Friday, January 06, 2006

ION update: 01/06/06

Effective lobbying
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1163 07/01/2006

Thorleif Enger, the Norwegian boss of Yara International, one of the leading manufacturers of fertiliser in the world, showed his flair when he awarded a prize of $200,000 to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in August 2005 for his agricultural policy. In spite of the controversy this prize sparked off at the time, being awarded just when the Ethiopian regime was beginning to use clamp down hard on the opposition, Yara did not regret his decision. According to the North European humanitarian press agency Norwatch, this company has just won several contracts in Ethiopia. Following a call for tenders in December, Yara won contracts to supply fertilizer worth more than $14 million. An excellent rate of return on his investment.

Indians like roses
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1163 07/01/2006

The blooming horticulture sector in Ethiopia is not only attracting the attention of Dutch firms (ION 1162). Indian companies are also starting to gradually take root in Ethiopia where they can take advantage of a cost to transport their flowers to Europe that is 50 to 60% lower than from India. The first to sow its seeds was the firm Karuturi Networks owned by Ramakrishna Karuturi (ION 1112). After investing $8 million to develop the first phase of its project on a 50 hectare property at Holeta, near Addis Ababa, this company is now investing a further $6 million to double the area it cultivates. The Pune based firm Vikram Greentech also has its eye on Ethiopia. As for Pushpam Florabase Pvt, it is about to set up a 50 hectare horticulture plantation in Ethiopia. This firm’s project has awakened the interest of a London firm with which it has trade relations. In addition to the advantages in the cost of freight to Europe from Ethiopia, these Indian firms also intend to take advantage of the substantial aid the World Bank gives the horticulture sector in Ethiopia.

Asmara: Former opponent imprisoned
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1162 24/12/2005

A veteran of the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF, opposition), Taha Mohamed Nur, who lived in Rome for many years before backing the regime of President Issayas Afeworki at the beginning of the 1990s, has recently been imprisoned in Asmara. Nur is divorced from his Italian first wife with whom he has had two daughters, and has recently remarried an Eritrean. One of the founder members of the ELF in 1960, a member of its supreme council, he subsequently founded the Eritrean People’s Forces (EPF), later becoming a member of the national council of the ELF-United Organization (ELF-UO) and this organization’s spokesman in Europe. When Afeworki came to power in Asmara in 1990, Taha Mohamed Nur rallied behind him and took part in the committee in charge of preparing the referendum for self government in 1993. He was subsequently involved in preparing the draft constitution. No reason was given for his recent arrest and the authorities in Asmara have made no comment on this matter.