supports to voter registration teams. He also acknowledged assistance being rendered by United Nation Mission in Sudan in transportation of voter registration materials and teams in where government supports is required.

"UNMIS is greatly supporting registration process in water zones and areas without good roads mostly in the southern part of the country and transitional areas," he stressed.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Meme: Joe Trippi's Eleven-Eleven 1111Campaign - America's and Britain's Veterans have given so much. Now, you can give back.

Joe Trippi, one of America's greatest bloggers, has launched Eleven Eleven Campaign. The objective of the Eleven Eleven Campaign is simple: to get 11 million Americans to donate $11 to support America’s Veterans. Here is a copy of Joe's latest tweet on Twitter:
Tomorrow is Veterans Day, and now is our moment to encourage our friends, family members and colleagues to join us...
33 minutes ago from Facebook
Eleven Eleven
Hey Joe! Britain's Veterans have given so much too!

Stand with 11 million Brits and Give £11 to Support Britain’s Vets!

Take Action Today
Click here to support Britain's Veterans
November 11, 2009

Britain's Veterans have given so much.  Now, you can give back.

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SSDF to sue NEC for denying Sudanese in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia a chance to register as voters in the general elections

From Sudan Radio Service, Tuesday, 10 November 2009:
SSDF to Sue NEC over Foreign Voters
(Khartoum) - The South Sudan Democratic Front Party says it will mobilize other political parties in southern Sudan to sue the National Elections Commission for denying Sudanese in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia a chance to register as voters in the general elections.

In an interview with Sudan Radio Service in Khartoum on Monday, the Chairman of SSDF Party, David de Chand, said it is against the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the National Elections Act to deny Sudanese living abroad a chance to exercise their rights to vote.

[David de Chand]: “Nowhere it is mentioned in the CPA that those in Nairobi, Kenya or Uganda and Ethiopia should not be allowed to vote. I think the right to vote is a democratic right guaranteed to every citizen by the constitution and it is an unalienable right to all people. We the political party leaders would also go to the NEC to challenge such a statement and they will have to prove to us beyond reasonable doubt. If not, we can file a case before the Constitutional Court to challenge such a statement. Why should southern Sudanese refugees in Kenya, Uganda and in Ethiopia be denied their legitimate right to be registered?”

De Chand said that if the National Elections Commission fears that non-Sudanese may register to vote as southern Sudanese, it should allow the United Nations to undertake the exercise abroad.

He urged southern Sudanese to register to vote in the elections next year because it is a step towards the possibility of self-determination offered by the 2011 referendum.
Cross-posted to Sudan Watch and Uganda Watch and Kenya Watch

Friday, November 06, 2009

US Secretary of State Clinton Remarks With Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin Before Their Meeting

Source: US Department of State
WASHINGTON, November 6, 2009/APO
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State

Treaty Room

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m very pleased to welcome the minister here. Ethiopia is a country with which we have very long ties, and have, in recent years, developed a very close working relationship on a number of important issues. And I’m looking forward to speaking both with the minister and his colleagues, who are here on a very important delegation to the United States.

FOREIGN MINISTER MESFIN: Well, Excellency, I’m very pleased to be here in Washington. Relations between Ethiopia and the United States are traditional and understanding. And I’m also confident and with full trust that my visit this time would be extremely fruitful in touching base on issues that are of crucial importance both to the United States and Africa and in Ethiopia.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, sir.

FOREIGN MINISTER MESFIN: Thank you. Thank you so much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much.

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FOCA: China, Africa hold summit to reinforce bilateral trade

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao can expect a warm welcome from Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak and finance and foreign ministers from 50 countries when the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCA) starts in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh on Sunday.

Ever-eager for raw materials and markets to sell its products, China has said the new meeting will lay down a “road map” to further boost cooperation between 2010 and 2012.

Direct Chinese investment in Africa leapt from $491 million in 2003 to $7.8 billion in 2008. Trade between the two has increased tenfold since the start of the decade.

