Archive for December 2, 2011

Sport and Wealth: Ethiopian legend who ran his way to fortune

Posted: December 2, 2011 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Economy

Four years ago, sitting with Haile Gebrselassie in his eighth floor office at Alem Building, we enjoyed an uninhibited view of Addis Ababa.

Alem Building, named after the running legend’s wife, is the headquarters of the couple’s business empire, Haile and Alem International PLC, and is one of the most prominent structures in Addis.

Making a return visit to Haile’s office earlier this week was a totally different experience.

The view from the former world marathon record holder’s office has changed quite a bit, with mushrooming, gigantic new structures dotting the skyline and obscuring the erstwhile breathtaking view of the Ethiopian capital.

There’s obviously quite some activity in the Addis construction business.

Strategic address for travellers

One of the buildings sprouting up is the four-star Kenenisa Bekele Grand Hotel, being built by world and Olympic champion, Kenenisa Bekele, at the upmarket Bole Medhane area.

The hotel was designed by Italian architect Carlo Stronati and its proximity to the Bole International Airport, just four minutes’ drive away, definitely makes it a strategic address for travellers.

Addis Ababa’s complexion has been dramatically transformed, thanks to investments from the diaspora coupled with massive construction projects by Ethiopia’s world-beating distance runners.

Most of the athletes have ventured into real estate, and among them is former multiple world champion Tirunesh Dibaba and her husband Sileshi Sihine, also a world class athlete, world 5,000 metres champion Meseret Defar, Ethiopia’s pioneer Olympic women’s track gold medallist Derartu Tulu, marathon runner Gete Wami and Worku Bikila.

But it’s Gebrselassie’s investments that by far eclipse those of fellow track stars. Little wonder the holder of 27 world distance running records easily made it to Ethiopia’s “Top 40 under 40” list recently compiled by lifestyle magazine Addis Life.

The list includes Alfa Demellash, the founder of the New Jersey-based Rising Tide Capital, which was last year cited by United States President Barack Obama as “an example of successful ways to stimulate economic growth in American cities.”

Also on the list is Marcus Samuelson, an Ethiopian-Swedish-American New York City restaurateur who prepared the first State Dinner for President Obama.

Gebrselassie is cited on the list for his influential role in the Ethiopian private sector.

The crown jewel in his investments is obviously the Haile Resort, a five-star hotel constructed on 7.5 acres on Lake Hawassa, some 270 kilometres from Addis.

Haile Resort has 120 rooms and suites, swimming pools, gyms, a mini-golf course, 600-metre running train with other outdoor activities including horse-riding and lawn tennis.

The resort — that Gebrselassie calls his “28th world record” — also boasts Ethiopia’s second-biggest discotheque after the one at the Addis Sheraton. It took the 38-year-old Gebrselassie two-and-a-half years to build the resort.

Through his firm, Marathon Motors, Gebrselassie is also Ethiopia’s sole importer of Hyundai vehicles and is working on setting up a Hyundai assembly plant in the country.

He also runs the thriving Alem Cinemas.

His four-storey residence in the exclusive Top View Megenagna area of Addis Ababa cost him $1.5 million (Sh135 million).

The Ethiopian legend’s fortune is said to have topped $50 million (Sh4.5 billion), although “His Excellency Haile,” as his admirers refer to him, is quick to downplay his immense wealth.

“It’s good to be a role model,” he says.

“When you start something, others follow. When I started my real estate business, others followed suit and this makes me proud.

“I have five buildings in Addis and four more outside Addis, including the hotel in Hawassa. I also have two schools,” he said.

The father of three daughters, Eden, 14, Melat, 12, Batiy 10, and a son, Nathan, 5, started his business empire in 2005 and says, unlike Kenya where farming is a lucrative field for athletes to invest in, real estate is the way to go in his country.

“Sports is good business if you can invest your earnings in small businesses, these businesses can then become bigger, which is great,” he said.

Gebrselassie’s hotel business was inspired by Worku Bikila, one of Ethiopia’s finest runners who set up his empire in Dukem town, about 40 kilometres from Addis in the Oromiya region.

Besides the Sh32 billion (six million Birr) Worku Bikila Hotel that employs almost 100 workers, Bikila also runs the successful Worku Bikila Well Drilling Limited.

