A Week In The Horn

Dr. Mills noted that “the most important task for the government, however, from the Prime Minister’s vantage is to get investors into the 20 industrial parks dotted around the country.” The Prime Minister noted that the industrial parks offered comprehensive facilities from programs for one-stop services to proper utilities, environmental management, and training and skills development provisions,. In fact, all the facilities and services appropriate to a modern city.  The government was aiming for each park to provide 50,000 jobs.

 

The Daily Maverick’s interview mentioned some of the challenges of running manufacturing businesses in Ethiopia or in an industrial park. These included the need to import virtually all component parts and materials as well as the unreliability of power supplies which, it suggested, would necessitate investment in back-up generators. In fact, of course, power supplies will be solved through the commissioning of the $4.8-billion, 6,000MW Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam when completed. In response to the interviewer’s question on balancing the momentum of domestic investment with Foreign Direct Investment, the Prime Minister noted the need to source domestic capital as a stimulus for foreign investment, “especially in textiles, garments, footwear, and agro-processing”, all priority sectors for manufacturing development. Prime Minister Hailemariam also mentioned the importance of looking for more areas to move into, including biotech and nanotech sectors, which he stressed, requires “engaging in and spending on Research and Development to enable competitiveness.”

 

The Prime Minister was forthright. The success of Ethiopia’s transition and its ability to create jobs en masse would hinge on encouraging an indigenous business class as a strong domestic base for growth. There is a shortage of capital and the need to make the political economy more receptive. The Prime Minister said “If it is favorable for rent-seeking and if government officials are involved in patronage and in short-term looting, it discourages the local private sector to invest in productive areas. This demands that we stamp out corruption. But it also means,” he added, “that we remove the deficits in infrastructure, rules and procedures, and finance to encourage private sector investment in productive, value-addition activities.”

 

The Prime Minister stressed the individual responsibility of Ethiopians and “need to work on attitudes,” underlining that the creation of quality jobs would “take 20 to 30 years at least. He said, “Our biggest constraint is the attitude, the outlook and the exposure of our people. We have a huge rural population. You need to create an understanding among them of the need for value creation in a way that requires everyone working very hard and working differently, for example in the change from subsistence to rural agriculture. You also have to convince people that white collar jobs are not everything, that agriculture can be a modern occupation.” He added that this required a good communications strategy to explain the dangers of failing. “Our danger”, he said, “is a danger of poverty and of the country’s disintegration if we don’t tackle these problems, and become active and hard working.”

 

In answer to Dr. Mills’ question on his definition of success, the Prime Minister said: “It is about bringing meaningful change in the lives of our people. It’s not just about figures or growth, but about changing lives.” “Growth,” he added, “has to be shared to be sustainable.”

 

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Chinese Investment Forum for Sustainable Trade and Economic Growth in Africa

 

The “Forum on Chinese Investment for Sustainable Trade and Growth in Africa” was held in Beijing, China, from May 31 – June 1, 2016, with the principal aim of exploring business opportunities and deliberating on the needs for catalyzing suitable investment, especially from China, in productive sectors in Africa, as a means to drive export development, economic growth and job creation. The Forum was held within the framework of Partnership for Investment and Growth in Africa (PIGA), a joint United Kingdom-China effort to increase exports and sustainable economic growth in Africa. The Partnership for Investment and Growth in Africa initiative was officially launched in October last year in London on the sidelines of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the UK.  It seeks to increase exports and sustainable incomes of people living in poverty in Africa through increased investment and greater integration of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) into global value chains in manufacturing and agro-processing. PIGA partners and pilot countries identify exporting enterprises in Africa and foreign investors including those from China, and increase quality investment in key sectors, as well as increase participation of local business in the regional and global value chains. PIGA, currently in a scoping and design phase, is part of a broader range of UK-China-Africa Collaboration for Investment and Growth. It was supported by Justine Greening, UK Secretary of State for DfID; Hu Huaibang, Chairman of the China Development Bank; Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission; and Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanom.

 

Last week’s two-day Forum was co-organized by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), the China-Africa Development Fund (CAD-Fund) and the International Trade Center. These have forged a collaborative arrangement to work together towards increasing sustainable investment for the greater integration of Small and Medium Enterprises in Africa into global value chains in the manufacturing and agro-processing sectors. Discussions focused particularly on the four pilot PIGA countries, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia, and at the way these countries have aspired to get the most out of local development, including the creation of more jobs, adhering to principles of solidarity and mutually beneficial cooperation. The Forum also explored opportunities for Chinese companies to invest in Africa’s productive sectors, aiming to drive export development, economic growth and job creation. It provided a business-networking platform for interested businesses with African investment and trade promotion institutions. The large attendance in Beijing showed the growing interest of Chinese businesses and investment-supporting institutions to do business in Africa

Speakers at the Forum included Ethiopia’s Ambassador to China, Ambassador Seyoum Mesfin; ITC Executive Director, Arancha González; the Chairwoman of the Beijing Sub-Council of the CCPIT, Ms. Xiong Jiuling; the Chief Executive Officer of CAD-Fund, Mr. Shi Jiyang; and the Director-General of Economic Development of DFID, Mr. David Kennedy. It brought together more than 300 representatives from Chinese businesses, government, and trade and investment support institutions in the four pilot African countries, as well as from China and the UK.

 

Ambassador Seyoum emphatically underlined the importance of partnership, pointing out that successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, and especially the goal to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere”, required governments, private investors, civil society organizations, trade and investment-support institutions to enhance synergies to turn such opportunities into concrete and tangible development impact. This could be done through inclusive employment creation, integration of global value chains, expanded production capacities of African countries, and technology transfer. He referred to the greater role a facilitative state could play in terms of spearheading the creation of economic infrastructures to provide a foundation for the desired structural transformation in African economies. This would allow for the creation of an enabling atmosphere for agricultural modernization, export diversification, sustainable industrialization and inclusive development endeavors. Ethiopia, he noted, was providing a favorable investment climate for manufacturing and agro-processing sub-sectors, allowing foreign companies to create a linkage with small and medium scale enterprises of Ethiopia in order to help them take full advantage of developing production capacity and value-creating ventures for job creation and poverty reduction.

 

Ambassador Seyoum stressed that it was an imperative necessity for African countries to move fast to unlock and utilize the transformative power of the multi-billion dollar funding package pledged by the Government of China to implement practical projects within the framework of Johannesburg Declaration and Action Plans of the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). He said Ethiopia was strictly committed to translate the new blueprints into action to realize opportunities for future mutual development and continue the trend of prosperous growth through agricultural modernization, infrastructure development and the harnessing of industrial production capacity through partnership. Effective industrial relocation would, he said, mean igniting local industrialization in Africa. There was agreement that China and Africa’s development strategies were complementary and characterized by mutual gain. He also emphasized the importance of encouraging best practices and progress of technical and institutional capacities. This would help overcome constraints preventing implementation of these initiatives and realizing the common dream. Ambassador Seyoum said it was the responsibility of Africa, China and other partners, to pursue cooperation actively between industries and encourage promotion of the processes of industrialization and agricultural modernization to achieve win-win results. Addressing hurdles would foster the interest of economic actors on all sides and be a force to bring productive Africa to the global market.

 

Ms. Xiong Jiuling, representative of CCPIT said that China-Africa cooperation had embraced development needs, aligning the complementarities of both sides, and was in line with the African Union Agenda 2063. In addition, the international capacity cooperation agenda was on track to bring tangible results. She noted that countries like Ethiopia had comparative advantages for localizing value-creating manufacturing and agro-processing industries. Mr. Shi Jiyang, CEO of the CAD-Fund said cooperation in leveraging the economic and trade structures of Africa could move the continent away from being at the wrong end of the global value chain. China, he said, was best positioned to help lift Africa’s production capacity sharply. He mentioned that the CAD-Fund had been participating with Chinese enterprises in productive investment ventures in Africa. It had jointly invested in 36 African countries with an investment outlay of US$3.4 billion so far, and this had been of assistance in boosting export earnings and fiscal revenue. He said the Fund was willing to promote the tripartite cooperation envisaged in PIGA.

 

On the issue of integrating African SMEs into the global trade value chain, Ms. González of the ITC, pointed out that Chinese investment support should be anchored in productive sectors such as light manufacturing and agro-processing where SMEs were the growth levers to ensure local value addition, export earnings and job creation. Mr. Kennedy of DFID welcomed the level of interest and energy generated by the Forum. He said this showed the “great potential of this kind of triangular cooperation to make a real difference in terms of investment and jobs in Africa.” He said manufacturing and agricultural investments anchored in export markets would offer enormous opportunities for economic transformation in Africa. Professor Justin Yifu Lin, a former chief economist and senior vice president at the World Bank, and Honorary Dean of the National School of Development, Peking University, said that African countries had the potential for dynamic economic growth. They should focus on their comparative advantages and place themselves ready to capture the window of opportunity for industrialization arising from the relocation of labor-intensive light manufacturing from higher-income countries, such as China. In this regard, he said, the role of the facilitative and developmental state was irreplaceable.

 

Diplomats from the Ethiopian Embassy in Beijing and representatives of the Ethiopian Investment Commission gave details of the investment potential of Ethiopian agriculture, agro-processing and light manufacturing. They noted Ethiopia was endowed with different agro-ecologies suitable for the production of a wide range of commodities, making commercialization of agriculture an attractive proposition to foreign companies. The sector is indeed well placed to drive agro-industrial development. The demand for the export of processed food products is increasing globally, and Chinese investors were encouraged to participate in the agro-processing industry in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian government had recently launched its Integrated Agro-Industrial Park (IAIP) development program as a core component in the current Growth and Transformation Plan to help integrate small-scale farming into commercial agricultural value chains. There is great potential for Chinese investors in these proposed parks.

 

The opportunities in the manufacturing sub-sector, such as textile and apparel, leather products, chemical and pharmaceutical production, construction materials and other similar products, attracted a lot of attention from the audience, who were impressed by the low production costs and resource advantages Ethiopia could offer investors. Ethiopia is a good candidate to host Chinese labor-intensive and export-oriented factories when labor-intensive production begins to relocate overseas. The government has been building special economic zones, equipped with necessary economic infrastructure to attract foreign export-focused investments as a deliberate boost to jump-start industrialization. Localizing industries in Ethiopia would help Chinese investors capitalize on preferential trade programs that allow African countries to export duty-free to US and EU markets, as well as satisfy growing domestic and regional demands.

 

The giant Chinese shoe manufacturing company, Huajian, currently producing 2,000 pairs of shoes daily in Ethiopia, was showcased as a success story. The Chairman of the Huajian Group said his company has recently secured close to 138 hectares of land in Ethiopia in order to build a light industry city at a cost of about US$2 billion. This planned industrial zone would create employment opportunities for 30 to 50 thousand people and significantly boost Ethiopia’s foreign currency earning capacity. The Chairman urged developed countries to buy products originating from Africa, pointing out the quality of production had steadily improved.

 

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UN Commission of Inquiry indicts Eritrea for crimes against humanity

A detailed and damning report by the UN Commission of Inquiry, released on Wednesday this week (June 8), states unequivocally that crimes against humanity have been committed in Eritrea over the past 25 years. It lists “crimes of enslavement, imprisonment, enforced disappearances, torture, persecution, rape, murder and other inhumane acts|” that were, the report says, all “part of a campaign to instill fear in, deter opposition from and ultimately to control the Eritrean civilian population since 1991”. The 94 page report provides detailed evidence of its claims. Mike Smith, chair of the Commission of Inquiry said these crimes were still occurring today.

 

The Commission’s report describes Eritrea as “an authoritarian State without an independent judiciary or a national assembly or any democratic institutions”, and Mr. Smith said, “There is no genuine prospect of the Eritrean judicial system holding perpetrators to account in a fair and transparent manner. The perpetrators of these crimes must face justice and the victims’ voices must be heard. The international community should now take steps, including using the International Criminal Court, national courts and other available mechanisms to ensure there is accountability for the atrocities being committed in Eritrea.” The report noted there had been no improvement in the human rights situation in Eritrea documented in the first Commission of Inquiry report published just a year ago.

 

The report highlights that “Eritreans also continue to be subjected to indefinite national service, arbitrary detention, reprisals for the alleged conduct of family members, discrimination on religious or ethnic grounds, sexual and gender-based violence and killings.” The indefinite duration of military and national service programs, it pointed out, are frequently cited by Eritreans as the main reason for fleeing the country. In 2015, 47,025 Eritreans applied for asylum in Europe, many making the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean in unsafe boats, exploited by smugglers in search of safety. The numbers leaving the country have steadily increased in the last few years.

 

The report said that “particular individuals, including officials at the highest levels of State, the ruling party – the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice – and commanding officers bear responsibility for crimes against humanity and other gross human rights violations.” It added that “the National Security Office is responsible for most cases of arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance and torture in official and unofficial detention centres.” The Commission said that it had compiled dossiers of evidence on a number of individuals whom the Commission “has reasonable grounds to believe bear responsibility for crimes against humanity”. It said this evidence will be made available “at the appropriate time to relevant institutions, including courts of law, following strict witness protection requirements, to ensure there is justice for the Eritrean people.” For the moment, these dossiers and the names of those in them remain confidential.

 

The Commission’s report also detailed its methodology. In addition to the 833 testimonies it took from Eritreans, including 160 written submissions received during the first term of the Commission of Inquiry, from mid-2014 to mid-2015, the Commission also received another 44,267 written submissions during its second investigation. The vast majority of these were group letters and petitions critical of the Commission’s first report. Almost all contained common themes and similar content and were the direct result of an organized Government campaign to try to discredit the Commission of Inquiry. The Commission contacted over two thousand of these and “next to none …had actually read the report, and many had been provided with sensationalized information about the Commission’s findings.” The most fervent critics were those who had left Eritrea around 1991 and most based their comments either on an “erroneous understanding, or deliberate misinformation, about the United Nations sanctions regime.” Others admitted being illiterate and receiving assistance from an Eritrean Embassy in formulating their letters. In some cases signatures had been forged; in others cases, Eritrean officials had made it known that Eritreans who did not write to the Commission supporting the Government would not have their passports renewed.

 

Many came from people who said they visited Eritrea briefly during the summer to see relatives. The Commission said that “the façade of calm and normality that is apparent to the occasional visitor to the country, and others confined to sections of the capital, belies the consistent patterns of serious human rights violations.” It added: “the types of gross human rights violations in Eritrea documented by the Commission … are not committed on the streets of Asmara, but rather behind the walls of detention facilities and in military training camps. Torture and rape are not normally perpetrated in the open.” The Commission also noted that as on previous occasions, despite repeated requests to the Government, the Commission was refused permission to visit the country.

 

The conclusions of the report are quite clear and bear quoting in full:

“(341) The Commission finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in Eritrea since 1991. Eritrean officials have engaged in a persistent, widespread and systematic attack against the country’s civilian population since 1991. They have committed, and continue to commit, the crimes of enslavement, imprisonment, enforced disappearance, torture, other inhumane acts, persecution, rape and murder.

“(342) In the absence of a constitution, an independent judiciary or democratic institutions in Eritrea, the Commission has found no improvement in the rule of law. The Commission has heard of no plans to hold national elections. While the Commission was informed about the establishment of a committee to consider drafting a new constitution, it has received no further details.

“(343) The Commission finds that the gross human rights violations it documented in its previous report persist, including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, torture, killings, sexual and gender-based violence, discrimination on the basis of religion and ethnicity, and reprisals for the alleged conduct of family members. In addition, many of those subjected to enforced disappearance in the past remain unaccounted for.

“(344) While the Commission notes the State’s increased engagement with the international community, there is no evidence of progress in the field of human rights. Human rights violations are cited as the main motivating factor for departure by the consistently large number of Eritreans fleeing the country, including by the rising number of unaccompanied minors.

“(345) Eritreans continue to be subjected to indefinite military/national service. The Government has recently confirmed that there are no plans to limit its duration to the statutory 18 months. Conscripts are drafted for an indefinite duration of service in often abusive conditions, and used as forced labour.

“(346) Political power and control are concentrated in the hands of the President and a small circle of military and political loyalists. The Commission has reasonable grounds to believe that the top levels of the National Security Office and the military are responsible for most cases of arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance and torture. Military commanders are also responsible for abuses committed in the context of the Government’s military service programmes and at Eritrean borders. The leadership of the party and the military also benefit from the use of military/national service conscripts as forced labour.”

 

The Commission provides a comprehensive list of recommendations to the Government of Eritrea, the UN and the UN Security Council, the AU and to member states and international organizations and transnational corporations. These include a call for the Government of Eritrea to implement fully and without delay the Constitution of 1997, to carry out changes in governance, allow political parties and free, fair and transparent democratic elections and establish the rule of law. The Commission says indefinite military/national service should be limited to 18 months for all current and future conscripts, torture, ill-treatment, sexual violence and enslavement of conscripts as well as forced labor of conscripts should be discontinued. It calls for an end to arbitrary detention and the closure of all secret detention centers, and independent monitoring of all places of detention. It wants an end to the arrest of individuals for religious beliefs and protection for all minority ethnic groups, in particular the Kunama and the Afar. It says the Government should implement a zero-tolerance policy for sexual abuse in the army and in detention centers, stop harassment and reprisals against relatives and associates of persons accused of wrongdoing. It should also put an end to extrajudicial killings, and provide accountability for past and persistent human rights violations and crimes, including “enslavement, imprisonment, enforced disappearance, torture, and other inhumane acts, persecution, rape and murder.”

 

The report recommends that the UN Human Rights Council renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, keep the situation in Eritrea on its agenda, and transmit the present report to the General Assembly, the Secretary-General and the UN Security Council for follow-up. It also suggests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights establishes a structure with a protection and promotion mandate to assist in ensuring accountability for human rights violations in Eritrea, especially where such violations amount to crimes against humanity.

 

It recommends that the UN General Assembly puts the human rights situation in Eritrea on its agenda and that UN Security Council classify the situation of human rights in Eritrea as posing a threat to international peace and security. It suggests the UN Security Council should impose targeted sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, on persons where there are reasonable grounds to believe they are responsible for crimes against humanity or other gross violations of human rights. It also calls for the Security Council to refer the situation in Eritrea to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. The African Union should establish a mechanism, supported by the international community, to investigate and prosecute individuals in Eritrea who may reasonably be believed to have committed crimes against humanity.

 

The report says Member States and international organizations should keep Eritrea under close scrutiny until visible progress can be seen in human rights. It calls for the implementation of the decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission on the delimitation of the border, though it might have added that Ethiopia has been trying unsuccessfully to get Eritrea to open a dialogue on demarcation of the border or over a decade. It wants the International Labour Organization to keep Eritrea on its agenda and continue to address the issue of forced labor. Member states, it says, should provide Eritrean nationals seeking protection with refugee status. They should also act if any alleged offender, accused of crimes against humanity, arrives in the territory of a Member State. It concludes by calling on all transnational corporations operating in Eritrea to conduct human rights impact assessments. They should specifically look at the possibility that Eritrean contractors rely on the use of conscript labor, as well as issues arising from the problems of freedom of association and expression in Eritrea and the absence of financial transparency.

 

Despite the plethora of detailed evidence produced, the Commission’s report was strongly attacked by Eritrean officials as might be expected. Indeed, the government has been trying to organize a massive petition to present to the UN Human Rights Council against the Commission. In addition to organizing tens of thousands of written submissions criticizing the Commission, the government also mobilized armed Ethiopian opposition groups based in Eritrea  to campaign against the Commission. Presidential Adviser, Yemane Gebreab, in a press statement on Wednesday, claimed the report failed to meet “principles of impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity” and “lacked the minimum standards of rigor and professionalism.” He alleged it had produced “no solid evidence or firm legal basis to support its extreme and unfounded charges”, and its methodology was “ so deeply flawed as to seriously compromise its findings and render its conclusions null and void.” The report, he asserted, was entirely one-sided and its evaluation of the “evidence” it received was “woefully inadequate.” It lacked balance as it ignored “any positive development” including, he said “Eritrea’s significant achievements in political and civic rights”. Eritrea, he said, therefore rejects “the politically motivated and groundless accusations and the destructive recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry.”

 

The Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea was first established by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2014. The Commission’s first report was published on 8 June 2015. It documented a number of grave human rights violations in the State’s military/national service program and concluded that there might have been crimes against humanity committed in Eritrea. The UN Council of Human Rights then asked the Commission of Inquiry to investigate further . The Commission consists of three independent experts: Chairperson Mr. Mike Smith (Australia), Mr. Victor Dankwa (Ghana) and Ms. Sheila B. Keetharuth (Mauritius), who is also the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Eritrea. It will formally present its report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on June 21.

 

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The National Leaders Forum in Somalia discusses the electoral process for August..…

Somalia’s National Leaders Forum met at Villa Somalia on Sunday (May 29) under the chairmanship of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to discuss the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections later this year. The three day meeting was also attended by Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke as well as the Presidents of the Jubaland, South West, Puntland and Galmudug administrations. They were discussing implementation of the electoral model previously endorsed at the National Consultation Forum and promulgated by Presidential decree on Sunday (May 22) after the Government had failed to muster enough votes in Parliament to get its proposed election modalities passed by Parliament. After weeks of deadlock, the President, after warnings that time was running out and with the approval of the UN Representative in Somalia and other international partners, opted for a presidential decree to keep the election process on track.

 

The meeting was closed and little information was released about the discussions. Among the items under consideration reportedly was the question of the extra seven seats for the Upper House of Parliament. The original suggestion was for these to be allocated as extra representation for Somaliland and Puntland as the two longest existing states. Another suggestion was that they should go to Benadir region which includes the capital Mogadishu. Shortly before the meeting opened, President Mohamud said it was “unsustainable for a city of three million not to be represented in the Upper House”.  However, there was some concern expressed about allocating seats in the Upper House to Benadir region. One Federal MP, Sharif Mohammed Abdulla, said on Monday this week that Mogadishu deserves to have its share in the Upper House and he was optimistic that the leaders would “close the gap about the status of Mogadishu and a solution will be reached.” Among other topics were implementation of 2016 poll blueprint, the status of the capital, national security and poll wards. The leaders are reported to have approved Somalia’s National Security Policy.

 

Reports indicated that the leaders had agreed not to spend time on issues that were not part of the original agreement, endorsed by the National Leadership Forum. This meant more contentious issues such as the allocation of seats for the Benadir region in the Upper House were put aside with leaders agreeing “not to waste time”. Most of the discussions related to other issues including the replacement of those traditional leaders who had died since the selection of the current parliament in 2012. Conclusions on this were not finalized and will be carried forward to the next meeting. The full schedule and timing of the elections are now set to be officially announced at the next meeting.

 

A statement issued at the end of last week, on Friday (June 3), from the President’s Office emphasized that Somalia would choose a new parliament as planned later this year. It said: “The conference repeats the previous promise that there will be no extension term and the election will take place at the planned time.” It also noted that the further procedural details would be discussed at the next conference of regional leaders and the President on June 20, in Baidoa, and this would also finalize the details of exactly how the future lawmakers would be selected.

 

The Special Representative of the AU Commission and head of AMISOM, Ambassador Madeira, welcomed the statement and the fact that “the Somali leaders have agreed on the technical and political bodies to oversee the elections in manner that the election can be credible” He noted that each MP would be elected by 51 voters and “we consider this to a step in the right direction considering that Somalia is coming out from a deep crisis.”  He announced the next day that AMISOM was gearing itself up to provide security to ensure a peaceful vote during the upcoming electoral process in Somalia. He said AMISOM had already begun working with the Somali Government and security forces to establish a technical security committee to oversee security arrangements for the August ballot. Ambassador Madeira said “The commitment taken by Somali politicians and leaders is that the 2016 elections be viewed as another transition towards a full-fledged electoral process of one-person-one-vote by 2020. We are happy that they have all agreed on how to go about this.”