Last year, China-Africa trade reached $106.8 billion - a rise of 45 percent in one year and on a par with with the United States, which estimated its two-way trade with sub-Saharan Africa at $104 billion for 2008.

Chinese imports from Africa last year were worth $56 billion, dominated by oil ($39 billion) and raw materials.

Its $56 billion of exports in 2008 consisted mainly of machinery, electrical goods, cars, motorbikes and bicycles.

FOCAC is held every three years and this will be the fourth since it started in 2000.

Source: AFP report via Saudi GazetteFriday 06 November 2009. Copy:
China, Africa hold summit to reinforce bilateral trade
CAIRO - Leaders from China and Africa start a three day summit on Sunday that will again throw the spotlight on Beijing’s strategic sweep for energy, minerals and political influence in the continent.

China has over the past decade paid for dams, power stations, football stadiums across Africa and scooped up copper, oil and other fuel for its breakneck economic expansion from Algeria to Zimbabwe.

It has invested billions of dollars while raising eyebrows in the United States and its allies by pursuing the hunt for oil and other resources in Sudan, Somalia and other nations that the West has shunned.

Many African leaders praise China however for not preaching about rights and corruption. So despite neo-colonialist qualms, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao can expect a warm welcome from Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak and finance and foreign ministers from 50 countries when the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation starts in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh on Sunday.

FOCAC is held every three years and this will be the fourth since it started in 2000.

Ever-eager for raw materials and markets to sell its products, China has said the new meeting will lay down a “road map” to further boost cooperation between 2010 and 2012.

Direct Chinese investment in Africa leapt from $491 million in 2003 to $7.8 billion in 2008. Trade between the two has increased tenfold since the start of the decade.

Last year, China-Africa trade reached $106.8 billion - a rise of 45 percent in one year and on a par with with the United States, which estimated its two-way trade with sub-Saharan Africa at $104 billion for 2008.

Chinese imports from Africa last year were worth $56 billion, dominated by oil ($39 billion) and raw materials.

Its $56 billion of exports in 2008 consisted mainly of machinery, electrical goods, cars, motorbikes and bicycles.

Some in the West have accuse China of worsening repression and human rights abuses in Africa by supporting countries such as Sudan and Zimbabwe.

US intelligence director Dennis Blair told a Congress committee in March that US agencies are keeping close tabs on China’s expanding influence in Africa, especially in oil-producing countries like Nigeria.
Cross-posted to:
China Tibet Watch
Congo Watch
Egypt Watch
Kenya Watch
Niger Watch
Sudan Watch
Uganda Watch
Africa Oil Watch

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AGI: Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative

AGI:  Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative

From The Office of Tony Blair
November 05, 2009
Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative to create development through good governance becomes charity
The Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative has become a registered UK charity after creating a unique 'hands-on' approach to development and poverty eradication over the past eighteen months.

The Charity Commission approved the application from this relatively new organisation, which is underpinned by the belief that good governance and sustainable development are key to poverty eradication in the long term.

Tony Blair, founder of the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI), said:

"I'm extremely proud of our excellent project teams who are working in partnership with the governments of Rwanda and Sierra Leone to reduce poverty and develop new opportunities for growth.

"It is a privilege to work with leaders as talented and as committed to their people as President Koroma and President Kagame who represent a new generation of leaders in Africa with a commitment to building a new future for their people.

"The developed world needs to keep up its commitment to Africa expressed at the 2005 G8 Summit in Gleneagles. But lasting change in Africa will only come in the end from African solutions. By building the capacity to create sustainable long-term development through good governance and providing high level advice, we have already started to help deliver that change.

"And it won't stop here. Whilst developing our work in Sierra Leone and Rwanda, we want to launch new projects with other countries, sharing our knowledge, experience and expertise. We want more countries to develop sustainably, paving the way to a prosperous future.

"This work has reinforced my optimism about Africa's future, as well as my conviction that governance and growth are the key ingredients to effectively reduce poverty across the continent."

