Archive for July, 2010
Jane and I recently returned from another trip to Ethiopia, where we spent time both with specialty coffee producers (for a subsequent post) and among the Kara people in the Omo River Valley.
Among the Kara, we got the opportunity to visit and drink buno (coffee from coffee husks, see my earlier post on qishr), and I was able to add a bit to my understanding of this important part of the Kara social fabric.
We have now had buno in three of the four Kara villages, and it seems to be the first element of social life. Buno starts every day in a family’s life. The preparation begins before dawn while everyone except the coffee preparer is still in bed. Morning coffee is a structured but relaxed ritual, even when there is work to do.
Gender-neutral divisions of work have not yet reached the Omo River Valley. And a hierarchy is well defined. A woman always prepares the coffee. When there are two wives, the second wife gathers the firewood, hauls the water, and makes the coffee. The first wife serves the coffee. Young Kara girls are rarely required to help with household chores. They are free to do whatever they want until they marry, but marriage ends this carefree time.
Buno is always served in the ono (the Kara home) or the gapa (a day house in the same compound) where cooking fires are kept smoldering day and night, and every guest is served buno as the first thing upon arrival. It’s never prepared elsewhere, even for an important meeting.
The conversation continues along with the drinking as the coffee cools. As a man comes close to the end of his serving, he pours a small amount, perhaps a third of a cup, over his hand, then rubs his hands together like washing. It’s typically the last thing a man does before he leaves. I’m told that women sometimes wash their faces with the last few ounces, though I did not observe this.
Ethiopians consume nearly half of the coffee beans they produce. I doubt whether buno/qishr is counted anywhere. Add these beverages and you have a vital element of Ethiopian life.
Among coffee growing countries, only Brasil, a modern, industrialized society, consumes a significant part of its production. Although you find Western-style coffeehouses in Ethiopian towns, the traditional treatment for a guest, whether roasted and ground coffee in the north or buno in the villages, follows a traditional structure, exhibiting an elevated social position for coffee and a hospitality that we should consider emulating.
By Teymaine Lee
From a 542-square-foot office above a bustling intersection in Harlem, the Rev. Nicholas S. Richards is building what he hopes will be a 7,000-mile bridge to the eastern highlands of Ethiopia.
It is a bridge more than 200 years in the making.
In that modest two-room office off East 125th Street, the Abyssinian Fund, the only nongovernmental organization in Ethiopia formed by an African-American church, the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, finally has a home.
Mr. Richards, 26, an assistant minister at Abyssinian under the Rev. Calvin O. Butts III, is the president of the recently formed Aby Fund, as he calls it, an international aid and development arm of the church. It will soon be joining forces with a co-op of 700 coffee farmers in the ancient Ethiopian city of Harrar, with a mission to improve the quality of the farmers’ lives by helping them improve the quality of their coffee beans. Read further: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/27/nyregion/27abyssinian.html
Source: New york Times
By TradeInvestAfrica Staff
Tata Coffee Ltd., Asia’s largest publicly traded grower of the bean, may invest $27.7-million in a factory to make instant coffee in Africa to meet rising global demand.
The company, majority-owned by Tata Global Beverages Ltd., may build the plant in Uganda, Africa’s biggest producer of the robusta variety, Kenya or central Africa, according to managing director Hameed Huq in an interview with Bloomberg.
Tata Coffee may also consider acquiring a company in the continent. The company’s shares rose as much as 2.7% in Mumbai.
Bangalore-based Tata Coffee expects a global economic recovery to help boost demand for instant coffee, a market valued at $19.6-billion, according to researcher Euromonitor International.
The state owned coffee board says exports from India, Asia’s third-largest coffee supplier, have gained this year after production rebounded from a year earlier.
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Alibaba is a huge force in global, business-to-business ecommerce. The company is based in China and it links millions of wholesale suppliers with businesses that resell those products. The company has allocated $100 million to invest in U.S. ecommerce-related businesses and today, it announced the first such investment in acquiring Vendio, the U.S.-based ecommerce platform. Joining us to discuss that acquisition, Alibaba generally, and the future of ecommerce is David Wei, chief executive officer and executive director of Alibaba.
Practical eCommerce: Tell us about your company, Alibaba, and the services it provides.
David Wei: “Alibaba was founded in 1999 by Jack Ma, an English teacher. The business has been designed to help small businesses, and we built the largest business-to-business wholesale online marketing since 1999. We have the largest supply base in China and in Asia–probably in the world–to make life easier for traders, online retailers, offline traditional pop-and-mom shops, hotel owners, all kinds of small business; to make their work easier, to make efficiency in their sourcing and to help them put a margin.
“The company is 40 percent invested by Yahoo!, 30 percent invested by Softbank, and the management (we) owned the rest of the shares. We were a small business ourselves in 1999 with only $50,000 U.S. capital to start with, and18 people working with Jack. Now, we have 18,000 people working globally. Alibaba.com became a public company in 2007 and its market cap is over $13 billion today.