“Worku did not earn a lot from his career but he has been very successful,” says Gebrselassie.

“I always advise Ethiopian athletes not to invest unless they get a return on their investments — when you invest, you must make sure the money comes back with profit,” he said.

Ethiopian athletes invest an estimated $15 million (Sh1.35 billion) annually in their country’s economy.

Besides Gebrselassie, Kenenisa Bekele is the other major investor.

After building two hotels, one in his hometown of Bekoji and the second, a larger, three-star one in Assela, Gebrselassie’s birthplace, Bekele’s four-star flagship hotel is fast taking shape in Addis.

Out of action with a calf injury for most of 2010 and 2011, Bekele earned approximately $1.2 million (About Sh100 million) from a successful 2009 season that saw him clinch a 5,000m/10,000m double at the World Championships in Berlin.

Over half of that amount was from prize money and endorsements from his shoe sponsors, Nike.

Besides the hotel chain, Bekele is also building a sports centre, complete with a tartan running track, only the second in Ethiopia after the overused one at the Addis National Stadium.

Several of Ethiopia’s top athletes, including Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba, have been impeded by calf injuries attributed to the extremely hard surface of the National Stadium tartan.

“That’s one of the reasons why Bekele has decided to put up a better tartan track at the athletics centre he is building so that athletes don’t get injured all too frequently,” his manager, Dutchman Jos Hermens of Global Sports, who also manages Gebrselassie and several top Kenyan runners, including Eliud Kipchoge, Moses Mosop and Brimin Kipruto, said in an interview at his Nijmegen headquarters in The Netherlands last month.

“These two projects (hotel and athletics centre) need a total investment of about $15 million (Sh1.35 billion) and my prize money will go towards that,” Bekele said in a recent interview.

For Bekele and Gebrselassie, the biggest satisfaction they get out of their businesses is that they have been able to create jobs for Ethiopians.

Bikila employs 80 people in his hotel while Gebrselassie’s workforce exceeds 600, with the Haile Resort alone employing 250 and his real estate interests 120 more.

“My second biggest interest after the hotel is the schools which employ about 180 people,” Gebrselassie says.

The running legend does not see why Kenyan athletes, at least most of them, are not as successful in their business ventures.

“Kenyan athletes earn double what Ethiopian runners earn and, in terms of numbers, Kenyans win most of the marathons in the world.

“But they need to know what business to get involved in because many of them come from the countryside where they simply know how to run but little about business,” he said.

Ermias Ayele, the general manager of the Great Ethiopian Run, Africa’s biggest race whose 2011 edition last Sunday attracted a record 36,000 runners, has seen the country’s distance running stars rise from rags to riches.

“After Haile, there has been a lot of change because in the past, going back to the days of Abebe Bikila and Mirtus Yifter there was no money,” Ayele says.

“Haile has been a pioneer in business and now Kenenisa is also building a hotel while Derartu Tulu and Gete Wami also have hotels.

“The biggest challenge has been how the athletes can get to invest the money they earn but Haile and Kenenisa have set the ball rolling and Ethiopian athletes are now investing well,” he says.

Unlike American and Jamaican track stars, Ethiopian runners prefer to drive modest cars.

Gebrselassie still adores the Mercedes Benz he won in a competition 18 years ago while Bekele drives an ageing Hyundai 4×4.

“Instead of having 10 big cars, it’s better to just have one and invest the rest of the money. Maintaining the other nine cars could be quite expensive,” he says.

“I have personally helped a lot of Ethiopian athletes who misused their money and fell on hard times.

“When we start living life in the fast lane, our needs also rise and the problem is that when our performance goes down, then everything goes wrong,” Gebrselassie said.

His parting shot? “People want to be with you when you are doing well, and everyone likes you. But you must be careful when things go wrong. We need to learn from others, not from ourselves. You can’t learn from yourself when the damage is done,” he said.

