Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

Nile River row: Could it turn violent?

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The giggles started when the seventh journalist in a row said that his question was for Egypt’s water and irrigation minister, Mohamed Nasreddin Allam.

The non-Egyptian media gave him a bit of a hammering at last week’s talks in Addis Ababa for the nine countries that the Nile passes through.

Allam bared his teeth when a Kenyan journalist accused him of hiding behind “colonial-era treaties” giving his country the brunt of the river’s vital waters whether that hurt the poorer upstream countries or not.

“You obviously don’t know enough about this subject to be asking questions about it,” he snapped before later apologising to her with a kiss on the cheek.

Hotter in the long run?

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marathonEthiopia’s long-distance runners are among the best in the world, winning seven medals at last year’s Olympic Games. Generations of athletes have trained in the cool highlands of Asella but the weather there is changing, apparently as a result of climate change. There are now worries that this could have an impact on the country’s future runners.

For many young Ethiopians, this is where dreams are made. Internationally famous athletes like Haile Gebrselassie and Kenanisa Bekele have trained in these very parts.

Ethiopia elections: Can the EU effectively monitor?

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RTXNGVC_Compresize.jpgThe Ethiopian press corps put Thijs Berman, the EU’s chief observer for the country’s May 23rd elections, under some serious pressure at his first press conference since arriving last Wednesday – less than five weeks before the poll.

“Won’t you just rubberstamp a precooked election?” said one.

“How can you do your work with less than five weeks left?” another.

“You have 150 observers for 43,000 polling stations?!” a third.

Berman, a seasoned election monitor who has Afghanistan’s mess of a 2009 poll on his CV, took it all in his stride and even showed flashes of humour.

Where is Lemlem?

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lemlemresizeIt’s one of those photos. The type you can’t get out of your head. There’s just something about it that draws you in. You keep coming back to look again.

It could be because she’s beautiful. Dark brown eyes, gently rounded cheeks, bundles of black curls held atop her head by a carefully tied scarf, the start of a smile she’s trying to suppress, a smile you know will charm when set free.

Ethiopia Elections: Will the West be watching?

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When you work for a news organisation in a country like Ethiopia, people  often tell you “nobody cares” about the stories you report. What they mean, of  course, is that nobody in the West cares. Most of the time, they’re right.

But with Ethiopians about to hold national elections for the first time since a 2005 poll ended with a disputed result, about 200 protestors killed in the  streets by police and soldiers and opposition leaders jailed after Prime Minister Meles Zenawi accused them of trying to stage a revolution, there’s every reason for the public in the West to take notice.

Ethiopian plane crash should not sully success story

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lebanonWhen news of the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash broke this morning my heart sank at the thought of covering yet another negative story about Ethiopia.

It’s particularly galling for Ethiopians that the airline is one of the few international success stories for a country known mostly for famine and war.

How will Chinese culture influence Africa?

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chinaSo far, media coverage of China’s involvement in Africa has mostly been about investment. Stories of Chinese engineers in hard hats standing by roads up mountains in Ethiopia. Stories of Chinese farmers moving to Zambia. 

But, in a push to extent its economic reach, China is now making a very real effort to export its culture to the world’s poorest continent. Last year the Asian giant overtook the U.S. as Africa’s top trading partner, confirming to the West that it has a real battle on its hands to maintain its influence over African nations.

Africa-Asia ties flying high

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AFRICA-CHINA/RISKSInvestment from China and other Asian countries was an important factor in several years of unprecedented growth in Africa before the global downturn hit.

It is very much seen as a critical driver for Africa’s future growth prospects as well.

Should Africa scuttle Copenhagen deal?

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melesAfrica has known for a long time that it’s not going to get everything it wants from the Copenhagen climate talks. Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who is representing the continent in Denmark, has been managing expectations by saying so for more than six months now.

But that realism is tempered by increasingly tough words from a man who has already said European emissions may have caused his country’s infamous 1984 famine.

What now for Ethiopia’s “Aung San Suu Kyi”?

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ethiopiaThe first time I interviewed Birtukan Mideksa I was struck by how careful she was not to say the wrong thing. It was 2007 and we were standing in the garden of a community centre in the part of Addis Ababa where she was raised. She had just been released from prison and the locals — many of whom struggle to feed themselves — had each given about a dollar to throw her the party-cum-political rally we had just attended and to buy her an old Toyota Corolla car to help her back on her feet again.

Such was her care when talking to me that, after less than five minutes, I discreetly switched
off my recorder knowing the interview would never make a story, and continued the conversation only out of politeness and professional interest in Ethiopian politics.

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