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  • Kifiya and MasterCard to partner in digital finance

    Four years after building the mechanism for a unified billing system for basic government services such as payment on electricity and water in ‘Lehulu’ in a pioneering private-public-partnership (PPP) Kifiya Financial Technology is teaming up with MasterCard to launch an ambitious plan to integrate and serve an ever-expanding Ethiopian diaspora in a digital driven way.

    This new partnership coincided with the digital Ethiopia conference that runs until tomorrow and where one of the key themes discussed was digital finance. Kifiya hopes the new partnership will produce an affordable and convenient way to serve international clients.

    At the conference, there was a concentrated discussion on an industry that is fast becoming fragmented that is being pushed by various players. The key theme was the need to develop the ecosystem in Ethiopia that connects various stakeholders in the digital payment space.

    Munir Duri of Kifiya and Lehulu was a moderator and hosted industry players such as Amaha Bekele of Deloitte and Peter Gichangi from Safaricom. The gathering heard the noted successes from the East African region specifically of Mpesa, the global renowned mobile payment platform in Kenya were explained. With individuals and the fintechs and financial institutions driving their own agenda, industry experts raised their concern around getting an oversight committee to drive the strategic direction the country should be driving.

    It was noted how cash is still the conventional method of payment in Ethiopia where 95 percent of the population still uses.

    The new partnership of Kifiya and MasterCard was one of the most talked about topic at the conference. Industry experts are challenging why the company is choosing to team up with one of the leading technology companies in the world, blocking banks that do not issue MasterCard cards from being players in the remittance industry now worth billions. Some are also voicing concern the need for an international clearing route, when Ethiopia has just launched a national switch in the country.

    “MasterCard and digital financial service provider Kifiya has partnered to introduce first of its kind consumer to business remittance to pay digital payment platform focusing on Africa with the first toll out in Ethiopia,” Kifiya said.

    However, while the company preached of cash-less society, it still only accepts cash as a payment.

    “Lehulu experience is not a success. Basically it has been done to facilitate and avoid queue in public institutions. But what were done was just the locations but the queue remained,” an observer at the conference told The Reporter. No technology has been introduced that have changed the clients’ experience.”

    Some are also questioning why banks and financial institutions such as Premier Switch Solutions (PSS) or Eth-Switch still not allowed to process utility payments. The new system is also authorizing Kifiya to partake in the remittance business that was once monopolized by banks and not any other private institutions.

    “The merchants are all required by the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority (ERCA) to have electronic cash register with internet connection, so a part of the infrastructure is already there,” an industry player told The Reporter. “Why don't we encourage added values creations to the merchants so that we can build our next financial ecosystem instead of going for specific agents? ERCA as main stakeholder should push for this type of innovation,” he said.

    “There will be changes coming to Lehulu and we will soon be accepting digital payment in three months,” Elfagid Aregahegne, digital payment manager at Kifiya, told The Reporter. “There has been a new eco-system allowing us to move forward with new method of payments.”

    “Customer adoption, development of telecom infrastructures and banks investment in technology which will allow Lehulu to move towards digital payment,” he said.

    Source: Reporter

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  • Civil Aviation Authority lays cornerstone for new HQ, aviation museum

    The regulatory organ of air transport industry in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA) on Thursday laid a cornerstone for a new headquarters building and aviation museum in its existing premise near the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. 

    The cornerstone was laid in the sidelines of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Meeting on Air Cargo Development in Africa held June 27-29 at the Addis Ababa UNECA Conference Hall.

    The Minister of Transport Ahmed Shide, State Minister of Public Enterprises, Getachew Mengiste, and    Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu (PhD), president of the ICAO Council laid the cornerstone for the construction of the new headquarters building and aviation museum. Former President of Ethiopia, Girma Woldegiorgis, former CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, Girma Wake, senior executives of ECAA and the Ethiopian Airports Enterprise and other prominent personalities of the Ethiopian aviation industry attended the cornerstone laying ceremony.

    The planned six storey building, which is estimated to cost some 400 million birr, will have offices, conference halls, aviation training school, aviation museum, sport and recreation centers. The design of the building was conducted by a local architectural firm K2N.

    More than 70 years ago, in 1944, when the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Entity was first established, it had only three full time employees, and was carrying out its duties from a small office in the Golf-club premises.

    Later on, as the duties and responsibilities of the entity increased and the organizational structure expanded, a need arose to transfer the headquarters to the Old Airport where Aviation Regulation, Air Navigation and Airport Services functions were undertaken for a long time.

