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  • Genzebe Dibaba has won women's 3000m IAAF

    Ethiopian athlete Genzebe Dibaba has won women's 3000m IAAF Diamond League in Laussane, Switzerland.

    She finished the race 8:31.84. Kenyan Hellen Onsando Obiri took the second place, and othe Kenyan athlete Mercy Cherono took third place.

    Genzebe has 10 cumulative points in the league followed by Obiri who has 6 cumulative points.

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  • Hailemariam Desalegn Decries Use of Social Media to Spread Messages of Hate and Bigotry

     As much as social media offers a digital platform to improve exchange of information and enhance popular participation, its attendant negative impacts simply cannot be ignored, Hailemariam Dessalegn, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, told the United Nations General Assembly today.
    “In fact, we are seeing how misinformation could easily go viral via social media and mislead many people, especially the youth,” he said in his address to the annual general debate, adding: “Social media has certainly empowered populists and other extremists to exploit people’s genuine concerns and spread their message of hate and bigotry without any inhibition.”
    On other global challenges, he said international peace and stability is facing greater risks with the rise of geo-political tensions and the growing threats posed by “all shades” of terrorist groups. Moreover, the global economy has not yet rebounded from the financial crisis.
    Further, “it is critical to underline one critical matter which is usually given short shrift, both by the media and others. It is simply hypocritical to deny that some of our countries have been targets for destabilization activities carried out with no accountability by people and groups who have been given shelters by states with whom we have absolutely no problems,” he stressed.
    It is under these challenging circumstances that countries are striving to implement the new UN transformational agenda, including the Sustainable Development Goals, and, obviously, he said, there are no easy solutions to these complex issues. “The situation is much more pronounced specially for least developed countries like us which are making every possible effort to […] escape from the poverty trap.”
    “We believe our vision is right and we are determined to get there. Whatever challenges and shortcomings we may have, we don’t have difficulty owning up to them and we will make every- possible effort to deal with them in close consultation, cooperation and participation of our people,” Prime Minister Dessalegn said, noting that there is no better testimony for the resolve Ethiopia had shown in this regard than the way it had handled this past year’s devastating El-Nino.
    At the same time, he said Ethiopia could not simply “wish away” the challenges it is facing. Indeed, they need collective and coordinated responses “and we are always ready willing to continue to contribute positively in close partnership with others in our region and beyond in tackling these challenges.”
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  • Ethiopian Premier League (EPL) fixtures of the 2016/17

     The fixtures of the 2016/17 Ethiopian Premier League (EPL) season were announced on Thursday at Capital Hotel and Spa.
    The announcement ceremony and the drawing of lots were conducted in the presence of federation officials, representatives and managers of participating clubs and former players. Ahead of the announcement, the representatives deliberated on issues ranging from referees’ decisions to player transfers. They approved a different system for the upcoming premier league season. In that regard, the number of clubs that will be promoted to the premier league was decreased to 3, with winners of the super and leagues advancing along with a winner of the playoffs between the second placed teams.
    Elsewhere, clubs’ representatives raised their concerns regarding registration fee for clubs taking part in the league. The federation accepted the concern and said that it will reconsider the decision. The league is scheduled to start play on October 30, 2016 with the dates for fixtures to be announced in the near future.
    In the opening week reigning EPL champions St. George FC will entertain Arba Minch FC, while second-placed Ethiopian Coffee will play against Dedebit FC. In another match, third-placed Adama City FC will face Dire Dawa City FC.
    In the 2015/16 EPL season, the Horsemen were crown champions for a record 13 times. The Horsemen ended the league with 55 points, Ethiopia Coffee followed with 45, while Adama City and Dedebit managed to collect 44 and 39 points, respectively.
    Dedebit forward Dawit Fekadu finished the season with 14 goals, one goal behind Taffese Tesfaye of Adama City. 
    Week one EPL fixtures
    Saint George vs. Arbaminch City (Addis Ababa)
    Sidama Coffee vs. Fasil City (Yirgalem)
    Ethiopia Coffee vs. Dedebit (Addis Ababa)
    Wolaita Dicha vs. Defense (Boditi)
    Hawassa City vs. Addis Ababa City (Hawassa)
    Jimma Aba Bunna vs. Electric (Jimma)
    Woldia City vs. Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (Woldia)
    Adama City vs. Dire Dawa City (Adama)
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  • Petroleum Distributors Push For Profit

