A Week in the Horn

17 Feb 2017



  • News in Brief
  • Ethiopia and Sweden hold political consultations
  • Collective commitment in search of lasting peace is a necessity for South Sudan
  • UNSC open debate on “protection of critical infrastructure from terrorist attacks”
  • Chinese investment continues to grow in Ethiopia
  • 15th African Fine Coffee Conference & Exhibition in Addis Ababa
  • The reality of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)
  • Uncovering the ill intent behind HRW’s article on Lake Turkana
  • Dr Richard Pankhurst, doyen of Ethiopian historians and scholars, has died




News in brief


Africa and the African Union

The United Nations Security Council held an open debate on the protection of critical infrastructure from terrorist attacks on Monday (February 13), unanimously adopting resolution 2341 (2017) to promote greater international cooperation on the issue. (See article)


The 15th African Fine Coffee Conference and Exhibition opened at the Millennium Hall in Addis Ababa on Wednesday (February 15). Organized by the African Fine Coffee Association under the theme: “Reshaping the African Coffee Industry for Productivity and Investment”, the event brought together more than 2,000 participants from countries all over Africa. (See article)


Ethiopia, along with Bangladesh, the United Kingdom and the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) co-hosted a side event on “Peacekeeping Operations in Complex Environments: the role of Mine Action in enabling mandate implementation on Wednesday (February 15) at the UNSC, in New York.



President Dr Mulatu Teshome praised the Ethiopian Defense Forces for their efforts in maintaining peace and security at home and in the Horn of Africa at the celebration of the fifth Defense Force Day held in Jigjiga, the capital of the Ethiopian Somali Regional State on Tuesday (February 14). The President awarded medals to the 4th battalion of the 13th Division for its efforts in fighting al-Shabaab in Somalia.


Eight new Ethiopian Ambassadors were formally appointed by President Dr Mulatu on Saturday (February 11): Redwan Hussein to Ireland; Zenebu Tadesse to Italy; Tolosa Shagi to Uganda; Tsegaye Berhe to Israel; Regassa Kefalew to Ghana; Taye Atseke-selassie to Egypt; Abdulaziz Ahmed to Kuwait and Girma Temesgen to Côte d’Ivoire. President Dr Mulatu urged the newly appointed ambassadors to work hard to deepen Ethiopia’s bilateral ties with the countries to which they are accredited.


Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, is attending the 53rd Munich Security Conference in Germany this week (February 17-19). Among key topics being discussed are Cyber, Health, Energy and Climate Security issues, Terrorism and Extremism, the war in Syria and the future of the European Security Order. Side-line discussions will cover the root causes of migration and economic cooperation as a new deal for Africa and “Building Security in Post-Conflict Country: Beyond ‘Guys and Guns ‘in Somalia.”


Ethiopia and Sweden held a political consultation on Tuesday (February 14). Ethiopia’s delegation was led by State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs Hirut Zemene and the Swedish delegation by Ambassador Mrs Anna Karin Enestrom, Director General for Political Affairs at the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs. (See article)


In a meeting held with State Minister, Mrs Hirut on Wednesday (February 15), the Vice President for The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Chris DeCardy, disclosed the foundation’s latest plans to increase cooperation with Ethiopia focusing on conservation of bio-diversity and smallholder agriculture.


State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Aklilu Hailemichael had a meeting with representatives of Globeleq on Friday (February 17, 2017), during which he appreciated the company’s ambition to boost power generation in Africa generally and in Ethiopia more particularly.


A Mozambique delegation led by Jose Condungua Pacheco, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, started an official visit to Ethiopia on Monday (February 13) during which the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding to enhance cooperation in agriculture, livestock and fishery. During his visit, Mr Pacheco met with Minister of Agriculture, Dr Eyasu Abaraha, visited Micro and Small-Scale Enterprises in Addis Ababa and visited a bio-farm in Holeta.


The 18th session of the Conference on Development of the Joint Sudanese-Ethiopian Borders opened in Mekelle, capital of Tigray, on Thursday (February 16). The two-day conference, held alternately in Sudan and Ethiopian, discussed issues pertaining to farming along the joint border areas, trade exchange and smuggling. Participants came from the Sudan states of Gadaref, Blue Nile, Sennar and Kassala, and from the Benishangul-Gumuz and Amhara Regional States in Ethiopia. Sudan and Ethiopia agreed in 2004 to demarcate their 1,600 km-long border and the two countries have been engaged more and more in joint economic projects particularly in the border areas for the benefit of people on both sides.


The Ethiopian Investment Commission says Ethiopia has managed to attract a number of anchor companies during the first six months of the current Ethiopian budget year (2016-2017) keeping up the flow of Foreign Direct investment. China is the leading country in terms of capital investment and engagement in manufacturing industry. (See article)


Nine countries, Bangladesh, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda, have committed themselves to halving preventable deaths of pregnant women and newborn children in their health facilities within the next 5 years. They will do this through a new Network for Improving Quality of Care for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health with the support of WHO, UNICEF and other partners.


The International Organization for Migration has announced it is building nearly 900 transitional shelters in the new Nguenyyiel camp for South Sudanese refugees in the Gambella Regional State. The camp was opened in September 2016 to accommodate 4,400 people; it currently hosts 27,620 refugees who have fled from South Sudan.


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs offered its deepest condolences on the passing of Dr Richard Pankhurst, the doyen of Ethiopianist scholars and historians, in his ninetieth year. (See article)


Europe’s largest hotel group AccorHotels (ACCP.PA), will open three hotels in Ethiopia by 2021, becoming the latest international chain to invest in the growing business and tourism sectors. The new hotels will add more than 520 rooms in the capital, Addis Ababa, the company said in a statement on Wednesday (February 15). AccorHotels operates in 21 African countries, employing more than 10,000 people at 94 hotels.



In a Presidential statement adopted on Friday (February 10), the UN Security Council congratulated President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and welcomed the political and security progress in Somalia.


President Mohamed Abdullahi met with a delegation of Arab ambassadors in Mogadishu on Saturday (February 11). He asked for help to tackle some of Somalia’s most pressing issues including drought relief, security and economic development.


President Mohamed Abdullahi, who will be inaugurated on February 22, underscored the importance of media freedom in promoting transparency and good governance. He said in a tweet on Sunday (February 12) that a free media was essential in bringing the nation to its feet and enhancing an open system of governance.


The African Union envoy in Somalia said on Wednesday (February 15) that Somalia would make tremendous progress under the new leadership formed following the drawn-out electoral process. Ambassador Madeira said President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed had already spelt out issues his government would prioritize including security, tackling corruption and promoting peace and stability.