For product sourcing click http://www.alibaba.com/
By Howard Schneider
U.S. exports jumped more than 2 percent in May. But a surge in imports widened the country’s trade deficit — disappointing the effort to even out global trade flows.
The latest U.S. trade figures showed American businesses sold $152.3 billion of goods and services overseas in May, $3.5 billion more than in April.
Imports increased 2.9 percent to $194.5 billion.
The Obama administration is pushing to boost exports as a way to create jobs, and the increase was welcome news after a disappointing decline in April.
The overall widening of the country’s trade deficit, however, showed how difficult it will be to rebalance the global economy so that the United States does not consume far more than it produces.
The U.S. trade deficit expanded in May to its highest level in 18 months, rising 4.8 percent to $42.3 billion, the U.S. Commerce Department reported Tuesday.
The monthly trade deficit with China alone jumped $3 billion, to $22 billion, a figure that manufacturing groups said showed that a focus on exports alone was insufficient.
The deficit represents “wealth and jobs heading overseas,” said Scott Paul, executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing.
The trade deficit also represents a drag on overall economic growth at a time when the Federal Reserve and other analysts worry that the country’s economic recovery is slowing.
Source: The Washington Post
By William Davison
(c) 2010 Bloomberg News
Supplies to Sudan will total about 200 megawatts, while 150 megawatts may also be sold to Djibouti should there be sufficient supplies, said Mekuria Lemma, head of strategic management and programming at the state-owned Ethiopian Electric Power Corp.
Gilgel Gibe II, which halted production in January following a tunnel collapse, is expected to resume output by the end of July. Production at Tana Beles, the country’s largest plant, and Tekeze is also expected to be at full capacity following recent rains. The three plants produce a combined 1,180 megawatts of power.
“We have lots of water in all our reservoirs,” Mekuria said in an interview on July 12 in the capital, Addis Ababa. “We are in a good position now.”
Ethiopia has Africa’s second-biggest potential hydropower capacity of 45,000 megawatts, according to the World Bank. Congo has the largest. Rainfall in Ethiopia was average or above average in April and May in most parts of the country, according to the National Meteorological Agency. In June, when the main rainy season starts, average or above average precipitation was recorded in central and western areas, it said yesterday.
Kenya is in talks with Ethiopia to import 500 megawatts of electricity and a feasibility study has been completed on a transmission line to the East African country, Mekuria said.
The African Development Bank provided a $1 million loan for the design of the line, which is expected to be built by 2014, Solomon Asfaw, an Ethiopia-based energy specialist at the bank, said in an interview.
In addition, the bank is co-funding the construction of a 283-kilometer (176-mile) 230 kilovolt transmission line from the eastern Ethiopian city of Dire Dawa to Djibouti. The network, which will be able to supply 260 megawatts of power, will be completed within two months, Solomon said.
Ethiopia’s current generating capacity is about 2,000 megawatts, including the 420 megawatts from Gilgel Gibe II, EEPCO spokesman Misiker Negash said in an interview. There are plans to increase that to 8,000 megawatts, Mekuria said.
THE NUMBERS: Headquarters for Fortune Global 500 businesses
WHAT THEY MEAN:
How big is business? The six largest firms on Fortune’s Global 500 list for 2010 – Walmart, Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil, BP, Toyota and Japan Post — combined last year for a dollar-value revenue of $2.34 trillion. This is about the same total, though calculated by different means and not quite comparable, as the United Kingdom’s $2.22 trillion GDP. By this not-exactly-accurate method, each of the six would rank among the world’s 50 largest economies, and the world’s 100 largest economies would include 42 firms. Altogether, the 500 firms on the list have a combined revenue of $22.5 trillion, or the rough equivalent of a third of the world’s $62-trillion dollar-basis GDP. Some perspectives:
Type: The top hundred firms on Fortune’s list are diverse but led by energy and finance. They include 15 energy companies, 16 financial services providers and 10 insurers; by comparison there are 8 telecom companies, 11 auto manufacturers, and 7 retailers.
Scale: The largest national economies (again by dollar-value calculation) are the United States at $14.8 trillion, China at $5.4 trillion, Japan at $5.3 trillion and Germany at $3.3 trillion. Nine others — France, Britain, Italy, Brazil, Canada, Russia, Spain, India and Australia — are above $1 trillion. Wal-Mart’s $408 billion revenue would rank the firm 26th among world economies, between Taiwan’s $418 billion and Austria’s $390 billion. Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil, each with $285 billion in revenue, would place 33rd, below Thailand and above Venezuela. Toyota and Japan Post would rank just beneath Ireland, Malaysia and Nigeria, and slightly above Chile, Israel, Singapore and the Czech Republic.
Change: Perhaps the most striking fact about this year’s list is the rapid change in its membership. Fortune’s 2005 rankings placed 176 American firms and 16 Chinese businesses among the world’s largest 500 firms. The 2010 list finds 139 firms based in America and 46 in China. The EU’s total has also fallen, though less steeply, from 163 to 156; Japan’s is down from 81 in 2005 (and 107 in 2000) to 71. Elsewhere, the 2010 list finds Switzerland and Canada home to 11 top-500 firms each; Australia, Taiwan, Korea and India have 8 apiece. Latin America combines for 10 (Brazil 7, Mexico 2, Venezuela 1), and Southeast Asia 5. One of the top 500 firms comes from the Middle East, and none from Africa.