 

The electoral model developed by the National Leadership Forum follows the Garowe Agreement reached between the Federal Government and the Puntland State Administration on April 4 this year. This resolved the dispute over whether to base the electoral model on the 4.5 clan formula or on districts and constituencies, covering the  2016 electoral process, formation of  the Upper House of the Federal Parliament, a 2020 roadmap, the constitutional review process, federation and other issues. It was following this that members of the Federal Parliament set up a parliamentary committee to consider amendments and prepare a draft 2016 election law. The process, however, dragged on and the delays began to threaten the timetable and caused concern both with the government and with the international community which had guaranteed and witnessed the Garowe agreement. In the end the President felt obliged to issue decree mandating the implementation of the electoral model adopted by the National Leadership Forum on April 12, underlining that this would be used only for the 2016 election after the expiration of the constitutional terms of the legislative and executive institutions. The President said it was imperative the electoral model be adopted into law to prevent any escalation of rifts and protect the interests of the country. According to Somalia’s Provisional Federal Constitution, adopted in 2012, the mandates of the Somali Federal Parliament and of the government would come to an end in August and September 2016, respectively.

 

….President Mohamud on an official visit to Kenya and the Dadaab camp…

 

President Mohamud of Somalia paid a three-day official visit to Kenya this week (June 6-8) during which he visited the Dadaab camp and held talks with President Kenyatta on Tuesday (June 7). At Dadaab, President Mohamud assured refugees that the Government of Somalia was committed to receive them back home to participate in the process of state building, peace building and national reconciliation. He reassured them that the repatriation will be orderly, humane and dignified as per the Tripartite Agreement between Somalia, Kenya and the UNHCR. After talks with President Kenyatta on Tuesday, reviewing bilateral and multilateral issues including peace, security and stability in Somalia, repatriation of refugees from Dadaab and economic cooperation a joint communique was issued, reaffirming “the good neighborliness, bonds of heritage, shared destiny and the cordial relationship” between Kenya and Somalia. The two Presidents also “rededicated themselves and their Governments to enhance and further deepen the cordial relations that exist between Kenya and Somalia.”

 

The statement appreciated the contribution of African countries within the framework of AMISOM in stabilizing Somalia and commended the value of cooperation between AMISOM and the Somalia Security Forces in securing a stable environment for state building in line with

Somalia’s Vision 2016. It specifically appreciated the key role that Kenya continued “to play in promoting peace, security, unity and stability in Somalia”. It also noted the progress made in the political process and expressed confidence that the elections would lead to a foundation for a stable and prosperous Somalia. It committed the two sides “to working jointly on the orderly, humane and dignified repatriation of the Somali refugees back to Somalia as per the Tripartite Agreement,” and emphasized that the Tripartite Agreement provided “the framework for fast-tracking orderly, humane and dignified repatriation”. It said this cooperation would enhance the spirit of collaboration over and above the framework of the Tripartite Agreement. It also called upon the international community to support this process by providing adequate support to the Federal Government of Somalia to receive the returnees.

 

On bilateral cooperation, the statement directed   the immediate convening of the Joint Commission for Co-operation to follow up on issues of joint border crossing and security, trade and investment, health, education, sports and youth, culture and scientific research and communication. It agreed that in the short term customs and immigration clearance procedures for flights from Somalia to Kenya should be carried out at one point of entry which would be determined shortly; in the longer term, modalities would be developed for a direct flight between Somalia and Kenya.

 

On regional issues, the two sides agreed to consult the Chair of the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government for the convening of the IGAD Summit in Mogadishu. They also reaffirmed their firm commitment to work together on areas of mutual interest.

 

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The Global Green Growth Forum 2016 Summit in Copenhagen

The three-day Global Green Growth Forum (3GF) 2016 Summit opened in Copenhagen, Denmark on Sunday (June 5). The Forum brings together governments, businesses, investors and international organizations to act together for the implementation of inclusive green growth. This year’s Summit has been designed specifically to follow-up on the Paris Climate Agreement of December last year, and the Agreement on UN’s Sustainable Development Goals reached at the UN in September 2015.

 

The Global Green Growth Forum (3GF) was initiated by the Danish government in 2011 in close collaboration with Korea and Mexico. Since then, China, Kenya, Qatar, and Ethiopia have joined the platform, and Vietnam and Chile have become official 3GF partner countries this year. The Prime Minister of Denmark invited some 250-300 leaders from corporations, governments and civil society from all over the world, including the 3GF partnership countries: China, Ethiopia, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, Qatar and Vietnam.

 

This year’s Summit is being held under the theme of “A Call to Action – Enabling Solutions at Speed and Scale.” The Forum and the countries involved believe the momentum has never been greater for a “green transformation” of our world. This, of course, is only possible through a genuine partnership between public and private sectors as this is necessary to unleash new sources of ideas, technology, and financing to allow for development solutions. The Forum is working to catalyze such game-changing public-private partnerships to accelerate this transition and bring transformative solutions to a global level.

 

Last year saw large-scale agenda-setting and substantial public commitment on sustainable development. There was the Agreement at the UN on the Sustainable Development Goals and the Agreement on Climate Change reached in Paris.  This year, 2016, is therefore crucial in translating the promises made in 2015 into concrete actions and plans. This, indeed, is what the Global Green Growth 2016 Summit sees as its central task.  Its timing was deliberately designed to maximize progress arising from last year’s meetings, to try to help move the world beyond promise into positive action.

 

The aim of the Summit has been to provide a forum to accompany and accelerate delivery of elements to support the Sustainable Development Goals through transformational public-private partnerships. The SDGs and the climate commitments can only be successfully delivered by nations acting together and in unison. A key challenge for implementation is the need to foster solutions which link these two agendas together. So the Summit focused on elements that align with green growth drivers, so the discussions concentrated on: cities, energy, forests, water, land, sustainable production and consumption including value chains, food and hunger, and finance. It also underlined the importance of setting the right frameworks for promoting sustainable lifestyles, making sustainable production and consumption a reality, and on financing of the green transformation.

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The unique feature of the 3GF is the way it enables unique and innovative partnerships to be formed, accelerated and scaled-up. The 3GF 2016 Summit builds on previous work achieved in creating innovative and distinctive partnerships. These are driven by knowledge sharing about successful ventures, in turn sparking further innovation, along with the opportunity for very high level networking. The Forum sees the importance of having an on-going and dynamic process – delivering solutions that can be replicated, speeded up and scaled-up to produce a real and lasting impact. One of the examples of this, launched at the Summit is the Food and Waste Protocol, an international multi-stakeholder partnership devoted to reduce food waste along the value chain from production to consumption.  Another example is the Race to the Top partnership which focuses on sustainable systems of apparel production characterized by measurable progress both in environmental performance and well-being of workers.   It launched a number of new initiatives originating in the work of the Forum’s public-private partnerships, including a new initiative to combat climate change and an alliance designed to work to reduce barriers to trade in green energy.

 

The Forum sees the essence of transformative change as requiring the creation of effective systems which allow for simultaneous action with well-designed frameworks, also involving collaborative action through partnerships and continuous evaluation of impact, in order to tackle global problems of enormous complexity. It emphasizes that cities and urban areas are centers of economic growth and innovation, home to more than half the world’s population and the source of 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. They must be planned and operate according to green principles, if they are to remain livable as well as create markets for further green development. They are, therefore, crucial for the global transition to a green economy.

 

Today, the strains on the world’s ecosystems have never been greater. More than a billion people currently live in water-scarce regions, and as many as 3.5 billion may experience water scarcity by 2025. Addressing increasing scarcity of water, deforestation and depletion of natural resources are essential for the Sustainable Development Goals’ agenda. Similarly, it is essential to ensure the transformation to a new energy regime driven by renewables. Green transformation must, indeed,  be driven by such factors as  greening global value chains, which means  improving resource efficiency to create growth opportunities, generate new markets and jobs, and promote social and environmental benefits;  creating sustainable lifestyles and encouraging a shift to zero waste and clean energy ; and importantly, sufficient private and public green finance.

 

The Global Green Growth Summits feature some of the most innovative systems thinking available, providing the outline of deliverable and transformative solutions. They offer opportunities for sharing new ideas and evidence as well as experience from partnerships. This year’s Summit was no exception, underlining the critical importance of moving faster and further than ever.

 

The Ethiopian delegation to the Summit was led by Dr. Arkebe Oqubay, Special Adviser to Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn. Dr. Arkebe gave a statement at the opening  plenary session and also took part on a conversation on “A  Call to Action: A Conversation on Enabling Solutions at Speed and Scale in Ethiopia”, exploring green growth in Ethiopia, and the country’s  experience of climate solutions in the context of mitigation and climate changes in the country. The delegation also included Shiferaw Teklemariam from the Federal Ministry of Health who participated in the sessions on “Unlocking Financial Flows for Restoration” and on “The Role of National Financing in Accelerating Green Growth”, described as a session devoted to learning from the practical experiences of those who are making green growth happen on the ground. Ms. Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, of SoleRebels took part in the plenary session on “Going Back in the Value Chain”, and “In the session on “Aspirations and Opportunities for the Growing Middle Class”.

 

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IGAD Ambassadors endorse strategies and implementation plans for 2016-20

 

The 30th Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Committee of Ambassadors Meeting convened in Addis Ababa on Monday and Tuesday this week (June 6-7) has endorsed sectoral strategies and implementation plans to be implemented from 2016 to 2020.

 

The Chair of the IGAD council of Ambassadors, Ambassador Shamebo Fitamo, in his opening remarks pointed out that “The 55th Extra-Ordinary Meeting of IGAD Council of Ministers which was held on 30-31 January 2016, in Addis Ababa has approved the IGAD Regional Strategy 2016-2020 and its implementation plan.” The IGAD Council of Ministers also authorized the IGAD committee of Ambassadors to approve the IGAD Sectoral Strategies. The Ambassador noted that the two-day meeting would focus on the IGAD Sectoral Strategies organized in six thematic areas; agriculture, livestock, fisheries and food security; natural resource management and environment protection; social affairs development; regional economic cooperation and integration; peace and security and humanitarian affairs; and gender issues. According to the Ambassador the meeting came at a time when the region was experiencing dynamic problems including climate change, security threats, fragility and conflict. He said the regional strategy has taken these dynamics into account along with new initiatives and the framework of the African Union Agenda 2063 and of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The meeting stressed that this would maximize opportunities.

 

Ambassador Shamebo also underlined that formulating a strategy was not an end in itself but was a process that would be followed up through a comprehensive five years implementation plan and annual operation plans. He noted that most importantly, “there must be appropriate and evaluation mechanisms under which the processes should be carried out with agreed indicators that could measure the impact of activities.”

 

In his opening statement, the Executive Secretary of IGAD, Ambassador Engineer Mahboub Maalim noted that IGAD is on track and was indeed ahead of other Regional Economic Communities (RECs) on the regional integration agenda. This has led to improved livelihoods and economic development in the IGAD region. Ambassador Mahboub further noted that unless there was Member State cooperation and harmonization sustainability and easy implementation of IGAD programs and projects would not be realized.

 

After deliberating on the IGAD Sectoral Strategies, the IGAD Committee of Ambassadors gave its approval for their full implementation over the coming five years. Other items on the agenda included the approval of revised clauses in the IGAD Treaty, which were referred to the Council of Ministers for approval, and the implementation of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) for improved financial reporting and management to be implemented by the Division of Finance and Administration.

 

The Committee was updated on Member State contributions and on arrears and on the general IGAD financial status. Ambassador Catherine Mwangi, Kenyan Ambassador to Ethiopia and Djibouti, requested the IGAD Secretariat to continuously remind the Committee of Ambassadors on their respective state’s contributions and arrears and encourage them to update their capitals, so that IGAD programs can successfully be implemented.

 

The Committee also discussed with the IGAD Partners Forum on how to strengthen coordination and consultation between IGAD and the IGAD Partners Forum. The IGAD Partners Forum expressed its readiness to continue to work in collaboration with the IGAD secretariat in areas of economic development as well as on peace and security issues.

 

The two day meeting was attended by Ambassadors from the IGAD Member States, namely Ethiopia, Djibouti, Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan and Sudan as well as senior IGAD staff.

 

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Preparing for post-El Niño impact in Ethiopia and the Greater Horn of Africa

 

Extreme drought followed by excessive rainfall: the weather phenomenon El Niño is at the root of famine and floods in many African countries including the Horn of Africa. Countries across Horn of Africa are currently facing devastating effects of the El Niño weather phenomenon. Several countries are reporting much heavier rainfall in the most recent rainy season and that appears due to changing weather patterns. El Niño-induced rainfall had already created havoc in parts of Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Somalia and other parts of the Horn. The effects of this El Niño are putting the world’s humanitarian system, already struggling to cope with the fallout from conflicts in Syria, South Sudan, Yemen and elsewhere, under unprecedented strain.

At the beginning of last week (May 30-31), the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) organized the 43rd Great Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum at Enashipai Spa at Naivasha in Kenya. The event was organized in collaboration with the World Meteorological Organization, the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, Global Climate Centers and development partners. The aim of the Forum was to develop a consensus on regional climate outlook for the June to September rainfall season, and formulate mitigation strategies to address the implications of forecasts of seasonal rainfall and temperature on the key socio-economic sectors in the Greater Horn of Africa region. The theme of the forum was “Preparedness for Post-El Niño Impacts in the Greater Horn of Africa”.

 

The Director of ICPAC, Dr. Guleid Artan, noted that climate- related disasters represented more than 80% of natural disasters in the Greater Horn, and the socio-economic losses emanating from climate-related disasters affected development in all countries of the region. He said climate change was likely to lead to increase in frequency, magnitude, and severity of extreme weather and climate events such as drought, floods, a rise in sea levels, and storm surges. Dr. Artan also pointed out that the effects of the El Niño rains had led to the current humanitarian crisis, with some countries in the region recording flooding while others experienced harsh weather conditions that affected millions. He identified Ethiopia as the most affected country with 10.3 million people currently in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Other countries in need of support, according to the director, were Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti and parts of Somalia. In total, he said “over 22 million people in the region required urgent food aid and the number could rise in the coming months as the long rains could lead to [further] flooding.” Dr. Artan said the mitigation measures put in place by member countries before the El Niño rains began had helped to save lives, as those efforts had minimized the effect of the rains. However, even countries in the North of Africa could be facing flooding from the impact of the long rains that are about to begin.

 

In a press release, ICPAC forecast the likelihood of above normal rainfall over most of the northern parts of the Greater Horn during June to September 2016. This included the southern parts of Sudan, most of Eritrea, South Sudan and Djibouti; the northern part of Uganda; western Kenya; and central and northern Ethiopia. The press release noted that the other areas of the Greater Horn had a dry season during this period and that these areas were expected to remain generally dry during the forecast period. This included the northern half of Sudan; eastern parts of Ethiopia; eastern parts of Kenya; almost all of Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and much of Somalia; and southern parts of Uganda. The early warning information generated in the forum is

extremely important for the region where the vagaries of climate variability and change are continuing to threaten problems for national development plans across the entire region.

 

There is an obvious need for preparedness and early action to be built into the responses to El Niño and the recovery efforts. Development actors should increase risk and vulnerability-reduction efforts in priority areas, including reprioritizing existing development funding to mitigate the risks where appropriate. Certainly, there is significant need for speedy and continuous engagement by the international community. Equally, the  Government of Ethiopia in addressing the situation and preparing for the various forecast options has started to encourage  incentives for water harvesting and provide  compensation seeds to reduce the impact of the drought. Similarly, efforts are under way at all levels to prevent damage from the unseasonal rainfall. The established National Committee and structures cascading to kebele levels have allowed the government to respond swiftly and follow the situation effectively. It is coordinating resources and logistics of both home and international organizations and partners to reach out to drought affected citizens. There is, however, still a major gap to fill the financial requirements.

 

In late March, the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in Ethiopia, together with its humanitarian partners, launched a 90-day campaign to raise money to finance urgently required food aid for Ethiopia. This campaign aimed to bridge the US$700 million gap between what is needed and what has so far been secured to aid the millions affected by a drought identified as the worst El Niño in recorded history. Other humanitarian agencies in Ethiopia are also exerting major efforts to pull together necessary funding and fill the financial gap. Mr. Jeremy Konyndyk, Director of USAID’s Office of the U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance team said he was “concerned both at the depth and scale of the need [and] the scale of the challenge.” Despite the slow response to the appeal for aid, USAID, however, remained “very confident” that this disaster would be mitigated because of the enhanced capacity and expertise in terms of humanitarian response observed over the past three decades. Even though this drought was more severe than those in the past, “we have far better capability to manage this kind of situation than 30 years ago.”

 

Dr. Johann Heffnick, Head of the Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department at the European Union Delegation to Ethiopia (ECHO), said the drought had resulted in the failure of two consecutive harvest seasons: the small belg (March to May) and the main harvest season of meher (November-December) of 2015. This had significantly reduced the general level of water, both for human and livestock, causing a serious shortage of fodder for livestock. Both government and humanitarian partners, he said, needed to scale up their efforts in order to simultaneously achieve the speeding up of the amount of aid that is coming, as well as make sure that food, water and seeds are distributed to the people in need sooner rather than later. In an interview with Addis Standard he said the necessary response was already underway, but underlined that the loss of agricultural production in most of the affected areas was “massive”, with some areas losing from 50 to 90% of their expected harvest. The lack of water was equally severe, with wells drying up and rivers disappearing. He said, “This has led to a considerable number of livestock deaths. Hundreds of thousands of livestock have died in some places.”

 

The Humanitarian Requirements Document produced in December 2015 to cover anticipated needs for the next six months is now being revised for the second half of the year. USAID expects an increase in the number of people estimated to experience Moderate to Acute Malnutrition from 1.7 million to 2.2 million and in the number of children under five facing Severe Acute Malnutrition to rise from 435,000 to 450,000; in addition, the number of farmers needing emergency seed support would rise to 3.3 million. The Government is planning, with support from partners, to vaccinate 25 million children against measles in more than 500 drought-affected woredas (districts). The EU is clear that the Government’s response has been “commendable,” but the challenges remain very considerable. There are the concerns over funding, logistics and whether the rains will be sufficient this year. In fact, projections are that the rains should be good. The Government bought one million tons of wheat in October last year and another 500,000 tons in March.  The US Department of Agriculture expects imports this year to increase to 2.5 million tons by September.

 

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(27/05/2016)

News in brief

Africa and the African Union

The first ever World Humanitarian Summit took place this week in Istanbul with UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, joining , 55 Heads of State and Governments, representatives from173 Member States, 350 private sector representatives, and over 2000 people from civil society and non-governmental organizations, to discuss the strains on global humanitarian action and the rising  humanitarian needs around the world. (See article)

The UN Security Council adopted a Presidential Statement on Tuesday (May 24) commending the increased contribution of the African Union to the maintenance of peace and security, and acknowledging the progress made in cooperation between the UN and the African Union. (See article)

Ethiopia

The President of the Republic of Korea, President Park Geun-hye, is on a State Visit to Ethiopia this week (May 25-28). She has held talks with President Dr. Mulatu Teshome and met Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn as well as African Union Commission Chairperson, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma. President Park also attended Ethio-Korean Business Summit on Friday (May 27). After her four day visit to Ethiopia she is also visiting Kenya and Uganda. (See article)

Ethiopia is celebrating the 25th anniversary of National Day, the anniversary of the downfall of the oppressive military dictatorship of the Derg in 1991, on Saturday (May 28, ‘Ginbot 20′). As part of the celebrations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a panel discussion on Ethiopia’s Foreign Policy Journey of the Past 25 Years at the Sheraton Addis Hotel on Wednesday (May 25), attended by members of the diplomatic community in Addis Ababa, higher officials, academics, scholars and others. (See article)

Ethiopia officially celebrated “Africa Day” on May 25 for the first time with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia organizing with a panel discussion at Addis Ababa’s Hilton Hotel on “Pan-Africanism and its significance in the 21st century”. (See article)

Ethiopia’s delegation to the World Humanitarian Summit was led by Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy PM and Coordinator mof the Economic Cluster, and included Getachew Reda, Head of the Government Communications Agency Office with the rank of Minister, and Sufian Ahmed, Adviser to the Prime Minister and former Minister of Finance and Economic Development. (See article)

Ethiopia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Former Minister of Health, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, formally announced his candidacy for Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) at a press conference at the United Nations in Geneva on Tuesday (May 24). (See article)

State Minister Ambassador Taye Atske-Selassie met Professor Petteri Taalas, Secretary General of the World Metrological Organization (WMO), on Tuesday (May 24). The meeting discussed the issue of relocating the World Metrological Organization Regional Office for Africa from Geneva to Ethiopia and the ongoing cooperation between WMO and Ethiopia.

State Minister Ambassador Taye briefed a 19-person delegation of senior military officials and academics from the UK Royal College of Defense Studies on peace, security, geopolitical and environmental issues of the Horn of Africa on Tuesday (May 23).

Ethiopia’s Ambassador to South Sudan, Ambassador Fesseha Shawel said on Tuesday that Ethiopia troops had crossed into South Sudan with the approval of the South Sudan government to facilitate the work of the Governor of Gambella Regional State and the Governor of South Sudan’s Boma state, Baba Bedan, in recovering the children abducted by Murle tribesmen last month. 56 children have been rescued and returned to Ethiopia so far.

Eritrea

The 25th anniversary of the de facto independence of Eritrea on May 24 1991 was celebrated on Tuesday in Asmara and across Eritrea. President Isaias told the people Eritrea was “now poised to embark on greater and more expansive development programs”, and promised “all legal, diplomatic, informational, and political campaigns will be carried out with greater pace and better organization”. (See article)

A medical team from Sudan conducted eye surgeries for over 400 Eritreans in Massawa last week as well as ophthalmological diagnosis for more than 1000 Eritreans who had been suffering from sight disabilities. The team provided medicines and eyeglasses to the patients. Earlier in the month they had also conducted eye surgeries for patients in Asmara.

Kenya

President Kenyatta told members of the UN Security Council on a visit to Nairobi that Kenya might withdraw its troops from Somalia if the international community failed to resolve the shortage of funding for AMISOM forces. He said funding cuts to AMISOM could not be filled by participating countries.

President Uhuru Kenyatta concluded a three-day working visit to the three counties of Mandera, Wajir and Garissa in Kenya’s North Eastern region at the end of last week with a call for peace and unity. He said the number of security officers has been increased and modern equipment provided to help them cope with security challenges and urged residents to be vigilant and to cooperate with security agencies.

Deputy President William Ruto told the World Humanitarian Summit on Monday (May 23) that the Dadaab camp complex had become a burden to Kenya. It was a security threat, a haven for terrorism and a conduit of contraband goods as well as a danger to the environment. (See article)

Kenya’s Lamu County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri said on Sunday (May 22) that the security forces which had been conducting Operation Linda Boni for the last nine months in and around the Boni Forest, had successfully flushed out Al-Shabaab militants from the area. The operation has been a huge success and Lamu County was now stable and secure. Security forces remained to man the area and carry out infrastructural improvements.

Somalia

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud issued a presidential decree with immediate effect on Sunday to announce that the elections would be held as scheduled in line with the recent agreement by the National Leadership Forum’s ‘guiding principles’. His announcement came after the Somali Federal Parliament again delayed a vote to approve the election process. (See article)

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud told a World Humanitarian Summit plenary session in Istanbul that resolving the humanitarian situation in Somalia would be difficult without first addressing security challenges. He stressed security was his country’s number one priority and the “mother of all solutions”, adding “We will not fix our humanitarian situation without tackling security first.”

President Mohamud told the BBC’s Somali Service on Wednesday (May 25) that closing Dadaab and sending back refugees en masse would worsen the security situation in Somalia. He said: “Returning refugees by force will only pose enormous challenges and will not solve anything at all.” He hoped Kenya would not go ahead with its plans.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, and Mohammed Ahmed Al Othman, UAE Ambassador to Somalia, laid the foundation stone for the second phase of the Sheikh Sayed Hospital in Mogadishu, on Saturday (May 21). The ceremony was attended by heads of diplomatic missions and Somali government officials.