The United Nations Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, Andrew Gilmour, on a visit to Kismayo this week urged AMISOM and Somalia forces to uphold the observance of human rights during upcoming joint military operations against al-Shabaab. Mr Gilmour met with Jubaland State President, Ahmed Mohamed Islam ‘Madobe’.


Britain’s envoy for the Horn of Africa has warned that hundreds of thousands of people in Somalia may die or be near death in May if immediate action isn’t taken to address the threat of famine. Mr Nicholas Kay told journalists on Wednesday (February 15) that Britain was “deeply concerned by the famine warning in Somalia.”


South Sudan

The UN Security Council, on February 11, issued a call for all parties to implement immediate cessation of hostilities. According to UNMISS, fighting has reached “worrying proportions” and this is affecting the urgent humanitarian assistance needed for those in desperate situations. (See article)


President Salva Kiir on Sunday (February 12) rejected claims that he and SPLA Chief of General Staff, General Paul Malong have turned the national army into a tribal institution. The former deputy chief of logistics General Thomas Cirillo resigned last week accusing President Kiir and SPLA chief of Staff General Paul Malong of undermining the national character of the army. An SPLA spokesperson this week accused General Cirillo of leaving in order to avoid a corruption investigation. He said 51 officers were being investigated over the disappearance of army food, fuels, lubricants and military equipment.


The International Organization for Migration appealed this week for $76m to provide assistance to displaced and conflict-affected populations across South Sudan in 2017. The IOM said at least 4.9 million people were facing severe food insecurity and 1.84 million were displaced internally, in addition to approximately 1.2 million who have fled to neighboring countries. IOM’s 2017 consolidated appeal highlights emergency humanitarian assistance for health, logistics, shelter, and water, sanitation and hygiene assistance, as well as camp coordination and camp management and mental health and psycho-social support programming.



Kuwait’s Army Chief of Staff, Lt. General Mohammad Khaled Al-Khodher, started a three-day visit to Sudan on Saturday (February 11) for talks on strengthening cooperation in training and exchange of experiences. He held talks with Defence Minister Awad Ibn Ouf, and attended the graduation ceremony for Kuwaiti officers from the Sudanese Military Academy. His visit followed a visit last week by the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Lt. General Hamad Mohammed Thani Al Rumaithi.




Ethiopia and Sweden hold political consultations


Ethiopia and Sweden held political consultations on Tuesday (February 14) at Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ethiopia’s high-level delegation was led by State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs Hirut Zemene and the Swedish delegation by Ambassador Mrs Anna Karin Enestrom, Director General for Political Affairs at the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs.


The political consultation between the two countries came after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in April last year, setting up a regular consultation to be held once in two years. The meeting this week was the first one since the signing of the Memorandum. The objective of these political consultations is to further enhance mutual understanding as well as underlining the importance of strengthening the already existing excellent and historic relationship, and underlining the cooperation of the two sides by exchanging view points on various bilateral and regional issues of mutual concern.


In fact, the major objective of this week’s encounter was to hold thorough discussions on issues to be tackled within the United Nations Security Council. Both Sweden and Ethiopia are currently non-permanent members of the Security Council. State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs Hirut acknowledged the excellent socio-economic and political ties between Ethiopia and Sweden. She also expressed her appreciation to the Swedish Government for the importance it attaches to strengthening its bilateral relations with Ethiopia, as demonstrated by its support for Ethiopia’s development undertakings. The State Minister also briefed the Ambassador on the overall domestic politics of Ethiopia, the continuous efforts exerted by the Government to create a vibrant society and the Government’s readiness to reform the political space. She stressed Ethiopia’s commitment to respect human rights and to establish good governance. Mrs Hirut also noted the government had allotted a big slice of its annual budget to education and to the building of the capacity of youth.


As far as the State of Emergency was concerned, the State Minister said this was designed with the aim of maintaining law and order in the country and to preserve national integrity. That is to say, she added, “it was implemented in full respect of fundamental human rights”. She also noted that this measure was taken with the intention of bringing a swift return to peace and stability as well as to encourage the country to embark on major political reform in response to people’s requests and in particular to the grievances and demands of the youth.


On the overall economic situation, Mrs Hirut explained the government’s efforts in the creation of large-scale youth employment through the construction of industrial parks and called for Sweden to support this initiative. She also emphasized the existence of an enabling environment for investors in Ethiopia and underlined Ethiopia’s potential in the areas of manufacturing and renewable energy. Indeed, in this regard she requested that the Government of Sweden support Ethiopia in the Power Africa Initiative. The State Minister also briefed the Swedish side on current regional peace and security issues and the role Ethiopia has been playing, particularly in Somalia and in South Sudan.


Ambassador Enestrom commended the outstanding socio-economic and political relations between Ethiopia and Sweden. She took note of the importance of expanding bilateral cooperation across a wide spectrum, including the need to deepen the existing political consultation, enhancing trade and investment ties, and boosting their partnership on climate change as well as working together in UN Security Council platforms. The Ambassador emphasized that the Government of Sweden recognized and valued the important contributions of Ethiopia towards regional and international peace and security.


In addition to the political consultation, the 70th Anniversary of the diplomatic relations of Ethiopia and Sweden was celebrated recently. One aspect of this was a long interview by the Ethiopian Herald with the Swedish Ambassador to Ethiopia, Ambassador Jan Sadek and the Minister Counsellor and Head of Development Cooperation, Annika Jayawardena. The Ambassador highlighted the long and outstanding relationship, describing Ethiopia as a gate way to Africa and recalling the repeated visits of his Prime Minister in one year: to attend AU summits and the Finance for Development Conference in Addis Ababa and, of course, to confer with Prime Minister Hailemariam. It was, he said, a witness of Ethiopia’s role in furthering Swedish-Africa relations. Ambassador Sadek commended Ethiopia’s strong commitment to ensuring peace in the Horn of Africa and its role in regional peace and security issues. He stressed that the Horn of Africa was one of the most unstable regions in the world, considering the historic situation of Somalia and the recent problems of South Sudan. Ethiopia had taken considerable responsibility for the security and stability of the region, with its military operating in Somalia both in AMISOM and outside it. He said “We understand the sacrifices made and [that] Ethiopian lives have been risked and lost.” On South Sudan, the Ambassador also recognized Ethiopia’s constructive role in the peace negotiations and the emerging relations between Sudan and South Sudan.