Commenting on Tony Blair and the work of the Africa Governance Initiative, Ernest Koroma, President of Sierra Leone, said:

"Mr. Blair has demonstrated an enduring commitment to Sierra Leone and its people. The work comes at a critical stage in Sierra Leone's development. I believe together we have an opportunity to ensure that Sierra Leone puts in place the policies, people and institutions to achieve real and lasting change."

Commenting on the work of AGI, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda said:

"What I would like people to know is that the type of partnership we have with Tony Blair is totally different from the type of consultancy people are used to. We work in very strong partnerships whereby not only gaps are filled where they exist, but there's also the notion of transfer of skills, mentoring, actually doing things that are measurable such that over a period of time, we will be able to know what kind of impact was made."
Cross-posted to:
China Tibet Watch
Congo Watch
Egypt Watch
Kenya Watch
Niger Watch
Sudan Watch
Uganda Watch
Africa Oil Watch

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Ethiopia, Sudan joint expo Afri Print

From Sudan Tribune, November Wed 04, 2009:
Ethiopia, Sudan joint expo opens tomorrow
By Tesfa-alem Tekle, November Tue 03, 2009
(ADDIS ABABA) - An expo jointly organized by the Sudanese, expo team services Co. Ltd. and Ethiopia’s Prana promotion will be launched tomorrow for two days.

A joint statement gave by the Ethiopian culture and Tourism state minister and Sudanese embassy said that over 25 Ethiopian, Sudanese and Egyptian printing organizations will take part at the expo named as Afri Print.

The Expo which comprises printing, packaging and advertising is organized based on past agreement signed between Sudan and Ethiopia to enhance culture, tourism, trade and investment.

The expo is said to have an important role to enhance international business trade investment and markets among national and international companies in printing publishing paper production.

It will further contribute to the development and upgrading of the printing industry by transferring best experiences, introducing new technologies, enhancing foreign investment and building the capacity of local entrepreneurs.

The expo, first of its kind in Africa, is believed to pave a way for publishers and printing organizations in the sector, to engage in a direct cooperation.

The fast growing Multi-lateral Cooperation between Ethiopia and Sudan is benefiting the two neighboring people on various areas. Currently both countries have signed-agreements on culture, trade, investment, security and road projects, among others.
Ethiopia :


Ethiopia on brink of famine again as Midge Ure returns 25 years after Band Aid

Midge Ure returns to the Ethiopian villages he helped save 25 years ago with Band Aid only to find malnutrition is once again killing children.

From The Daily Telegraph
By Nick Meo in Ayub
Published: 31 Oct 2009
Ehiopia on brink of famine again as Midge Ure returns 25 years after Band Aid
Twenty-five years ago, the farmers of Ayub village were reduced to living skeletons with bloated stomachs, certain of death. When emergency food rations turned up - seemingly by miracle - they fell on them without ever being sure how they reached the remote mountain hamlets. What most assumed was the mercy of God was in fact the work of a softly-spoken Scottish pop star, a man who had never set foot in Ethiopia, but who helped organise one of the most remarkable acts of charity in British history.

This week Midge Ure, the lead singer of Ultravox and the producer and songwriter for Band Aid, returned to Ethiopia to visit the villages which had been swept by terrible famine in 1984. What he saw did not please him.

The crops were again withered - and once more, local children are dying because of drought and malnutrition.

"It is desperately sad to see hungry children in Ethiopia again," Ure, 56, told The Sunday Telegraph, as he toured an infant feeding centre where, in the past few weeks, four under-fives have died of diarrhoea and other hunger-related diseases.

Other babies were already painfully thin, and being fed on a vitamin-enhanced, sweet-tasting peanut paste called plumpy nut, which, it is hoped, will save their lives.

"Ethiopia has come a long way," he said. "At least children here have been caught in time and the images aren't like 1984, with mass deaths. But the fear is, if these people don't get more help, that's what we could see here again."