Interpol warned on Wednesday (May 25) that Al-Shabaab was making efforts to control trade in wildlife products after losing control over the key charcoal trafficking routes in Somalia to AMISOM. It also suggested Al-Shabaab had created links with Nigeria’s Boko Haram in order to control the trade routes.

The Humanitarian Unit of AMISOM concluded a weeklong civil-military coordination workshop on Tuesday (May 23) in Kismayo. The workshop, attended by representatives from the Burundi, Ethiopian and Kenya contingents with AMISOM, and the  Somali National Army as well as police officers from AMISOM and the Somali Police Force, discussed how to enhance civil-military relations and disseminate the Somalia Country Specific Humanitarian Guidelines.

A two-day meeting of AMISOM Sector Commanders took place in Mogadishu at the beginning of the week. AU Special Representative for Somalia, Ambassador Madeira, told the forum Al-Shabaab’s effectiveness came from its capacity to split into small groups which were difficult to detect, its mobility and its capacity to surprise. He said the people need to be “harnessed and converted to our side as a method of winning the war against Al-Shabaab.”

The US Department of State issued a travel warning on Tuesday (May 24) that Americans should avoid traveling to Somalia because of the continued threat of the al-Qaeda-linked militant group al-Shabaab and the risks of kidnapping in the country.

198 Somali police graduated in Kismayo on Monday (May 23) after an intensive three-month course organized by the police component of AMISOM covering basic principles of policing, arrest of suspects and public order management as well as  human rights law. They are the first of 600 officers from Jubaland being trained.

South Sudan

Cabinet Affairs Minister, Martin Elia Lomuro, said in an interview on Sunday (May 22) that the Transitional Government of National Unity Council of Ministers has agreed to set up a technical committee to review boundaries and make recommendations as a basis for discussions on how to move forward and harmonize opinions and views about the number of states. The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation said earlier that it was not going to include the 28 states in the implementation of the peace process.

South Sudan and Sudan have agreed to resume the meetings of their Joint Political and Security Committee (JPSC) on June 6 in Khartoum. In March 2013the two countries signed an implementation matrix for cooperation agreements covering oil, citizenship rights, security issues, banking and border trade that had been agreed six months earlier. A December 2015 meeting of the JPSC was postponed due to South Sudan security reasons.

Sudan

The Egyptian-Sudanese Higher Committee started a two-day meeting at the level of under-secretaries of ministries and experts in Khartoum on Wednesday (May 25) to discuss a number of joint issues including the disputed Halayeb triangle. The Ministerial and Presidential meetings will be held in Cairo at a later date.

Sudan and China signed a framework agreement on Monday (May 23) to develop peaceful uses of nuclear energy in Sudan, following the first meeting of the China-Sudan Joint Energy Cooperation Commission in Khartoum. Sudan and China reached an agreement to build a research nuclear reactor with the approval of the International Atomic Energy Agency four years ago. The first nuclear plant is expected to be built in 2020.

A tripartite committee of Sudan, African Union and United Nations resumed discussions over an exit strategy for the Darfur joint UN/AU peacekeeping operation (UNAMID) in Khartoum on Monday (May 23). The meeting discussed and adopted a report on the security and humanitarian situations by the tripartite work team. Last week, the Sudanese government renewed its call for the withdrawal of UNAMID from Darfur, saying that the security situation there was now stable after defeating the rebels and curbing tribal violence.

President Park Geun-hye of Korea on a State Visit to Ethiopia this week

The President of the Republic of Korea, President Park Geun-hye, is on a State Visit to Ethiopia this week (May 25-28). The visit has the aim of strengthening bilateral and multilateral ties with both Ethiopia and the African Union. President Park Geun-hye arrived in Addis Ababa on Wednesday (May 26, 2016). During her four-day State Visit to Ethiopia, President Park held talks with President Dr. Mulatu Teshome and met with Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn. She also met with African Union Commission Chairperson, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma and discussed ways to strengthen cooperation between the AU and South Korea. On Friday, President Park also attended the Ethio-Korean Business Summit.

High level bilateral discussions between Ethiopia and Korea were held on Thursday (May 27) to discuss current relations, cooperation agreements and the way forward. During the meeting Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn underlined that the long-standing and excellent relationship between the two countries demonstrated the depth of the ties between them. He said the relationship was not only historic but was also continuing to grow.  The Prime Minister noted that Korea was one of the leading countries for the developmental state model and Ethiopia, he said, considered it a specific model for its own development.

President Park Geun–hye praised the warm welcome extended to the Korean delegation and said that she was pleased that her visit coincided with the celebration of Africa Day. She noted Ethiopia had been only African nation that sent troops to Korea during the Korean War. President Park congratulated Ethiopia on the successes of the First Growth and Transformation and noted that the relationship between Korea and Ethiopia was excellent, but she also added that there but there was great potential to be tapped further. She said the wide range of cooperation agreements signed between the two countries would boost their bilateral and multilateral ties and establishing linkages between the institutions of the two countries would further enhance bilateral cooperation.

Ethiopia and Korea signed fourteen cooperation agreements and memoranda of understandings to boost their partnership in a wide range of areas on Thursday (May 27). The ceremony was attended by President Park Geun-hye and Prime Hailemariam Dessalegn. One Memorandum of Understanding was to boost cooperation in the field of information and communication technology and was signed by Dr. Debretsion Gebremichael, Minister for Finance and Economic cluster and Minister of communication and Information Technology with the rank of Deputy Prime Minister, and Yun Byung-se, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Korea. Other agreements covered a 500-million dollar loan framework agreement for the years 2016-2018, a 127-million dollar loan agreement for the Gore-Tepi road construction, and loans from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund for the Year 2016 through 2018; an agreement for air services between the respective territories; and MOUs on cooperation in the field of transport; on cooperation in Saemoul Undong; on cooperation and policy consultation; on textile technology; concerning defense; cooperation in the field of forestry and climate change cooperation in agriculture and rural development; on grant aid programs; and on health care and medical sciences.

After the signing ceremony, the Special Envoy to the Prime Minister, Ambassador Berhane Gebrechristos told reporters that President Park’s visit would play a big role in transforming the historic relation of the two countries in the economic sector. The Special Envoy said the President’s visit aimed at strengthening the multifaceted relations of the two countries and the agreements would also play a pivotal role in paving ways to knowledge, technology transfer and building of Ethiopia’s capacity.

On Friday (May 27) another Memorandum of Understanding to promote cooperation in urban development was signed by the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing, and South Korea’s Land and Housing Corporation.  Urban Development and Housing Minister, Mekuria Haile, said the agreement is vital for the provision of practical and technical support in areas of urban development such as smart cities, land management, housing development, and other pertinent areas. The Executive Director of South Korea’s Land and Housing Corporation, Hyun Do Kwan, said his country wanted to contribute to the urban development of Ethiopia and share experiences on new cities and housing provision as well as industrial complexes. He said South Korea will offer financial support and technical assistance to help Ethiopia use suitable technology.

During her visit, President Park, accompanied by Prime Haile Mariam Dessalegn, also spoke at the African Union Commission Hall on Korea-Africa relations. She underlined the historic relations between Korea and Africa as well as the role of Agenda 2063 in bringing about a peaceful and prosperous Africa. President Park emphasized that  the African Union as an institution and Africa as a continent needed trustworthy partners like the Republic of Korea to effectively accomplish the goals of Agenda 2063. She reiterated her assurances of the sustainability of Korea’s commitment to provide support and assistance for mutual cooperation and development of Korea as well as Africa and announced the official launch of “A Blueprint for Cooperation between Africa and Korea”, to assist in  realization of Agenda 2063. The President declared that “Africa’s problems are Korea’s problems and Korea’s are Africa’s problems.” She emphasized that “Africa’s greatest potential lies in its people, especially, the youth and women,” and announced that Korea would train 10,000 youth from Africa in the field of ICT to help in the production of a skilled workforce in Africa. The President also announced Korea’s continuing support in combatting infectious diseases in Africa. President Park  reiterated Korea’s enthusiasm to work with the international community in general and Africa in particular to help bring about peace in Africa as well as in the Korean peninsula through continued provision of funds to African Peacekeeping forces, as well as through enhancement of the current cooperation for mutual development.

On Friday (May 27) an Ethio-Korea Business Forum was organized by the Korean International Trade Association and the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations with attendance of business delegations and government officials and others.  The Forum heard from the Director General of the Ethiopian Investment Corporation, Fitsum Arega, on the “Economic outlook and opportunities of Ethiopia” and from the Director of the Korea |Expressway Corporation, Mr. HyeOk lee on Cooperation of Infrastructure Development as well as being briefed on cooperation in the textile industry. The Forum was also addressed also heard from Prime Minister Hailemariam and President Park. It was attended by over 250 people including the representatives of over 40 Korean companies. During the forum, the two sides signed four MoUs on business cooperation, investment promotion and capacity building, and the  trade and textile industry.

The first ever World Humanitarian Summit held in Istanbul

At the opening of World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on Monday (May 23), United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, joined the President of Turkey, relief activists and international celebrities to urge the global community to shape a different future for the world. In total, the Summit brought together 173 Member States, 55 Heads of State and Governments, some 350 private sector representatives, and over 2000 people from civil society and non-governmental organizations. Mr. Ban told participants on the occasion: “We are all here because global humanitarian action is unprecedentedly strained.” Mr. Ban said, “I proposed this Summit four years ago out of concern for rising humanitarian needs and declining political will. Today, the urgency has only grown.” The United Nations currently estimates that a record number of people, 130 million, currently need aid to survive, and more people have been forced to flee their homes than at any time since the end of the Second World War. The Secretary-General said the Agenda for Humanity, the document recently issued to guide discussions and action, is based on three years of consultations with 23,000 people in more than 150 countries. He said the Summit should be looking to offer commitments on five core responsibilities: Prevent and end conflict; Respect the rules of war; leave no one behind; Working differently to end need; and Invest in humanity. Mr. Ban said: “We are here to shape a different future, today we declare: We are one humanity, with a shared responsibility.”

UN General Assembly president, Mogens Lykketoft, said that expectations were high for the Summit. “People around the world are demanding that we move beyond fine words; that we build on the generosity we already see; and live up to our core responsibilities.”  He went on: “Now is the time to end the conflicts at the root of the current crisis; to ensure adherence to international humanitarian law and accountability for violations; to make the humanitarian system more efficient and more effective; [and] to stand up for those we are leaving behind.” The General Assembly president also underlined the need to secure the extra $15 billion required annually to meet humanitarian needs, just one cent out of every $50 of today’s global economy. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed hope that the Summit would lead to “auspicious outcomes” for hundreds of millions of people struggling to sustain their lives under great distress. He said, “Pain knows no color, race, language or religion.” Mr. Erdogan said, “We as leaders and responsible individuals of the international community can only succeed if we work under common principles and goals.”

Altogether, some 1,500 commitments were made, including the Education Cannot Wait Fund, to help provide quality education to children and youth in crisis situations; A Grand Bargain that that will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of investment in emergency response; the Global Preparedness Partnership to better prepare twenty of the countries that are most at risk of crisis; and the One Billion Coalition for Resilience which aims to mobilize a billion people to build safer and more stable communities worldwide. The “Grand Bargain” is the name for a package of reforms to humanitarian funding, with thirty representatives of donors and aid agencies producing 51 “commitments” to make emergency aid finance more efficient and effective. It aims to produce annual savings of $1 billion within five years, reducing bureaucracy and paperwork, providing transparency and funding of local and national aid agencies as well as better planning, more local participation, harmonized reporting and even enhanced engagement between humanitarian and development actors. The Education Cannot Wait fund was announced by U.N. special envoy Gordon Brown who said the fund will aim to help more than 13 million children and young people over the next five years, and 75 million by 2030. Research published in March said nearly 75 million children living in areas affected by war or natural disaster had their education disrupted last year, leaving them prey to child labor, trafficking and extremism.

The Summit held a number of Special Sessions to cover specific areas raised during the pre-Summit consultation process. Their titles give a strong indication of people’s interests and aims, and what the discussions were all about. They  included: People at the Center; Inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action; Islamic social finance; Migrants and humanitarian action; Education in emergencies and protracted crises; Global health; Global alliance for urban crisis; Global alliance for humanitarian innovation;  Humanitarian principles; Transforming humanitarian action with and for young people; Religious engagement; Connecting business; Regional action for global challenges; Protecting journalists and promoting independent reporting in crisis situations; and Risk and vulnerability analysis.

In addition, a series of High-Level Leaders’ Roundtables provided opportunities for Heads of State and Government and high-level representatives to make commitments and announce bold actions in support of the five core responsibilities of the Agenda for Humanity. These roundtables dealt with Political leadership to prevent and end conflicts; Uphold the norms that safeguard humanity; Leaving no one behind, a commitment to address forced displacement; Women and  girls, catalyzing action to achieve gender equality; Natural disasters and climate change, managing risks and crises differently; Changing people’s lives, from delivering to ending need; and Financing, investing in humanity.

At the Roundtable on “Natural Disasters and Climate Change — Managing Risks and Crises Differently”, the discussion was opened by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon who noted that the previous week he had appointed Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland, and Macharia Kamou as his Envoys to address El Niño. Both William Ruto, Deputy President of Kenya and Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia spoke on national challenges. Mr. Ruto explained Kenya’s decision to close the Dadaab refugee camp. He said Kenya had seen its Dadaab refugee camp grow steadily, and especially since 2011 when 160,000 Somali refugees had arrived.  Since the arrival of the first group of Somali refugees in 1991, he said, a systematic destruction of vegetation and decimation of wildlife through poaching had led to environmental degradation, costing $140 million annually to address damages. This had led to the Government’s decision to close the camp.

Deputy Prime Minister Demeke said national challenges had demonstrated a need to scale up efforts in early action and to build resilience at the local level.  National efforts, he pointed out, had reduced the impact of the current drought in Ethiopia. He noted the importance of the country’s Productive Safety-Net Program in enhancing the resilience capacity of communities and critical households and defining the complementary role of regional and international frameworks for cooperation in support of the national effort.  In the future, going forward the private sector should work with all stakeholders on further disaster risk reduction action.  The priority now, he said, should be to redouble efforts to implement the Sendai Framework by States and other relevant actors. In the Special Session on “People at the Centre, Deputy President Ruto of Kenya was one of the panelists and underlined that action must match people’s need. He called for a shared responsibility for humanity and urged all Summit participants to commit to putting people at the center.

In his statement to the Summit, Deputy Prime Minister Demeke underlined four major issues that required renewed and total commitment: addressing the root causes of humanitarian crises and finding solutions; the protection of affected people; provision of the necessary humanitarian assistance; and the addressing of the related systemic issues. He also welcomed the identification of financing as one of the major areas for further action. Ato Demeke emphasized the importance, indeed the absolute necessity, of providing the fullest international support to the investment of states in the implementation of the commitments made to the 2030 agenda, the Sendai Framework, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. He added that the urgency of increasing support to vulnerable countries to reduce disaster risks, to adapt to the negative consequence of climate change and prevent humanitarian crises, could not  be overestimated.

The Summit concluded on Tuesday with leaders endorsing five responsibilities to improve aid delivery, support refugees, uphold international law, increase financing and prevent the crises generating the largest migration flows in 70 years. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in closing remarks: “This unique Summit has set us on a new course,” adding “It is not an end point, but a turning point”. He told reporters that the Summit had been unique in form as well as substance, but also underlined: “We have the wealth, knowledge and awareness to take better care of one another. But we need action, based on the five core principles of the Agenda for Humanity.

The Secretary-General expressed his disappointment that some world leaders, especially from G7 countries did not attend. He said, “They are some of the most generous donors of funding for humanitarian action, but I urge their greater engagement, particularly in the search for political solutions.” He added that he was making “a special appeal to leaders of the nations that are permanent Members of [the Security Council] to take important steps at the highest level. Their absence from this meeting does not provide an excuse for inaction.” Mr. Ban also noted that

“In September, I will report to the United Nations General Assembly on the Summit’s achievements, and I will propose ways to take our commitments forward through intergovernmental processes, inter-agency forums and other mechanisms.” The hope is that the Summit will lead to a better collective response to the troubles faced in different continents by bringing together governments, charities and the private sector, and ensure the world is “more resilient to shocks, by preparing and responding better to crises and conflict”. What matters most, of course, is implementation of the commitments made in Istanbul, though these are non-binding.

Ethiopia’s delegation to the Summit was led by Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy Prime Minister, and included Getachew Reda, Head of the Government Communications Affairs Office with the rank of Minister, and Sufian Ahmed, Adviser to the Prime Minister and former Minister of Finance and Economic Development.

20/5/2016

News in Brief

Africa and the African Union

South Korean President Park Geun-hye is to pay a State Visit to Ethiopia and the African Union Commission next week (May 25 to 28). This will be the first-ever visit by a Korean head of State to Ethiopia. President Park will also travel to Kenya and Uganda.

During his visit to the World Economic Forum meeting in Kigale last week, Prime Minister Hailemariam held talks with Rwanda President Paul Kagame, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, Alpha Condé of Guinea, and the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission Erastus Mwencha. Discussions covered economic integration of the Horn of Africa, development cooperation and security issues as well as the implementation of Pan-Africanism in the continent.

Ethiopia

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn told the visiting Sudanese Public Diplomacy Delegation on Saturday (May 14) that the existing “extraordinary and exemplary friendship and solidarity” between Ethiopia and Sudan could play a crucial role in bringing peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The Prime Minister also noted both countries had agreed to work tirelessly towards the economic integration of the Horn region. (See article)

The 25th anniversary of Ethiopian National Day, the Silver Jubilee of the overthrow of the military dictatorship of the Derg will be celebrated nationwide next week on May 28.  (See article)

Foreign Minister Dr.TedrosAdhanom met with Kristian Jensen, Foreign Minister of Denmark on the sidelines of the 4th Women Deliver International Conference being held in Copenhagen this week (May 16-19). The two sides discussed issues of mutual interest and on ways to further enhance their growing bilateral and regional cooperation and cooperate in agricultural development.

State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Atske-Selassie, held discussions a delegation from Germany’s Parliamentary Group East Africa, headed by Ms. Anita Schäfer, on Thursday (May 19). Ambassador Taye explained the behavior of the Eritrean regime and its support for insurgent groups created a security problem. He also noted the number of refugees from Eritrea was increasing. Ms. Schafer said negotiations could be the means to bring the two countries together.

State Minister, Ambassador Taye attended celebration of the 68th Independence Day of Israel on Wednesday (May 18) at the Sheraton Addis Hotel. Israel’s Ambassador to Ethiopia underlined the   historic relationship of Ethiopia and Israel and indicated that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be making an official visit to Ethiopia in July.

State Minister, Ambassador Taye met with Ambassador Armen Melkonian, non-resident Ambassador of Armenia to Ethiopia on Tuesday (May 17). Ambassador Melkonian said Armenia would like to open an embassy in Addis Ababa and was keen to establish political consultation platforms with Ethiopia and prioritize inter cultural exchange.

State Minister Ambassador Taye met with Mr. Laurence Robertson, Chairman of the UK All Party Parliamentary Group for East Africa on Tuesday (May 17). Their discussion covered bilateral and regional issues of common interest including the challenge posed by the El Nino-induced drought and the issue of migration.

The World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved a US$200 million International Development Association credit to support the growth and development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Ethiopia on Wednesday (May 18). A recent World Bank study found that financing constraints for Ethiopian SMEs was a key obstacle to job creation and growth. SMEs have a key role under the current Growth and Transformation Plan for creating employment opportunities.

A High-Level Trade and Investment Mission from the UK visited Ethiopia last week (May 10-12), meeting with officials from Prime Minister’s cabinet, officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Water, Irrigation and Electricity, and a small, select group of business leaders during its three day visit. The Trade Mission was led by Prime Minster David Cameron’s newly appointed Trade Envoy to Ethiopia, Richard Benyon. (See article)

Two Ethio-German Business Fora were held in Hamburg and Munich last week (May 11-12). The Fora were organized jointly by the Embassy and Consulate General of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in Berlin and Frankfurt in partnership with the German -Africa Business Association: Afrika-Verein, and the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Chamber of Commerce for Munich and Upper Bavaria. (See article)

The Ethiopian city of Adama and the Partizansky District of Minsk in Belarus signed an agreement on cooperation, in Minsk on Tuesday (May 17). The agreement envisages cooperation in culture, tourism and sport, education, healthcare, youth policy and other areas.

Ethiopia is celebrating the 6th African Vaccination Week (AVW) from May 18 to May 24 under the theme:  “Close the Immunization Gap; Stay Polio Free”. AVW’s campaign to increase awareness of the importance of vaccination as well celebrate significant progress to date was launched in Assosa in Benishangul-Gumuz Regional State on Wednesday (May 18).

A growing number of the children kidnapped by a South Sudanese militia group have been recovered and have been returned home following negotiations with the kidnappers. According to Gambela regional officials 44 children have so far been returned; others are expected soon.

Djibouti

Twenty engineering students left Djibouti on Wednesday (May 18) for China to receive technical training on the railway sector. It’s the second group to go to China as part of the “skills transfer” agreement for the building of the Djibouti Addis Ababa electric railway line which, when it becomes fully operational later this year, will have the capacity to transport 3,500 tons of goods.

Eritrea

Leaked documents from Asmara show the Government’s concern over the forthcoming report from the Commission of Inquiry appointed by the UN Human Rights Council. The Government appears to be organizing its supporters and members of the Diaspora to produce a large scale petition attacking the Commission of Inquiry (See article)

President Isaias of Eritrea has been quoted saying “Somalia is a problem of a nation that has disintegrated; it’s a question of a nation that has gone into internal and external crisis.” He said “When you have one county divided, fragmented from within …. that’s very sad.” He said “Somalia does not exist,” though he added “we would like Somalia to revive, we would like this nation to come to normalcy again.”

An Irish Dublin MEP and Member of the European Parliament’s Development Committee, Brian Hayes, was in Eritrea over the weekend to visit agricultural partnerships set up by Irish Aid, Teagasc and Irish development partner VITA. Mr. Hayes the visit was also a good opportunity to view EU funded projects and meet EU officials working in the country.

France 24 is allowed to visit Eritrea; its reports make it clear that many people were terrified of talking to the media. The reports note the restrictions on freedom of movement, both inside and outside the country, as well as the indefinite nature of national service. (See article) 

Kenya

President Kenyatta said on Thursday (May 19) that the construction of the security wall along its border with Somalia would help deter terrorists from entering the country. He emphasized that the wall was not aimed at deterring movements of people but merely to enhance security. The wall is made up of a series of concrete barriers, fences, ditches and observation posts overlooked by CCTV stations.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has urged Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta not to close Dadaab refugee camp. A statement on Thursday (May 19) suggested that a high-level bilateral review on the refugee situation in Kenya should be conducted by the government and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In a telephone conversation, the Secretary-General also expressed deep appreciation for Kenya’s decades of generous hospitality to asylum-seekers and refugees.

Following its visit to Mogadishu, the Security Council is visiting Kenya where it will address issues of terrorism and the problems posed by recent increases in immigration flows, refugees and internally displaced persons as well as Kenya’s recent announcement that it plans to close the Dadaab and Kakumo refugee camp complexes. (See article)

The Kenyan Parliament has summoned Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Amina Mohammed, and Interior Cabinet Secretary, Joseph Nkaissery, to explain why the Government wants to expatriate refugees at Dadaab camp to Somalia. The two Cabinet Secretaries will face questions from the Parliamentary committees on Defense and Foreign Relations.

Somalia

President Mohamud called on Parliament to endorse the electoral modalities to clear the way for the 2016 elections on Wednesday. He said time was running out and asked Members of Parliament to take up the challenge and expedite the process fast.

The UN Security Council visited Mogadishu on Wednesday this week (May 18). The Security Council, which was last in Mogadishu in 2014, is looking at the political and security situation as the country enters a critical phase in its preparations for elections in August and continuing concerns over the political process. (See article)

Kuwait’s Acting Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled told Somalia’s Defense Minister General Abdulkadir Sheikh Dini, on a visit to Kuwait, on Tuesday (May 17) that Kuwait would continue to support the Somali Government in all its anti-terrorism efforts.