More generally, in terms of international peace and security engagement, the Ambassador recognized the position of Sweden and Ethiopia as non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. He said: “We are very proud to be in the Security Council and would like to thank Ethiopia for the support to our candidacy.” He noted that most UN Security Council agendas are set by realities on the ground, and he called for Ethiopia and Sweden to work in collaboration. He indicated that the two governments would shortly be discussing how to conduct work in the Security Council, adding that “Sweden really wants to be [a] voice for Africa in the Security Council”.


Referring to Swedish investment in Ethiopia, the Ambassador noted that Swedish businesses have been operating in Ethiopia for many decades, ever since the telephone company, Eriksson, came to Ethiopia 100 years ago. He expressed the growing interest of big Swedish companies to invest in Ethiopia, but added that smaller companies, many owned by members of the Ethiopian Diaspora in Sweden, were also moving to Ethiopia, bringing the skills, contacts and experiences they acquired in Sweden back to their native land.


Annika Jayawardena also noted that there was a strategy for Sweden’s development cooperation with Ethiopia for the period 2016-2020. She said that Sweden has increased its ambitions in the rule of law, social protection, renewable energy and sexual and reproductive health in the strategy. Sweden is one of the largest donors when it comes to climate change and green energy and at a global level, it is substantially involved in the green climate fund set up after the discussions and negotiations at Copenhagen. The Minister Counsellor noted that Sweden was one of the largest donors and that Ethiopia was accredited to the fund. Hopeful, she said, “Ethiopia will benefit a lot from this fund and this is one of the areas on which we can cooperate.” She noted that Sweden had recently signed an agreement with UNDP, Norway and Ethiopia’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change aimed at building the capacity of the ministry. This project would also work with business enterprises in ways of conserving the environment and forest and at the same time make money. Sweden would also like to work on political and economic inclusiveness and to support what the government wants to do in governance at regional and federal levels. Sweden’s civil society fund is directed towards peoples’ right to education and health in relation to the issues of children, women, and people with disabilities. It also has a mandate to start working on social protection for the most vulnerable groups, people who cannot work and who need support. Ms Jayawardena noted that as a donor, Sweden would like to work on humanitarian aid to save lives, but it was more concerned about long-term resilient issues, so that the country and the people would be able to be more prepared in the future.


Collective commitment in search of lasting peace is a necessity for South Sudan


Africa’s youngest nation, South Sudan, has been facing serious challenges since accusations between President Salva Kiir and the former Vice-President Riek Machar turned into a full-blown war in December 2013. The August 2015 Peace Agreement that formally ended this conflict finally brought Riek Machar back to Juba and swore him in as First Vice-President in a new Transitional Government of National Unity. The relative stability that this allowed collapsed, however, shortly afterwards and Machar fled from Juba in July last year. Fighting has continued. The result has been immense suffering for civilians. Besides many thousands of dead, the number of South Sudanese refugees in neighboring countries reached 1.2 million by February this year. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the majority of the refugees are being hosted by Uganda (about 698,000), followed by Ethiopia (about 342,000), Sudan (305,000), Kenya (89,000), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (68,000) and the Central African Republic (4,900). According to the UNHCR, almost half a million of the refugees fled to neighboring countries between September and December last year, that is an average of almost 4,100 a day, and of these Ethiopia took the lion’s share. More than 60% of the refugees are children, many arriving with alarming levels of malnutrition, an enduring demonstration of the devastating impact of the brutality of the ongoing conflict. In addition, there are 2.5 million internally displaced inside South Sudan. The UNHCR has called it one of the world’s worse displacement crises with immense suffering for civilians.


Since July, conflict and instability have continued and have even spread to areas previously unaffected. Last weekend, the UN Security Council strongly condemned the continued fighting across South Sudan, and particularly the most recent incidents in new areas in Equatoria and Upper Nile regions, and called on all parties to cease hostilities immediately. In a Press Statement issued on February 11, the Security Council expressed serious concern about the reports of killings of civilians, sexual and gender-based violence, destruction of homes, ethnic violence and looting of livestock and property. It urged the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) to take measures to ensure that those responsible for such attacks are held accountable. It expressed deep alarm that more than 84,000 individuals have fled South Sudan since the beginning of January and that many continued to be displaced internally. The Security Council stressed that there was no military solution to the conflict, and it therefore “welcomed the continued and collective commitment in the search for lasting peace, security and stability expressed by the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, and the UN” during the joint consultative meeting on South Sudan in Addis Ababa, on January 29.


The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), the body established by IGAD to monitor and oversee the mandate and tasks of the Transitional Government of National Unity, tasks which include the adherence of the parties to the agreed timelines and implementation schedule, also expressed its deep concern over the increasingly perilous situation in the country during its last plenary meeting in Juba. It drew particular attention to the recent fighting around Malakal and Renk as a blatant violation of the ceasefire. The Chairperson of JMEC, Festus Mogae, in his speech at the plenary session, also noted that since November 2016, the main highways into South Sudan from Uganda and Kenya remained extremely dangerous because of the high number of ambushes, killings, and robberies.


There is still continued and collective commitment from important actors in the peace process, the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the United Nations, in search of lasting peace for South Sudan. All have underlined that a political solution to the conflict is necessary and that this entails successful implementation of the 2015 Peace Agreement and full and credible inclusion of all parties and stakeholders in the political process. It also needs an effective implementation of an all-inclusive National Dialogue as proposed by Salva Kiir last December. The JMEC, since the beginning of the year, has repeatedly expressed the need to take advantage of this National Dialogue to reach out to the estranged parties to the Agreement, other armed groups, civil society and women’s groups, who have challenged the credibility of the TGoNU. For dialogue to have real meaning and effect, Festus Mogae said last weekend, it must include more than those who already agree with the Government and take account of all views and concerns. Mr Mogae also said “we must strive for the provision of all necessary cooperation by TGoNU with IGAD, the African Union Commission and the United Nations Security Council in implementing the various recommendations, resolutions and communiqués with respect to the implementation of the Agreement.”


It is also of critical importance that the call by the UN Security Council, on February 11, for immediate cessation of hostilities should be implemented. According to UNMISS’s most recent reports, the fighting has now reached “worrying proportions” and this is also affecting the urgent humanitarian assistance needed for those in desperate situations. In some areas, humanitarian workers have been evacuated and aid is not being provided. The Security Council has expressed its deep concern that UNMISS continues to face obstacles hindering its mandate to protect civilians and create conditions conducive to delivery of humanitarian assistance. In its latest statement, it reminded the Transitional Government of its commitment in September last year to permit freedom of movement of UNMISS. It also reiterated that targeting civilians may constitute war crimes and those involved could be subject to sanctions under UN Security Council, resolution 2206 (2015).


