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  • Africa Union Cleaned Its Room From Chinese Electronics Bugs That Were Spying For Five Years

    China has been accused of spying on the African Union (AU) headquarters, in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, which they built in 2012 to house and host continental meetings and the biannual heads of state summit.

    An investigation conducted by French media Le Monde Afrique and published on Saturday revealed that in the past five years, data from the AU servers in Ethiopia were transferred to servers in Shanghai at odd hours.

    “In January 2017, the AU’s technical staff discovered that its servers were strangely active with a peak in data transfer between midnight and 2 am when it’s offices were empty. A computer scientist found that there was a massive transfer of internal data of the AU,” the report said.

    Every night, the secrets of the institution were stored more than 8,000 km away from Addis Ababa on mysterious servers hosted somewhere in Shanghai, the report adding citing unnamed internal sources.

    It also accused the Chinese of opening a window in the computer system of the $200 million-facility which they installed. The breach is suspected to be “intentional” to allow intelligence agencies and hackers to have illegal access to information.

    An unnamed AU official told the French media that they have strengthened the building’s cybersecurity by inspecting the entire facility and changing the servers, microphones and other technologies installed by the Chinese.

    “The Chinese have nothing to listen to. They have never colonized us. They have supported the struggles of independence on the continent and help us economically today,” the official told the newspaper calling for calm.

    Another official said the Chinese are not the only ones spying as documents intercepted by Le Monde in collaboration with The Intercept indicates that the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the British intelligence agencies (GCHQ) have also spied on the AU building.

    China has not yet responded to the espionage allegations.


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  • Ambassador Kassa Tekleberhan presents his credential to President Donald Trump

    The newly appointed Ethiopian Ambassador to the U.S., Kasssa Tekleberhan, presented his credential to President Donald Trump yesterday.

    The appointment of Ambassador Kassa would further elevate the strategic partnership of the two countries to the new level in the spirit of mutual respect and friendship.Ethiopia and the United States established diplomatic relations on December 27, 1903.Since then, Ethiopia has been appointing its Ambassadors to conduct and strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries

    At present, Ethiopia and the United States have close diplomatic relationships as friends and partners.Their bilateral relations anchored on three interconnected pillars: economic growth and development; regional peace and security as well as democracy, governance and human rights.

    Ambassador Kassa was born and raised in the ancient town of Seqota, (Amhara Region) where he began his life-long service to his nation. He worked with his colleagues for the establishment of democratic system in Ethiopia that paves the road for the protection of human rights and promotion rapid economic development. His public service is both extensive and diverse including work in the legislative and the executive branches of both at the regional and the federal level.Immediately before his current appointment, Ambassador Kassa Gebrehiwot served as Minister of Federal Affairs and Pastoral Areas Development. In this capacity, he strived to create strong Federal and Regional relationships based on the rule of law, mutual respect and understanding among Ethiopia’s diverse communities.

    He also made significant contribution to the provision of sustained assistance to those regions in need of special support, including those where pastoralists and agro-pastoralists live.Ambassador Kassa Gebrehiwot also served as Speaker of the House of Federation where his commitment to the equality of all Ethiopian peoples and to the rule of law was exhibited,

    which contributed to the smooth and proper functioning of the House of Federation. Ambassador Gebrehiwot’s tenure in the Amhara National Regional State comprises many responsibilities in four major offices including the Head for the Bureau of Trade and Industry, Head the Bureau of Administration and Security.

    His service in the Federal government nonetheless began during the transitional period where he served as the member Command in the Ethiopian Ministry of National Defense, immediately following the downfall of the Dergue regime.

    Beyond his service in the above mentioned positions, his leadership skills and ability to work with others were highly sought after by many public organizations which led him to work as a Chairperson of the Board of Addis Ababa University, Amhara Development Association, and Ethiopian Mineral, Petroleum and Biofuel Corporation.

    He also served as a Vice Chair of the Board the Foundation established in the name of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and the Board Member of Gondar University.Ambassador Kassa TekleBerhan’s service also extended to his participation in several development programs including with the Strategic Planning Development Program, Justice Sectors Reform Program, Security Officers Development Program, Conflict Management and Transformation Program, and Community Policing Program. All these functions and responsibilities yielded measurable results and gained Ambassador Kassa the admiration and respect by his fellow citizens of all walks of life.

    Ambassador. Kassa Gebrehiwot participation in various committees and commissions such as the Federal Grant and Joint Revenue Standing Committee, the House of Federation and the Ethio-Sudan Joint Boundary Commission was highly valuable. Ambassador Kassa earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the Ethiopian Civil Service College (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) and his Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership from the Azusa Pacific University (Azusa, California) where he was recognized as “Best Student of the Year.” Ambassador Kassa travelled to different countries where he was able to explore new cultures and engage with various communities.Ambassador Kassa is married and a father of three.





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  • Ethiopian Church in Stockholm ‘Highly Commended’ at the World Architecture Festival

    The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Stockholm, designed by Belatchew Arkitekter, was deemed ‘Highly Commended’ at the World Architecture Festival Awards in Berlin.

    World Architecture Festival is the world’s largest international architectural event where the premier buildings of the year around the world are awarded. This year the festival took place in November in Berlin, Germany.

    The jury appreciated the strong sculptural feature of the church, it’s connection to history across the borders and the way it offered a civic space to a community larger than the parish.

    * Being awarded in an international context like the World Architecture Festival is especially rewarding as it proves that our projects are of international standards, says Rahel Belatchew, Principal Architect, CEO and Founder, Belatchew Arkitekter.