The EU has appointed Brigadier Robert Magowan, a British Royal Marine officer, as Operation Commander for the EU Naval Force Somalia- EU NAVFOR Operation Atalanta. Brigadier Magowan replaces Major General Martin Smith. Also from the UK, and is expected to take up his duties at the beginning of June. The EU Naval Force Somalia was launched in December 2008 to help control piracy; it also protects vessels of the World Food Program and other vulnerable shipping, and supports AMISOM and other international missions.

The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia, Ambassador Francisco Madeira congratulated Somalia and Somali youth on the occasion of the Somali National Youth Day (May 15). He said it was a time to reflect on their contributions to the country; and promised AMISOM’s support in forging a secure and enabling environment for meaningful and sustainable development in Somali.

Puntland President, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, dismissed the Chief of Police and the Commander of the Paramilitary Birmadka Forces in Puntland on Sunday (May 15) as part of a package of security reform. The sackings followed recommendations from a fact-finding committee set up ten days earlier following a shoot-out that left the Puntland Security Minister Abdi Hirsi Ali (Qarjab) wounded.

Jubaland President, Ahmed Islam Madobe, fired the first deputy-president, Abdullahi Ismael Fartag, and replaced him with Mahamud Sayid Aadan, a political leader from the Gedo region. The move follows reconciliation talks earlier this year between the administration in Kismayo and leaders of the Marehan clan in Gedo region.

Somaliland celebrated its 25th anniversary of self-proclaimed independence on Wednesday (May 18) with President Ahmed Silanyo stating firmly in Hargeisa “Don’t lie to yourself. The land and the people of Somaliland are not going back with Somalia. So let’s be two separate countries and peaceful neighbors.”

South Sudan

The Ceasefire And Transitional Security Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) monitoring the security situation in South Sudan said on Friday last week (May 13) that the Government of South Sudan had yet to fully declare the number of its forces currently in Juba. It said CTSAMM was not therefore in a position to declare completion of transitional security arrangements in Juba. Under the peace agreement, the government will keep 3, 420 troops in Juba including army, police, prisons and the presidential guards; the opposition SPLM-IO is allowed 1,410 troops. All other forces must move 25 kilometers outside Juba.

South African Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, arrived in Juba, on Monday (May 16) to push the reunification process of the factions of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), launched at a meeting in Arusha, Tanzania, under the auspices of South Africa and Tanzania. Mr. Ramaphosa, who is also President Zuma’s Special Envoy met President Salva Kiir and First Vice President, Riek Machar, in separate meetings on Monday.

Zhong Jianhua, China’s Special Representative for African Affairs, told journalists in China’s capital Beijing, on Tuesday (May 17) that the reunion of President Kiir and Vice-President Machar was a positive step in stabilizing South Sudan.

Sudan

The Egyptian-Sudanese Higher Committee is planning to meetings in Khartoum next week (May 25-26) with seven under-secretaries of ministries from both nations participating. Experts will also participate to discuss the work of the 29 specialized joint sub-committees. These will be followed by a meeting of the Foreign Ministers and then a presidential summit in Cairo later.

The United Nations Security Council on Friday (May 13) extended the mandate of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) for another six months at the same number. UNIFSA has 4,500 uniformed personnel, including troops, military observers and police, but is mandated to have another 1,300 if necessary. Deployment of more forces would depend on the progress of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism. The Security Council reiterated its call for the two governments to form the Abyei Area Administration and Council.

The tripartite team tasked with developing an exit strategy for the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) arrived in the North Darfur capital, El-Fasher, on Saturday (May 15) to assess the situation in the region. Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Ali al-Sadiq, said the team aims to assess the humanitarian, security and political conditions in Darfur in order to develop a clear roadmap for the mission’s exit. The UN has linked withdrawal of the peacekeeping operation with a ceasefire within a peace agreement in which protection of civilians can be ensured.

 13.5.2016

News in brief

The Sudanese Public Diplomacy Delegation makes a visit to Ethiopia …

……sees the Al-Nejash mosque and the Abraha Atsbeha church in Tigray…

…  and participates in an Ethio-Sudan Business Forum

The 26th World Economic Forum on Africa 2016 in Kigale, Rwanda

The AU Executive Council holds a retreat in Nairobi

High-Level Meeting of the JMEC Partners’ Group on South Sudan

Kenya is once again planning to close down its refugee camps

Ethiopia celebrates Europe Day and close relations with the European Union

Swiss authorities say no improvement in human rights in Eritrea

News in brief

Ethiopia

President Mulatu Teshome received the newly appointed Ambassadors of Hungary, Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, South Sudan, Chad and Fiji to Ethiopia on Thursday (May 12).  He called on their countries to support Ethiopia’s bid for a non-permanent seat at the United Nation Security Council.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn attended the inauguration of President Ismail Omar Guelleh in Djibouti on Sunday (May 8).The Prime Minister also attended the inauguration of President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda in Kampala on Thursday (May 12) in an event attended by the Presidents of Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, South Africa, Sudan and Zimbabwe, as well as Mali, Niger, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia.

Prime Minister Hailemariam participated in the “Grow Africa” panel on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on Thursday (May 12), underlining the due attention Ethiopia was giving to improve productivity of small scale farmers as part of its policy of modernizing the agriculture sector. The World Economic Forum for Africa opened in Kigali, Rwanda on Wednesday this week (May 11). It lasts until the end of the week. (See article)

Prime Minister Hailemariam met with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Monday this week (May 9) and discussed industrial parks, infrastructure and various development activities. Mr. Blair, in Ethiopia to visit the activities of his charity, also visited the Bole Lemi industrial park. He said the coming of leading companies would play a key role for the economic transformation of the country.

The Sudan Public Diplomacy Delegation arrived in Addis Ababa for a week-long visit on Sunday (May 8). They were welcomed by the Speaker of House of People’s Representatvies, Abadula Gemeda; State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Atske-Selassie and Ethiopia’s Public Diplomacy Team. During their visit, the Sudanese delegation have been visiting sights in Addis Ababa as well as travelling to the Al-Nejash mosque in Tigray Regional State. (See article)

Dr. Yinager Dessie, Minister of the Planning Commission, led a high-level Ethiopian delegation to Germany this week to attend two Ethio-German Business Fora, one in Hamburg  on Wednesday and Thursday  (May 11-12) concentrating on agro-business opportunities as well as other areas. The second was held in Munich on Friday (May 13) covering manufacturing opportunities and other options available in Ethiopia. Members of the Ethiopian business community attended both meetings.

State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Atske-Selassie met with Ambassador Zhong Jianhua, Special Representative on African affairs of the Chinese Government, on Saturday (May 7). They discussed ways of building on South Sudan’s political process and supporting its economic recovery. Ambassador Zhong thanked Ethiopia, IGAD and the international community for their efforts  to bring peace and stability to South Sudan.

State Minister Ambassador Taye attended the Europe Day celebration on Monday (May 9) at the Africa Hall of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.(See article)

State Minister Ambassador Taye received a UK trade and investment delegation, headed by the UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Ethiopia, Richard Benyon, that arrived in Addis Ababa on Tuesday (May 10). The delegation, which is looking at possible business and investment opportunities, will be visiting key industrial and manufacturing locations as well as meeting representatives of Ethiopia’s private sector.

Ten more of the 125 children abducted by heavily armed Murle gunmen from South Sudan last month were reunited with their families on Wednesday (May 11). This brings the number so far reunited with their communities in Gambella to 29.

Government  and international humanitarian agencies said on Wednesday (May 11) that flash floods had displaced nearly 120,000 people in Ethiopia over the previous month and a total of almost half a million people might be affected during the year. The International Organization for Migration said 119,711 people in six areas had been displaced by last month’s “exceptional” flooding. The floods are part of the El Nino phenomenon that earlier caused the severe drought last year and have been hampering the deliveries of food aid to drought affected areas.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said on Friday (May 13) that it was providing nearly US $128 million in additional humanitarian assistance to help the people of Ethiopia face the impact of the worst drought in fifty years.

Ethiopia’s participation in the 8th day-long festival, “Passport DC, Around the World Embassy Tour” , in Washington highlighted attracted more than seven thousand Washington residents to the Ethiopian Embassy on Saturday (May 7). The festival included the traditional coffee ceremony and  authentic cuisine, accompanied by traditional songs and displays to showcase Ethiopia’s wealth of music, art, culture, flora and fauna.

Djibouti

President Ismail Omar Guelleh was sworn in as President for his fourth term in office on Sunday (May 8) at the Presidential Palace in Djibouti City. The ceremony was attended by a number of regional leaders including Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn of Ethiopia, President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia.  President Ismail Omar Guelleh won the election in April with 87% of the vote.

President Ismail Omar Guelleh on Wednesday received the resignation of Prime Minister Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed. The President thanked the Prime Minister for his loyalty and his skills and immediately reappointed him  as Prime Minister. Mr. Kamil Mohamed welcomed the honor and said he would “redouble efforts to show he was worthy of the President’s confidence.” He would announce members of his new government soon.

Eritrea

The Ministry of Information in a statement on Friday (May 6) claimed the UN Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea had “overstepped its remit.” It said the Commission intends to publicly release its forthcoming report in advance of its presentation the Human Rights Council in June. The Ministry alleges this is intended to be part of a “vitriolic press campaign “against Eritrea as happened  last year. It says the Commission of Inquiry is “essentially involved in a politically motivated witch-hunting campaign against Eritrea to literally regurgitate innuendos and unsubstantiated allegations that stem from certain quarters.”

Mario Gattiker, the head of Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Migration told journalists on Monday (May 9) that Swiss authorities, following a fact-finding mission to Eritrea, have determined that the human rights situation in Eritrea “has not improved”. He also said the promises that Eritrea would lower its required military service to a term of 18 month turned out “not to be true”. (See article)

Kenya

President Uhuru Kenyatta attended the inauguration of President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda in Kampala on Thursday. (May 12)

The AU Executive Council of Foreign Ministers held its fourth retreat, Thursday to Saturday  last week in Nairobi (May 5-7). The occasion was organized by the African Union Commission and hosted by the Government of Kenya in advance of the 27th Assembly of the African Union Heads of State and Government, due in July. (See article)

Kenya announced on Friday last week that it was going to close down its two major refugee camp complexes at Dadaab and Kakuma which together house more than 600,000 refugees, a majority from Somalia but 190,000 or so from South Sudan. Despite widespread criticisms, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed said on Thursday this week (May 12) “We are now serious about this and we do not want anyone to have doubts.” (See article)

Kenyan authorities said on Tuesday (May 10) that the  security operation launched last year to flush out Al-Shabaab militants in the Boni Forest in the coastal region of Kwale was still underway. 36 insurgents had been arrested so far. The authorities have established nine security stations in the area. Security has been increased along the border after intelligence reports indicated that the Islamic State had established links with sections of Al-Shabaab.

Somalia

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud attended the inauguration of President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti on Sunday (May 8). He also attended the inauguration of President Museveni of Uganda on Thursday (May 12).

A U.S. delegation led by the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Bruce Wharton, arrived in Mogadishu on Monday (May 9) to hold talks on the forthcoming elections. The delegation met with President Mohamud, Prime Minister Omar Sharmarke, and a number of ministers. Discussions covered political progress, election preparedness, security, efforts to fight terrorism and bilateral relations. Mr. Wharton welcomed the government’s progress, and underlined the importance of  the elections for both Somalia and regional stability.

US special operations forces working with AMISOM called in an airstrike when the troops they were with clashed with Al-Shabaab militants on Thursday (May 12), killing five, a US defense official said. The official said the US forces were advising and assisting Ugandan troops from AMISOM.

Commissioner for Peace Security, Ambassador Smaïl Chergui, chaired a meeting of the AU Military Operations Coordination Committee for peace support operations, in Addis Ababa on Monday (May 9). The Chiefs of Defense Staff of AMISOM Troop Contributing Countries (Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda) and representatives of partners countries agreed to revise AMISOM’s Concept of Operations for the next phase of operations against Al-Shabaab. It underlined the urgency to obtain air assets for AMISOM and called for enhanced and coordinated support to the mission. The AU Peace and Security Council renewed AMISOM’s mandate to May 2017 at its recent meeting on April 28.

Somaliland President Ahmed Mohammed Mohamud  ‘Silanyo’ attended the inauguration of President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti for his fourth term of office on Sunday (May 8).

South Sudan

The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) Partners’ Group, met to discuss implementation of all aspects of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan on Tuesday (May 10) in Addis Ababa. (See article)

South Sudan’s First Vice President, Riek Machar, called on the people of South Sudan to forgive one another and reconcile in order to unite the people of the young nation and leave behind the bitter past. Speaking to a church congregation in Juba on Sunday (May 8), he underlined the importance of the Government of National Unity to come up with a program for resettlement of the internally displaced persons. According to the UN there are 1.69 million people internally displaced as well as another 712,000 who have fled to neighboring countries.

The World Food Program said on Monday (May 9) that up to 5.3 million people in South Sudan may face severe food shortages during the March to September lean season. This is nearly double the 2.8 million classified as being in “crisis” or “emergency” food situations, with about 40,000 suffering from outright famine during the first three months of this year. A WFP report says “Internal food security analysis shows that South Sudan will face the most severe lean season in 2016 since its independence, driven by insecurity, poor harvests, and displacement in some areas of the country.” The U.N. humanitarian plan for South Sudan has received less than a third of the $1.29 billion needed.

Sudan

Sudanese President Omer Al-Bashir started a two-day visit to Kampala, Uganda,  on Thursday (May 12), to discuss bilateral ties and the situation in South Sudan with Uganda President Yoweri Museveni. President Museveni visited Khartoum last September and he and President Al-Bashir agreed to work together to bring stability in South Sudan and the region, and to end tensions between the two countries over the issue of rebel groups. Discussions between the two leaders will include security and a number of other issues.

The International Follow-up Committee for the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) is coordinating with the Joint AU-UN Special Representative and joint chief mediator, Martinn Uhomoibhi, to convince more rebel groups to sign the document. Qatari Deputy Prime Minister, Ahmed bin Abdullah al-Mahmoud,  said on Monday (May 9) at the 11th meeting of the Committee that it would meet in Doha in late May with the head of the Justice and Equality Movement, Gibril Ibrahim, and the head of Sudan Liberation Movement, Minni Minnawi.” The Deputy Prime Minister said “we welcome all rebel groups willing to join the peace process.

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The Sudanese Public Diplomacy Delegation makes a visit to Ethiopia

The Sudanese Public Diplomacy Delegation headed by Dr. Omer Suleiman Adam, President of the Sudanese Council of States and Deputy Head of the National Assembly, arrived in Addis Ababa, on Sunday morning (May 8). The delegation, of more than seventy prominent Sudanese citizens, has come for a week’s visit to Ethiopia. On arrival, members of the Ethiopian Public Diplomacy Team and other senior government officials, including Honorable Abadula Gemeda, Speaker of the House of People’s Representatives and Ambassador Taye-Atske-Selassie, State Minister of Foreign Affairs welcomed the delegation warmly. Speaker Abadula, on behalf of the people and Government of Ethiopia expressed his pleasure to welcome the Sudanese delegation, emphasizing the visit would further strengthen the longstanding brotherhood and solidarity between the two countries. “Though Ethiopia will perhaps be new to you”, he said, “during your stay, we are hopeful that you will explore further opportunities of partnership in order for the two countries to grow further together”. The delegation was also welcomed at the airport with one of the central and best features of Ethiopian hospitality, a full coffee ceremony, organized by the Ethiopian Public Diplomacy Team. Extending a courteous coffee ceremony to a guest of honor demonstrates friendship and respect and underlines how welcome is the visit of the Sudanese delegation.

The head of the Sudanese Delegation, Dr. Omer Suleiman Adam, thanked the Public Diplomacy Team for their welcome. He explained that the Sudanese delegation included Parliamentarians, members of academia, representatives of Sudan’s youth and women, and of its artists. The aim of the public diplomacy team, he said, was to strengthen people-to-people ties, leading to stronger government-to-government bonds, and to nurture peace and prosperity between the two brotherly countries. Dr. Suleiman added: “we believe that are one people living in two countries.”

During this first day of their visit, the delegation was able to see and ride on the Addis Ababa Light Railway as well as pay a visit to the Addis Ababa-Adama Expressway and sees other transport infrastructure and other developments in the city. They also met with the Minister of

Transport of Ethiopia, Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu who firmly told the delegation: “You are not considered guests here, but brothers and sisters who have come back to your home”. Dr. Workneh reminded the visitors of the thousand years of ties between Ethiopia and Sudan, and stressed this was “a relationship based on blood ties, brotherhood, mutual trust and confidence”. He said the visit of the Sudanese Public Diplomacy Delegation further strengthened the historic relationship and provided more opportunities to enhance the excellent ties between the two countries. The excellent bilateral relations, he said, had enabled the two countries to embark on the signing of many agreements of mutual cooperation, adding that it was agreeable that much remains to be done. Indeed, the Minister stressed, “We need to look for ways of efficiently exploiting the immense potential of sustainable cooperation in areas such as trade, investment, agriculture and other related areas between us.”

Minister Workneh also underlined that that the Nile had contributed to defining the nature of the relationship of the two countries for centuries. He said, “Our two countries may not have been very active in nurturing the positive aspects of this relationship in the past, but recently our relations have seen some notable achievement toward cooperation in the utilization of the Nile River.” The Minister welcomed the support from the Sudanese side for Ethiopia’s endeavors to build the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dame. It was beyond praise, he said. Dr. Workneh noted that Ethiopia and Sudan had now established multiple platforms for working together, and he emphasized that visits like this one greatly helped in improving people-to-people relations and enhancing the already rock-solid trust and confidence between the two nations.

On the second day of their visit, the Sudanese delegation met with Addis Ababa Mayor, Diriba Kuma, who welcomed the delegation to the city, The Mayor noted that Ethiopia and Sudan shared a common history, culture, resources and ways of life. He pointed out Addis Ababa and Khartoum had signed a number of agreements and they were working closely to forge cooperation in social and economic areas in order to benefit the residents of both cities. He emphasized that the exchange of such public diplomacy visits were instrumental in cementing existing cordial relations among the peoples of both countries. Addis Ababa, he said, was currently host to a number of Sudanese investors, traders, researchers, scholars and businessmen, and he called on all public, government, businesses, individuals to work to strengthen Ethio-Sudan friendship.

In response to the Mayor, the Chairman of the Legislative Assembly of Khartoum, Siddig Mohamed Alshikh, thanked the people and Government of Ethiopia for the warm welcome accorded to the Delegation. He underlined the excellent and multifold relations Ethiopia and Sudan enjoyed, and said it was high time for both countries to further enhance their bilateral cooperation. During the morning, the delegation paid a visit to Yekabado Condominium Project site, where they appreciated the Government’s efforts to benefit citizens at grassroots through various pro-poor projects and programs.

Later, the Sudanese Public Diplomacy Delegation visited the House of People’s Representatives and met with members of the House. They were welcomed by the Speaker of the House of People’s Representatives of Ethiopia, Speaker Abadula Gemeda who said, “It is with great honor and a true sense of brotherhood that we welcome you to Ethiopia, your second home.”  Speaker Abadula added, “Indeed, when we talk about the peoples of Ethiopia and Sudan, we are referring to one people who live in two countries.” Mentioning the Nile as one of the key bonds between Sudan and Ethiopia, the Speaker also noted that this bond was a reminder of four fundamental messages: “Mutual trust is the basis! Mutual benefit is the objective! Equality is the guarantee! and Coordination is the means!”

The Speaker also reminded the delegation that apart from natural resources the two countries shared strong and long-standing ties in culture, language, history and religion. He recalled how the two nations managed to crush colonial powers at Omdurman and Adwa in 1898 and 1896 respectively. Referring to the importance of such exchanges of visits Speaker Abadula said it would have the effect of “cultivating long-term relationships, and increasing mutual understanding through dialogue as well as encouraging professional networking mechanisms, and promoting the shared interests of the respective populations.” It would, he also added, also motivate both peoples and encourage a common vision and a common interest in getting rid of poverty, hunger and instability. Indeed, “the exchange of visits by the Public Diplomacy teams of both nations are already beginning to build a new tomorrow, improving personal and institutional ties to harness opportunities for the shared prosperity, peace and tranquility of the peoples of Sudan and Ethiopia.” As part of this process of enhancing the people-to-people relationship and further cementing socio-economic and political ties, the Public Diplomacy Delegation of Ethiopia, of course, had a highly successful week-long visit to Sudan last year. 

… sees the Al-Nejash mosque and the Abraha Atsbeha church in Tigray…

The visitors also made another trip outside Addis Ababa on Friday this week to the famous Al-Nejash Mosque in Tigray Regional State. They also visited the rock church of Abraha Atsbeha near Mekele. During their visit, the Sudanese Public Diplomacy Delegation are having meetings with other senior officials including President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Dr. Mulatu Teshome; Prime Minister, Hailemariam Dessalegn; and the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abune Mathias, as well as a wide variety of other people from various areas. The Sudan Public Diplomacy Group was also able to relax by attending a musical show at the National Theater on Wednesday. Minister of Culture and Tourism, Engineer Aisha Mohammed, said economic cooperation between the two countries would make the age-long cultural ties lasting. She also noted that the group’s visit would help make the present generation aware of Ethio-Sudan socio-cultural bonds.

The delegation’s schedule included a visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia on Wednesday (May 11) to meet with State Minister, Ambassador Taye Atske-Selassie. Welcoming the delegation, Ambassador Taye said he was quite surprised to find from the archives of the Foreign Ministry that Ethiopia and Sudan had signed more than fifty agreements since the 1980s, “of which almost all were turned into reality.” Ambassador Taye stressed that exchanges of visits like those of Public Diplomacy teams have the effect of cultivating and sustaining long-term relationships, and increasing mutual understanding through dialogue as well as professional networking mechanisms and promoting the shared interest of the two people. Dr. Omar Suleiman, on behalf of the delegation, reiterated the historical commonalities between Sudan and Ethiopia and underlined how inspiring their stay in Ethiopia had been. He took the opportunity to announce that the Government of the Sudan was proposing to grant scholarships to twenty Ethiopian students to study in Sudan. Dr. Suleiman said that two prominent universities, the International University of Africa and the Afhad University for Women, were offering the scholarships. State Minister, Ambassador Taye, welcomed the offer and said it would “renew and revitalize our relationship in the fields of education and technology.”

… and participates in an Ethio-Sudan Business Forum

On Thursday (May 12) the delegation attended an Ethio-Sudan Business Forum at the Hilton Hotel. The Forum, aiming to boost economic ties between the two countries, brought together senior government officials, members of the two business communities, diplomats, invited guests and members of the Sudanese Public Diplomacy Delegation. The Deputy Commissioner of the Ethiopian Investment Commission, Teka Gebreyes, briefed the participants on Ethiopia’s stability, its economic growth, investment incentives and the development of industrial parks that were now attracting significant foreign direct investment. He detailed the investment and business potential in Ethiopia and the contribution of such a Forum to increase bilateral economic and investment ties between the two countries. Sudanese investors, he said, could be engaged in Ethiopia’s priority sectors including manufacturing, construction, tourism, mining, energy and service sectors and take advantage of the opportunities available as well as contribute to the mutual growth of the two countries.