ICC prosecutor seeks Sudan defense minister, Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein,’s arrest

Posted: December 2, 2011 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in World

Sudanese Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein speaks during joint news conference with his southern counterpart John Kong Nyuon after signing an agreement, in Khartoum September 18, 2011.  REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

Sudanese Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein speaks during joint news conference with his southern counterpart John Kong Nyuon after signing an agreement, in Khartoum September 18, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

By Sara Webb and Alexander Dziadosz

AMSTERDAM/KHARTOUM | Fri Dec 2, 2011 2:54pm EST

AMSTERDAM/KHARTOUM (Reuters) – The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor requested an arrest warrant for Sudan’s defense minister on Friday as part of the court’s investigation into atrocities in the Darfur conflict, a move that Khartoum dismissed as “political.”

The ICC has already issued arrest warrants for Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on charges of orchestrating genocide in Darfur, as well as for a former minister of state for the interior and a militia leader, who all remain at large.

Bashir has so far been able to travel widely without being arrested, to nearby Middle Eastern and African allies and as far afield as China.

The United Nations has said as many as 300,000 people died in the Darfur conflict. Khartoum puts the death toll at 10,000.

Defense Minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein is one of several senior officials that Human Rights Watch had asked the Hague-based war crimes court to investigate over the conflict.

He is one of Bashir’s closest allies and is leading a campaign against rebels in the southern border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

The ICC prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said Hussein was wanted for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Darfur from August 2003 to March 2004, and that he was an important link in the chain of command.

“Hussein in 2003 was the minister of interior and the special representative of president Bashir, giving him all the power to rule Darfur,” Moreno-Ocampo said.

He added that in those positions, Hussein had supervised the police and the army, and had appointed and supervised Ahmad Haroun, the former minister of state for the interior.

Haroun, now governor of Sudan’s South Kordofan border state, is wanted by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“The evidence shows that directly and through Mr. Haroun, Mr. Hussein played a central role in coordinating the crimes, including in recruiting, mobilizing, funding, arming, training and the deployment of the militia/Janjaweed as part of the government of the Sudan forces, with the knowledge that these forces would commit the crimes,” Moreno-Ocampo said.

As a result, 4 million people were displaced, he added.


John Prendergast, a former U.S. State Department official and co-founder of Enough Project, a Washington-based anti-genocide group, said the arrest warrant would help focus responsibility for major war crimes more closely on the senior figures in the armed forces who he said have consistently targeted civilians in their military operations.

“President Bashir and Defense Minister Hussein are part of a small cabal making most of the decisions on war strategy, not just in Darfur but also in the current hot spots of South Kordofan and Blue Nile,” he told Reuters.

“They are responsible for the forcible displacement of literally millions of Sudanese over the course of the last eight years, and countless others before that in the North-South war.”

Darfur’s rebel groups also welcomed the ICC’s move.

“This request is a real victory for the Sudanese people … and for international justice and the victims of the war in Darfur,” said Gibreel Adam Bilal, spokesman for the Sudanese Revolutionary Front, an alliance of rebel groups formed last month to topple Bashir’s government.

Sudan’s foreign ministry said in a statement the prosecutor had timed his request to coincide with recent Sudanese government military victories over rebel forces, particularly in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states.

“We have no doubt that the timing was intended to affect these victories and raise the rebels’ flagging morale,” it said.

Rabie Abdelati, senior member of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party, told Reuters the ICC decision was “ridiculous.”

“We think that these accusations and allegations by the ICC are just something political.”

Abdelati said he did not expect any changes in the Sudanese government’s foreign or domestic policies because of the new warrant and pointed out that Bashir had been able to travel with relative ease since the warrant for his arrest was issued.

The ICC has been frustrated in its efforts to secure Bashir’s arrest. It does not have its own police force and relies on member states to enforce warrants.

Bashir denies the charges and refuses to recognize the international court.

He visited the southern African state of Malawi in October for a regional trade summit, prompting the ICC to demand an explanation from Malawi, given that it is an ICC member state and therefore obliged to co-operate with the court. ID:nL5E7LJ3JB]

(Additional reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz, Liza Jansen, and Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Peter Graff and Andrew Heavens)

UK Chevening Scholarship for South Sudan 2012-2013

Posted: December 2, 2011 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Education, Jobs

The British Chevening Scholarship Programme for 2012/2013 session is now open to postgraduate students from South Sudan. The scholarship is aimed at future leaders who are already experienced in their chosen profession and would like to further develop their career with a postgraduate course in the UK. The details for other African countries were earlier announced here. Other Africans whose countries have not been included on the list should check back as the list is regularly updated.