Source: Trade Fact
MODJO, 13 July 2010 (IRIN) – Ethiopia has lifted a two-year ban on the export of cereals such maize and sorghum, following a good harvest which has led to surpluses, according to a government official.
“The ban is lifted mainly due to low prices in the market,” said Amakele Yimam, corporate communications director at the Federal Ministry of Trade and Industry. “Ethiopia is now producing a lot. Exports will definitely benefit all stakeholders in the export process, especially smallholder farmers.”
The ban was imposed in 2007 after a sharp increase in grain prices. At the time, the government ordered commercial banks and the Ethiopian Customs Authority to ensure that maize, sorghum, wheat and `teff’ (an indigenous staple grain) was not be ferried out of the country.
Mohamed Diab, country director for the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Ethiopia, said WFP would, through the Purchase for Progress (P4P) project buy some of the surplus food from smallholders. “P4P benefits both Ethiopia’s small farmers and WFP… The farmers have a secure market and income… and WFP can buy food at competitive prices for people in need in Ethiopia.”
According to WFP, the five-year P4P programme in Ethiopia, which is due to end in 2014, will purchase over 126,500 tons of food from around 67,000 farmers. An estimated 5.23 million people will continue to require emergency food assistance up to December 2010, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network.
Egypt and Sudan draw battle lines with upstream nations over access to the Nile
NATIONS FIGHT over water, especially when access is curtailed or threatened, and there are the ingredients for a battle over the 4,100-mile long Nile River. Egypt and Sudan have counted on the abundance of the Nile’s life-giving flow. Now upstream nations want to keep more of the abundance for themselves. Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Congo, Burundi, and Rwanda are asserting their rights to more of the river’s relentless flow. Washington needs to intervene to forestall hostilities between the countries.
Britain conquered Uganda and Kenya in the 19th century in part to protect the precious Nile waters from being diverted away from their critical possession of Egypt, the Suez Canal, and the Red Sea route to India. Without the yearly sustaining floods of the Nile, agriculture and settlement in the valley of the river from Luxor to Cairo and Alexandria would have been impossible.
When Britain in the 1920s controlled all of the waters of the Nile, bar those sluicing down the Blue Nile from Ethiopia, it signed a pact that gave Egypt and Sudan rights to nearly 75 percent of its annual flow. This 1929 agreement was confirmed in 1959, after Egypt and the Sudan had broken from Britain but while the East African countries were still colonies.
A new 2010 Cooperative Framework Agreement, now signed by most of the key upstream abutters, would give all riparian states (including the Congo, where a stream that flows into Lake Tanganyika is the acknowledged Nile source) equal access to the resources of the river. That would give preference to large scale upstream energy and industrial, as well as long-time agricultural and irrigation uses.
Egypt and Sudan have refused to sign the new agreement, despite years of discussions and many heated meetings. Given climate change, the drying up of water sources everywhere in Africa and the world, Egypt, which is guaranteed 56 billion of the annual flow of 84 billion cubic meters of Nile water each year, hardly wants to lose even a drop of its allocation. Nor does Sudan, guaranteed 15 billion cubic meters.
About 300 million people depend on the waters of the Nile. The upstream countries, with still growing populations, believe that their socio-economic development has long been unfairly constrained by Egypt’s colonial-era lock on the river. Ethiopia and Uganda have not been able to support agricultural schemes. Nor have they been able fully to harness the river or its tributaries for industry and power. Both have suffered from major hydroelectric shortages in recent years.
Egypt has declared the continued surge of the Nile waters a “red line’’ that affects its “national security.’’ There is discussion in Egypt about the use of air power to threaten upstream offenders, especially if Ethiopia becomes too demanding. In theory, Ethiopia could divert much of the Blue Nile to its own uses. Or Ethiopia and others could charge Egypt for water that has largely escaped modern pricing.
Egypt is sufficiently disturbed by Ethiopia’s potentially aggressive water designs that it has recently made friends with Eritrea, Ethiopia’s arch enemy. In 1998, Ethiopia and Eritrea went to war over slices of insignificant mountainous territory. Although the shooting ended in 2000, a peace settlement handed down by the World Court in 2006 has still not been observed by both sides. If Egypt attacks Ethiopia, Eritrea might join in. Egyptian generals claim that Israel is on the other side, helping the upstream nations by encouraging their thirst for water and by financing the construction of four hydroelectric projects in Ethiopia.
All these issues provide conditions for a war over water. Washington, Egypt’s largest donor, has significant leverage to de-escalate tensions and mediate between the haves and have-nots. After all, Washington supports both Egypt and Ethiopia lavishly and militarily. It needs to demand that all sides stand down.
Robert I. Rotberg directs Harvard Kennedy School’s Program on Intrastate Conflict and is president of the World Peace Foundation.