UNSC open debate on “protection of critical infrastructure from terrorist attacks”


The United Nations Security Council held an open debate on the protection of critical infrastructure from terrorist attacks this week on Monday (February 13). The Council also unanimously adopted resolution 2341 (2017) which, it is hoped, will contribute much to promoting greater international cooperation on the agenda item.


The debate took note of the proliferation of terrorist elements across the globe and the growing threats posed upon critical infrastructure such as banking and finance, telecommunications, emergency services, air, maritime and rail transportation, energy and water supply, among others. Attacks against such targets will obviously result in the death of civilians, destruction of property on a large scale, disruption of proper functioning of public services and widespread environmental impacts, as well as the weakening of national defense capabilities.


Accordingly, there has been an urgent need for UN Member States to ensure the highest level of protection of critical infrastructures and to buttress international efforts in enhancing resilience against terrorist threats elsewhere in the world, thereby preventing the loss of human lives, the destruction of property and the disruption of critical service facilities. The debate also offered opportunities to explore ways of improving the safety and security of infrastructure facilities, improving responsiveness and resilience in the face of growing threats of terrorism, ensuring a viable public-private partnerships in such score, developing and sharing of best practices on the protection of critical infrastructures amongst member states and implementing the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and other pertinent instruments at national, regional and international levels.


Ambassador Tekeda Alemu, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United Nations, underlined that the current agenda item has come to the fore against the backdrop of growing threats of terrorism and violent extremism, adding that the vulnerability of critical infrastructures to attacks by terrorists has been a source of great concern which, he said, is already taking its toll on the economy and security of states. He said the severe impacts of such attacks “on some of the infrastructures that we normally take for granted in our daily lives such as water, electricity, telecommunication and internet, transportation, banking and finance is too ghastly to contemplate.”


Ambassador Tekeda also emphasized the fact that terrorists and other criminals have now developed the capacity to launch coordinated and sophisticated attacks on critical infrastructures which, he said, included public institutions, private businesses, factories and industries, roads and bridges, shopping malls and sport centers, among others, while also noting that  terrorism has also began to pose real threats by way of disrupting computer systems and damaging telecommunication infrastructures. Dr Tekeda particularly said that in spite of the series of measures put in place to enhance aviation security, the airline industry continues to be the primary target of terrorists, further entailing the need to consolidate greater international cooperation in closing any loopholes that could potentially be exploited by terrorist groups.


While noting that the protection of critical infrastructure can be said to have been partly addressed by international treaties and conventions related to civil aviation, maritime security and nuclear weapons, Dr Tekeda however said, “there has not been any resolution dedicated to this issue and the resolution we adopted today will hopefully contribute to promoting greater international cooperation to effectively counter terrorist attacks against critical infrastructure”.


Touching upon the troubled Horn of Africa region and the real threats of terrorism in the sub-region, Ambassador Tekeda said, “All countries – big or small – are indeed vulnerable to these kinds of threats. As we are living in a volatile neighborhood, which is facing threats of terrorism and violent extremism, attacks against critical infrastructure by terrorists are not remote possibilities for us. They are real threats and they have already happened in our region.” Ethiopia, he said, had the firm belief that effective international cooperation would be instrumental for the protection, security and resilience of critical infrastructures.


Equally, he stressed the need to build national capacity to prevent and react to potential risks and threats on basic infrastructure facilities. In this regard, Dr Tekeda said the Counter Terrorism Committee (CTC) along with the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) and the UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) will have significant roles in ensuring a follow-up mechanism and helping member states build their capacity.


Other measures include the need to strive towards designing tailor-made programs on the protection of critical infrastructure by CTITF in line with the potential threats and risks they face, reactivating the CTITF Working Group on the Protection of Critical Infrastructure including Internet, Vulnerable Targets and Tourism Security will be instrumental in achieving this objective. He added the sharing of experiences and best practices between countries and regions could also go a long way in enhancing capacity and responsiveness to such threats and the United Nations in cooperation with regional and sub-regional organizations could possibly facilitate such platforms to enhance awareness and enable the exchange of valuable experiences on the protection of critical infrastructure. In such a score, Ambassador Tekeda welcomed the Secretary-General’s proposed initiative to better coordinate the now disparate and incoherent UN counter-terrorism efforts.


Chinese investment continues to grow in Ethiopia


Chinese investment in Ethiopia is picking up speed despite the current State of Emergency in Ethiopia. It has built on the continued wide-ranging cooperative relations between Ethiopia and China during the first six months of the current Ethiopian budget year. This is a result of an investment promotion strategy prioritizing the participation of ‘anchor’ companies in Ethiopia’s manufacturing sector. Their participation at a greater level, quality and substance in the manufacturing sector reinforces the vision, aspirations and needs of the country in its aims to enter the stage of an economic take-off and achieve economic modernization in the shortest possible time. Indeed, the growing presence of ‘anchor’ companies from China reflects the fact that the economic relationship gains momentum from the continued growth of mutual trust in governmental and political areas, and the frequent high-level exchanges, which are becoming a central element in Ethio-Chinese friendship and relationship.


The Commissioner for the Ethiopian Investment Agency, Fitsum Arega, said on Monday (February 13), that the presence of Chinese enterprises was growing in Ethiopia due to the country’s sound investment strategy, deployed to attract ‘anchor’ companies. This was in addition to the favorable investment opportunities given to these enterprises. This growing interest and presence of Chinese investment was the result of specific Ethiopian investment promotion activity over the last six-months of the budget year, giving special attention to attracting ‘anchor’ enterprises. This underlined the importance and value of the participation of ‘anchor’ companies in the manufacturing sector, the Commissioner emphasized.


The Commissioner also went on to specify that ten giant ‘anchor’ companies from the People’s Republic of China had recently decided to invest in Ethiopia. He welcomed the interest and commitment shown by these companies, noting that half of them were licensed in the textile and garment manufacturing industries. He added that the decision taken by these companies to invest in Ethiopia clearly showed that the country had continued to become a favorable investment destination for ‘anchor’ companies. This was as a result of the government’s investment promotion blueprint which concentrated on mainstream ‘anchor’ companies because of their huge contribution to the creation of more jobs and the sharing of mutual benefits.


Commissioner Fitsum said this investment promotion strategy would enable the country to attract further Foreign Direct Investment that could be changed into reality and benefit the country through job creation as well as revenue earnings. The strategic focus was now pivoted towards attracting ‘anchor’ companies, and was aimed at meeting the targets of both the companies and the country. The Commission, in adopting this strategy, had changed its way of doing business including altering its methods of attracting and licensing projects. Priority was now placed on those enterprises with a high profile. In addition to the new ways of doing business in terms of licensing, the strategy also prioritized attracting and licensing companies which were action-oriented and practical, with real results impacting the development infrastructure of the country. This has helped Ethiopia to attract 10 giant Chinese companies. Jiangsu Sunshine Group, one of these companies which has decided to invest in textile and garment manufacturing, is engaged in a wide range of areas – wool textiles and garments, biological pharmacy, real estate, energy, thermal electricity, IT industry, and other businesses in China and internationally. It has decided to invest in Ethiopia with close to US1 billion.