The scholarship is a prestigious awards scheme that funds international postgraduate students who want to study in the UK for one academic year.

Funded by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office and administered by the British Council, the scheme operates in over 150 countries and annually provides funding for over 2,300 scholars.

Why Apply?

This is a prestigious award that gives you the chance to experience a world-renowned educational system. In addition, it provides you with the opportunity to experience UK life and meet other Chevening scholars. Once you become a Chevening scholar, you will discover a lot of opportunities to develop your career and become a future leader in your field.


  • You are a postgraduate student who can prove your academic success and who has already begun a career in your chosen field
  • You have between two and five years working experience (depending on the country you are applying in), with an excellent track record illustrating your achievements and your potential to use the skills gained during your scholarship to make a difference in your country
  • You have achieved an excellent mark for you undergraduate degree and can provide a transcript of your academic record. Specific academic requirements are available from the British Council offices in your country
  • You are 21 years or older (there are upper age limits for specific countries so please ensure you check this during your applications process)
  • You are a resident in your country when you apply and provide your birth certificate (with translation)
  • You must have good English language skills (most UK Higher Education institutions require a minimum IELTS of 6.5 for admission into postgraduate courses).

Eligible Countries

The scholarship is currently open to citizens of.

Eligible Courses

Applicants will normally be selected from those who wish to take courses in:

  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Banking
  • Law
  • Human rights
  • Public administration
  • Management
  • Project management
  • Media
  • Political science
  • International relations
  • Diplomatic training
  • Environmental studies

Although applicants for other courses (as varied as counter-terrorism, religion and energy/climate change) may be considered. You are expected to show a commitment to return to your country, where you will contribute to the country’s socio-economic development using the new skills and knowledge acquired during your stay in the UK.

How to Apply

You will need to submit the following documents to us when the application season is open:

  • Complete the application online.
  • Birth certificate
  • Supporting letters from two referees
  • Photocopies of academic certificates
  • Transcript/records of exams that you have passed

Deadline: January 22, 2012

For more information about the scheme, click here.

To start your application online, click here.

Related Entries

ADS Master’s Scholarship for Africans in Australia 2012-2013

To read more about the scholarship for South Sudan, click here.

For a list of participating universities and their profiles, click here

To see the type of scholarship your country qualifies for, click here

To begin your online application, click here.


‘Heavy clashes’ in Sudan’s South Kordofan

Posted: December 2, 2011 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan

‘Heavy clashes’ in Sudan’s South Kordofan
The SAF said on Wednesday that a group of SPLA soldiers, the rebels turned regular army of South Sudan, had advanced nine kilometres (six miles) into Sudan’s White Nile state with the aim of looting civilian property. It claimed in a statement to have

War fears as South Sudan’s oil exports cut
JUBA, South Sudan, Dec. 1 (UPI) — Newly independent South Sudan has had its vital oil exports cut off by Sudan, undermining negotiations between the two sides on a revenue-sharing agreement to avert another conflict that could disrupt East Africa as

South Sudan: We Need Cooperatives Ministry, and There Will Be Its Fruits
In one of his straight talk articles the editor-in-Chief of this newspaper Nhial Bol questioned the wisdom of abolishing the Ministry of Cooperatives and Community Development from the list of ministries of South Sudan while the core policy of our

AIDS/HIV rates in South Sudan expected to climb
Catholic Online
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
South Sudan, among the newest of all African nations, recently won its independence after long years of civil war and at least two million killed. However – the nation must now go to war that has arisen with the

Sudan: South Sudan Warns Oil Companies Over Illegal Deals With Govt
South Sudan warned all foreign oil companies, the oil consortia and pipeline operators in the country not to cooperate with Sudan on crude oil-related matters, unless authorized. The directive was contained in a press release issued by the South

South Sudan and UNMISS discuss mechanisms for mandate implementation
Middle East North Africa Financial Network
JUBA, Dec 02, 2011 (Sudan Tribune – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) — A joint meeting of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the Government of South Sudan involving discussion on preparations of mechanisms for the

South Sudan in fresh battle to disarm civilians
Business Recorder
After seceding from the north in July, South Sudan begun a clean-up to rid civilians of arms taken up during the brutal two-decade civil war with the Khartoum army in the north. But despite the efforts, many continue to live in fear of rampant

