World Bank Reaffirms Commitment to Support Ethiopia’s Efforts to Ensure Energy AccessCall To Restore, Protect And Utilize Wetlands To Create Wealth

Addis Ababa: World Bank appreciated Ethiopia's progress and reaffirmed the Bank's steadfast commitment to supporting the Government of Ethiopia's endeavors to ensure universal energy access for the citizens. The Ministry of Finance and the World Bank jointly conducted a workshop on energy sector reform in Addis Ababa. The Ministry of Water and Energy, Ethiopian Electric Power, Ethiopian Electric Utility, Ethiopian Investment Holdings, and other key stakeholders have also participated at the workshop. Opening of the workshop, Minister of Finance, Ahmed Shide emphasized the importance of having enough clean energy that is affordable, accessible and of high quality for the citizens. Moreover, he stated that the energy sector is the core of the country's economy, as its infrastructure development can stimulate and attract more high-quality investment that contributes to rapid and sustainable development. Ahmed acknowledged the World Bank for financing the large portfolio operations under implementation in th e sector. Referring energy sector reform as one of the target areas under the upcoming Home Grown Economic Reform 2 (HGER 2.0), Ahmed requested continuous support from the Bank for the reform agenda indicating the need for huge investment and collaboration of key partners and stakeholders to achieve the desired outcomes set by the government. Minister of Water and Energy, Habtamu Itefa highlighted the progress made so far in the energy sector related to access, transmission, distribution, and improving services. He also expressed gratitude to the Bank for its valuable technical assistance and urged continued collaboration. World Bank's Country Director for Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, and South Sudan Ousmane Dione appreciated Ethiopia's progress and reaffirmed the Bank's steadfast commitment to supporting the Government of Ethiopia's endeavors to ensure universal energy access for the citizens. Consecutive discussion sessions were made at the workshop on universal energy access, sustainable financing for en ergy expansion, and structural and regulatory reforms whereby different milestones were set for further deliberation and effort to advance the energy sector reform agenda, according to Finance Ministry Source: Ethiopian News Agency Kericho County Executive (CECM) for Water, Environment, Energy, Forestry and Natural Resources, Rosemary Rop, has called for more proactive steps by all stakeholders in not only restoring and protecting the wetlands, but also creation of jobs and wealth around the wetlands. Speaking during the commemoration of the World Wetlands Day at the University of Kabianga, Rop urged graduates to specialize in biodiversity and think of ways to creating jobs around wetlands and forests. She mentioned that wetlands can harbour bamboo trees, which can create a range of goods that can be used by society, adding that the wetlands can also host birds, that people would want to come and see and study. 'We want to provide tourists sites within Kericho, so that people can tour and watch variety of birds being hosted by our wetlands. We are moving beyond protecting the wetlands, we want it to be one an economic foundation for new jobs and new activities within this County. So we want people to be tour guides, story tellers, and attract people from outside of Kericho to come and enjoy the biodiversity and the beauty of this County,' added Rop. The County Executive underscored the importance of wetlands which are important for construction materials, food, medicine, pasture, sources of water for domestic and industrial use. 'Ecologically, wetlands harbour diverse habitats, which provide feeding and breeding areas for wildlife, some of which are endangered, vulnerable, threatened and range restricted,' she said. She urged Chiefs and National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) officers, to help in stopping eucalyptus growing alongside riparian lands, saying people should plant indigenous trees and stop ploughing 30 meters-up, away from water bodies and wetlands. The CECM warned persons encroaching wetlands, saying they will be dealt with in accordance with the law. Rop, who led a tree planting exercise, to mark the day, said Forestry training courses at Kabianga University and Londiani Forest College called for enhancement to train students who will be instrumental in wetlands and natural resources restoration and protection in the Country. Meanwhile, University of Kabianga Vice Chancellor, Prof. Erick Koech, noted that several wetlands within the County, had been encroached by people making bricks, washing vehicles and draining-off Wetlands, for farming activities. 'Daraja Sita wetland in Kericho-Bomet boarder among other wetlands in the region have been encroached on, thus threatening aquatic life and others who depends on wetlands for survival, and these people need to be brought to book,' reiterated Prof. Koech. Kenya Forestry Research Institute Officer, Joram Binga, said over 600 trees were planted at the University's wetlands area, to commemorate the day. Other guests who graced the occasion included the Kericho County Director of NEMA Dr. Moses Morentat and the Principal Kenya Forestry College, Elizabeth Wambugu among others. This year's theme of the celebrations was 'Wetlands and Human Wellbeing,' with the campaign spotlighting on how interconnected wetlands and human life are, with people drawing sustenance, inspiration and resilience from the productive ecosystems. Source: Kenya News Agency