The peace and stability which continue to prevail in the country and its ongoing infrastructure development, trainable workforce with competitive wages and a fast-growing economy coupled with strong support from the government and favorable investment climate are the driving forces encouraging the companies to invest in Ethiopia. Commissioner Fitsum said all this meant that Ethiopia had still managed to attract projects worth US$1.2 billion during the first six months of the financial year, although this represented a fall over the previous six months. China was now the leading country investment in Ethiopia both in terms of capital and engagement in manufacturing industry, while India comes next during the first half year.


15th African Fine Coffee Conference and Exhibition in Addis Ababa

The 15th African Fine Coffee Conference and Exhibition opened at the Millennium Hall in Addis Ababa on Wednesday (February 15). Organized by African Fine Coffee Association under the theme: “Reshaping the African Coffee Industry for Productivity and Investment”, the event brought together more than 2,000 regional and international coffee roasters, traders, producers, professionals and connoisseurs from countries all over Africa and elsewhere. The African Fine Coffee Association emphasized that the event also showcased different varieties of coffee beans, raw and roasted coffees, fine coffee, coffee materials, coffee manufacturing services, coffee packaging materials and indeed anything that related to coffee. The three days of the Fine Coffee Conference and Exhibition is Africa’s largest coffee trade platform and it includes panel discussions, exhibitions of specialty coffees, and various sessions and discussions aimed at enhancing the sector in Africa and its competitiveness in the global market.


Opening the Conference, Ethiopia’s President, Dr Mulatu Teshome, noted that the 15th African Fine Coffee Conference and Exhibition would create a particularly good opportunity for Ethiopian coffee growers to promote their coffees, as the conference came as they were harvesting their beans. Referring to benefits of the conference, President Mulatu also said such a platform could make a significant contribution towards generating the revenues, which Ethiopia targeted from coffee. Coffee accounts for 26% of Ethiopia’s total export earnings, and the country aims to earn over US$2 billion a year from the export of over 300,000 tons by the end of the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP-II) in 2020. Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee. Currently, the total area covered by Arabica and other types of coffee in Ethiopia is around 400,000 hectares, and total coffee production is about 200,000 tonnes of clean coffee per year. Coffee, directly or indirectly affects the livelihoods of over 15 million people in the country, and coffee production, processing and export are a major element in Ethiopia’s agricultural activities, which still represents 45% of GDP, 85% of employment, and 90% of foreign exchange earnings.


The African Fine Coffee Association organizing the conference is a regional non-profit, non-political, member-driven association, representing the coffee sector in its member countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It plays an important role in the encouragement of the trade in coffee, which is the second most traded commodity in the global market after oil.


The reality of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)


Ethiopia commenced the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Abbay River, the Blue Nile, at Guba in the Benishangul Gumuz Regional State in 2011. The decision to build the Dam followed the signing of the Nile Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) a year earlier by the countries of the Nile Basin Initiative, set up in 1999. In addition to embodying the two cardinal principles of international water law, the principles of reasonable and equitable utilization and no significant harm, the CFA provided for an alternative to the former unfair colonial treaties and agreements concerning the Nile River. The Nile Basin Initiative and the Cooperative Framework Agreement between them encouraged the spirit of cooperation among the Nile Basin states, granting each and every country the right to fair shares of the water. GERD was one result of such enhanced cooperation.


GERD, with its intended 6,000MW of sustainable hydroelectric power, is an essential element in responding to Ethiopia’s expanding energy needs for its fast-growing economy, booming urbanization, increasing industrial development and establishment of industrial parks in different regions of the country. The attainment of the Millennium Development Goals was closely linked to access to energy; and there is no doubt that the Sustainable Development Goals can only be achieved if there is sufficient access to energy. Ethiopia is now engaged in a major expansion of its energy infrastructure to sustain its fast-growing economy, create jobs and meet the needs of its growing population by utilizing its available natural resources, among which is water. Ethiopia`s hydropower potential is estimated at about 45,000MW, two thirds lying in the Nile Basin. GERD is a part of the development of this potential. The construction of a hydropower dam on the Nile, in fact, is not a luxury but a necessity.


Since construction began, what the late Prime Minister Meles called ‘hydropower extremists’ have been working against Ethiopia’s hydropower development. Prominent among these has been the US-based advocacy organization, International Rivers. In its latest comment on GERD, International Rivers offers a typical misleading and inaccurate set of allegations, using false facts, and not bothering to carry out adequate research. It even begins with the absurd exaggeration that GERD threatens the Nile River, and thus “the source of life for about 300 million residents of Africa in 11 different countries.” This absurd fallacy (GERD can only directly affect three countries at most, of course) is followed by suggestions that Ethiopia’s claims that GERD is locally financed, will provide significant amounts of sustainable energy for Ethiopia and for export, and benefits are all myths.


International Rivers claims that in the absence of foreign funding for GERD, the government looked for “unethical means to raise funds”. It claims people have been coerced to buy bonds or lured” into participating into playing a lottery. They haven’t. International Rivers also argues that “self-finance” is very risky and one result is that the government can’t afford to exploit other renewable energy sources because of the cost of GERD. In fact, as any recent knowledge of Ethiopia underlines, the GERD has become a very real and prominent symbol of national pride, a flagship project for efforts of poverty alleviation and the renaissance of the country. It has significantly contributed to the sense of urgency surrounding energy development to respond to internal domestic demands. The real advantages of the GERD in response to the demand for electricity have encouraged citizens’ participation, through bond purchases and voluntary support. There has been no compulsion. GERD has, indeed, supported economic and political change at the national level over the last few years, key driving factors for development.


It is also worth noting that GERD has also provided some 10,000 job opportunities, and substantially expanded infrastructure in the region. The multiplier effects will continue. The reservoir is, for example, expected to produce more than 7,000 tons of fish every year, as well as allow for tourist development on a large scale. GERD’s site was carefully chosen to take advantage of a narrow and deep gorge located in one of the country`s less settled areas, and avoids the need for massive human resettlement or environmental consequences. Less than 3,500 households are being relocated to a similar area with provision of basic service facilities and infrastructure development previously lacking. They have given their full support to the project.