Sudanese business people are currently were requesting licenses in Ethiopia for more than 700 projects to engage in various investment sectors in Ethiopia. Of these, 200 are now in implementation phase, according to Teka Biniyam Misgana from the Chamber of Commerce who presented a paper on the role of Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations in promoting trade and investment. He said the Chamber of Commerce offered trade facilitation services, prepared trade fairs and B2B events, and worked on market access and linking suppliers. He also stressed the importance of working closely with potential neighboring countries like Sudan to boost trade and investment. Wagdi Magur, Team Leader of the Sudanese Chamber of Commerce, said that with their geographical location providing such good opportunities, the two countries should increase their trade volume by taking advantage of their geographical location. Port Sudan, he said, could play its part to facilitate trade. He noted the building of the road links between Ethiopia and Sudan had significantly increased trade and economic relations between the two neighborhood countries. Speaking about the opportunities in the Sudan, Mr. Magur said Ethiopia investors would be very welcome to get involved in processing of cotton, vegetables and fruit as well as metal production. There was agreement that there was room to increase trade volumes. Business transactions between the two countries have grown from US$3 million to US$300 million within a decade, but there is certainly room for further expansion.

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The 26th World Economic Forum on Africa 2016 in Kigale, Rwanda

Rwanda is hosting the 26th World Economic Forum on Africa 2016 this week ( May 11-13.) The World Economic Forum,  working as an international institution for public-private cooperation, is “committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas”. With a GDP growth rate hovering around 7.6 per cent – one of the fastest growth rates in Sub-Saharan Africa Rwanda had the opportunity to host this forum for the first time. This year’s theme of WEF was ‘Connecting Africa’s Resources through Digital Transformation.’

The theme was chosen in consideration of the emerging global challenges and prospects and their impact on the continent. As many countries in the region have improved their investment climate and undertaken microeconomic policy reforms, Foreign Direct Investment flows are expected to grow. However, the current low global prices for major commodity exports has raised fears of debt sustainability as well as possible geo-security threats that could be impediments to growth.  It has raised the prospect that African countries should look at the possibilities through a different light: digital transformation. Given the rapid technological changes that have the potential to create new industries and reduce inequality, this was the issue that was chosen as a theme for the 26th World Economic Forum.

Before the start of the forum, Ambassador Claver Gatete, the Rwanda Minister of Finance and Economic Planning said in a press statement, “The World Economic Forum on Africa allows us to take this conversation further and identify opportunities for public-private partnership that will generate more jobs and higher living standards in Africa as a whole.”

On the first day of the Forum, there were sessions on  “How can Africa rethink education and foster the next generation of industry and society leaders?”, “How can business support efforts to build political and societal resilience to conflict and violence?”, “How can we combat cybercrime?” and a conversation on “Partnership in Africa”. On rethinking education, it was stressed that since Africa would host a major element of the world’s workforce by 2030, “this should translate to a demographic dividend, feeding the continent’s growth”. Equally, there was the caution that “without certain investments in policy and education, this will remain elusive.” It was in this light that the African Leadership University, and experts from the private sector and academia, shared their insights on pioneering education for Africa’s future leaders. Inclusive growth was a hot topic at the meetings, with Oxfam’s Winnie Byanyima launching a strong attack on rich Africans who keep their wealth offshore, depriving the continent of $14 billion in lost tax revenues. “African leaders have to wake up and tax those who have the money,” she said.

The Forum sessions on the second day, co-chaired with the former President of the African development Bank, Donald Kaberuka and other luminaries, included such areas as “Africa’s fourth Industrial Revolution”, “How can we foster digital literacy as a basic skill for African youth” and “What if all educations were digital?  Important and forward looking ideas were raised when discussing Africa’s Fourth Industrial Revolution, where fostering transparency and accountability, promoting civic participation and rights and understanding barriers to adoption and usage were pinpointed as major factors in achieving Africa’s Industrial Revolution.

On the closing day of the Forum, the issues raised included “a new energy future”, “managing migration” and “Africa’s pathways to transformation”. “A new energy future” looked at ways for Africa to leapfrog towards developing a smart energy system, leveraging renewable, digital and energy-efficient technologies and also scaling investment into large power infrastructures.

Prime Minister Hailemariam, who attended the Forum, and was one of the panelists at the  ‘Grow Africa’ panel at the World Economic Forum, told participants that the Ethiopian government fully understood the need to modernize the agriculture sector, as the country’s economy depended up on it. The government, he said, had been supporting small scale farmers by supplying modern technologies and select seed, and would continue to do so. Deployment of agricultural extension workers, who assist and advise the farmers, was among the initiative taken by the government to increase productivity. In addition to supporting small scale farmers, he stressed, the government was promoting private companies to engage in the sector.

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The AU Executive Council holds a retreat in Nairobi

The AU Executive Council of Foreign Ministers held its fourth retreat, Thursday to Saturday  last week in Nairobi (May 5-7). The occasion was organized by the African Union Commission and hosted by the Government of Kenya in advance of the 27th Assembly of the African Union Heads of State and Government, due in July. The retreat focused on the implementation of Agenda 2063, examining the paradox of the way a continent rich in natural resources is stuck in a cycle of underdevelopment, making only marginal contributions to global production.

In her opening remarks, Dr. Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission highlighted the concrete actions that must be taken in order to resolve the African paradox, of “a continent rich in human, natural and other resources, yet its people are poor”. Dr. Dlamini Zuma called on the Ministers to situate this paradox in its historical context and to understand its economic, social, cultural and political dimensions so as to better address the issue why a rich continent like Africa should have poor citizens. She stressed the importance to understand local and global circumstances that continue to shape this paradox, saying, there is need for changing mindsets to reverse this situation and make Africans become rich by benefitting from their rich resources. She defined the paradox as manifesting itself, for example, in the thousands of ships, which Africa didn’t own, that each year leave the continent loaded with raw materials and oil that the world needs in its manufacturing, to power itself, and yet “we are unable to provide jobs and economic opportunities for the millions of young men and women that each year join our labor markets”. Africa had lakes, fertile land, forests, wildlife, livestock and oceans, and yet children were stunted by malnutrition, and the continent continued to import 83% of the processed food that we consume. Africa had over twenty three oil producing countries, countless more with natural gas, mined and exported all the precious minerals and metals, and yet included thirty three of the world’s forty eight least developed countries.

Dr. Zuma noted that Agenda 2063 would help address the paradox given that the Agenda advocates for an African skills revolution and the need “to re-orientate our education systems towards sciences, mathematics, technology and engineering, to enable youth drive transformation and innovation across the continent”.  She emphasized the expectations of Africans that African institutions should lead the way in creating a better life for all Africans. She acknowledged that while there are advances in infrastructure, education and health and in building inclusive, democratic and peaceful societies, much more needs to be done in order to transform the continent. She concluded by noting that the ministerial retreats were used to reflect on the strategic interventions that are necessary to move Agenda 2063 forward and consequently encourage critical discussions to spur action for the transformation of the continent.

She said the retreat should focus on the African skills revolution, re-orientating education systems towards sciences, mathematics, technology and engineering as well as consider other Agenda 2063 priorities. These included infrastructure development to power and connect countries, cities and rural areas through roads, aviation, rail, ICT and power lines; manufacturing to add value to raw materials; and agriculture and agro-processing so that Africa can feed itself and the world. She underlined that Agenda 2063 recognized that people are Africa’s most important resources, and that women and young people must be empowered and engaged to drive the transformation.

Ambassador Amina Mohamed, Kenya Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, in her opening remarks said Kenya was delighted to host an event, aimed at shaping the future of Africa. She said “Africa is rich with natural resources, land and people but its people are among the poorest in the world. This forum gives us an opportunity to chart ways of how available natural resources can be used to improve well-being of our people.” She said the retreat offered a unique opportunity to discuss at length and at depth topical issues to advance the union. She underlined the necessity of translating the dreams of Africa’s development into concrete programs and actions. “The important question we must ask and answer for is: how is it that our natural resources have created wealth for others, while we on the continent remain poor? In answering that question we should also discuss what it is that we need to do differently”.

Ambassador Amina said Agenda 2063, as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recently adopted by the United Nations, give hope for a better world. The onus was henceforth upon Africans to determine their own destiny. In particular they should overturn the paradox of a continent rich with natural resources and a vast and youthful human resource, but whose citizens struggle to make ends meet, with a majority of the population still living below the poverty line. It must become a continent that is prosperous and peaceful. She emphasized that the African paradox was a reality that must be confronted if Agenda 2063 was to be achieved. She said “We must find a way to free our resources and direct them towards achieving our development goals. We owe it to ourselves and posterity to break the vicious cycle of poverty, diseases, illiteracy and underdevelopment.” The important question to be asked and answered, she said, was “how is it that our natural resources have created wealth for others, while we on the continent remain poor?” She called for the need to institute strong follow-up mechanisms. She said: “we have already taken that decisive first step. With our collective knowledge, wisdom and political will, we should be able to achieve what is envisaged in the Agenda 2063 Blueprint.”

The Chairperson of the Executive Council, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chad, noted that the AU Ministerial Retreats have become an important platform for reflection and discussions on important issues aimed at developing the continent, notably Agenda 2063 and its Ten Years Implementation Plan. He congratulated the countries that have incorporated Agenda 2063 into their national development plans and called on the countries that have not yet done so to do so as soon as possible.

Rwanda’s Foreign Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, chairing a session on Innovative Strategies for the Implementation of Agenda 2063 and its Flagship Programs, said for Africa to have its place among other prosperous continents, it required members to be serious, focused and organized.

She reminded participants that Africa’s 50-year vision, Agenda 2063 provided an opportunity for both short and long term planning by focusing more on priority projects. “We have to look into our planning pattern in both short and long term vis-à-vis how we implement so as to arrive to durable solutions of problems affecting our people,” she said.

Professor Juma Calestous, Faculty Chair of the Innovation for Economic Development Executive Program at Harvard Kennedy School, observed that Africa must build science, research, technology and innovation capacities by using and expanding existing capacities in research institutes and universities.” Education”, he said, “is critical to transformation. Countries that educate and skill their population begin to see impact within one generation. He picked Rwanda as an example of leveraging its economic needs for education and commended it for introducing entrepreneurial reforms in education sector that “have played a key role in its social economic-transformation, lifting a good number of people out of poverty”. Other African countries, he said needed to try this model since it had proven to be an important pillar of development.

In conclusion, the Ministers adopted a report to be submitted to the 27th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State which will be held July 10-18, in Kigale, Rwanda. The theme of the Summit will be: “2016: African Year of Human Rights with particular focus on the Rights of Women.” The retreat resolved to raise awareness of the African Paradox at different levels, mobilize domestic resources to increase taxes to raise revenues for infrastructure and education, and advance the industrialization agenda. The first Ministerial Retreat of the Executive Council was held in Bahr Dar, Ethiopia, in January 2014, with its major focus on the development of Agenda 2063.

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High-Level Meeting of the JMEC Partners’ Group on South Sudan

The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) Partners’ Group, met to discuss implementation of all aspects of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan on Tuesday (May 10) in Addis Ababa. The meeting included representatives of Canada, China, Ethiopia, Kenya, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, the United Kingdom, the United States, Uganda, the African Union Commission, the European Union, the IGAD Partners Forum and the United Nations.

After the meeting, the Partners’ Group issued a statement welcoming the swearing-in, on April 26, 2016, of Dr. Riek Machar, as the First Vice President, and the appointment, two days later, by President Salva Kiir of the Ministers of the Transitional Government of National Unity, in accordance with the provisions of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) of August last year. The Partners Group congratulated the people of South Sudan on the initiation of the transition and commended the Chair of JMEC, former President Festus Mogae, for the leadership he had shown, as well as the facilitation role being played by the AU High Representative for South Sudan, former President Alpha Oumar Konare. They expressed their hope that they would remain actively involved in full implementation of the Agreement.

The Partners welcomed the statements by President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar calling for cooperation, reconciliation, and peaceful coexistence. They hoped that “this positive spirit would mean the swift establishment of all transition institutions and the full implementation of the ARCSS.” They also noted the importance of continuing this spirit of cooperation and consultation as the country begins the most critical phase in the implementation of the Agreement. The formation of the Transitional Government marks the beginning of a 30-month transition period during which time the parties undertake “institutional and structural reforms to ensure effective governance in the Republic of South Sudan.” In this regard the Partners underlined “the importance of the participation of other political parties in the Transitional Government and other transitional institutions in accordance with the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict.”

The Partners’ Group said it looked forward to “rapid progress within the early months of the transition including the incorporation of the ARCSS into the Transitional Constitution of 2011, the drafting and ratification of a permanent constitution; the completion of the Strategic Defense and Security Review process; the creation of an enabling environment for unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance and protection; the enhancing of transparency and accountability of public finances; and the establishment of  the necessary institutions to advance justice and reconciliation.” It emphasized that all these were indispensable measures for building up the confidence of the South Sudanese people and its partners.

The Partners’ Group drew attention to a number of areas in which they had concerns. They reiterated their support for the January 31 Communiqué of the IGAD Council of Ministers, endorsed by JMEC on February 2, which, “in the absence of agreement on the creation of new states, urged the suspension of further action on implementing the operationalization of new states until an inclusive, participatory Boundary Commission comprising all parties to the ARCSS reviews proposed states and their boundaries.”

They expressed their concern over recent reports of ceasefire violations and called on all parties “to honor their commitment to a permanent ceasefire and to ensure freedom of movement for Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) monitors.” They emphasized the importance of establishing the National Security Architecture. They said they were alarmed by the massive humanitarian needs of South Sudan, and were concerned by the obstacles put up by some parties on the movement of humanitarian assistance. They called on all parties “to facilitate the full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to ensure timely delivery of humanitarian assistance, to all those in need”. They said they would like to see speedy establishment of the Reconstruction Board in line with the Agreement.

The Partners called on all officials and parties to refrain from making obstructive public statements. They wanted to see the positive momentum towards the full implementation of the Agreement continue and any reversal of the achievements made avoided. They noted, once again, that the ultimate responsibility for peace and reconciliation rested with the South Sudanese leaders, adding: “It is time for the country’s leaders to work together and give the people of South Sudan what they want and deserve – peace.”

The Partners’ statement said they recognized that the conflict had significantly affected the country’s economy and caused serious difficulty in the daily life of the South Sudanese people. It said the primary responsibility for improving the economic conditions lay with the South Sudanese Government’s judicious use of revenues. It, therefore, urged the Transitional Government of National Unity to engage urgently with International Financial Institutions and the international donor community to develop and share “an accurate analysis of the economic situation and chart new policies to address the needs of the South Sudanese people.” It said international donors would continue their support, but further assistance would be dependent on significant economic reform and transparency by the Transitional Government.

The Partners underlined that they fully supported former President Mogae’s work, his mandate, the integrity of the JMEC, and the decisions taken so far in furtherance of the Peace Agreement. They agreed on the need to strengthen JMEC’s capacity for it to play its critical role at this stage in the implementation of the Agreement. They fully supported the JMEC Chairperson’s efforts to resolve the issue of political party participation in the transitional government and other transitional institutions. The Partners said they had resolved to support the JMEC in the performance of all its important functions with financial and technical resources.

The Partners’ Group concluded by noting that they would remain in close contact with their representatives in Juba and “together remain vigilant in supporting the JMEC and the South Sudanese parties to ensure all elements of the Agreement continue to be implemented in good faith”. They agreed to convene again in July in Khartoum to further support South Sudan and the implementation of the ARCSS.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Berhane Gebre-Christos, Special Envoy of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, said on Tuesday this week (May 10) that Ethiopia remained committed to continue the all-round support it offered during the negotiation of South Sudanese warring parties. It saw the progress in forming a unity government in South Sudan as positive and the return of Riek Machar to Juba and his subsequent appointment as First Vice-President of South Sudan were positive move. Ambassador Berhane told journalists after the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission meeting that Ethiopia would continue to help the Transitional Unity Government of South Sudan to set up parliament and other public institutions. He said, “As a sisterly country and as a chair of IGAD, Ethiopia will continue its support for the negotiation and implementation of the peace agreement.”  He called upon the newly appointed cabinet ministers of South Sudan to seize the opportunity to serve the people of South Sudan.

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Kenya is once again planning to close down its refugee camps
The Kenyan government has decided to close down its two major refugee camp complexes at Dadaab and Kakuma which together house more than 600,000 refugees, a majority from Somalia but 190,000 or so from South Sudan. The government has also announced that it is disbanding the Department of Refugee Affairs, which worked with humanitarian organizations for the welfare of the refugees. A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said on Friday last week (May 6): “The message is clear; we are closing the camps and we will not accept more refugees in the country.” The government said the camps were a drain on the economy and a threat to its national security. It is not the first time the government has threatened to shut down the camps. It has done so twice before: after al-Shabaab’s Westgate Mall attack in 2013, and after the Garissa University College attack a year ago when Al-Shabaab terrorists murdered 147 Christian students. It then delayed its decision in the face of massive pressure from international human rights organizations and the United Nations. This time, it appears more determined to carry out its decision despite calls by human rights bodies that Kenya should integrate its refugees rather than keep them holed up in camps.

A statement released by the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Interior, Karanja Kibicho, said, “The government of the Republic of Kenya, having taken into consideration its national security interests, has decided that hosting of refugees has to come to an end.” The process of voluntary repatriation process of sending Somali refugees back to Somalia had been very slow, and “the Kenyan government’s most pressing constitutional and moral responsibility is to ensure the security of its citizens from the risk of violent attack. Our intelligence and security forces have known for a long time that these camps are a dire threat to our people’s security”. Indeed, he added, the government’s action followed a “the slower-than-a-crawl implementation of a Tripartite mechanism, between Kenya, Somalia and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to repatriate the refugees; ultimately that pace was detrimental to our security.

The statement said the Dadaab refugee camp complex was home to almost half a million Somali refugees who fled their country due to decades of civil war. Since its inception in the 1990s, it had been “clouded in controversy ranging from smuggling of goods and weapons from neighboring Somalia, to harboring terrorists today.” Mr. Kibicho said, “Some of the largest terrorist attacks, like the 2013 Westgate atrocity, were planned and operationalized from Dadaab. The Al-Shabaab terrorist group has been able to take advantage of the camps’ overcrowded and under-resourced conditions, and most importantly the limits to policing United Nations run sites, to operate with an alarming degree of freedom.” The statement pointed out that terrorism had also seriously affected the country tourist trade, with frequent Western country travel warnings whose “broad, and inaccurate, generalizations have ruined the livelihoods of thousands of families”.

Mr. Kibicho said this was not a decision taken without controversy and pain. Kenya was a proud contributor to regional peace and security. In the Good Country Index it was ranked 26th. “ We are proud of that status, and will continue to sustain it in the broad spectrum of peace, security and trade arrangements that have led to it.” However, Mr. Kibicho continued: “as a country with limited resources, facing an existential terrorist threat, we can no longer allow our people to bear the brunt of the International Community’s weakening obligations to the refugees.”

He also noted that the camps, built for a fraction of their population, had caused significant environmental damage seriously affecting the host communities. He noted that voluntary international funding for the camps in Kenya was falling off in favor of raising budgets in the northern hemisphere for refugees headed to the West. He said: “International obligations in Africa should not be done on the cheap; the world continues to learn the ruinous effect of these persistent double standards.”

Mr. Kibicho said at great cost Kenyan troops had liberated large areas of Somalia from Al-Shabaab, yet it was persistently presented “with a picture of a country to which none of its refugee diaspora can resettle”, despite the fact that UN workers travel over this liberated territory with relative safety. . He pointed out that the African Union’s Peace and Security Council acknowledged, last month, the “legitimate security concern of Kenya that the Dadaab Refugee Camps, in existence for more than 25 years, have been infiltrated and have become hideouts of Al Shabaab terrorist group, which exploits the camps to plan and carry out attacks against Kenyan institutions, installations and civilians.” The Council said “the Dadaab Refugee Camps have been deprived of their humanitarian character and function by the Al Shabaab terrorist group”, and stressed that the “burden of refugees is the responsibility of the international community as a whole and not individual countries alone.”

On Wednesday (May 11), Interior Cabinet Secretary, Joseph Nkaissery, said Kenya was drawing up the timetable for closure and had set up a task force to handle the closure plan. This, he said would present a timetable based on all the resources. He added that the state had allocated $10 million to kick-start the process. There have been reports that the deadline for completion of the program will be 2017. Mr. Nkaissery stressed that said Kenya also faced a potential threat from the Islamic State group. He said, “Kenya cannot look aside and allow this threat to escalate any further,” adding “this decision has been made by government reflecting the fact that the camps have become hosting grounds for Al-Shabaab as well as centers of smuggling and contraband trade besides being enablers of illicit weapons proliferation.”

On Thursday, Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Ambassador  Amina Mohamed,  underlined the decision, making it clear the relocation was necessary to protect Kenya’s national interests. She said: “It became an issue of balancing nation security interests and international obligations; I’ve been doing what I am doing for over 30 years. I’ve never come across a country that puts its international obligations above its national interests.” She added that while it was important for Kenya’s concerns to be taken into account, the welfare of the 300,000 plus refugees was also paramount. She said the “refugees need to live in dignity; we need to worry about their security safety, nutrition, and education.” Ambassador Mohamed said “The camps are now completely overcrowded. They were built for far less numbers and the International Community has never moved to address this. The environmental impact has been disastrous for host communities.” She said firmly: “We are now serious about this and we do not want anyone to have doubts. We have time to do this and want the international community to partner with us to enable us construct villages on the other side of the border to ensure the refugees are comfortable.”

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was quick to call on the Kenyan government to reconsider its decision and to avoid actions that might “be at odds with its international obligations towards people needing sanctuary from danger and persecution.” The UNHCR said in a statement it viewed with “profound concern” the latest Kenyan government comments. The UNHCR has been involved in the tripartite agreement Kenya and Somalia and the UN for the voluntary return of refugees to Somalia. According to the UNHCR,  the  numbers at Dadaab fell by about 70,000 in 2013-2015, from 426,000 to 356,000, but it  is not clear if all those who left voluntarily repatriated themselves to Somalia. A recent report notes that the number of births in the camp in the last quarter of 2015 for example, outnumbered the number of refugees returning to Somalia. It said in January this year that it was planning for as many as 50,000 to return to Somalia this year, though it also expressed some doubt as to whether this figure could be met given the challenges that returnees could still meet. Despite the progress made in Somalia, many basis services are still lacking, especially in areas liberated from Al-Shabaab, and there are continued security problems. Similarly, although South Sudan’s political leaders have now set up a Transitional Government of National Unity, the peace process remains fragile and the World Food Program said on Monday this week (May 9) that 5.3 million people in South Sudan may face severe food shortages during this year’s lean season, between March and September.

Others also criticized the decision. Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said: “The closure [of Dadaab] would risk some 330,000 Somali lives and have extreme humanitarian consequences, forcing people to return to a war-torn country with minimal access to vital medical and humanitarian assistance.” Amnesty International said it acknowledged that the resettlement of refugees to third countries had been slow, but urged Kenya to consider fully integrating refugees into society. Kenya hosts the second largest number of refugees on the African continent after Ethiopia, and some of them arrived as long as 25 years ago. Legally, all refugees must live in camps and they cannot work. Refugees International claimed the announcement would lead to extortion and abuse for refugees at the hands of Kenyan police and other security forces. It said “Refugees in Kenya were already struggling for survival … this statement only worsens the situation, leaving their lives in limbo.” U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, also issued a statement voicing deep concern about the decision and urging Kenya “to maintain its longstanding leadership role in protecting and sheltering victims of violence and trauma … and not forcibly repatriate refugees.”

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Ethiopia celebrates Europe Day and close relations with the European Union

Europe Day was celebrated on Monday (May 9) at the Africa Hall of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. The day is the landmark for celebrating peace and unity in Europe. In 1950, French foreign minister Robert Schuman, proposing the creation of a European Coal and Steel Community whose members would pool coal and steel production, presented the Schuman Declaration. The Community was the first in a series of supranational European institutions that eventually became today’s European Union. It was an initiative to form a new policy of co-operation in Europe, meant to make the idea of a war between European nations implausible if not impossible. The dream of the founders of the EU has mostly been realized; today war between EU countries is highly unlikely. The European continent is largely at peace and 28 democratic countries have been unified in one single market representing the world’s largest economic block. Certainly, in recent years the European Union has been, and still is, facing a number of serious challenges; equally, it has so far shown the necessary resilience and capacity to find common solutions to common problems.