    * This project also shows how a building intended for a congregation could simultaneously become a meeting place for a neighborhood. Bridges are built over cultures for better social cohesion and buildings in the city are optimally utilized. Both these aspects play a crucial role for the sustainable cities of the future, Rahel Belatchew concludes.

    This project is about creating a place for a community and bringing together an ancient tradition with modern needs in another part of the world.

    The building is composed of coloured concrete that takes up the colour of the red African soil and the weight and materiality from the unique rock hewn churches of Lalibela in northern Ethiopia. The feeling of weight being conveyed by the outwardly inclined walls. On the inside, the Scandinavian tradition of wood is visible through large timber frames and panels.

    The main feature of the church is its large, round church hall with a central dome. The deliberately introvert volume takes in daylight from above avoiding openings in the façade. The lack of openings in the facade enables the visitor to start an inner spiritual journey without distraction from the residential neighborhood. The windowless facades also enhance the sculptural feature of the building and emphasizes the rough materiality of the red concrete. The dome is made of a copper like metal amidst green roofs.

    Rahel Belatchew, MSA/SAR, DESA, founder of Belatchew Arkitekter, has a Master’s Degree in Architecture from Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris, and has worked as an architect in Paris, Luxemburg, Tokyo and Stockholm. Belatchew lectures at Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris and at the School of Architecture at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. Belatchew is also a member of the editorial board of the magazine Trä (Wood


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  • Ethiopia drops charges against 528 suspects in first round

    Charges against 528 suspects have been dropped in the first round, according to the Ministry of Justice of Ethiopia.

    Attorney General Getachew Ambaye told journalists today that 115 of them are those who were detained at the federal level.

    The suspects will be freed Wednesday after receiving training today and tomorrow, he said.

    He further said convicted individuals are being identified to pardon them as per listed requirements. The process will take time, he added.

    It is to be recalled that heads of the four member parties of EPRDF have taken decisions to pardon some convicted politicians and individuals to build national consensus and widen the political space.


    In a surprise move, Ethiopia’s leader on Wednesday announced plans to drop charges against political prisoners and close a notorious prison camp in what he called an effort to “widen the democratic space for all.” This is the first time the government has acknowledged holding political prisoners.

    Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn’s comments came after months of sometimes deadly anti-government protests, the most serious since the current government came to power in 1991. The demonstrations engulfed much of the restive Oromia and Amhara regions and spread into other parts of the East African country, leading to a months-long state of emergency that has since been lifted.

    “Political prisoners that are facing prosecutions and are already under arrest will be released,” Hailemariam said. “And the notorious prison cell that was traditionally called Maekelawi will be closed down and turned into a museum.”

    Ethiopians were quick to respond, even with social media sites currently blocked.

    “I’m writing you this struggling with my tears,” wrote renowned blogger and former detainee Befeqadu Hailu. “All these pledges need to be implemented immediately.”

    Tens of thousands of people were arrested, and reportedly hundreds were killed, during the protests demanding wider freedoms that began in late 2015 and disrupted one of Africa’s fastest growing economies.

    As word spread Wednesday, Ethiopia’s government sought to downplay the prime minister’s announcement. A spokesperson, Zadig Abraha, told The Associated Press that the country has no political prisoners and that “some members of political parties and other individuals that have been allegedly suspected of committing crimes and those convicted will be pardoned or their cases interrupted, based on an assessment that will be made.”

    Rights groups and opposition groups in Ethiopia had been calling for the release of political prisoners, saying they were arrested on trumped-up charges and punished for their points of view. Ethiopia’s government has long been accused of arresting critical journalists and opposition leaders.

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  • Tax free item lists for personal uses

    The Ethiopian Customs and Revenues Authority (ERCA) has introduced a new tax reform program dubbed the tax transformation program, which is set to be focused in five major areas, one of which is the collection of 15 billion birr in overdue tax.

    Kebede Chane, director general of ERCA, said that the reform program, which is about to be implemented in the coming three years, will prioritize tax arrears which have been accumulating for years. Hence, out of the 15 billion birr overdue tax, 10 billion birr will be collected in the coming one year. But, the total overdue tax is assumed to be more than the 15 billion the authority has targeted under the new program. However, according to kebede, the new reform program will do much more than recover the overdue tax; it will significantly reduce if not eliminate future overdue tax arrears.

    In addition to that, reform on tax auditing, changes to the ways Large Tax Payers (LTOs) are treated, changes in its human resources capacity (which they call organizational health) and change in the application and utilization of IT are the major targets to reform the way ERCA has been operating for years. These are the dynamic changes Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn directed ERCA to implement, Chane said. The PM chairs a tax transformation committee that monthly report on the implementations and outcomes of the reform program.

    On matters of tax audit, ERCA is considering some changes that involve external auditors. In a deviation from its customary approach, the tax administrator has announced that it will accept audit outputs conducted by certified external audit companies hired by the taxpayer.

    In relation to large tax payers, which accounts for 70 percent of the tax and customs revenues, will be treated in a different manner than before. The LTPs will be treated on the basis of their sectors where tax auditors of ERCA are required to be well accustomed and specialized in the various sectors such as leather, textile, pharmaceutical and the like.

    In addition to that LTPs will have a special taxpayer accounts which ERCA will issue. Some 20 LTPs will be the first to receive these special accounts. Among other things, the accounts will serve ERCA to send notification for LTPs regarding their tax returns; including advance notifications. Not only that, but electronic tax payment systems will also be implemented starting from this fiscal year. The authority had already introduced electronic filing system few years ago. LTPs will also be segmented on the basis of risks they pose to the tax collection systems. Hence, those large tax payers who have the perceived potential for transfer pricing or tax evasion or fraud will be segmented and will be monitored accordingly.

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