     Companies engaged in the distribution of petroleum products are persuading the government to make adjustments on the fuel sales profit margins.
    Currently, the oil companies and dealers earn one percent sales margin from each litter of fuel sold to customers. The oil companies are complaining that the margin is the lowest in Africa affecting the profitability of the companies and discouraging investment in the industry. Major industry players such as Total, National Oil Company (NOC) and Oil Libya are pressing the relevant government bodies to revise the fuel profit margins companies earning from the sale of petroleum products. 
    At a press briefing held on Thursday during the inauguration of a new state-of-the art fuel depot built by Total Ethiopia in Dukem town at a cost of 270 million birr Jerome Deschamps, Executive vice president Total Africa Marketing and services, revealed that major industry players are holding discussions with the Ministry of Mines, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Ethiopian Petroleum Supply Enterprise and the Ministry of Trade on the possibility that the government could push the profit margin to two or three percent. Deschamps said Ethiopia has the lowest distribution margin in Africa adding that the second lowest margin is six times higher than that of, Ethiopia. “The margin is very thin and we are trying to bring the matter to the attention of the relevant government bodies,” he said.
    Lassina Toure, Managing director Total Ethiopia SC, said that the one percent margin in Ethiopia is minimal when compared to the ten percent margin companies earn in other African countries such as neighboring Kenya, Uganda and Zambia. According to Toure, Total has commissioned a study on sales margins in Africa to a reputable international consulting firm. The study has been finalized and sent to various Ethiopian authorities including the Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation and the Ministry of Mines, Petroleum and Natural Gas. “We are willing to have further discussions and we hope that something will be done very soon,” Toure told reporters. 
    Deschamps explained that the meager profit margin is making investment in the petroleum distribution industry challenging. “It is the fuel distribution companies that invest on service stations, fuel depots and tanker trucks. The Ethiopian economy is growing very fast. The economy is growing at a rate of seven to ten percent every year. The fuel market is growing at the same pace 7-10 percent yearly. To cater to the growing fuel demand the distribution companies have to make additional investments on service stations and depots.  But today we are not in a position to invest as much as the market needs because of this margin issue.”  
    According to Deschamps, Total has invested one billion birr in Ethiopia in the past five years and created more than 1,000 jobs for Ethiopians.  Other industry players are also investing and creating jobs. Each service station on average creates job opportunity for 30 citizens.
    However, Deschamps said with the existing thin profit margin the oil companies would not be able to make additional investments and meet the growing demand.
    “Sooner or later, we will have an issue if we are not going to have a higher margin because simply we will not be able as an industry to invest in stations and depots required meeting the growing demand which is growing at a rate of 7-10 percent a year.  At the end of the day the country’s supply chain will get sick.  But we do not want that to happen. That is why we are actively engaged with different government bodies. We hope that a win-win solution and way out will be found by the government authorities.”
    Deschamps noted that if the government increases the price of fuel by 0.8 birr per litter, the sales margin could be equivalent to that of the region’s average margin. “In that case the industry will have the capability to build 300 stations in the next five years and create 10,000 jobs. The solution is there. If you push the profit margin to two, three percent, it is a mutual interest of the country and the industry,” he said.
    In related developments, fuel adulteration has triggered a grave concern in the fuel distribution industry. Executives of Total claim that the recent kerosene shortage that hits some cities in the regions as well as Addis Ababa was caused by fuel adulteration.
    Kerosene, which is subsidized by the government, is used for cooking by low-income societies mainly in rural areas. The price of kerosene is cheaper than that of gas oil and gasoline, at least three birr lower than the price of gasoline and gas oil as the government subsidizes the product. To take advantage of the subsidized product, some individuals including fuel station owners blend kerosene with gas oil or gasoline.
    “We unfortunately have noticed some tricky games played on kerosene.  Some players blend kerosene with gasoil and gasoline to take advantage of the three birr price difference. The kerosene is used by fuel adulators and is no longer available for the poor. That is why you are noticing the shortage in the market. It is a big area of concern. The rules are not respected. They are not abiding by the law,” Deschamps told reporters.  
    Toure on his part said that the illicit traders are fattening their pockets without paying tax. He said the blended fuel is a bad product that damages vehicles and inflicts harm on the environment. “And we must remember that the fuel is imported with hard earned foreign currency. It is imperative that the government should tackle fuel adulteration,” he said.
    To curb the fuel adulteration, Total has introduced an initiative dubbed “Fuel Doctor.” Under the initiative trucks equipped with fuel inspection gadgets are dispatched to different parts of the country to randomly gauge the quality of the petroleum products sold at Total fuel stations.
    “We check the quality of the fuel at different stations in Addis Ababa as well as in the regional cities. If there is any issue Total will take measures. This practice can be replicated in the industry,” Toure said.  
    “Some competitors sell more kerosene than gasoil. How is that possible? This shows that there is an issue. But it is not our intention to blame x or y. We explain the matter and it is the government authority that needs to deal with the issue,” he said.  
     Established in 1950 Total Ethiopia S.C today operates 173 service stations across the nation. With a contracted fleet of more than 500 tanker trucks the company distributes 700 million liters of petroleum products yearly.  The company claims to have opened more than 8000 direct and indirect jobs in Ethiopia.
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  • Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front