Europe Day, here in Ethiopia, was not only a celebration of Europe; it was also an opportunity to take stock of the relationship between the EU and Ethiopia. In many respects, the EU and Ethiopia are bound together by a shared history as well as by common goals and shared values. The EU is a vitally important partner of Ethiopia in terms of peace, prosperity and development. It is a strong supporter of Ethiopia’s efforts to achieve middle-income status and continue its impressive economic growth and development. Indeed, Ethiopia is one of the largest beneficiaries of EU development cooperation support. Europe is the largest market for Ethiopian exports and trade relations are a significant element in the relationship. The EU also provides important humanitarian assistance to the country. Overall, the EU and Ethiopia has been successfully building a strategic partnership for peace and development.

The EU provides funding to support Ethiopia through the European Development Fund (EDF) which finances the majority of EU development funding to Ethiopia aiming to increase resilience, accompanying reforms and promote sustained economic growth. The cycle of aid for the period 2014-2020 will amount to €745 million with a focus on sustainable agriculture and food security, mainly targeting vulnerable population groups, improvements to the national health system, road infrastructure, and energy, aiming to increase access and diversify the energy mix. The EDF also finances actions in favor of civil society and strengthening democratic governance. Under the previous cycle (2009-2013) the EU provided €674 million to programs in Ethiopia, focusing particularly on transport and regional integration, rural development and food security, basic social services and democratic governance. One multi-donor program, with an EU contribution of €100 million, is the highly impressive Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) the largest program of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa assisting 7.5 million vulnerable people with reliable assistance each year (in the form of cash or food), in return for participation in public works.

Ethiopia also benefits from the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, which assists in building the resilience of vulnerable communities and stemming irregular migration. In addition, additional support is channeled through various other EU initiatives such as the Global Climate Change Alliance, the Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, and EU humanitarian assistance. In April, the European commission announced a grant of €122.5 million for Ethiopia to address the immediate needs of people affected by the worsening humanitarian situation caused by one of the most severe extreme El Niño weather phenomenon on record.

Speaking at the celebration in Africa Hall on Monday, Ambassador Chantal Hebert, head of the EU Delegation to Ethiopia and to the Africa Union, said the EU’s partnership with Ethiopia and Africa was based on shared values for common concerns and aspirations. The Ambassador noted that: “In Africa we are an important trading partner, a reliable investor, a generous donor of humanitarian and development aid, and a loyal ally in a fight against mutual concerns”. She emphasized that EU-Ethiopia relations had made strong progress in several areas, including economics, politics, and cultural exchange. She also stressed, however, that peace and prosperity, based on a deep commitment to fundamental rights, democracy and the rule of law, could never be taken for granted. It was, she said, a work in constant progress, something that must be nurtured and protected.

The State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Atske-Selassie congratulated the EU Delegation Office and all EU Member States on this occasion, stressing that it was a special day marking inception of EU integration. He noted: “we have recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of cooperation between EU and Ethiopia here in Addis Ababa – and very successfully. The numerous high level visits which have taken place over the last few months have also encouraged the cooperation between EU and Ethiopia to grow to a more comprehensive and strategic partnership level.” Taking this and other significant contributions into account, the State Minster extended his gratitude to the EU delegation and representatives of the Member States of the European Union for their continuous efforts to build up cooperation between EU-Ethiopia and EU Member States and Ethiopia. Ambassador Taye said he was very pleased that “our existing strong partnership with the EU is underpinned by equally strong bilateral relations with its member states. ”

Ambassador Taye underlined that “the European Union has also made its own substantial contributions to the progress so far registered in Ethiopia. Indeed, Ethiopia is one of the largest beneficiaries of the European Development Fund and the EU remains also by far Ethiopia’s most important trading partner.” He pointed out that Ethiopia’s exports to the EU represent 43% of the country’s worldwide exports. According to the State Minister, the number of jobs generated by the 300 or so EU companies active in Ethiopia is estimated at over 100,000. This he said was a very successful, generous, indeed unique cooperation. Ambassador Taye expressed his hope that the EU-Ethiopia partnership would continue to be bolstered further. Ethiopia, and Africa as a whole, he said, can learn a lot from the successful experience of the European Union’s integration process and from observing how the EU has tackled the many challenges it has faced at different stages of its development.

In conclusion Ambassador Taye quoted Robert Schuman: “Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create de facto solidarities”.  Whether intended or not, said Ambassador Taye, this provides us with model which has much to offer to the African Union.

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Swiss authorities say no improvement in human rights in Eritrea

The head of Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Migration, Mario Gattiker, told journalists on Monday (May 9) that the Swiss authorities have determined that the human rights situation has not improved in Eritrea. Mr. Gattiker said firmly that while there had been promises that Eritrea would lower the required length of military service to a term of 18 months: “those hopes did not turn out to be true”. He said Eritrea had “officially gone back on its promise of shortening the national military service, requirement.” He also added that any “proof of improved human rights conditions is still missing.”

He said the asylum experts who went on the two week “reconnaissance trip” to Eritrea in March had a brief to investigate whether it was possible to improve cooperation on migration with Eritrea. Mr. Gattiker made it clear the visit had not been a success. Dialogue had not reached a point where a change could be envisaged and he said there was still “no evidence for an improved human rights situation.” Despite Eritrea’s signature to the UN Anti-Torture Convention last year, the team was unable to take any steps to verify whether this was being applied as they were denied access to military facilities and prisons. In addition the asylum team was accompanied at every step by representatives of the Eritrean Government. They had visited cities, towns and schools during the two-week trip to try to gather information that could help them better understand the situation in the country and verify asylum seekers’ stories.

Mr. Gattiker did indicate that the team’s findings on the state of the economy and on education provided a useful addition to the overall picture of Eritrea. These, he suggested might lead to adjustments in Switzerland’s asylum regulations. However, he stressed, it was clear that nothing had changed with reference to National Service, and it remained clear that returnees who had left the country illegally still risked severe penalties. Mr. Gattiker did also say that he hoped Eritrea would send an ambassador to Geneva as this, he said, might allow for improved dialogue with the Eritrean authorities. Any decision of whether Switzerland would send an ambassador to Eritrea, of course, lay with the Foreign Ministry.

About 28,500 Eritreans live in Switzerland and they make up the largest national group of asylum seekers to Switzerland. A quarter of them arrived as asylum seekers in 2014 and 6,640 were granted refugee status. Up to 10,000 Eritreans also applied for asylum in Switzerland last year. Only two other European countries have accepted more Eritreans: Germany, with 13,200 and Sweden, with 11,500.

The mission of the Secretariat for Migration in March followed a private visit a month earlier by four members of the Swiss National Council and a member of the Green Party at the invitation of the Swiss Honorary Consul in Eritrea. On their return from their two week visit, the group requested a meeting with Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga in charge of immigration to discuss their conclusions. The group praised the openness of the people they met in Eritrea and said they had no problems travelling around. They claimed that Eritrea was “a country which has known a very tough dictatorship and the system remains authoritarian but it is opening up.” They called for a Swiss mission to examine the human rights situation in Eritrea and suggested Switzerland should set up permanent diplomatic representation in Asmara, launch a special development aid project for Eritrea and discuss refugee issues.

The Secretariat for Migration pointed out that the politicians “did not discuss human rights topics linked to asylum procedures,” and made no effort to discuss legal rights, national military service and prisons. The Secretariat said in a statement there was “no sufficiently strong evidence to show that the human rights situation in Eritrea had improved significantly”.  This was, of course, a month later confirmed by the report of the Secretariat’s own mission which concluded it would be unjustifiable to return Eritrean asylum seekers to their home considering the situation in the country. The delegation reiterated the government’s stance on returning Eritrean asylum seekers following the talks it held with Eritrean authorities and its investigations it conducted regarding the cause of Eritrean emigration prior to its visit to the country.

This is not the first time the State Secretariat for Migration has sent a mission to Asmara. The Secretariat’s Deputy Director, Urs von Arb, carried out a five-day exploratory mission. His report remained confidential until a news outlet forced its publication under a Freedom of Information request. The Deputy Director’s six page report said events in the second half of 2014 appeared to show a possible opening up in Eritrea. The country agreed to sign the UN Anti-Torture Convention and a presidential aide, in talks with the Swiss Ambassador in Khartoum,  underlined the country’s interest in cooperation over migration. Mr. Von Arb wrote “Because of the isolation of the country, the economically desperate situation and the high emigration of its mainly young population, it is possible that Eritrea considers a change in its policy necessary.”

The Deputy Director met with Foreign Minister Saleh Osman, Minister of Justice, Fozia Hashim and presidential adviser, Yemane Gebreab, as well as several Heads of Mission and representatives of international organizations during his visit. He reported that the government officials had said that the National Service will be limited to 18 months and he concluded that the government did want to communicate more effectively. This promise made by Presidential made official by the President or announced in the local media. Despite widespread concerns about the reality of the proposed policy change, this promise was a central element in the EU-Eritrea aid package discussions that led to the EU providing an aid package of €200million.

Mr. von Arb said: “The situation in Eritrea is complex and not black and white; there are many shades of gray”. He also noted that Eritrean officials were not prepared to talk about the situation in prisons or the human rights situation.  He concluded 2015 would be a “crucial year”, and would provide evidence whether the regime was willing to carry out sustainable improvements and changes, or whether it was only playing for time. His conclusion was: “The conditions are not yet available to initiate concrete bilateral co-operation in the field of migration.”

In talking to the press on Monday (May 9), Mario Gattiker stressed that Switzerland’s hopes for an improvement in the situation during 2015 had not been confirmed.  Hoped- for changes had not taken place. He said it was still clear that Eritreans, who illegally leave their country or have fled from the National Service, upon returning could still at worst expect detention and torture.

Following the comments of the Secretariat for Migration on Monday, a Europe-based campaign group “Stop Slavery in Eritrea” organized by former recruits of Eritrea’s  indefinite national service, called for a review of the aid package. The group said the findings of the Swiss Mission confirmed that the Eritrean regime had no intention of “stopping the modern day slavery in the guise of national service to which it has subjected all Eritreans over the age of 18.”  The group said that unfortunately it was always clear that good will on behalf of the EU alone wasn’t going to solve the problem inside Eritrea; “every member of the Eritrean public knew two years ago that the regime had no intentions of limiting national service to 18 months, that is why the number of refugees fleeing the national service didn’t go down.” It pointed out that figures from the refugee camps in the region indicated that younger and more vulnerable children were fleeing ahead of conscription and as a result of the crisis of the national service. It said it is “time to look for realistic solutions to the refugee crisis and appeasing the regime isn’t one. We call on the EU to revise the aid package negotiated on the back of this promise”.

29.4.2016

 News in Brief

Prime Minister Hailemariam attends UN General Assembly SDG debate

Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros makes an official visit to the Russian Federation

….following his visit to the Republic of Serbia last week …

….and to Sweden where he held discussions with the Ethiopian Diaspora

Ambassador Taye briefs Addis-based Ambassadors on recent incidents in Gambella Regional State The Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit held in Kampala Dr. Riek Machar sworn in as First Vice-President of South Sudan

Construction of the 700km Kenya-Somalia Border Fence to continue

UNECA believes Ethiopia can catch up China and Vietnam in light manufacturing

News in Brief

Africa and the African Union

The Transformative Industrial Policy in Africa Report recently released by the UN Economic Commission for Africa notes that Africa is now the subject of significant optimism, though it cautions that it isn’t clear whether Africa can turn the recent economic recovery into sustained economic development. The report also believes Ethiopia could soon catch up China and Vietnam in light manufacturing. (See article)

Ethiopia

Prime Minister Hailemariam attended the UN General Assembly High-level Thematic Debate on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals at the end of last week (April 21-22). He also participated in the historic signing of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change on Saturday (April 23) at the UN headquarters in New York. (See article)

 

Deputy Prime Minister, Debretsion Gebremichael, Coordinator of Finance and Minister of ICT attended the 13th Summit of the Northern Corridor Integration Projects at the Speke resort in Kampala, Uganda last weekend on April 22 and 23.  He headed a delegation that included State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Atske-selassie. (See article)

Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom, on an official visit to the Russian Federation met with Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov on Monday (April 25) for discussions on bilateral issues, development cooperation, energy projects, regional peace and security. Dr. Tedros said Ethiopia and Russia should enhance cooperation in the areas of trade, investment, tourism and other economic cooperation to benefit peoples of both countries. (See article)

Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros, at the end of last week, on the second leg of a European tour, visited the Republic of Serbia, following his three-day official visit to Sweden.  He met with First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia, Ivica Dacic, in Belgrade on Friday (April 22). (See article)

State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Atske-selassie, signed an agreement with the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank to open a regional office in Addis Ababa on Thursday (April 28). Mr. Admassu Yilma, CEO of the African Trade and Development Bank said opening a regional office in Addis Ababa would give easy financial access to clients and projects.

State Minister Ambassador Taye briefed African and Asian Ambassadors on Wednesday and Thursday (April 27and 28) on the recent cross-border raid into Gambella Regional State. He said the response to the unusually massive raid was being “very careful, a very targeted and a very calculated move” and Ethiopia was coordinating measures with South Sudan to rescue the children seized.  The second incident involved clashes between South Sudanese Refugees in Jawi camp and the local community and had no connection with the earlier attack.

State Minister Ambassador Taye and Mr. John Morris, Country Director of Farm Africa signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Tuesday (April 26) to open Farm Africa’s regional office in Addis.

State Minister Ambassador Taye on Tuesday (April 26) met with the representative of Crisis Action, Mrs. Emebet Getachew. Mrs. Emebet briefed the State Minister on Crisis Action that works with civil society and international organizations seeking lasting peace in conflict-ridden areas and presented the organization’s request to open an office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The State Minister welcomed the organization’s interest to open an office in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopian Airlines was voted as the Best Cargo Airline of the Year from Africa at the “2016 Cargo Airline of the Year” award event held in London on Saturday (April 23). Roger Hailey, editor of Air Cargo News, said Ethiopian Airlines was a worthy winner of this award “as recognized by peer group professionals who voted in recognition of its valuable contribution to African air cargo”.

Djibouti

President Ismail Omar Guelleh has invited Sudan President Omer al-Bashir to attend his inauguration ceremony for another term in office. The Djibouti Ambassador to Sudan gave the invitation to Sudan Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour at the weekend.

Ilyas Dawaleh, Minister of Economy and Finance in charge of Industry headed a delegation to Jordan last weekend on a visit aimed at developing commercial ties and facilitating Jordanian trade with Africa. Djibouti has agreed to provide facilities to establish a Jordanian logistic village in its free zone to store Jordanian goods and re-export them to African markets. The two countries also agreed to hold talks on bilateral agreements on commercial preferences, investment and protection.

Eritrea

The magazine, Jane’s Defense Weekly has published satellite images showing that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) appears to be constructing a new port next to Assab International Airport in Eritrea. This, it suggests, could become the UAE’s first permanent military base in a foreign country. Naval vessels using Assab since September last year have included Emirati landing ships and in March an UAE corvette warship was docked at the port.

A new report by Freedom House on press freedom ranked Eritrea fifth from bottom and lowest in Africa because all private news outlets were outlawed, local media is strictly controlled and many journalists remain in prison.

Eritrea’s Permanent Ambassador to the United Nations, Girma Asmerom, signed the Paris Agreement on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on behalf of the Government of Eritrea at the UN in New York on Friday (April 22).

Sunridge Gold Corp. announced on Tuesday (April 26)  that it had sold its 60% interest in the Asmara Mining Share Company to the Sichuan Road & Bridge Mining Investment Development Corp. Ltd. The price paid was US$65 million.

Kenya

President Kenyatta issued a statement on Tuesday (April 26) to say that it was with a deep sense of sadness and loss that he had learnt of the untimely death of the Former First Lady, Mrs. Lucy Kibaki, who died in London. On behalf of all Kenyans and his Government he offered heartfelt condolences to former President Mwai Kibaki.

Kenya’s Interior Cabinet Secretary, Joseph Nkaissery, told a security conference with Marehan elders at the weekend that the construction of the 700km Kenya-Somalia border fence to prevent unwanted persons from illegally entering Kenya will continue as planned. (See article)

Somalia

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said on Monday (April 25) that Somalia will go to the polls to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections in August. He said “The upcoming Somali presidential and parliamentary election will be held this August,” adding “The election process needs to be completed in a democratic way. We do not care which party wins. The winners will be the people of Somalia.” The President announced last week he would be seeking re-election.

Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke has appointed Mohamed Jama Mursal as Minister of Posts and Telecommunication to replace Guled Hussein Qasim. No reason was given for the change.

Abdusalam H. Omer, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Investment Promotion on a visit to the United Arab Emirates met with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the UAE on Wednesday (April 27) to discuss bilateral relations and review areas of co-operation and co-ordination.

Francisco Madeira, Special Representative of the African Union for Somalia and head of the AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and Somalia’s Deputy Prime Minister Mohamed Omar Arte met in Mogadishu over the weekend to discuss the need for more coordinated collaboration between AMISOM and the Somali National Army operations.

Ambassador Francisco Madeira, head of AMISOM, told a two-day workshop on Human Rights and Due Diligence Policy in Mogadishu (April 26-27) that AMISOM forces were committed to complying with international Human Rights law. He said a board of inquiry had been set up to handle all incidents involving AMISOM troops, police and the Somali people.

A session of the Puntland Parliament on Sunday (April 24) overwhelmingly approved the names for Transitional Puntland Electoral Commission (TPEC). Puntland President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali and Speaker Ahmed Ali Hashi picked nine nominees and the former Puntland State Television Director-General Ahmed Mohamed Ali was named as Chairman of the Commission,

Twenty three nongovernmental organizations working in Somalia appealed on Tuesday (April 26) for a concerted and collective effort from all actors to avoid a repeat of the 2011 famine when more than a quarter of a million died. According to FAO more than 731,000 people are estimated to be severely food insecure. The call came as the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Geneva is holding meetings on the UN Global Call for Support and Action on El Niño.

Drought conditions in Puntland and parts of Somaliland have significantly deteriorated according to the latest rainfall analysis by the FAO-managed Somalia Water and Land Information Management earlier this week. Nearly 385,000 people in Puntland and Somaliland face acute food insecurity and an estimated 1.3 million people are at risk of slipping into acute food insecurity if they do not receive assistance.

South Sudan

Riek Machar, head of the SPLM-IO, returned to Juba on Tuesday afternoon (April 26) and was sworn in as First Vice President. President, Salva Kiir called on Dr. Machar, and Wani Igga, Vice-President, to cooperate with him in the new government that will be formed soon. The President said he would not expect an opposition in either the executive and legislative branches of his government when a transitional unity government is formed inclusive of opposition parties. He called for cooperation to “return our country to peaceful coexistence.” (See article)
The UN Security Council had a briefing on South Sudan on Tuesday (April 26) from Herve Ladsous, UN head of peacekeeping. Mr. Ladsous said the arrival of Riek Machar should allow “the real transition to begin” but stressed the security situation was still precarious and there was a worsening humanitarian and human rights situation. He said the transitional government would have to “start work from day one” to address governance, financial misappropriation and improving the rule of law. (See article)

The United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, on Tuesday welcomed the return of Dr. Machar to Juba on Tuesday (April 26) and his swearing in as the country’s first vice-president, describing it a “new phase” in the implementation of the August 2015 peace agreement.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on Tuesday (April 26) announced the appointment of Abiodun Bashua of Nigeria to lead the special investigation into the attack on February 17-18 against the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) when at least 25 civilians died and an additional 144were  injured. The investigation would complement the UN Headquarters Board of Inquiry announced on March 11.

Sudan

President Al-Bashir told Sudan’s newly appointed ambassadors to Ireland, Yemen, the Sultanate of Oman, Qatar, Lebanon, Djibouti and Norway, to work to consolidate Sudanese relations and cooperation with these countries.

The Darfur Referendum Commission announced on Saturday (April 23) that 97% of the registered voters in the region’s recent administrative referendum had voted to keep the current five states in Darfur and retain the status quo. Only 2.2% had voted for the option of a single region. The turnout for the vote was 3.15 million; opposition parties boycotted the referendum.

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Prime Minister Hailemariam attends UN General Assembly SDG debate

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) held a High-level Thematic Debate on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals at the end of last week (April 21-22). High-level officials from over a hundred and thirty UN member states making statements on the action they were taking or planning at the country level. Interactive dialogues also addressed “financing poverty eradication and sustainable development” and “technology and data for SDGs.” There is general agreement that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals requires action at all levels, from the local to national and global levels. Indeed strong national ownership is considered the foundation of all efforts. If the SDGs are incorporated into national and local plans, policies, and budgets, then there is a good chance that action will follow. In other words, the global agenda will only work if it is domesticated. This requires unreserved government approaches with compulsory collaboration of relevant ministries and sectors. Action on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda by governments is vital, but it is not sufficient on its own. International organizations, civil society, and media all have roles in supporting and monitoring SDG achievements.

On the opening ceremony on 21 April 2016, at UN Headquarters in New York, United States, the General Assembly President, Mogens Lykketoft, said the 2030 Agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 which was adopted at the Third UN World Conference in Sendai, Japan, in March last year and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change provide the international community with a framework to solve the root causes of world problems, including migration and humanitarian crises. The UN Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, said achieving the 2030 Agenda would require breaking down barriers “across borders, across sectors, and across functions.”

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn led a high-level Ethiopian delegation to the debate on the follow-up to the Sustainable Development Goals. The Prime Minister said in his statement to the debate that the international community in 2015 had achieved “an incredible and historic achievement.” He went on: “The agreement reached on the 2030 development agenda, which is both transformative and ambitious was without precedent. We showed what we can do when we are committed to move together. The commitment made to eradicate poverty in fifteen years is a major achievement.” But, of course, he added, “what remains is the implementation of what we have agreed upon, and as we all realize, implementation is a daunting task.”

In this context, the Prime Minister noted that the Addis Ababa Action Agenda was a critical pillar designed to support the implementation of the SDGs. He spoke of the “enormous challenges ahead of us, largely related to the difficulty of financing our development plans.” That he pointed out was why the commitments made in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the various planned actions contained there were so critical.” He stressed the importance of being mindful of the enormous and multiple challenges which could impede efforts. The world was certainly passing through turbulent times and there were major challenges in the area of peace and security. These coupled with the global economic slowdown as well as the effects of climate change and other natural calamities would, he said, have their own impact.

As far as SDGs were concerned, he said, Ethiopia was putting unreserved efforts into implementation of the Sustainable Goals. Indeed, the Government had already started to prepare the ground for their successful implementation. “In leveling the ground to implement the SDGs, we have started undertaking important tasks,” the Prime Minister said. Ethiopia had already conducted consultations in different parts of the country by sector institutions both at federal and regional levels in order to reach a common understanding on both the national development plan and the SDGs. He also mentioned various workshops and training sessions organized at the federal level by the government in collaboration with the United Nations to create awareness and understanding among different actors and stakeholders. In a similar vein, he pointed out, a Policy Matrix constituting sets of indicators had been developed to track the progress of implementation of the national development plan both at macro and sectoral levels. This Matrix would also be instrumental in tracking the implementation of the SDGs. Further steps are now underway to review the SDG indicators and identify those which are easy to monitor within the framework of national realities, capacities  and  policy priorities.

The Prime Minister underlined that the Thematic Debate undoubtedly afforded Member States the opportunity to learn from one another and create necessary partnership in their pursuit to implement the SDGs. He said the fact that “we are having this debate one day prior to the signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement makes our deliberation much more productive and memorable.” In conclusion, he asked the Assembly to use “this opportunity to make our collective efforts bear the necessary fruits to effectively address the myriad of development challenges our world faces.”

Following the High-level Thematic Debate, Prime Minister Hailemariam was among those world leaders and other representatives who signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change on Saturday (April 23) at the UN headquarters in New York. The 196 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted the Paris Agreement last December at COP21 in Paris. The Convention aims to limit global temperature rises “to well below two degrees Celsius. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “This is a moment in history” at the opening of the formal ceremony. He noted that “the world is in a race against time”, adding that “The era of consumption without consequences is over”. He told the assembled leaders ““Today you are signing a new covenant with the future. This covenant must amount to more than promises.”