In terms of environmental issues, there is no sensitive habitat, national park, wildlife reserve, or National Forest Priority Area involved. To replace the small amount of woodland vegetation involved, an area of more than 2,000 sq.km. will be developed and protected. To avoid water quality problems, vegetation-clearing activity is being carried out as recommended by the International Panel of Experts. The clearance of vegetation that has been and is carried out prior to flooding will also minimize any production of carbon dioxide and methane. Far from contributing to climate change, GERD’s output will actually replace more than 10,000 tonnes of greenhouse from gas or coal power plants. Indeed, overall, the Government, underlining its commitment to environmental protection and conservation activities, has mobilized people at the local level to get involved in environmental conservation activities at a cost of 42 billion birr.


International Rivers claims that Ethiopia has shown no interest in other possible sources of energy, and that the cost of GERD makes this impossible anyway. This demonstrates either appalling ignorance or deliberate obfuscation. It is hardly a secret that Ethiopia possesses enormous potential for wind, geothermal and solar energy as well as hydropower, and it is putting a lot of effort into utilizing these sources. According to the Renewables 2016 Global Status Report (REN 21), Ethiopia is the 5th major investor in renewable energy in Africa. It has currently over half a million solar lighting systems and over four million installed clean cooking stoves. The International Finance Corporation told the World Future Energy Summit in January that it was currently preparing the first round of tenders concerning 200 MW to 250 MW of solar PV projects and anticipated reaching 500 MW. Last year, Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation signed an agreement for 500 MW of geothermal power from the Corbetti geothermal source and has negotiated with Reykjavik Geothermal to develop an additional 500 MW. These two agreements could generate sufficient geo-thermal power for up to two million households by 2018 and 2021. This will be the largest independent geothermal power production investment in Africa. In addition, in September 2014, the Icelandic International Development Agency (ICEIDA) signed a Partnership Agreement with Ethiopia for geothermal surface exploration and capacity building for geothermal development.


ICEIDA believes Ethiopia’s geothermal potential is at least 5,000 MW. The Government is also investing significantly in wind power, inaugurating the Ashedoga wind farm (120MW) in 2013, and Adama wind facility in 2015 (153 MW). It is now building another wind farm project near the border with Djibouti, for 300MW, and during this current Growth and Transformation Plan (2015-2020) it plans at least five further wind farms, and potentially many more, aiming to deliver up to 5,200 megawatts from wind power within four years at a cost of US$3.1 billion. Ethiopia has some of the best wind resources in the world and has a fully developed plan to reach around 7 GW of wind energy by 2030.


Similarly, at the domestic level, despite International Rivers’ disparaging, and inaccurate, remarks about the lack of power in rural areas, rural electrification across the country is one of the Government’s major foci to achieve the goals set under the Second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP-II). Currently, around 5,554 towns have been connected to electricity in the country.  During GTP II, using local, private investment and intentional cooperation, a total of 10,205 towns will be connected to the national grid, raising the current 54% rural access to electricity to 90%. A major element in this will, of course, be from the GERD whose output, together with other renewable energy development projects, will raise the country’s energy generation to 10,000 MW.


From the outset, Ethiopia has demonstrated that the benefits of GERD would accrue to downstream countries and the North-eastern African region as well as its own citizens. It based the construction of GERD on international standards and extensive environmental impact assessment as well as on the principles of equitable and reasonable utilization and of no significant harm. To enhance confidence and trust, Ethiopia called for an International Panel of Experts (IPoE) to review the project shortly after construction started to help resolve the concerns of Sudan and Egypt as well as ensure transparency. The Panel, with experts drawn from each country and four additional international figures, reviewed the project documents reported to the three governments in May 2013. Its conclusions found GERD was being constructed to international standards and would have benefits for all three countries. It recommended two further studies to provide for a Hydropower/Water resources modeling of the whole Eastern Nile system, and a further Socio-economic and Environmental impact assessment as well as specific suggestions for each country. Ethiopia made it quite clear from the very beginning it would accept all the Panel’s recommendations and it has already implemented those applicable to it. A series of meetings were held in Khartoum to discuss the two further studies. The three countries established a Tripartite National Committee with four members each, and this has now signed a contract with a French consulting firm, BRLi, to conduct the studies. Ethiopia has already committed itself to accepting and implementing the studies.


Studies by the Eastern Nile Technical Regional Office of the Nile Basin Initiative have confirmed that energy generation from the GERD will enhance regional and economic integration through power interconnectedness, regional cooperation, trust and confidence building. Regulated flows will allow a longer period of navigation on the Nile River downstream from the High Aswan Dam to the benefit of tourism in Egypt. Capacity loss due to sedimentation at the High Aswan Dam will be reduced and its evaporation losses significantly reduced. Indeed, overall loss from evaporation will decrease by 12%. GERD will provide increased flood control and any risk of the dams located in Sudan and Egypt overtopping would be eliminated. Total storage capacity along the Nile River will significantly increase in the long term and this will reduce the risks from hydrological variability. GERD will control the flow of the Blue Nile and reduce negative impacts on population and infrastructures in Sudan caused by recurrent floods. It will capture sediment and so protect irrigation canals and equipment from damage caused by sedimentation both in Sudan and Egypt. It will also improve the efficiency of Sudanese dams and water use and so increase their energy generation.


The GERD offers an impressive list of potential benefits, and these are all ignored by International Rivers in its determination to provide misinformation and disinformation in its “proxy campaign against Ethiopia”, and its efforts to disparage the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. It will not be successful. There is no doubt that GERD will play a catalyzing role in the 2063 African Union agenda of “Regional Integration” as Ethiopia shares the output with other basin countries. It is already providing the first power to Kenya, Sudan and Djibouti and building transmission lines; this in turn is encouraging people-to-people relations as well as expanding trade. International Rivers and its allied advocacy organizations should understand that if all the states of the Nile Basin act in the spirit of the two cardinal principles of customary international water law, that is equitable and reasonable utilization, and no significant harm, as Ethiopia does, then the Nile Basin Initiative and the Cooperative Framework Agreement will, inevitably, prove the opportunity for further cooperation and real and extensive regional development.


Uncovering the ill intent behind HRW’s article on Lake Turkana


Human Rights Watch (HRW) published an article this week, repeating its claims that the Gilgel Gibe III Dam and the ongoing plantations along the Omo River Valley were negatively affecting the water levels of Lake Turkana and the livelihood of people residing in the Omo River basin and around the Lake. HRW’s claims that the development of the dam and plantations in Ethiopia’s Lower Omo Valley threaten the livelihood of half a million people, a figure plucked out of the air, are based on incomplete information, misapplied or partial studies and manipulation of data. HRW alleges that the Gilgel Gibe III hydropower dam and the plantation projects in the Lower Omo have resulted in Lake Turkana’s water levels [dropping] by approximately 1.5 m since January 2015. It goes on to speculate, without any evidence that further reductions are likely, and it then claims that the further drop in lake levels that it predicts will seriously affect food supplies in the area. These comments are, as it notes, no more than mere speculation and it produces no evidence to support them.


