The Economist: Abiymania : Praise of the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed – 16 August

  • The Economist has published an article about the wave of ‘Abiymania’ in Ethiopia, where the new Prime Minister is being lauded for his role in striking a new peace deal with Eritrea.
  • The magazine cites a poll by WAAS International that found 90% of respondents had a favourable view of the Prime Minister. It reports that bookshop owners are in demand for more copies of his book ‘The Stirrup and the Throne’, a “meditation on leadership” which sold out weeks ago, and themed merchandise is being sold at rallies.
  • “Abiymania is also infecting Eritrea, with which Mr Abiy has just made peace. Eritrean women promise to name their first-born sons after him. A clothes shop in Asmara, the capital, has dedicated a fashion line to him. Some Christians believe he was sent by God. His name alludes to the Easter fasting season, they note, and he rose to power during Lent.”
  • However, perhaps the Abiymania trend is ending, as an attempt was made on Mr Abiy’s life at a rally in June. World Breastfeeding Week Observed – 20 August

  • All Africa has commented on a report on the benefits of breastfeeding produced by the World Health Organisation (WHO) earlier this month.
  • World Breastfeeding week was nationally celebrated in Eritrea from 1 to 7 August 2018. The main objective of the campaign was to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies. Dr Tesfay Solomon, involved in the campaign, emphasized the importance and the multiple benefits of breastfeeding for the mother, the child and society as a whole. He highlighted that 98% of Eritrean mothers breastfeed their children.
  • Various awareness activities were carried out throughout the six regions in the country, including health education on breastfeeding in all health facilities and informing all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding. Banners were displayed on streets of Asmara and key messages has been disseminating using all media. A breastfeeding general knowledge contest was organized for mothers and winners of the competition were given prizes. Ethio-Eritrea Relations and the challenges ahead – 21 August

  • With the election of Mr Abiy Ahmed as Prime Minister of Ethiopia in April this year, the governments of Eritrea and Ethiopia have agreed to normalize relations, ending two decades of hostilities between their governments.
  • In the renewed relations, the government in Addis Ababa needs to assign competent negotiators who can bargain with the more seasoned Eritrean leaders to ensure that Ethiopia gets fair trade agreement and stable long-term relations, so previous mistakes are not repeated. Ethiopian leaders would be wise to go step by step, rather than make comprehensive but rush decisions, and they should make sure that they are transparent with the public, so no measures are taken in their name and against them for political or other purposes.
  • Eritrea needs Ethiopia as much (if not more) as Ethiopia needs it. With a population of about eighteen times that of Eritrea, Ethiopia is extremely vital to the economic well-being of Eritrea. The absence of normalized trade with Ethiopia would put Eritrea at a severe economic disadvantage.
  • Another challenge the two nations will face is the issue of currency. Currently, one US Dollar exchanges for 27.30 Birr in Ethiopia and 15 Naqfa in Eritrea. Clearly, there is high discrepancy between the valuations of these two currencies. Whereas Ethiopia’s currency exchange is close to market rates, Eritrea’s exchange rate seems to be held very low artificially by the government. Danakali makes another big step in Eritrea – 22 August

  • Danakali is a company focused on the development of the Colluli Potash Project in Eritrea.
  • They have announced that the Eritrean Ministry of Land, Water and Environment has now accepted the finalised Social and Environmental Management Plans for the Colluli project.
  • Colluli is located in the Danakil Depression region of Eritrea and is approximately 230km by road south-east of the port of Massawa, which is Eritrea’s key import/export facility. The Danakil Depression is an emerging potash province, which commences in Eritrea and extends south across the border into Ethiopia.
  • The green light given by the Eritrean government marks a milestone for Danakali.
  • Danakali executive chairman Seamus Cornelius said: “We look forward to continuing our relationship with the government and local communities of Eritrea and achieving long-term economic, social and community benefits for the country and its people.” Eritrean teenager imprisoned for his evangelical faith – 22 August

  • Keep the Faith, a faith-based magazine published in the UK, ran an interview with an Eritrean teenager who was caught by police and sentenced to a military prison because he is an Evangelical Christian in Eritrea.
  • Appalling living conditions in prison became the teenager’s daily routine, with restricted access to safe water, military training and indoctrination about the ruling party, and regular beatings following poor accomplishment of chores or any attempts to flee.
  • The Eritrean teenager eventually fled Eritrea with the help of people smugglers. Fleeing the country is considered a crime. There have been reports of soldiers shooting to kill those trying to cross the border. Many migrants are left in the desert to starve, kidnapped for ransom, raped or killed and their organs harvested and sold for profit.
  • Eventually he reached a refugee camp where he was registered and allowed try to find a job and earn a living. For the past five years he has worked odd jobs while serving his refugee church. There are strong refugee churches in most expatriate communities.


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