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  • Ethiopia’s star singer Teddy Afro makes plea for openness

    Teddy Afro, Ethiopia’s superstar singer, is topping the Billboard world albums chart with “Ethiopia,” which less than two weeks after its release has sold nearly 600,000 copies, a feat no other artist here has achieved.

    Known for the political statements he makes in his music, an infectious mix of reggae and Ethiopian pop, the 40-year-old Tewodros Kassahun told The Associated Press that raising political issues should not be a sin.

    Open debate “should be encouraged,” he said. “No one can be outside the influence of politics and political decisions.”

    Ethiopia is an unlikely place for an outspoken singer to thrive. The government is accused of being heavy-handed on opposing voices.

    During a visit this month, U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein expressed concern about the state of emergency imposed in October after months of deadly anti-government protests demanding wider freedoms. Opposition and human rights groups blame security forces for hundreds of deaths, but the government says they largely used “proportionate” measures.

    The human rights chief also criticized Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism laws, saying an “excessively broad” definition of terrorism may be misused against journalists and opposition members.

    In “Ethiopia,” the songs highlight the diversity of the country’s 100 million people while encouraging national unity. Pointing to Ethiopia’s formative role in launching the African Union continental body in 1963, Teddy said his country should find more cohesiveness at home.

    “A country that tried to bring Africans together is now unable to have a unified force and voice,” he said. “The tendency nowadays here in Ethiopia is to mobilize in ethnic lines, not ideas.”

    In his new album, Teddy sings mainly in Amharic but incorporates other local languages, which has been well-received by Ethiopians as a call for national unity.

    At the same time, some of his songs have been interpreted as carrying political messages against Ethiopia’s ruling elites, leading some fans to say his outspokenness has made him a target.

    In 2008, the singer was sentenced to two years in prison for a hit-and-run manslaughter but was released after 18 months in jail. He said he was never inside the car, and his fans suggested it was a politically motivated harassment by the ruling party. Hundreds of Ethiopians protested outside the court during his trial in the capital, Addis Ababa.

     

    Authorities also have frequently cancelled his concerts without explanation. “We have sustained a lot of damages. This is not right,” he said.

    Asked if he has any political ambitions, the singer said: “Let me continue doing what I’m doing now and we will see what the future holds for other things.”

    Source: AP

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  • Hedasse Grand Mall Avails Shares with Highest Promoters’ Fee

    Hedasse Automotive & Machinery Market S.C availed 2.99 million shares worth three billion Birr for public subscriptions to build a grand mall in Addis Ababa, whose exact location remains undisclosed.

    The company has also offered to charge potential subscribers of shares the highest, 17pc, as promoters’ fee, meant to cover administrative and promotional cost during the period of formation. If succeeded, promoters will raise over half a billion Birr in promoters fee.

    Most share companies floating initial public offerings (IPO) charge service charges of five percent to 10pc, thus making Hedasse’s the highest fee to date.

    Ahmedin Mohammed, one of the 11 promoters and president of the share company, says such high fees is crucial to cover “operational cost of the project.”

    From the fees collected from prospective shareholders, 15pc of it will be deducted for VAT, while six percent goes to corporate social responsibility and eight percent to service commission reserved to shareholders who bring others to buy shares, Ahmedin told Fortune.

    The company was initially founded two years ago by 30 individuals and currently has 215 shareholders. With par value of 1,000 Br, minimum number of shares up for subscriptions is 600 shares while the highest is at 2,400 shares.

    Hedasse started to sell shares on February 5, 2017, but it officially offered IPO on April 19, 2017, at the Sheraton Addis Hotel.

    The company aspires to work in three different industries; automotive market, manufacturing and a grand mall, which is hoped to incorporate no less than 5,000 stores, and claimed by promoters to be “the largest mall in Africa.”

    “We’ve been doing research, market analysis and the design of Hedasse grand mall for the past two years,” says Ahmedin, who is an importer of spare parts and machineries.

    Ahmedin is currently constructing a spare parts manufacturing plant worth 109 million Br in Qaliti, along Debrezeit Road. He is also among those who initiated the idea of importing 1,000 meter taxis.

    The new company intends to construct a three-storey grand mall on a 250,000sqm plot, accompanied by two four-star hotels, and four residential apartments. It will also have a parking space with the capacity of about 8,000 vehicles.

    Dereje Mekonnen, a general manager of the project, states that different international construction companies have shown interest to take part in the project. He also compares the grand mall with Mall of Africa located in Waterfall city, South Africa, which lies on 550,000sqm and has 2,500 shops.

    “We hope to be dubbed ‘the biggest mall in Africa,” Dereje said.

    The entire project will have two phases; the first phase will incorporate the shops and is expected to be finalized within three years and will be able to create permanent job opportunities for about 35,000 citizens, promoters say. Phase two will converge on the construction of the apartments and the hotels, according to Anemaw Abera, media and promotion manager for the company.

    Hedasse is in the process of acquiring the land for a lower rate, negotiating on the fixed lease price with the city administration and is hoping to get one of the nine reserved areas for development in the city, according to Ahmedin.