It might be added that HRW, as usual in its comments on Ethiopia’s developmental approach, apparently deliberately, refuses to acknowledge any of the efforts Ethiopia, either independently or with Kenya, has made to mitigate any possibly negative impact from the developments in the Omo Valley or on Lake Turkana. HRW ignores the evidence from a whole series of other relevant studies conducted by dependable institutions, apparently on the grounds that these do not agree with HRW. In fact, with HRW allowing its determined dislike of Ethiopia’s development efforts to color its thinking, its comments are inaccurate, erroneous and seriously misleading.


Ethiopia, since the inception of the projects in the Lower Omo Valley, has taken great care to take any possible impact on Lake Turkana into consideration. It has conducted detailed feasibility study and Environmental Impact Assessments on the basis of both the requirements and guidelines of the Environmental Protection Authority of Ethiopia and of international Standards and policies. The documentation has included an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA); an ESIA Additional Study on Downstream Impact; the Gilgel Gibe III Impact on Lake Turkana; Public Consultation and Disclosure Plan; Relocation Action Plan (RAP); Environmental Management Plan; ESIA and RAP for Transmission Lines; and Archaeological Studies. The draft documents were reviewed by environmentalists, sociologists and other professionals and various organizations including the AfDB, USAID and the World Bank. The findings of these studies have been confirmed by other relevant studies conducted by other institutions, including the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and Studio Gally Ingegneria (SGI).


UNEP, using multi-source satellite-based data and a robust modeling approach, published a report on the Gilgel Gibe III dam in 2013. This report was specifically written to evaluate the hydrologic impact of the Gibe III Hydroelectric Dam on Lake Turkana water levels.


According to this detailed study, after the initial impoundment period, with the Gibe III dam moderating the flow, peak flows into the lake would be reduced and dry season flows increased, to produce a dam-moderated average flow rate of 640 cm3/s. This amounts to only 10 m3/s less than the average lake inflows without Gibe III. The study notes that Lake Turkana normally experiences seasonal variations in its water level of 1-1.5 meters over a year and has a long-term natural variability of between 5 and 10 meters. The drop in the water level claimed by HRW, of 1.5 m over a two-year period falls well within these normal variations.


Similarly, the study carried out by Studio Gally Ingegneria of Italy, during the Gilgel Gibe III reservoir’s first impounding, found that the level of Lake Turkana would be slowly reduced by no more than 1.5 meters. It also concluded that such a reduction would be temporary. It also fell within the 5-10 meter natural fluctuations of the lake as measured over the last 20 years. These studies, in fact, make it quite clear that there is no causal link between the current drop in water levels and developments in Ethiopia. They also show that the fall in water level is well within the normal, natural variation in lake levels.


The confirmation of Ethiopia’s own assessments by these reports was not enough for Ethiopia. As an additional safeguard measure, to make sure that developments did not, and do not, affect the livelihood of people living in the basin whether in Ethiopia or Kenya, it made sure that during the initial impounding period (from January to July 2015) the Dam released water at the rate of 25-50 m3/s. This was significantly higher than the environmental flow or the historical recorded natural minimum mean monthly flows of 25m3/s for March. Equally, in order to minimize and mitigate the impact of the Gilgel Gibe III Dam downstream, Middle Level Outlet structures were incorporated into the Dam to release an artificial flood of 1,000-1,200 m3/s from the dam and 1,600 m3/s at Lake Turkana.


The various studies and the additional measures taken by Ethiopia make it quite clear that the impact of the Gilgel Gibe III dam on Lake Turkana water levels fall within the natural variability of lake levels as observed since 1992. It might be added that other independent studies conducted by United States Geological Survey (USGS), Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) and SGI have shown the effects of climate change have had an impact on Lake Turkana long before the Government of Ethiopia launched the Gibe III Hydropower and Kuraz Sugar Projects. That was why the Governments of Ethiopia and Kenya, under the umbrella of United Nations Environment Program, launched their “Support to Sustainable Development in Lake Turkana and its River Basins: Environmental Assessment, Establishment of Management mechanism and Sustainable Livelihood” project, aimed at mitigating the impact of climate change on the livelihood of people living throughout the Omo Basin and Lake Turkana.


With respect to Lake Turkana itself, studies show the Gibe III Dam will dampen lake fluctuations and reduce them from 1.5 m to less than 0.5 m by releasing moderate water flows into the Lake. Any lake level variability caused by regulated inflows from the Dam after commissioning will fall within the natural variability of the lake. Gibe III plant regulation will reduce the annual oscillation of the water surface which will positively benefit the habitat with more regulated river flows and more stabilized lake levels. During the operating life of the Gibe III, the flow regulation will reduce the average seasonal oscillation from 1.0 m in natural condition to 0.3 in regulated condition. In recent years, annual loss due to evaporation over the lake has increased from an average of 2.2 m to 2.7 m, and over-the-lake rainfall has declined from an average rate of 6.5 to 4 mm/month by the end of 2009. The Dam will contribute to a sustainable flow and positive hydrological balance for Lake Turkana. The ESIA demonstrated that during the First Impounding that started in February 2015, the Lake Turkana level would gradually, and temporarily, reduce by only 1.5m, and this 1.5m drop is contained within the 5 -10m of natural fluctuations registered over the last 20 years. This would be gradually recovered from the reduced evaporation loss and the more regulated inflows to Lake Turkana. Evaporation from the Gibe III reservoir in comparison with the hot and arid climate of the lake region is negligible.


The benefits of the Gilgel Gibe III Dam include flow regulation and protection against unregulated catastrophic seasonal floods. The 2006 floods, for example, resulted in the death of hundreds of people and thousands of animals as well as the displacement of more than 15,000 people in Dasenech Woreda. Severe droughts in the mid-eighties caused famine throughout the Lower Omo region. Currently, the downstream river system has been suffering from extreme hydrological conditions characterized by extended drought periods resulting in minimum flows in the river system. The presence of the Dam, with two middle level outlets designed to allow the seasonal fluctuated flow to reach Lake Turkana but mitigating the impact of unchecked flood, allows for continuous and regulated flows to the downstream ecosystem system, reducing the negative impact of drought and over flooding. The Dam will also provide reliable and timely water supplies for flood recession cultivation, and prevent cultivation being washed-away by any sudden or irregular flood. It will allow for the development of sustainable development schemes, including fisheries, modern livestock production, and similar projects.