His trip, to mark 25 years since Band Aid, was planned months ago to show how life had got better in villages which were a once a byword for terrible poverty. Clinics and schools have been built, and a rudimentary system of modest welfare payments has been set up to give a modicum of security to the poorest, who always perish first in a famine.

But Ethiopia's rural population still depends on rain to grow crops, and now they have gone three years of drought in a row, just as they did during the early 1980s. As a result, villagers who survived 1984 and prayed it would never happen again are once more at famine's edge.

Back then, those with the strength to do so in Ayub village dragged themselves ten miles to a place called Korum, where they found an isolated feeding station.

Thousands were saved there - but for many of those already in the latter stages of starvation, it was too late. They died in droves. The horrific scenes of filth and death were recorded for a television broadcast by the BBC journalist Michael Buerk that shocked Britain and inspired an extraordinary relief effort.

"The bodies of my neighbours lay in their huts, with their families either dead, or too weak to bury them," said Shashe Fentau, 45, with a shudder of horror at the memory. We only survived then because of food aid.

"Now we have eaten all our stores and we are selling our cattle. It feels like the same thing is happening again. We are very scared. We have little to eat. In our village we know that hunger doesn't kill you quickly. It is slow to take effect."

Mrs Fentau, a mother of five, did not recognise the foreigner who turned up in her village last week with aid workers from Save the Children UK, asking questions about life and death in Ethiopia's highlands. She had no idea that Ure may well have saved her life a quarter of a century ago.

It was after watching the harrowing BBC broadcast that he and ex-Boomtown Rat Bob Geldof galvanised a group of pop stars to form Band Aid and produced the single "Do They Know it's Christmas?", which raised millions in famine relief donations.

The food they bought was sent to villages like Ayub, much of it hurled out of the backs of aircraft - the only way of getting it to mountain communities, which at that time had no proper roads.

Unlike 1984-85, when a million died, there are good roads now, while the Soviet-backed military regime has been replaced by a government which shows rather more interest in its peoples' survival. Yet Ethiopia remains the fifth poorest nation in the world, according to last year's World Bank GDP figures, and is once again at risk of mass starvation.

Ure arrived last week just as Ethiopia's government issued an urgent appeal for donors to feed 6.2 million hungry farmers and their families. The World Food Programme estimates that 125,000 metric tonnes of grain are needed, at a cost of £54 million, to fill the gaping hole in the nation's food supplies.

Aid groups fear the real number at risk may be more than double that - putting more than one in ten of Ethiopia's 80 million people at risk - because another 7.2 million depend on a government welfare scheme that is only intended to tide peasant farmers over for a hungry spell before the harvest. This year, the crops lie withered in the fields in much of the country, including Ayub village.

Dressed in a baseball cap and casual shirt, Ure looked more like an aid worker than the flamboyant rock star whose hit Vienna re-defined the New Romantic sound of the early 1980s. He visited without an entourage or PR executives, flew the 8-hour journey from London in economy class and stayed in a run-down hotel in the highlands with no hot water that cost £13 a night. He brought with him his 14-year-old daughter, Kitty, so she could see what life was like in an African village.

"I first came here in 1985 on a transport plane and stayed for 12 hours," he said. "I swore I would never return. I went to a feeding centre outside Addis Ababa for children who were supposed to be on the mend. Three babies had died that morning.
"It was full of skeletal children with extended bellies. It was horrifying - just too much to handle for a 29-year-old pop star."

But on this trip, he spent his time speaking to farmers, experts and officials, discussing crop yields, deforestation, rainfall patterns, and rural demography with a knowledge well beyond that of the average celebrity doing their bit for charity. One other star, who visited Africa on a private jet to promote a disease prevention campaign recently, was unaware that malaria was transferred to humans by mosquitoes.

Ayub village is typical of the Ethiopian highlands, with thatched, round mud-huts ringed by cactus and thorn hedges to keep out herds of long-horned oxen. The animals wander dirt tracks, kept in order by small boys with sticks who take them out to graze.