The occasion attracted the largest number of countries ever to sign an international agreement on a single day.  France was given the honor to sign the pact first, in recognition of its hosting of the UN Climate Change Conference. Prime Minister Hailemariam put his signature next to that of French President, Francois Hollande. Ethiopia is one of those countries expecting a great deal from this agreement as effective global cooperation on climate change is necessary to enable nations to take the real and necessary action to begin to resolve the issue. Last year, the thirty nations, which are members of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, elected Ethiopia to chair the Forum for 2016-17.

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Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros makes an official visit to the Russian Federation

Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros has been on a series of European visits over the last two weeks, to Sweden, to the Republic of Serbia and at the beginning of this week to the Russian Federation where he held bilateral discussions with Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, in Moscow on Monday (April 25). Recalling that Ethiopia and Russia have enjoyed long and historic relations, Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros underlined that their bilateral discussions would help deepen the cooperation between the two countries. He said bilateral cooperation should further be strengthened in areas of infrastructural development, investment, bank-to-bank cooperation, education, and science and technology among other areas. Dr. Tedros also suggested Ethiopia and Russia should enhance cooperation in areas of trade, tourism and other economic cooperation for the benefit of the peoples of both countries.

Dr. Tedros noted that the Joint Commission on Economic, Scientific, Trade and Technical Cooperation, established in 1999, provided a strategic joint mechanism to bolster multi-layered cooperation between the two countries. He said Ethiopia was working hard to make sure that the Commission remained both sustainable and fruitful. The Minister also pointed out that Ethiopia was preparing to host the 6th Ethio-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission later this year. It hoped that the event would create a successful and conducive platform to deal with most of the strategic and economic concerns of both sides.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Ethiopia and Russia had enjoyed longstanding multi-faceted relations for over a hundred years. Ethiopia, he said, was one of Russia’s key partners in ‪‎Africa. The Minister pointed out that Russia welcomed Ethiopia’s desire to promote cooperation with Russia in education, science and technology. Mr. Lavrov mentioned that Russian companies were interested in enhancing energy and hydrocarbon cooperation and building infrastructure in Ethiopia. He stressed that the key role in settling African conflicts must belong to Africans themselves.

At a press conference, the Russian Foreign Minister said Russia appreciated its more than a century of friendship with Ethiopia, reiterating that it was a key partner on the African continent. “During the period of development of our relations,” he said, “We have gained a very solid experience in various fields”. Noting that the bilateral discussions covered the prospects of expanding bilateral ties with a focus on enhancing trade, economic and investment ties, the Foreign Minister said Russian companies were keen to join forces with Ethiopian partners in implementing promising joint projects in energy, including production of hydrocarbons, and in building infrastructure. Gasprom, a Russian company, has begun investment in Ethiopia, and Foreign Minister Lavrov commended Ethiopia’s support to the firm. He called for similar support for other Russian companies. In this context, he welcomed Ethiopia’s expression of interest to expand cooperation in the fields of education, science and high technologies. He said, “We have appropriate plans. We expressed the hope that we could hold the next meeting of the intergovernmental commission on trade-economic cooperation as soon as possible.”

Foreign Minister Lavrov, mindful of Ethiopia’s key role at both regional and international fora, said, “We appreciate Ethiopia’s balanced policy on the international stage, in particular its active roles in the African Union, sub-regional organizations and the peacekeeping efforts of the Africa’s community. Ethiopia’s independent foreign policy is strengthening its international standing.” He added: “Russia and Ethiopia have consistently advocated for the formation of a just and democratic polycentric architecture, based on international law and respect for the identity of peoples and their right to determine their own future. Our countries are committed to the collective search for answers to the challenges and threats of our time.”

During his stay in Russia, Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros also met with Konstantin I Kosachov, Chairman of the Committee on International Affairs of the Federation Council of Russia. The two sides reiterated the need to enhance the Ethio-Russia partnership, particularly in trade investment, deepen inter-parliamentary partnership and strengthen the cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

…..following his visit to the Republic of Serbia last week….

During his official visit to Belgrade, Dr. Tedros held bilateral discussions with Aleksandr Vucic, Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia and Ivica Dacic, Serbia’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. The two sides emphasized the need to boost the historic relationship between Ethiopia and the Republic of Serbia. They also agreed to establish a Joint Commission to boost relations to higher level. Serbia has shown interest to invest in Ethiopia, particularly in the construction, pharmaceutical and energy sectors. After their discussions, Serbia extended its support to Ethiopia’s bid for a non-permanent seat at the UNSC.

Dr. Tedros also paid a visit to the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia where he met Mrs. Maja Gojković, Speaker of the National Assembly of Serbia. They agreed on the importance of revamping parliamentary cooperation between Ethiopia and the Republic of Serbia. Dr. Tedros emphasized that members of parliament, the true representatives of the Serbian and Ethiopian people, should cooperate.

The Minister later met with Marko Čadež, the President of Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia. Mr. Marko pledged to work with Ethiopia in a bid to reinvigorate the longstanding ties between the two countries.  Recalling the historic relations between Ethiopia and Serbia and taking note of the fact that Ethiopia has now become a favored destination for international investment and trade, Dr. Tedros emphasized the need to strengthen bilateral ties and expand the level of cooperation between the two countries.  The two sides agreed to coordinate an Ethio-Serbia Business Forum in the near future. Dr. Tedros subsequently paid a visit to the giant global company, Vlatacom, which provides cutting edge solutions in the field of Information and Communications Technology.

During his visit, Dr. Tedros was awarded with the Decoration of the Order of Serbian Flag. The Decoration of the Order of Serbian Flag is the highest honor that can be bestowed by the Serbian Presidency. Dr. Tedros was given the award for the role he has played in expanding Ethio-Serbia relations.

….Dr. Tedros’s discussions with the Ethiopian Diaspora in Stockholm

Earlier, at the end of his three-day official visit to Sweden, Dr. Tedros had met with a huge turnout of the Ethiopian Diaspora living in and around Stockholm. The Minister briefed the members of the Diaspora about his visit to Sweden, including the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between Ethiopia and Sweden to hold Bilateral Political Consultation every two years at Ministry of Foreign Affairs level and the endorsement of the Strategy for Sweden’s Development Cooperation with Ethiopia for 2016-2020. He also gave an account of the round -table discussions he had with a number of major Swedish companies. Dr. Tedros said several major Swedish companies had shown serious interest in investing in Ethiopia. Those already investing in the country had also indicated their intention to further expand their business activities.

Dr. Tedros also briefed the members of the Diaspora on Ethiopia’s socio-economic development achievements including the progress made during the recently completed first Growth and Transformation Plan (2010-2015). He underlined the unique elements of Ethiopia’s development and the way it was undertaken both rapidly and inclusively to ensure that all segments of the population could benefit from the overall development. Dr. Tedros noted that the double-digit economic growth Ethiopia had registered over the last twelve years has made a tremendous change in the image of the country. For the first time in its history, the economy was rated B and B+ by the major world rating agencies. Ethiopia’s economic miracle, he said, was attracting significant international attention and the country was becoming a preferred investment destination on the African continent.

Dr. Tedros underlined that Ethiopia was trying to achieve the twin objectives of sustainable development and of creating and nurturing a democratic system at all levels. Strongly affirming the government’s commitment to build a real democratic order, he pointed out that a democratic process in the country had to be home-grown rather than imposed from outside.
Dr. Tedros briefed the members of the Diaspora community on current issues in Ethiopia, including the El Nino induced drought and the responses of both the government and the international response, the recent problem in the Oromia region and the attacks against innocent civilians in Gambella. He then responded in detail to questions raised by the participants. A minute’s silence was observed for the victims of the recent attack in the Gambella Regional State from across the border.

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Ambassador Taye briefs Addis-based Ambassadors on recent incidents in Gambella Regional State

State Minister Ambassador Taye briefed Addis-based Ambassadors on the two recent incidents in Gambella Regional State. Ambassador Taye, at first, had casted a light on the background of cross border raids in the areas of attacks. He said, “Cattle raids in South Sudan and extended communities in the region have been a source of communal violence for decades.” The State Minister added what made the April 16 incident different was that the attacks were unusually massive and appeared to be well-organized. Ambassador Taye also noted on how Ethiopian forces had managed to secure the areas from further pillages and brutal attacks. He explained the ongoing efforts being undertaken by the Government of Ethiopia. The State Minister stated the federal government together with the regional state of Gambella is helping the sustenance of basic amenities to the displaced. He explained the support being given to nearly 20, 000 displaced people while stressing rehabilitation works have been intensified.

In addition,  Ambassador Taye has indicated that Ethiopia, as a country that espouses an Open Door Policy towards refugees from neighboring countries is home to hundreds of thousands of refugees from South Sudan. He stressed Ethiopia will continue to sustain its Open Door Policy to welcome and protect refugees from neighboring countries.

The State Minister also appreciated the pledge by the Government of South Sudan to bring abductees back to their families in no time. Plus, the Government of Ethiopia is working closely with the Government of South Sudan to bring back the abducted children as soon as possible. According to Ambassaodr Taye, the government is also working closely with community elders in the Gambella region in the negotiation to bring back the abducted children safe and sound with all possible risks minimized. Explaining the rescue mission the Ambassador stressed, “It is a very careful, a very targeted and a very calculated move we are pursuing. Slowly but surely we would have our children.”

Speaking about the second incident of the clashes between South Sudanese Refugees in Jawi camp and the local community, the State Minister said, “It had nothing to do with the April 14th attack.” He said vehicle of Action Against Hunger, a charity organization, accidentally killed two children of the South Sudanese refugees and added, what followed next was some members of the community of South Sudanese refugees in an act of retaliation attacked innocent Ethiopians who had been on duty of serving the refugees and who at the same time had no connections to the car accident.  As a result of the heinous attacks ten Ethiopians have lost their lives. Investigation into the incident is now underway and over 40 suspects have been arrested so far.

While extending their condolences to the national community, the Ambassadors based in Addis on their part extended their appreciation to the Government of Ethiopia for briefing the diplomatic community about the two incidents in Gambella Regional State. The Ambassadors also hailed Ethiopia’s Open Door Policy to refugees from neighboring countries.  The Ambassadors noted Ethiopia’s constant support and protection to refugees from neighboring countries has been exemplary.

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The Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit held in Kampala 

The 13th Summit of the Northern Corridor Integration Projects was held at the Speke resort in Kampala, Uganda last weekend on April 22 and 23. The Summit was attended by President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, the host; President Paul Kagame of Rwanda; President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister, Debretsion Gebremichael, Coordinator of Finance and Minister of ICT.  In addition to representatives of South Sudan, Burundi and the DRC, also present were Dr. Augustine P. Mahiga, Minister of Foreign Affairs, East African Community, Regional and International Cooperation, the United Republic of Tanzania, the current Chair of the East African Community Council of Ministers; Mr. Gabriel Negatu, Regional Director, African Development Bank and Mr. Donat Bagula, Executive Secretary of the Northern Corridor Transit and Transport Coordination Authority. Others present included regional economic community officials and other high-level participants and guests as well as private sector representatives. Expert and ministerial sessions over the previous few days (April 19-23) preceded the Summit itself.

The Summit welcomed the progress made in the implementation of the various Northern Corridor projects and renewed the resolve to continue fast tracking the Northern Corridor Integration Projects, taking into consideration accelerating regional integration initiatives and the need to improve the livelihood of citizens in the region. The Heads of State stressed the need to implement the projects with a sense of urgency and resolve outstanding issues by the 14th Summit. In its 15 point joint communiqué released at the end of the summit, the Summit covered the progress of implementation on the Standard Gauge Railway, ICT Infrastructure, the issue of Oil Refineries and Crude oil, Political Federation, Project Financing, Power generation, Air Space management, Human Resource Capacity Building, Commodities Exchange, Land for the Infrastructure Corridor, Immigration, Tourism, Trade, Labor and Services, Single Customs Territory, Defense, Peace and Security Cooperation; and the Private Sector. The Summit also agreed on the issue of the route for the oil pipeline from Uganda with the final decision providing for a 1,410 kilometer (876 miles) pipeline from the western Uganda region of Hoima to the Tanzanian port of Tanga, while Kenya will build another link between the towns of Lokichar and Lamu in Kenya. Uganda and Kenya agreed to continue cooperating on petroleum issues.

Among the resolutions on the Standard Gauge Railway development, the Summit welcomed the progress of the construction works on Mombasa-Nairobi section which has now reached 75% completion and is due to be finished in July 2017. The construction of Malaba-Kampala sector is expected to begin in July 2016. On Political Federation the Summit decided the East African Community should handle the matter. With reference to Project Financing, the Summit directed Ministers of Finance to establish harmonized financing models to facilitate the participation of the private sector in projects. For Power Generation, Transmission, and Interconnectivity, the Summit directed Ministers to address delays in the completion of transmission lines, acquisition of land and rights of way that have hindered the commencement of power trading.         

Policies already operational include the issuing of a single visa for tourists to the East African region covering Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, and use of National IDs to ease travel within the region. Another is the harmonization of cross-border ICT connectivity, legal and regulatory frameworks. This has culminated in the establishment of the One Network Area for telephone communication. The establishment of a Single Customs Territory and One Stop Border Posts have enhanced elimination of most on-tariff Barriers, reducing the cost of doing business. The transit time for cargo from the Port of Mombasa to Kampala has reduced from 18 days to 4 days. Business volumes have increased as well as earnings both for Revenue Authorities and private sector operators. The NCIP is also encouraging the private sector to participate in the projects in several ways including public-private partnerships.

This was the first time that Ethiopia attended the Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit as a full member though it has been an observer at several previous summits. The Ethiopian delegation headed by Debretsion Gebremichael, Coordinator of Finance with a Deputy Prime Minister portfolio and Minister of ICT, included State Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, Ambassador Taye Atske-selassie, and other senior officials and experts. In his statement to the Summit, Dr. Debretsion thanked the other members for their prompt decision to accept Ethiopia as a partner State of the Northern Corridor Integration Project at the previous summit held in December 2015 in Kigali Rwanda. He said the was “honored to be here, on behalf of Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, to participate in this very important meeting, to follow up implementation of the highly encouraging development projects being considered”, all of which will, he suggested be of immense benefits for the region, and more widely.

Dr. Debretsion noted Ethiopia’s attachment to the importance of the agenda of regional economic integration, pointing out that “regional integration is a central element in Ethiopia’s foreign policy and strategy.” He briefed participants on the way that Ethiopia was in effect practically demonstrating elements of the agenda in its own major projects including the rebuilding of the Standard Gauge Railway from Djibouti to Addis Ababa, the building of trans-boundary and cross-border highways to Sudan and Kenya, and Ethiopia’s power generation and transmission lines to provide regional interconnections. All these projects, he said, were aimed at producing a real basis for regional economic integration. He also underlined that Ethiopia was, of course, also one of the signatories of the LAPSSET project. It was very keen to see its implementation.

Concerning trans-boundary economic programs, Dr. Debretsion said in collaboration with other development partners Ethiopia and Kenya had jointly launched a trans-boundary economic development program along their common border. It was already showing encouraging progress. Dr. Debretsion reminded participants that Ethiopia had participated as an observer for the previous seven summits, clearly demonstrating its commitment to be a party to the NCIP vision and objectives. Indeed, he said, Ethiopia believed the shared vision of the Northern Corridor Integration Projects was essentially identical to the main pillars of its own foreign policy and strategy, in sum: fighting poverty and backwardness through economic development. Ethiopia, he said, believes that given this visible determination and the impressive follow-up mechanisms that are being put in place, realization of the sixteen identified and clearly defined Northern Corridor projects now agreed, will become a reality as planned. He also underlined that Ethiopia also believed that regional integration was not merely an issue of the interconnectivity of physical infrastructure. It also required the harmonization of different policy issues if an economic corridor is to operate smoothly.

Dr. Debretsion assured participants that Ethiopia was fully committed as a partner state of the Northern Corridor integration projects to do everything possible to fulfill whatever is expected, or necessary, for the realization of the regional development plans. He reiterated Ethiopia’s commitment to actively participate in the implementation of the two initial projects, the Standard Gauge Railway and the Power Generation, Transmission and Interconnectivity projects. Dr. Debretsion also underlined that Ethiopia was prepared to become involved in as many other projects as possible, depending upon their relevance to Ethiopia and the sub-region. Ethiopia has already formed a national committee to vet possible experts for the joint technical committee and provide a national coordinator for following-up implantation of projects.

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Dr. Riek Machar sworn in as First Vice-President of South Sudan

After two years in his headquarters at Pagak, close to the Ethiopian border in Upper Nile State, Dr. Riek Machar finally arrived back in Juba on Tuesday (April 26). He was immediately sworn in as First Vice-President of South Sudan. Dr. Machar was dismissed as President Salva Kiir’s vice-president in mid-2013 and went on to lead the opposition, the SPLM-IO, when civil war broke out in mid-December that year.

His return had been anxiously awaited after the announcement by the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), overseeing the implementation of the Peace Agreement that Dr. Machar would be arriving in Juba on April 12. However, James Gatdet Dak, Spokesperson for the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement-in-opposition (SPLM-IO), and promptly explained that Machar would not actually arrive until 18 April; but there were to be further delays.

On April 11, the JMEC announced that 1,370 SPLM-IO troops and police had been transported from Malakal to Juba as required by phase one of the transitional security arrangements agreed in February. Ethiopia, China and the three troika countries (the US, the UK and Norway) contributed for this key move to take place. Government forces said they had pulled all but 3,420 of their troops from the city as agreed in the peace agreement. All other combatants will have to remain outside the capital.  Despite this, Machar and the Chief of Staff of the SPLM-IO failed to leave Pagak on either April 18 or on April 19. The delay, according to the party’s spokesperson was because of “logistical reasons”, largely due to Dr. Machar wanting to bring in additional troops and heavy weapons. This led the JMEC on April 19 to issue a strong statement urging both parties to demonstrate their full cooperation in ensuring the return arrangements for the First Vice-President-designate as soon as possible.

With the delay threatening the whole peace agreement and given the gravity of the situation, on Thursday (April 21), IGAD and the Troika countries took a hand, issuing a statement insisting that Dr. Machar should return to Juba by Saturday (April 23) at the latest. On Saturday, however, Dr. Machar said he was denied permission to land at Juba by the South Sudan Government as the airport was closed. On Monday (April 25) General Simon Gatwech, SPLM-IO Chief of Staff, was able to arrive in Juba and the next day (Tuesday) Dr.  Machar himself finally appeared in Juba and took the oath as First Vice-President.

The ceremony was also attended by Festus Mogae, Chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission and President Omar Alpha Konare, Special Representative of the African Union. President Kiir recalled it was nearly 28 months since “my brother Dr. Riek Machar left Juba.” The President added, “I have no doubt that his return to Juba today marks the end of the war and the return of peace and stability to South Sudan.” President Kiir also noted, “All of us who are the stakeholders have the collective responsibility to makes sure that we cooperate and work together as one team so that we deliver results. I therefore call upon all of you, and especially the First Vice-President and the Vice-President, to cooperate with me so that we return our country to the peaceful coexistence.”

The President said that now Dr. Machar had taken the oath of office as the First Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan “we will immediately proceed to establish the Transitional Government of National Unity”. This, he said, would restore the confidence of the people and the international partners in their abilities as the leaders of the country to implement the peace agreement. The President acknowledged that there were unresolved issues related to the agreement, but promised “we will resolve those matters amicably. This is the only choice for us to relieve our people from the undeserved suffering associated with the armed conflict imposed upon them. I believe this is the only way to return South Sudan to the path of peace, stability and prosperity.” He also apologized “to the people of South Sudan for the situation we the leaders have created.”  President Kiir also commended  the international community, the UN Security Council, the UN Human Rights and humanitarian agencies, UNMISS, the Troika, AU, IGAD, EU, Russia, China, Japan and “our other regional and international partners”, for their positive efforts and commitment.

Dr. Machar, on his part, said: “I will cooperate with the president… I want to underline my desire to start a new page with the president.” He added, “The war was vicious… we need to bring our people together.” Speaking to reporters on arrival in Juba Dr. Machar also said: “There are challenges that we need to overcome. First challenge is security. Second challenge is stabilizing the economy. Third, we have a lot of displaced people – internally and international. We need to reach out to such people. We need to ensure humanitarian access is done so that humanitarian relief is channeled to the rural areas or in the urban areas.”

The United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon welcomed Dr. Machar’s return to Juba and his swearing in as the country’s First Vice-President, describing it a “new phase” in the implementation of the August 2015 peace agreement. Mr. Ban Ki-Moon called on the Security Council to work closely with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) to mobilize the required support for the peace process.

Mr. Machar’s return to Juba and swearing-in as President Salva Kiir’s deputy marks a major  step in implementing the August 2015 Peace Agreement to end the country’s civil war. In accordance with this the former opposition leader will also be the commander-in-chief of a separate army and police, with separate structures from the army and police commanded by President Salva Kiir. The two national armies and police forces will however reunify during the transitional period after achieving the security sector reforms laid out in the peace agreement. Dr. Machar is also expected to make consultations with his officials and with President Kiir on the long-awaited formation of the transitional government of national unity. President Kiir and Dr. Machar are now expected to make rapid progress in consultations over the long-awaited formation of the transitional government of national unity. In this, there will be 16 ministers appointed by President Kiir, the SPLM-IO will have 10 ministers and other political parties and former detainees will have 4 ministers, 2 each.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council also met on Tuesday (April 26) to discuss the situation in South Sudan and be briefed by Henri Ladsous, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. Mr. Ladsous said it was vital that the political and security trends under way in the country changed rapidly if we wish to see a possibility for the peace process to succeed. It was equally vital that the parties “should take this opportunity to show the genuine determination to move forward with the peace process.” He urged the Security Council to demand that the parties and all armed actors immediately uphold their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law.

Mr. Ladsous also underlined that the transitional government would have to “start work from day one” to address governance, financial misappropriation and improving the rule of law. He noted that the slump in oil prices had pushed South Sudan to the brink of economic collapse and stressed that even if the parties fully implemented the peace agreement, the economic challenges could only be overcome with significant reform and international assistance. Mr. Ladsous said that “other conflict drivers, such as the creation of the new 28 states, should be addressed in accordance with the IGAD Summit Decisions and the position of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission”. He said that decision was detrimental to the peace efforts and it would also require tremendous resources that South Sudan could not afford. He urged the Security Council, in coordination with the African Union, to engage President Kiir on this issue with the aim to halt implementation until the issue could be mutually resolved within the transitional government.

Mr. Ladsous told the Security Council that  “The South Sudan peace process is extremely fragile and will require a concerted and sustained effort at national, regional and international levels,”  adding that without political leverage generated by concerted international and regional efforts, it would not succeed.

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Construction of the 700km Kenya-Somalia Border Fence to continue

Kenya’s Interior Cabinet Secretary, Joseph Nkaissery, has said that the construction of the 700km Kenya-Somalia border fence to prevent unwanted persons from illegally entering Kenya will continue as planned. He was speaking at a meeting in Nairobi with Marehan clan elders from Northeast Kenya who had come to discuss cross-border security issues in the Mandera region of Kenya.

Mr. Nkaissery said the fence would run along the whole Kenya-Somalia border from Kiunga in Lamu County to the Mandera-Ethiopia border at the River Dawa. It would be designed to help keep a check on people like Al-Shabaab from crossing to and from Somalia, he said, but he emphasized that it would not limit movement of other people. The Cabinet Secretary gave some details of the way the fence would operate. There would be entry points with immigration officers at Mandera, Elwak, Liboi and other areas all the way down the border to Lamu County to screen those moving in and out of the country. Designated border points would also have police posts, Kenya Revenue Authority officers and other government offices to provide services as needed. Mr. Nkaissery also said the fence would have CCTVs installed at strategic points. It would consist of various obstacles including a ditch and a patrol road for security forces to use.