    “Even if the location has not been acquired yet, it is not a concern for me as the investment we make is safe in a blocked account,” said Raiwa Mohammed, who bought shares in the company and runs a car decor shop around Sebara Babur area, in Gullele District.

    The company has opened such accounts with all the commercial banks operating in the market.

    An interested shareholder buying the lowest share makes nine percent initial payment of the shares wanted, together with 50pc of the promoters fee, before being registered as a shareholder.

    People close to the issue raise concerns of over ambition, particularly in relations to the ability of promoters to raise all the required capital. They relate the case of Addis Africa International Convention & Exhibition Center (AAICEC), which took over three years to sell the 300,000 shares it availed for public subscription, mainly due to the low interest from the public. AAICEC realised its plan after the involvment of the city administration which bought shares worth one billion Birr out of the total three billion Birr.

    “Hedasse will surely benefit if the government gets involved,” a consultant in project development told Fortune.

    Source: Addisfortune

     

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  • US Embassy Unhappy with Ethiopian Airlines Staffs, Spouses over Medical Bill

    The US Embassy in Addis Ababa is not happy with employees or spouses of the Ethiopian Airlines who travel to the United States, give birth while on visitors` visa and return home with outstanding hospital bills.

    The Embassy has served a notice to the management of the Airlines, urging its employees travelling to the United States to disclose to consular officers should they have received medical care while in the US previously. The Embassy has compiled a list of all the Airline`s staffs or their spouses who gave birth there, sources disclosed. It also threatened to deny them entry permanently should they provide information in falsehood upon application for renewal.

    “Obtaining a visitor visa to get medical care in the United States, including for childbirth, is allowed under United States law,” said a spokesperson for the US Embassy in Addis Abeba, in an email sent to Fortune, while declining to comment on the particular case in relations to the Ethiopian Airlines. “But, travellers are expected to pay for the medical care they get.”

    Anyone who applies for a visa must disclose the purpose of their travel clearly during visa interviews and should pay for a planned expense, including medical treatment, according to the Embassy.

    Mostly cabin crews, women employees, and spouses of employees of the national carrier obtain visas to the United States with the aim of delivering there and hoping to get an automatic American citizenship for their children.

    “We know such problems exist,” said a person close to the Ethiopian Airlines Employees Union. “It is very normal. To make a child an American citizen, we have seen many employees travel to the United States to give birth.”

    The management of the Airline declined to comment despite repeated efforts for a response.

    The notice to Airlines comes at a time when the American government has become stringent in issuing visa requests. A few months ago, the current US Administration banned entries from seven highly Muslim populated countries in the Middle East and Africa, after applying new security checks before granting visas to visitors. Trump`s Administration, whose decision with immigration is challenged in a court of law, blamed its predecessor of not properly screening people travelling to there.

    A diplomatic cable sent to all American embassies told consular offices to apply stricter security checks, according to a story in The Washington Post.

    An employee of the Airlines believes that getting a visa to the US has never been easy.

    “Unlike other embassies, the chances of acquiring a United States visa is unlikely,” said this employee who has worked in the Airlines for over seven years. “Now, with the existence of such problem, it will be severe.”

    However, the US Embassy in Addis Abeba granted more than 18,000 non-immigrant visas in 2016, up by 125pc from 2007, according to data from the Embassy. Last year, the United States issued over 10 million visas globally, according to the Bureau of Consular Offices, under the States Department. However, the Embassy in Addis Abeba issued 10,900 immigrant visas in 2016, while denial rate reaches between 40pc and 60pc, according to data from the Bureau.

    “Misleading a Consular Officer to get a permit can result in future visa denials and even a permanent ineligibility to get visas,” said the spokesperson.

    The Embassy told the Airline that if employees and their spouses provide truthful information on past deliveries and proper closure of outstanding bills, their applications for renewal will be treated according to the US immigration laws, sources disclosed. The Airlines` Human Resource Department has advised employees for caution.

    Source: Addisfortune

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  • Massive Face lift Occurs at DBE

    The Development Bank of Ethiopia (DBE), the state policy financier, has replaced four of its vice presidents effective as of May 2, 2017.

    Tadesse Hatiya, vice president of credit management, Teka Yibrah, vice president of corporate services, Almaz Tilahun, vice president of finance & banking management, Dereje Awgichew, vice president of project financing, are the VPs who lost their positions.

    The new vice presidents of the Bank who were assigned by Getahun Nana are Getachew Waqe Haileyesus Bekele, Hadush Gebreegziabher and Endalkachew Mihretu, assuming the posts of the outgoing VPs.

    Teshome Alemayehu will stay at his current position as VP of Lease Finance & Branch Operations.

    A new structure introduced after Getahun Nana became president of the Bank is the primary reason for the replacement of the VPs, according to a source close to the Bank.

    The fate of the outgoing VPs is not yet decided, the same source disclosed. But the letter given to the outgoing VPs reads they were removed from their post with acknowledgement.

    Source: Addisfortune

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