     Beginning last week, lecturers at institutions of higher learning have been holding meetings with government representatives. Though the theme of the discussions was intended to focus on the challenges and successes of the education sector in the past 25 years, the lecturers raised a raft of questions regarding the current political situation in the  country. There is no denying that despite the enrollment of some 30 million students across the country, a barrage of criticisms were being levelled in connection with attend academic freedom, quality of education and other matters of grave importance. This said, it is not fitting to organize deliberations on the performance of a single sector while keeping mum on legitimate grievances that are sources of disquiet by all citizens. Thus, the right of the academic world to articulate views on contemporary political developments needs to be respected.
    The first conversation of note that top-level officials of the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF)-led government had with university lecturers and researchers was in 2002. Although the opinions and proposals expressed then were swept under the carpet, the concerns aired at those gatherings are coming to pass. The participants broached largely the same issues as they did 14 years ago including the competence and credibility of the discussants. Whatever the case, Ethiopia finds itself at a critical juncture where citizens who believe they have a stake in the fate of the country propose solutions on the way forward. Hence, the voice of academics should be heard loud and clear.
    The palpable political tension gripping the country is not something that can be whitewashed through overused platitudes; it requires level-headed discourse on every level. The government ought to abandon the notion that forces within the opposition camp are bent on derailing its plans or sullying the credit it deserves so as to engage constructively compatriots that can make useful contributions to their nation’s cause. Everyone remembers the gravity of the problem that ensued following the elevation of hypocritical pseudo-scholars. 25 years of self-congratulating on “successes” can no more conceal the flaws lurking behind them. The challenges brought about by bad governance, miscarriage of justice and corruption, exacerbated by the aversion to listen to each other, continue to bedevil the nation.
    Even as the quality of education provided by universities and colleges leaves a lot to be desired, academic freedom or lack thereof has long been a problem area for them. Higher learning institutions have been neutered as knowledge centers where a generation is steeped in the culture of unencumbered exchange of ideas. Leaving aside the tyrannical rule of the military dictatorship from 1974-1991the institutions that enjoyed relatively better academic freedom during the preceding reign of Emperor Haile-Selassie are now practically alien to the concept. It should worry us all that they have become places of congregation for fearful or apathetic individuals instead of centers which as in the past set political agendas. It is somewhat paradoxical that this is taking place on the watch of the EPRDF, which claims to be the vanguard of respect for human and democratic rights. The bulk of the top level management of the institutions inarguably lack leadership qualities as well. The rampant mismanagement in the placement, promotion, transfer, scholarship opportunities, among others, of lecturers as well as the shocking level of corruption besetting the institutions are areas of further concern. The inability to install a management team possessing the requisite knowledge, professionalism and work ethics after 25 years of rule is a manifestation of abject failure in the leadership.
    The fact that institutions of higher learning become a microcosm of Ethiopia that  serves as a crucible of diverse ideas and avenues for expression of public discontent is in everybody’s advantage. It would be criminally wasteful to miss the chance to exploit fully the wealth of knowledge and wisdom residing in decades-old institutions. When  Academia are encouraged to hold dialogues on greater exercise of academic freedom and the solutions to the multi-faceted challenges facing the country the sources and the solutions to them can be found with more clarity. Hence it is imperative to abandon the propensity to hang on the coattails of past successes and engage in critical and frank deliberations on coreproblems.
    The other fundamental flaw that characterized the meetings held in institutions of higher learning institutions is their format whereby the tendency to ascribe the role of speaker to government representatives and that of passive listeners to academics was patently observable. The latter’s demand that their opinions should be heeded after being ignored perennially is quite legitimate. A forum wherein government officials deliver a monologue and the participants make no contribution whatsoever is unhealthy in that it is a sign of bottled up resentment and engenders cynicism and apathy. The role of intellectuals in spurring the development of a nation goes beyond academic responsibilities. The kind of mindset which discourages the tapping of the reservoir of knowledge they represent in the belief that the government alone is the source of the panacea for the country’s ailments in no way advances the national interest.
    The public is keen to see if the government is committed to honor its recent pledge to introduce deep reforms. The academic community constitutes a resource pool the government can tap to replace incompetent elements within its ranks. There are numerous citizens who have the educational credentials, experience, integrity and patriotism required to serve their country and people diligently and without political partisanship. It is time to headhunt locally and abroad for citizens worthy of taking on the responsibility of steering Ethiopia on the right course at this difficult time. In this regard it is incumbent upon the government to give due consideration to the solutions that scholars propose with a view to bring them on board in the effort to rebuild public trust. The follies of rejecting or mocking the opinions of the academic community have come back to haunt us now. However, care should be taken to ensure that the hatred, innuendo and violence peddled by “intellectuals” on social media and other platforms does not gain traction and detract from the invaluable input of responsible and seasoned citizens. This is why it is high time to heed the voice of academics.
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