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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Afar rebel leader says Ethiopian hostages safe

Check back with ETP for more news throughout the day

Also in the news:
[The IMF: Friend or Foe?] - [Ethiopia to assemble Ladas] - [Five killed in motar attacks in Mogadishu] - [WTO Member States Begin Grilling Ethiopia]

[S. Africa Asks Delay on Iran Sanctions] - [UK says to keep Zimbabwe pressure despite threats] - [Top Israeli diplomat shuns Norwegian envoy] - [Mexico Seizes $205.6M From Luxury House ] and more of today's top stories!

Holland Car plc will soon start building Ladas, car of choice for Addis Ababa cabbies, in Ethiopia. The company has signed a contract agreement with Lada Egypt on March 6, 2007 to assemble Lada '2107's. It is believed that some 5,000 Lada 1200s are currently operating as taxis in Ethiopia.(More on this below)



Petition to save Eng. Hailu Shawl’s eyesight which is deteriorating due to denial of medical access (Kinijit)


Afar rebel leader says Ethiopian hostages safe

"No-one has died, they are safe. They are our people - we are Ethiopians, they are Ethiopians," Mr Hamaddu said.

BBC - Nine Ethiopians kidnapped earlier this month in eastern Ethiopia are safe, the leader of a separatist group operating in the Afar region has said.
The Ethiopians were seized with five Europeans who were freed last week.

The head of the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front told AFP news agency they were being treated well.

Musa Ibrahim Hamaddu said his group was reassessing how to release them after the Ethiopian government described his group as terrorists.

The Afar region - one of the hottest, most remote places on earth - straddles the border of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Eritrea has denied Ethiopian claims that they were behind the kidnapping.(More...)

The IMF: Friend or Foe?


On March 17th, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released the 2007 Country Report for Ethiopia.

The findings of this report include a national economic “growth rate of almost 11 percent” (from 2003/3004-2005/2006), which has resulted in a “real per capita income increasing at the fastest rate in Ethiopia’s recent history” at 7 percent per annum over the same 3-year period (translating to $121 annual per capita income, according to ATLAS calculations).

Frankly, this comes as quite a surprise to me. While I do not have enough information to confidently assess their methods of data collection, I can assure you that such growth has yet to trickle down into the pockets of the poor (or even the middle class, for that matter), though the current rate of inflation is noticeably felt by all.

For those not living in this country (or, rather, any of us who have more than $121/year on which to survive!) this new GDP figure, while perhaps a statistical improvement from a decade ago, is nearly impossible to grasp in actual terms.

Let’s forget the math for a moment--a stroll through Shola market on a Saturday afternoon unfortunately proves a far more accurate indicator of current economic conditions than any official document.

Considering a friend struggling to feed her family on a monthly income of 400 birr (approximately $50/month) puts things sharply into perspective for me: one litre of oil now sells for 16 birr. A kilo of tomatos 4 birr, onions 3.5; oranges, sugar and coffee (unroasted) have become rare luxuries, at 6, 8 and 24-26/kilo, respectively.

A large loaf of bread sells for 2 birr and a month’s supply of teff flour (50 kilos for a small family of 5) has become unafforable at 250- 270 birr. 1.5 litres of bottled water sells for 4 birr and omo (washing powder) for around 24/kilo.(More...)

WTO Member States Begin Grilling Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s quest to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) has finally reached the clarification stage with Canada and the US being the first two countries to send questions on Ethiopia’s Memorandum of the Foreign Trade Regime.

On March 6, 2007 the two North American nations sent a four-page and 20-page clarification questionnaire regarding Ethiopia’s bid to join the (WTO).

The four-page Canadian document focuses on the service sector with specific attention given to the Ethiopian telecommunications industry. It asks for additional details on the individual responsibility and relationship between the Ethiopian Telecommunications Agency (ETA) and the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC).

The Canadian questionnaire requests clarification on the type of joint ventures permitted in the sector and asks whether ETC regulates the telecom sector in addition to granting issuance, renewals and cancellations.

For the time being, the Ethiopian telecom sector remains closed to private investment, something that is alien to its Canadian counterpart, where the telecom market is highly saturated and competitive.

The US also raised similar points about the telecom and service industries in its 20-page questionnaire, although its focus was more on economic policies and the agricultural sector.(More...)

Five killed in motar attacks in Mogadishu

At least five civilians including two children were killed and six others were wounded after unknown gunmen exchanged heavy artillery fire overnight with African Union (AU) peacekeeping soldiers guarding the seaport and the Presidential Palace in the restive Somali capital Mogadishu, residents and hospital officials said Tuesday.

"Three people in our neighborhood were instantly killed when a mortar shell hit a house," Yahya Omar, a resident of Mogadishu confirmed to Xinhua.

A senior nurse in Mogadishu who sought anonymity told Xinhua that two killed and four wounded people at his hospital in Mogadishu are all civilians caught in the crossfire.(More...)

Ethiopia to assemble Ladas

Andualem Sisay (Capital)

Holland Car plc, which is currently assembling DOCC, is to start building Ladas , which is the car of choice for Addis Ababa cabbies.

Engineer Tadesse Tessema, who owns half of Holland Car plc, told Capital that the company has signed a contract agreement with Lada Egypt on March 6, 2007 to assemble Lada 2107 in Ethiopia.

“I used to import used 1200 cc Ladas to Ethiopia from Europe,” says Tadesse. “But the company stopped manufacturing this model in 1987 so my first plan of assembling the same Lada in Ethiopia didn’t work. As a result, we decided to assemble Lada 2107, which has a 1600 cc engine.

With customized paintwork included , the company is planning to offer the Lada at a price of 98,000 birr. The current price of one imported 1200cc Lada, which has most likely been used for at least for 20 years, ranges from 70,000 to 75,000, according to Tadesse.

It is believed that some 5,000 Lada 1200s are currently operating as taxis in Ethiopia.Lada is a trademark of AutoVAZ, a Russian manufacturer with headquarters in Togliatti.

Today's Top Stories

-UK says to keep Zimbabwe pressure despite threats
-S. Africa Asks Delay on Iran Sanctions (South Africa Calls for 90-Day 'Time Out' on Sanctions Against Iran)
-U.S. approves visa for Ahmadinejad to speak at UN
-Top Israeli diplomat shuns Norwegian envoy(Israel’s foreign ministry cancelled all scheduled meetings on Tuesday with Norway’s deputy foreign minister, just a day after Norway became the first country in the world to recognize the new Palestinian unity government)
-Russia Starts Playing Hardball With Iran (Paper Reports Moscow Issues Ultimatum To Stop Enrichment)
-Mexico Seizes $205.6M From Luxury House
-Paying attention to not paying attention
-Singapore woman jailed for online dating scam