    Construction of the existing ECAA building was completed in the mid-1970s. Director General of ECAA Wossenyeleh Hunegnaw (Col) said that presently the number of employees and specialized fields have increased so much that office space is becoming a critical problem.

    Though Ethiopia has a long history in the aviation world it does not have an aviation museum that depicts the long history of aviation development.   

    According to Wossenyeleh, aircraft technology was introduced in Ethiopia in 1935 with the assembly of the first aircraft registered as Ethiopia-One. The aircraft was looted by invading Italian fascist forces and it is still found on display at a museum in Rome.

    “We hope that when this new headquarters building is ready for service, it would restore Ethiopia-One to its rightful place besides solving the existing office space problems,” he said.

    Anmut Lemma, promotion and public relations manager with ECAA, told The Reporter that ECAA would soon float a tender to hire a contractor. Anmut said the construction would commence in two months’ time.

    ECAA manages the Ethiopian airspace, provides air navigation service, licenses airlines and aviation professionals, and inspects and certifies aircraft.      

    Source: Reporter

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  • Global warming brews big trouble in coffee birthplace Ethiopia

    Global warming is likely to wipe out half of the coffee growing area in Ethiopia, the birthplace of the bean, according to a groundbreaking new study. Rising temperatures have already damaged some special areas of origin, with these losses being likened to France losing one of its great wine regions.

    Ethiopia’s highlands also host a unique treasure trove of wild coffee varieties, meaning new flavour profiles and growing traits could be lost before having been discovered. However, the new research also reveals that if a massive programme of moving plantations up hillsides to cooler altitudes were feasible, coffee production could actually increase.

    Coffee vies with tea as the world’s favorite beverage and employs 100 million people worldwide in farming the beans alone. But climate change is coffee’s greatest long-term threat, killing plantations or reducing bean quality and allowing the deadly coffee leaf rust fungus to thrive. Without major action both in the coffee industry and in slashing greenhouse gas emissions, coffee is predicted to become more expensive and worse-tasting.

    The research combined climate-change computer modelling with detailed measurements of current ground conditions, gathered in fieldwork that covered a total distance of 30,000km within Ethiopia. It found that 40-60% of today’s coffee growing areas in Ethiopia would be unsuitable by the end of the century under a range of likely warming scenarios.

    But the study, published in the journal Nature Plants, also shows that major relocation programmes could preserve or even expand the country’s coffee-growing areas. “There is a pathway to resilience, even under climate change,” said Aaron Davis, at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew in the UK, who conducted the work with Ethiopian scientists. “But it is a hugely daunting task. Millions of farmers would have to change.”

    However, by 2040, such moves uphill will have reached the top of Ethiopia’s mountains. “It literally reaches the ceiling, because you don’t have any higher place to go,” Davis said.

    The impacts of global warming are already being seen as temperatures have been rising steadily in Ethiopia for decades. Farmers report a longer, more extreme dry season and more intense rain in the wet season, with good harvests much less frequent than in their parents and grandparents’ time.

    Read More: theguardian

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  • Ethiopian Wins Bombardier’s Airline Reliability Performance Award

    Africa’s largest airline group, Ethiopian Airlines, announced that it has won the 2016 Airline Reliability Performance Award, for the 6th year in a row.

     The Award recognizes operators of Bombardier CRJ Series regional jets and Q Series turboprops that have achieved the highest rates of dispatch reliability.
    CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, Tewolde GebreMariam said “In line with our continuous effort to provide our customers a seamless travel experience, Bombardier Q400 NextGen aircrafts has enabled us offer the best on board experience on our regional and domestic routes.”

     “Moreover, through our strategic partnerships with ASKY Airlines in Togo and Malawian Airlines in Malawi, the Q400 airliner has played a vital role in availing convenient connections, as well as increasing frequencies to support air travel growth in Africa and successfully create a missing link” he said.

     Ethiopian flies the Q-400 to 20 domestic destinations and regional routes such as Djibouti, Mombasa, Kilimanjaro, Dar-es-Salaam, Zanzibar, Entebbe, Kigali, Juba, Khartoum and Hargeisa.

     Ethiopian is multi award winning carrier and has recently been crowned as ‘African Airline of the Year 2017 Award’, ‘Cargo Airline Award for Network Development at Brussels’ in June and March respectively.

    Source: ENA

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