Ethiopia, India come up roses as Kenya’s flower sector goes to seed

Addis Ababa, 6 January 2014 (WIC) - Kenya may lose its position as the world’s biggest horticultural exporter, in the wake of the rising cost of production, compliance bottlenecks and uncertainty over trade talks between the EAC and the European Union.

The Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest), the body charged with promoting investment in the country, says the horticultural sector, especially the cut flower business - which brings in the bulk of horticulture income - is facing threats which could complicate its current standing as the world’s leading source market. There are concerns that flower importers are shifting focus to Ethiopia and India, which have cheaper flowers than Kenya.

“Ethiopia could become more competitive than Kenya, while India could overtake Kenya in floriculture, if the challenges are not addressed,” said Moses Ikiara, KenInvest managing director.

Currently, India’s flower exports are about a tenth of Kenya’s. Data from the Horticultural Crops Development Authority (HCDA) shows that in 2012, Kenya’s flower exports stood at $503 million, a four per cent drop from $523 million in 2011.

Output increased marginally to 123,000 tonnes in 2012, from 121,000 tonnes the previous year. India exported flowers worth $59 million during 2011-12, a growth of 23.3 per cent from the previous year, with projections to double the revenue by 2015. Ethiopia’s horticulture industry earned $265.71 million during 2011/12, up from $224 million the previous year, a 19 per cent increase.

Flowers constituted the biggest share of horticultural revenue, earning $212.56 million in 2012, up from $178.3 million in 2010/11. In Kenya, production costs have gone up by more than 30 per cent over the past year; mainly on labour, power, fuel, chemicals, fertilizers and other inputs. The sector currently pays 41 different taxes and levies to various government bodies, including the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and the HCDA.

The cost of compliance is expected to go up with the new devolved system of government that proposes to introduce a cess on farm produce. (The East African)

Ethiopia aims to finish dam in 3 years

Addis Ababa, 4 January 2014 (WIC) - Project manager Semegnew Bekele described the mega-dam as a "flagship" project for Ethiopia, ultimately aimed at improving citizens' lives. Ethiopia hopes to finalize construction of its $4.7 billion hydroelectric dam project on the Nile River within three years, the director of the project said. "Implementation has been going according to schedule," project manager Semegnew Bekele told Anadolu Agency, noting that the dam would be 30 percent complete within a few months.

The Grand Renaissance Dam, which is being built in Ethiopia's Benishangul-Gumuz Regional State near the border with Sudan, will allow the country to generate 6,000 megawatts of electricity. Bekele described the mega-dam as a "flagship" project for Ethiopia, ultimately aimed at improving citizens' lives. "But not only Ethiopians will benefit from the project," he said.

The hydroelectric project can also benefit downstream countries, which had initially been worried about the project's anticipated impact on their share of Nile water, said Bekele. "It will prevent flood accidents from occurring each year in Sudan, help prevent silting up dams in Sudan and Egypt, and save significant amounts of water currently being wasted due to evaporation from dams in downstream states," he argued. What's more, he added, a portion of the electricity generated by the dam can be exported to neighboring countries.

Ethiopia's plans to build Africa's largest hydroelectric dam had raised fears in downstream Egypt and Sudan that the new dam would sharply reduce their share of Nile water, which for both countries represents the main source of water. In May of last year, Ethiopia diverted the flow of the river, raising alarm bells in Egypt.

A committee of experts from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan was drawn up in 2011 and tasked with assessing the dam's environmental, economic and social impact on downstream countries. A few days after Ethiopia diverted the river, the committee – which also included international experts – called for carrying out further studies on safety issues related to the dam's construction and their expected impact on Egypt and Sudan.

Ethiopia asserts that the new dam will benefit Egypt and Sudan, since the electricity generated by it will be available for purchase by the two countries. Salini, an Italian company, is responsible for civil work on the dam, while all hydro-mechanical and electro-mechanical work is being carried out by a local firm. Some of the project's costs are expected to be borne by citizens of Ethiopia in the form of bond purchases.