Ethiopia and Kenya have, of course, been in regular consultation over the Gilgel Gibe III Dam and related development schemes, working closely to resolve any and all concerns. A Kenyan delegation of fifteen water and environmental experts, for example, made a five-day working visit to Ethiopia in May 2009. Another group made a working visit in January 2015 at the invitation of the Ethiopian government. An Ethiopian delegation made a working visit to the Kenyan side of Lake Turkana in November last year. These technical expertise exchange visits are part of the ongoing measures by both countries to address any issues that arise in a sustainable manner, setting an excellent example in the management of transboundary concerns.


Dr Richard Pankhurst, doyen of Ethiopian historians and scholars, has died


Dr Richard Pankhurst, one of Ethiopia’s greatest friends and a leading scholar and historian of Ethiopia during his long and productive life, has passed away in his ninetieth year. A humanist as well as a great scholar and champion of Ethiopia’s history and people, he was known for the many books he authored, and the many students he mentored and taught. The son of Sylvia Pankhurst, herself a staunch supporter of Ethiopia’s struggle against Italy in the 1930s, Dr Pankhurst first came to Ethiopia over sixty-five years ago and devoted his life to Ethiopian studies. He played a critical and formative role in the establishment of Ethiopian studies as an academic discipline in the Haile Selassie University and in the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, and led the fight against the Italian and British governments to repatriate Ethiopia’s stolen heritage, being instrumental in the successful campaign to get the Axum Stelae back from Italy to Ethiopia.


Richard Pankhurst was born in London in 1927. He attended the London School of Economics, where he earned a BSc (Econ.) in Economic History and a PhD in Political Science. He was involved with his mother Sylvia Pankhurst in the campaign against the Fascist occupation of Ethiopia and participated with her in demonstrations, fundraising and campaigns, and assisted her with the editing of the newspaper New Times and Ethiopia News for over 20 years. As a young man, Richard was friends with many Ethiopian students and refugees in London and first visited Ethiopia with his mother Sylvia in 1950. After teaching Economic and Social History in the University of London Extra-Mural Department and conducting research at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research Richard settled in Ethiopia in 1956 with his mother Sylvia and his wife Rita and they edited the journal Ethiopia Observer from 1956 to 1974.


Richard Pankhurst taught for many years at the University College of Addis Ababa, later the Haile Selassie I University. He founded and became the first Director of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies (IES), and promoted the development of the associated library, museum and art gallery. In 1966 he convened the first International Conference of Ethiopian Studies to be held in Ethiopia. Heading the Institute’s research program, he was responsible for the development of the Institute’s Library and Museum. He was co-founder of the Journal of Ethiopian Studies and co-edited it for many years, 1956-74. He encouraged many young Ethiopian students and assisted them to carry on advanced studies abroad, some later became prominent scholars.


During this time, he embarked on his studies of Ethiopia’s economic and social history, writing a number of major works: an Introduction to the Economic History of Ethiopia (1961), State and Land in Ethiopian History (1965) and an Economic History of Ethiopia 1800-1935 (1968). In 1973, he was awarded the Haile Selassie I Prize for Ethiopian Studies. Leaving Ethiopia in 1976, he was appointed Research Fellow at the London School of Economics and at the School of Oriental and African Studies, and later became the Librarian of the Royal Asiatic Society. While in London he co-authored with Girma Selassie Asfaw, an important monograph on the Tax Documents and Inventories of Emperor Tewodros II (1855-1868) (1978), and published a two-volume History of Ethiopian Towns (1982, 1984). With his wife, Rita, he also convened the first International Conference of Ethiopian Art in London in 1986.


He returned to Addis Ababa in 1987, re-joining the Institute of Ethiopian Studies. Continuing his research, he published a Social History of Ethiopia (1990), A Medical History of Ethiopia (1990), and A History of the Ethiopian Borderlands (1997). Among his more popular works were, with Leila Ingrams, Ethiopia Engraved (1988) and with Denis Gérard, Ethiopia Photographed (1996). The Ethiopians: A History, was published in 1998. He wrote over 25 books and several hundred articles and essays. From the beginning of his career, he wrote in newspapers and magazines to create better awareness of Ethiopia’s historical and cultural issues and was a regular contributor to Addis Tribune and more recently Capital. Richard Pankhurst participated regularly at the International Conferences of Ethiopian Studies and co-edited many of the Proceedings. He also made numerous contributions to the Encyclopaedia Aethiopica.


He played a prominent role in the successful campaign for the return to Ethiopia from Italy of the Aksum Obelisk, and organized and became Vice-Chair of AFROMET, the Association for the Return of Magdala Ethiopian Treasures. He campaigned for the return of such artifacts as crosses and icons held in private collections and museum in the UK and was successful in obtaining the return of a number of treasures, most notably the Tabot of Medhane Alem.


For many years, he was active in the Society of Friends of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, SOFIES, of which he was sometime Chair, helping to raise funds for the museum collection, to purchase icons, paintings, crosses and artifacts at risk of being sold and taken abroad. He also campaigned for the establishment of a new library for the Institute. This is about to be completed. In 2004, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Addis Ababa University and the British Order of the British Empire, for his contributions to Ethiopian Studies. Three years later he received a silver miniature Aksum Obelisk from the readers and staff of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, to mark fifty years of service at the University. He wrote popular weekly articles on Ethiopian history and culture for Addis Tribune (1992-2005) contributed regularly to the quarterly the EAL flight magazine, Salamta, since its inception, and currently wrote fortnightly articles for Capital. His life and his work, together with his wife, Rita, were celebrated by the Institute of Ethiopian Studies and SOFIES in 2011with a Festschrift dedicated to Richard and Rita Pankhurst in the Journal of Ethiopian Studies (2007), XL, Nos. 1-2. In 2016, he received the Bikila Lifetime Achievement Award from the Ethiopian community in Canada. In 2016 his contribution to the return of the Aksum Obelisk, along with others, was recognized by President Dr Mulatu at a ceremony in the Jubilee Palace

Richard Pankhurst died on Thursday, February 16, 2017 at the age of 89. He is survived by his wife Rita with whom he lived for over 60 years, his son Alula and daughter Helen, and four grandchildren, Henok, Heleena, Laura and Alex. Foreign Minister, Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, offers his condolences and profound sympathy to the family, and all the friends and colleagues of a truly valued and treasured friend of Ethiopia.

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