Sudan army ‘captures’ area in South Kordofan, new images show destruction in
Sudan Tribune
It later seized Daim Mansoru area south of Al-Kurmuk. South Kordofan and Blue Nile lie on Sudan’s borders with South Sudan. The two states are home to communities that largely fought alongside southerners in the civil war that ended in 2005 with a

South Sudan: Aids Kills and All Must Be Careful About It
Someone was telling some youth that had he been a hungry person for socialization like some of them he would have been dead long time ago and narrated the demises of his age mates some twenty years ago. He told his listeners that at the time the

South Sudan: SAF Attacks Dandir Town in Upper Nile
The small town of South Sudan lies close to the border between Upper Nile State and White Nile State of Sudan and during the attack 4 SPLA soldiers were martyred, one wounded and another one was missing. “This time the government of Sudan and the

South Sudan: Why Greater Bahr El Ghazal Chose Nyakuron Culture Center?
When I saw disappointed youth searching for lawyers in our Judiciary system of Juba, it reminds me of an incident in 2006 when one of the elders working in the office of our President used his powers to take over my room which I fully paid for my

South Sudan: KCA University to Establish Campus in Unity State
Arthur Eshiwani has announced that the university will establish its foothold in Unity state of the Republic of South Sudan. He proclaimed this yesterday during his speech at the KCA’s 3rd graduation ceremony at Ruaraka Campus graduation square. Prof.

Sudan: NDF Condemns Country’s Activities Against South Sudan
Juba — The National Democratic Front condemns malicious activities that the government of Sudan massively carried out to undermine the stability of South Sudan which gained independence under oppressive regime in Khartoum on 9th July 2011.

South Sudan tackles oil theft
Independent Online
Juba – South Sudan will take legal action against Sudan and any companies engaging in the “theft” of its oil exports, the country’s oil minister said on Friday. Stephen Dhieu Dau branded any sale of southern oil confiscated by Sudan “an illegal act,”

Yasir Arman speaks out on the summer offensive of the Sudan Government in the Nuba Mountains
In the last three days, the National Congress Government of Sudan started launching its summer offensive in the Nuba Mountains in four different directions after they brought fresh forces from Western Sudan and Attbra training center, which their graduation was attended by the two indicted war criminals, General Abedraheim Hussain, the Minister of Defense, and Ahmad Haroun.  The forces started a major offensive in Torge-Bram area.   The fighting is continuing the last two days.  There is a heavy bombardment against civilian populations and massive displacement. 
The National Congress summer offensive is going to result in a much bigger humanitarian crisis than the last offensive that started in June 2011.  The civilian population lacks water, which they were getting from the rainy season, and food, which they didn’t harvest during the rainy season because of the war.  It is to be recorded that when we visited Bram-Torge area last June with former President Thabo Mbeki and Haile Menkerios of the UN, they saw for themselves how the Sudan air force destroyed and burned down the old rural town of Bram, which was inhabited by more than 20,000 people. 
At the time, when President Mbeki visited it to meet Commander Abdel Azziz Adam Elhilu to pave the way to sign the Addis Ababa Framework Agreement which was later denounced by General Bashir, President Mbeki was met by less than 15 people from the inhabitants of Bram town.  The rest of the 20,000 civilian population, they were displaced massively and some were killed and some were wounded, including children and women.  And since June up until now, President Bashir’s government prevented and denied access for food and medicine and humanitarian assistance for civilian populations and instead they are launching now a major offensive and they are using the Sudan air force extensively against civilian populations in most of the cases. 
This is happening in the 3rd millennium.  The Sudan government believes that displacing and killing civilian populations will destroy the moral of the SPLM-N fighters who came from the civilian populations.  We would like to bring to the attention of all human rights activists and those who are concerned of the protection of the civilian population that General Bashir of Sudan and his gang are war criminals. 
They are on their way to commit more war crimes and atrocities against the civilian populations of the Nuba Mountains.  The silence and the impunity they are getting is encouraging them to commit more crimes in front of the eyes and ears of the whole world.  Your attention and your voice and your action are needed. 

The information was sent by SKYPE from Yasir Arman, Secretary General, SPLM-N