According to a document issued by Ethiopia's Foreign Ministry, the country has long been interested in exploring the possibility of building a major dam on the river. In 1927, Ethiopia reached an agreement with the J.G White Engineering Corporation of New York for a number of engineers and experts to visit Lake Tana and look into the feasibility of building a dam at the source of the Blue Nile.

Egypt and Sudan had initially based their objections to the dam on a colonial-era agreement that gives the two countries the lion's share of Nile water. However, in December, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir confirmed his country's support for the Ethiopian dam project, noting that Khartoum stood to benefit from the electricity thus generated.

It was the first time for al-Bashir to voice Sudan's official support for the dam. Ethiopia, for its part, insists the new dam poses no threat to Egypt's historic share of Nile water. (http://www.worldbulletin.net)

Authority fires 59 employees in relation to corruption

Addis Ababa, 3 January 2014 (WIC) - Ethiopian Customs and Revenue Authority announced the expulsion of 59 of its workers in connection to corruption.

The Authority stated that the workers were fired because they have illegally acquired wealth against Article 37 of the Authority’s charter that strongly forbids workers from corruptive means of accumulating wealth.

It is also indicated that five stages of evaluation and assessment were conducted on the workers expelled that have been working from lower to the rank of branch office administrative posts.

To fill the gap caused by the expelled workers, appropriate procedures are underway to recruit new workers, the Authority declares.

Dr Tedros hold talks with Chinese Special Representative

Addis Ababa 2 January 2014 (WIC) - Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom here Thursday held talks with Special Representative of the Chinese Government on African Affairs Ambassador Zhong Jianhua on current situation in South Sudan.

After the discussion, the Special Representative told journalists that his government is willing to support efforts exerted by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and Africa Union towards peaceful resolution of the current crisis in South Sudan. He said that China admired the role of Ethiopian government in keeping peace and security in East Africa.

The Representative expressed his government's belief that IGAD and AU play a key role in the negotiation between the two sides. The Foreign Minister during the occasion said the two parties should compromise their differences and work for the peaceful resolution of the crisis.

According to ENA, Dr Tedros expressed hope that the two parties will reach agreement on many issues, which he said will benefit the people of South Sudan, according to a high level official who attend the meeting.

Court sentences 18 - 21 years’ jail on 7 individuals accused of attacking foreign tourists

Addis Ababa: 2 January 2014 (WIC) - The Supreme Court of the Amhara Regional State sentenced 18 - 21 years’ jail and fine on 7 individuals and their backers for attacking and raiding four tourists who were visiting Abay River. An Australian was murdered during the attack.

The defendants, which are eight in number, are Ayanew Aregu, Anchalew Aregu, Sefiw Alemyayehu, Widinew Mitiku Estibel Tibebu, Tewachew Aregu, Lingerew Dese and Tesfaw Asmare.

Materials of the tourists have been put as exhibit, and the court has heard the allegations by Amhara Region Attorney and witnesses, and their defense. Finally, the individuals have been found guilty of attacking four tourists who were visiting Abay River, Afajna Villege, Dera District of South Gonder Zone on day December 28, 2005 E.C.

Accordingly, the court has sentenced 21 years’ jail on 1st defendant, 19 years’ on the 2nd, while sentenced 18 years’ jail each on the 4th and 5th defendants. Defendants number seven and eight have also been sentenced 1,500 Birr fine each for hiding weapons used for the attack in their houses.

According to FBC, the Supreme Court has ordered that materials of the tourists which cost 30,891 Birr would be given back to the tourists and family of the dead through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ethiopia earns over 633 mln US dollars foreign trade

Addis Ababa, 27 December 2013 (WIC) – Ethiopia has earned more 633 million US dollars revenue from foreign trade during the past five months, the Ministry of Trade said.

Public Relations and Communication Director with the Ministry, Amakele Yimam, told WIC that the stated sum was secured from the export of 287,210 tonnes of cash crops and 332, 485 tonnes of live animals.

The director said the revenue secured during the reported period has shown a 15.9 per cent decline compared to the same period the previous year. Coffee, live animals, cotton, natural gum, tea, cereals, oil seeds, spices, are among the products exported during the reported period, he said.

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