Groups of smiling schoolgirls with braided hair and patched clothes walk past on their way to the local school building - a sign of progress. Despite its tragic past, the region has become a tourist attraction, with backpackers drawn by its beautiful mountain landscapes.

Ayub took years to recover from the disaster of 1984; since then the population has doubled, as it has nationally. But that has forced farmers to divide their land into ever-smaller plots for their sons, and to cut down the surrounding forests for fuel, destroying a source of forage they had relied on at times of hardship.

The landscape is still surprisingly green; yet most farmers suffer real hardship because the rains did not fall at the right time for their crops.

"When the rains don't come, hope is lost," said Teshome Laile, a 48-year-old health expert with Save the Children.

"The government does care about the people, unlike the old regime, but they don't have enough resources, and the problem is big. Agriculture is not modernised, farmers are dependant on rainfall. So if rain doesn't fall, farmers are in trouble."

Mrs Fentau, a survivor of 1984, gestured at a sickly, thin crop of maize next to her hut, which had not received enough water to produce anything edible.

Ure admitted that the feeling of achievement he felt at visiting villages kept alive by Band Aid in the 1980s was tempered by the fear he could see in the eyes of farmers now.

"I think there is a good chance that a lot of people we have met survived years ago thanks to food paid for by Band Aid," he said. "They are alive because people in Britain simply bought a record.

"But these lands are still desperately poor. What could really change things here is long-term development, if money could be raised for that. Saving lives is newsworthy. Long-term development is boring."

Band Aid has raised £150 million since the record was released, and it still generates money every Christmas. Ure admits that it wasn't his finest song – the singer Morrissey, a critic of Band Aid who claimed the project was self-righteous, once described listening to it as "torture". Ure is more combative, however, over the claim that pop stars use charity work to promote their own careers.

"I do this kind of thing because I think it is important to try to help," he said. "You don't sell any more records by doing this, there is no ulterior motive. The charities ask celebrities to make these trips because they work in attracting public attention."

He added: "It did its job and has a place in many people's hearts. The money raised was a drop in the ocean really, but it still saved a lot of starving people. We made charity cool for a whole new audience – before Band Aid, giving had been a worthy thing, confined to do-gooders and Blue Peter."

Today, though, he is doubtful that its success can ever be repeated, partly because he believes rock stars no longer have the following or influence that they had in the early 1980s.

"I performed at the Live 8 concert in Edinburgh four years ago and the attitude was very different. People came for a concert, not for a cause."

"In 1984 there was something real and honest and genuine about what happened. People in Britain didn't want to see people in Africa starving to death. They wanted to help - and thanks to them there are thousands of people in Ethiopian villages who are alive today."

* Save the Children has launched an appeal to raise £20 million to feed hungry people affected by drought in Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya. To donate, go to or call 0207 0126400.

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Monday, November 02, 2009

Al-Shabab: Somali group with Al-Qaeda ties threatens Israel, Ethiopia, Ghana, Sudan, Uganda and Kenya

A militant Islamic group associated with al Qaeda has threatened to attack Israel, far from its normal base of operations in Somalia. CNN writes that Al-Shabab, which is fighting to control the east African country, accused Israel of “starting to destroy” the Al Aqsa mosque, where standoffs have recently been taking place between Israeli police and Palestinians.

The mosque is part of the complex that Jews called the Temple Mount and Muslims call Haram al-Sharif. The group also threatened other African nations on Friday, including Ethiopia, Ghana, Sudan, Uganda and Kenya.

Source: Monday 2 November 2009 - Somalia: Somali group with Al-Qaeda ties threatens Israel, Ethiopia, Ghana, Sudan, Uganda and Kenya
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Abu Mansur al-Amriki

(AFP photo) This still image provided by SITE, an organization which monitors Islamist websites, from a video entitled 'At Your Service Osama' released 20 Sep 2009, shows Abu Mansur al-Amriki (R) teaching mujahedeen small unit tactics

Source: Voice of America report by Alisha Ryu (Nairobi) 27 October 2009 - Uganda Tightens Security Following Al-Shabab Threat

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