The three day meeting in Nairobi (April 24 to April 26) which included top Kenyan security officials and Marehan elders was attended by former Somali prime ministers, as well as MPs and cabinet ministers, businessmen and scholars as well as Kenyan government officials. Among the issues discussed was the deadly Al-Shabaab attack on the Kenyan military troops at El Adde on January 15. Some suspicion had been expressed that the attack, in which dozens of Kenyan troops were killed, had been coordinated with local tribal militias in the area.

The Marehan clan leaders, who included Ugas Mohamed Ugas Hashi, and  two former Somali Prime Ministers, Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed (Prime Minister 2013-2-14) and Abdi Farah Shirdon (Prime Minister 2012-2013), assured Mr. Nkaissery that this was not the case. They emphasized that Al-Shabaab was a common enemy that needed a united response from both Kenya and Somalia. Former Somali Prime Minister Said Abdi Shirdon told the meeting that cooperation between the Somali community across the border and the Kenyan government was key in dealing with insecurity, especially terrorism, and also for development. He said “The conference is aimed at building trust and confidence between Marehans and the Kenyan communities along our common border and foster peace, security and development. The Kenyan Cabinet Secretary in turn reiterated Kenya’s support and cooperation in the fight against terrorism and extremism in Somalia.

Mr. Nkaissery said the Kenyan government had now launched a multipronged approach to fighting terror that would involve working with Somalia’s Marehan community. This had been adopted because of the poor flow of information, especially intelligence, which has hindered Kenya Defense Forces operations along the Kenya-Somalia border. He said KDF operations had been hindered for a long time because of the clan rivalry between the Marehan and the Ogaden and he urged the local clans to continue their support to help Kenya and Somalia achieve security and stability. A communique at the end of the meeting, reaffirmed the Marehan community’s commitment to reinforce security and counter extremism; proposed the establishment of a council of elders to act as the custodians of traditional law for the Marehan community; committed the leadership to promote dialogue for peace and reconciliation in the Gedo region of Somalia; welcomed  the Kismayo agreement between the Marehan community and the Jubaland leadership; appealed to the Somali Federal Government, the Kenyan Government and the International Community to support community initiatives for development in Gedo region; and appreciated the Kenyan Government’s support to restore peace and security in Somalia, especially in Gedo.

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UNECA believes Ethiopia can catch up China and Vietnam in light manufacturing

The Transformative Industrial Policy in Africa Report recently released by the UN Economic Commission for Africa notes that Africa, once written off as a continent uniquely suffering from structural impediments to economic growth and development. These included poor climate, disadvantageous geography, ethnic diversity, poor institutions, cultural prejudice and so on. Now, however, Africa is the subject of significant optimism. There is talk of ‘Africa rising’, and ‘African lions’. At the same time, the Report cautions, it isn’t “yet clear whether Africa can turn the recent economic recovery into sustained economic development.”

Some of the acceleration in economic growth over the last decade is the result of one-off factors, like the finding of oil or mineral reserves and much of it has been based on high prices of primary commodities. There has been relatively little upgrading within the commodity sectors themselves, and this has meant that the recent fall in commodity prices has dimmed the prospect of growth in the short- to medium-term. Indeed, the Report describes the failure of most African countries to use the recent commodity-based growth to start more sustainable growth on the basis of manufacturing sector development as “worrisome”. It notes that no states except for a few exceptionally rich in oil like Qatar or Kuwait or small financial havens such as Monaco have achieved high, sustainable standards of living without developing a significant manufacturing sector. It, therefore, argues that it is important for African countries begin to think seriously about ways to upgrade their commodity sectors and promote development of higher-productivity sectors, especially manufacturing, but also some high-end services.

The Report critically looks at the discourses of Africa’s failure and of ‘Africa rising’ before looking at why developing countries need to use industrial policies that mainly target the manufacturing sector to transform their economies. It looks economic theories that justify industrial policy and shows how theories that caution against industrial policy are based on flimsy evidence.

In its 4th Chapter the report provides empirical evidence demonstrating that in virtually all cases of successful economic development “an active industrial policy has played an important transformative (and often decisive) role.” To this end it examines the role of industrial policy in developing countries, including more developed ones: China, Brazil, Chile, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirates; and less developed cases: Ethiopia, Rwanda, Vietnam, and Uzbekistan. It looks at both the manufacturing and at primary sectors as well as services.

After looking at the way industrial policy has played a critical role in economic success stories, the Report examines the effect of the shrinkage in ‘policy space’ that has followed the establishment of the WTO and the proliferation of bilateral and regional trade and investment agreements as well as the proliferation and the strengthening of global value chains (GVCs) controlled by giant global corporations. These are often supposed to make it impossible for poor countries to draw lessons from the experiences of the more economically advanced countries. The Report demonstrates that although these issues may have changed what industrial policy measures are the most effective, they have not prevented their use. Equally, they have made it more necessary for developing country industrial policy-makers to be more effective in devising development strategy and relevant industrial policy measures.

A good example of this is the way Ethiopia has operated over the last decade or more. In the section on Ethiopia, the Report notes that only two countries in Africa have managed to keep their GDP growth consistently high for over a decade without relying on a natural resource boom. One was Ethiopia, the other was Rwanda. Other high-growing African economies, such as Angola, Mozambique and Nigeria, relied heavily on natural resources.  In fact, between 2004 and 2013, per capita GDP growth in Ethiopia was 8.1 per cent per annum, “the highest on the continent during this period and very high by any standard.” The report identifies 2004 as a critical year for Ethiopia’s development when results from the policies of the Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction Program (SDPRP), the first development plan (2002-2005), started to appear. Then followed the Plan for Accelerated and Sustained Development to End Poverty (PASDEP) (2005-2010) and subsequently the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP I) (2010-2015), and now the Growth and Transformation Plan II, to cover 2015-2020.  It also notes that during this period the manufacturing value-added (MVA) grew at a rate of 11% a year with manufacturing exports increasing from $21 million to $237 million, largely thanks to the increasing export earnings of the leather, textile, and clothing industries. This, in fact, was a more than doubling in the manufactured exports’ share of total merchandise exports. Overall exports more than quintupled during the same period, from $922 to$4786m.

The report underlines that Ethiopia scores below the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) average on most structural transformation indicators, including diversification, export competitiveness, productivity, and technological upgrading. Nevertheless, it goes on: “it is probably not unreasonable to believe that Ethiopia will be able to catch up with China and Vietnam in the light manufacturing industries in the near future. These are industries for which labor costs are very important, and Ethiopia has a labor cost advantage over both China and Vietnam.

It also adds that there are several reasons to believe that Ethiopia’s development, its “catch-up” may expand beyond the light manufacturing sector and the more obvious areas of development. One major point is that Ethiopia’s developmental orientation resembles the policies of such states as South Korea and Taiwan which it defines as having a “relatively ‘authoritarian corporatist’ structure and centralized economic planning.” It notes the late Prime Minister Meles’ view that the East Asian success was based on “a prudent combination of market forces and state intervention, in which the state not only provided basic infrastructure and services but also a conducive environment for the private sector to develop productive capabilities.” It notes, approvingly, that the Ethiopian state has been characterized by its developmental aims, with its central focus on development, public mobilization around a grand vision, a commitment to improving state capability, and embedded autonomy.

A second reason for optimism is the “impressive industrial policy-making capability that it has accumulated since 1991.” The Report sees this in the way the first Growth and Transformation Plan designated priority manufacturing industries on the basis of resource availability, labor intensity, linkages to agriculture, export potential, low technological entry barriers. This included garments and textiles, agro-processing, meat processing, leather and leather products, and construction industries. It notes that  each of these, the state set up supporting institutes to coordinate value chains effectively and assist firms with technological upgrading.

The Report points out that two state-owned banks, the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and the Development Bank of Ethiopia provide most of the required credit for these industries, the former offering working capital and international banking services, the latter long-term loans at subsidized rates. Foreign banks are not allowed to operate in Ethiopia; they will be allowed in only when domestic banks have developed the financial, managerial and technological capacity to compete effectively. The Report also notes that the government has largely focused in the last two decades on horizontal, rather than vertical, industrial policies, such as education and infrastructure. It describes the results as impressive, detailing the increase in primary and secondary school improvement and the increase in the number of universities as well as the massive investment in infrastructure development, particularly in power generation and transport

With 80% of the population dependent on agriculture, the Report says it is hardly surprising that industrial policy in Ethiopia has focused heavily on promoting manufacturing industries linked to the agricultural sector such as leather and textile and garments. It points out the government has invited foreign investors to provide much needed investment capital and technological capabilities and encouraged their presence by a whole range of incentives including subsidized land rent in industrial zones; generous credit schemes; 100% exemption from payment of duties on necessary import of all capital goods and raw materials; and five-year tax holiday on profits. These sectors have shown positive trends but the results aren’t yet near the necessary level to make a significant contribution to structural change. However, cement and floriculture have shown tremendous growth. Ethiopia is the third largest cement producer in Africa and although cement factories are not labor intensive, this created significant employment through links to cement product manufacturers. The government’s large-scale housing and infrastructure programs, combined with expansion of private sector construction, have provided substantial demand for cement. Support for the industry has included entry incentives for domestic firms, including long-term loans for capital investment; easy access to mining resources; and the allocation of foreign currency on preferential basis.

Floriculture has similarly made important contributions to the country’s overall economic development through linkage effects, but additionally through its ability to earn foreign exchange and directly generate employment. It grew from a single firm in 2000 to about 100 firms in 2014 and has created numerous indirect jobs through the associated expansion of horticulture with linkage effects to packaging products and to cold chain logistics and air transport. While Ethiopian firms initially started this sector, foreign firms now account for 63% of the companies involved. Indeed, “FDI has played a key role in contributing to technological development and market access in this industry.” Foreign investors identified Ethiopia as an attractive investment because of its appropriate land and altitude, cheap labor, and government investment incentives which included tax holidays on profits, duty free privileges, provision of construction materials, and subsidized loans.

The Report concludes that the exact lessons to be learnt depend upon the values, goals and ambitions of countries and policy-makers as well as local conditions. Overall, however, it emphasizes the importance of productive capability-building in economic development; the need for industrial policy makers to clearly understand the key themes and arguments and to look at a range of policy experiences; and the necessity to understand industrial policy is highly relevant for long-term development. It also notes that good industrial policy can be run in difficult circumstances, “as shown by the examples of Korea and Taiwan in the past and of Ethiopia or Uzbekistan today”, if “policy-makers have decent theoretical and empirical knowledge about industrial policy and, more importantly, if they have the self-confidence to defy the conventional wisdom.”

22.4.2016

News in Brief

Two days of National Mourning for the atrocity in Gambella Regional State

Prime Minister Hailemariam underlines the importance of peace for regional development

Dr. Tedros speaks at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs

Economic forecast: Ethiopia to continue its “rapid growth” trajectory

IGAD and the Troika insist Machar must return to Juba by Saturday

UNSecurity Council briefed on Somalia’s security situation 

The 5th Tana High Level Forum on Security held in Bahr Dar

News in Brief

Africa and the African Union

The African Union in a statement on Tuesday (April 19) condemned the attack on civilians in Gambella Regional State of last Friday and expressed support for a military action to contain the “criminals” responsible for killing 182 people and abducting 102, mostly children. (See article)

The UNHCR said on Wednesday (April 20) that up to 500 migrants might have drowned in the Mediterranean last week when human traffickers crammed people onto an already overcrowded ship, causing it to sink. 41 people survived. The Somali government said on Monday that 200 or more might have been Somalis. Many others were reported to be from Eritrea as well as from Ethiopia.

Ethiopia

The Ethiopian House of Peoples Representatives declared (April 19) two days national mourning on Wednesday and Thursday this week for the victims of the attacks on unarmed civilians in the western area of Gambella by Murle tribesmen from South Sudan on Friday last week (April 15). 182 people were killed and over a hundred children seized. (See article)

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn arrived in New York on Wednesday (April 20) to attend two milestone events in New York: the High Level Thematic Debate on Achieving Sustainable Development (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement Signing Ceremony, taking place on Friday and Saturday this week (April 21 and 22) .

In an interview with The Worldfolio Prime Minister Hailemariam detailed Ethiopia’s policies towards regional integration and the importance of regional peace and stability, as well as highlighting its emphasis on sustainable development, the plans to shift from an agrarian-based to an industrial-based economy, and the opportunities available for investors. (See article)

The 5th Tana Forum on security in Africa wrapped up its two-day session on Sunday (April 17, 2016). Speaking at the conclusion of the forum, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn recognized the great works of the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS-Addis), which he noted was instrumental in promoting peace and security in Ethiopia and Africa at large through education. (See article)

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Somali President Mohamud met on the side-lines of the 5th Tana High Level Security Forum and agreed to advance cooperation economically and politically to institutional levels.  The Prime Minister reiterated Ethiopia’s support to Somalia for the elections later this year.

Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom started a three day official visit to Sweden on Tuesday (April 19), attending a roundtable discussion at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs).

Dr. Tedros briefed the participants on current developments in Ethiopia and regional security challenges in the Horn of Africa. (See article)

During his visit, Dr. Tedros held talks with Foreign Minister, Margot Wallstrom on Wednesday. (April 20) He also held discussions with Ms. Angeta Karlsson, State Secretary for Health Care, Public Health and Sport of Sweden, Mr.Mikael Damberg, Sweden’s Minster for Enterprise and Innovation and with Ms. Isabella Lovin, Minister for International Development Cooperation of Sweden. After the meeting with Ms. Lovin, Sweden announced ithad launched a US$25 million program of development cooperation with Ethiopia for 2016-2020.

Dr. Tedros visitedthe Riksdagen, the Swedish Parliament on Thursday (April 21) and held talks with Kenneth G. Forslund, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs on a range of issues, including climate change, drought, and agricultural transformation. He also met with representatives of major Swedish companies as well as with representatives of the Ethiopian Diaspora

Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros met with the CEO of Girl Effect, Farah Ramzan Golant, in his office on Monday (April 18). Girl Effect is an organization that reshapes the value of girls and frames new social norms that break the cycle of poverty through an integrated brand approach. One such program is “Yegna”, a brand designed to inspire positive change for girls in Ethiopia.

State Minister Ambassador Taye Atske-selassie met with Mr. Elman Abdullayev, Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan (April 19, 2016). Discussions focused on issues of strengthening bilateral and multilateral cooperation between Ethiopia and Azerbaijan.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Taye Atske-selassie, and Country Head, Sebastien Frendo from the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) signed an agreement for the establishment of an AGI regional office in Ethiopia (April 19). The Africa Governance Initiative is a non-profitable organization established by Tony Blair, former UK Prime Minister.

A Framework agreement between the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the International committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for ICRC’s activities in Ethiopia was signed (April 19, 2016). State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Atske-selassie said ICRC’s activities in Ethiopia dates back to 1981 and that their support was highly appreciated.

State Minister Ambassador Taye Atske-Selassie is attending the 13th Summit of the Northern Corridor Integrated Projects in Kampala this weekend (April 22 and 23). Countries participating are Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia which is now a full partner of the NCIP.

IHS, a US-based consultancy firm in a study on foreign direct investment (FDI), identified Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda along with Ghana in a list of 15 hotspot investment destinations around the world. It described Ethiopia as “a star on the rise”, with strategic policy reforms to build up its industrial sector, and accelerated infrastructure development.
The Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador to the Republic of Zimbabwe, Ambassador Mustafe Dek Abdisalam presented his letter of credence to the Republic of Zimbabwe’s PresidentRobert Mugabe on Thursday last week (April 14).

Djibouti

Djibouti’s Minister of Interior, Hassan Omar Mohammed Burhanuddin, signed a cooperation agreement in the field of security with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior of Saudi Arabia on Sunday (April 17) in Riyadh.

The Djibouti government has donated one thousand tons of food to assist families affected by the severe drought in Somaliland. The aid was handed over to Somaliland’s national emergency drought committee by Djibouti’s Minister of Agriculture, Mohamed Ahmed, on Tuesday (April 19). The Somaliland government said earlier that nearly 200.000 families needed urgent food aid.

Eritrea

Foreign Minister Osman Saleh Mohammed and Presidential Adviser Yemane Ghebreab visited Finn Church Aid offices last week during a visit to Helsinki. Finn Church Aid began to support Eritrean education sector development in early 2015.

IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly reported last week that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) appears to be constructing a new port next to Assab International Airport in Eritrea. It published satellite imagery showing a new military camp and the construction of a new port facility which could become the UAE’s first permanent military base in a foreign country. The work apparently began after September last year.

Thursday last week (April 14) was “Eritrean Prisoners’ Day”, on which Eritreans around the world commemorated the thousands of Eritrean prisoners of conscience in hundreds of prisons in Eritrea. Some have been held for more than two decades without charge or trial. They include teachers, religious leaders, professionals, artists, traders, sheikhs and priests, as well as veteran combatants and leaders of the EPLF, among them are ministers and army commanders and other senior members of the ruling party and the government who were once President Isaias closest associates.

Kenya

President Kenyatta declared at the weekend that the country had closed the chapter on the post- election violence, and said that the Kenyan judicial system would deal with the three Kenyans wanted by ICC over claims of witness tampering.

International Criminal Court said this week that Kenya must cooperate with the court to hand over three suspects it wanted and had the legal obligation to fully cooperate with the ICC including the implementation of arrest warrants. In case of non-cooperation, the legal procedure before the ICC is for the Judges to make a finding of non-compliance and to refer it to the Assembly of States Parties to take any measure it deems appropriate.

President Kenyatta said on Wednesday  (April 20) that corruption and wastage, mismanagement and infighting were the major threats to the success of devolution. He added that the government would deal ruthlessly with any governors who engaged in corruption and warned that those caught on the wrong side of the law would be dealt with like common criminals. His warning came at the start of the 2016 Devolution Conference being held in Meru. The President’s speech was read on his behalf  by the Devolution Cabinet Secretary, MrMwangiKiunjuri,

Somalia

President Mohamud told the Voice of America’s Somali service on Wednesday (April 20)  that he would seek re-election in this year’s presidential elections, due to be held in September after the election of a new Parliament. He said “I will be a candidate for the upcoming elections in 2016 and will come up with new agenda and strategy to lead the nation if I get re-elected.”

President Mohamud speaking at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, this week said Somalia’s “nascent institutions” needed years of financial and security support to become effective. The forthcoming election was a compromise under which clans choose a total of nearly 14,000 people to form an electoral college to select a new parliament. He stressed Somalia needed further improvements in security and mistrust among clans remained high. He also noted concern over the dumping of toxic waste along Somalia’s coasts.

During his visit to Sudan last week, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and President Al-Bashir agreed to step up cooperation in the economy, trade, security, culture, education and governance. They also agreed to form a strategic cooperation council at ministerial level.

At a briefing of the UN Security Council on Tuesday this week (April 19), the AU Representative to the United Nations called for the deployment of operational enablers and force multipliers to rejuvenate AMISOM operations and recommended the renewal of AMISOM’s mandate which runs out on May 30. (See article)

Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke held talks with Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ramtane Lamamra, on Friday last week (April 15) in Istanbul, Turkey on the sidelines of the 13th Summit Conference of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to discuss cooperation between the two countries.

Prime Minister Sharmarke visiting Russia has asked Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for help to equip its armed forces to fight terrorism as well assistance to strengthen its economy. At a meeting on Tuesday (April 19), Mr. Lavrov said Russia is ready to consider military cooperation.

Minister of Trade and Industry, Abdul Rashid Mohamed Ahmed, met Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail on Thursday (April 21). They agreed on the importance of enhancing bilateral cooperation and signed a MoU to promote trade. A statement said the two countries intend to cooperate in industrial production and livestock, and promote trade in the fishery sector. A trade delegation is to visit Somalia to study implementation of the proposed cooperation initiatives.

The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia, Ambassador Francisco Madeira, met Independent Expert (IE) on the Human Rights Situation in Somalia, Mr. Bahame Tom Nyanduga in Mogadishu on Wednesday (April 20). Discussions covered a wide range of issues including AMISOM’s conduct of military operations. Mr. Nyanduga also met with Somali Government representatives. He is expected to report his findings to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, in September

The President of Somalia’s Puntland State Government, President AbdiweliMohamed Ali met with the Egyptian Ambassador to Ethiopia, Ambassador Aboubakr Hefny, during a visit to Addis Ababa on Monday (April 18). President Ali earlier attended the Tana High-Level forum on Security in Bahr Dar.

Efforts are being made to revive the stalled Somalia/Somaliland talks. A Somali team led by the Minister of the Interior, Abdirahman Hussein Adowaa, is in Istanbul for talks with a Somaliland team led by Foreign minister Dr. Saad Ali Shire. The last round of talks ended when Somaliland rejected the inclusion of Somaliland citizens in the team of Somalia negotiators.

Somaliland Vice president, Abdirahman Abdillahi Ismail ‘Sayli’, said this week that Somaliland planned to establish a special police unit to prevent illegal migration of Somaliland youth. The announcement came after reports that more than a hundred Somaliland citizens might be among those who died in the Mediterranean last week.

South Sudan

Following several delays by Dr, Reik Machar this week, IGAD and the Troika countries of the USA, Norway and the UK, issued a statement that Dr, Machar must return to Juba to take up his post as Frist Vice President by Saturday (April 23) at the latest. The statement was endorsed by Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan, African Union, China, European Union, Norway, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Netherlands and UNMISS. (See article)

South Sudan’s Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Peter Bashir Gbandi, said on Wednesday that preparations were underway for joint South Sudan/Ethiopian military operations to free the children abducted during the attack.

Sudan

The Egyptian government on Sunday (April 17) refused a request from Sudan to engage in direct talks or resort to international arbitration on the dispute between the two countries over Halayeb triangle. A foreign ministry spokesperson said that “Halayeb and Shalateen are Egyptian territory and they fall under Egyptian sovereignty”. The Sudan Foreign Ministry’s latest request came after the Egyptian government declared on April 9 that Tiran and Sanafir Islands at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba fall within the territorial waters of Saudi Arabia.

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Two days of National Mourning for the atrocity in Gambella Regional State

The Ethiopian House of Peoples Representatives this week declared two days national mourning on Wednesday and Thursday (April 20-21), for the victims of Friday’s heinous attack committed on innocent civilians in Gambella Regional State. Ethiopian flags in all regional states and the two city administrations and in all Ethiopian Embassies and on Ethiopian-owned ships were flown half-mast to commemorate the victims of the attack which took place overnight on Friday last week. At dawn on April 16, armed militants of South Sudan’s Murle tribe infiltrated into Ethiopia and attacked 13 kebeles in the Anuak and Nuer Zones of the Gambella Regional State, killing 182, abducting 102 people, mostly children and carrying off over 2000 cattle.

Addressing the nation on the National Television, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said the Government of Ethiopia extended its deepest sorrow over the killings of innocent civilians and the abductions. He expressed the Government’s profound sympathy and condolences to the bereaved families, the residents of Gambella Regional State and peoples of Ethiopia. Such attacks deserved and met with complete national, regional and international condemnation. There have been occasional abduction of children or cattle raiding across the border before, but this massive attack was unprecedented. Some of the gunmen involved in the attack had been killed and the Prime Minister said efforts to find and free the abducted children were being intensified. People would be kept informed about these efforts.

The Prime Minister confirmed that perpetrators of this atrocity were neither members of the forces of the South Sudanese government or of the South Sudan opposition SPLM-IO. He said the Government was now working with the South Sudanese government with a view to taking all the necessary measure against the attackers. It was in consultation with the Government of South Sudan in order to carry out a joint operation to locate the hideout of those responsible.

The South Sudan Government said on Wednesday this week (April 20) that it would be cooperating with the Ethiopian authorities in the hunt for the gunmen. Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Peter Bashir Gbandi, told reporters that Juba was coordinating with Addis Ababa to locate the armed militia responsible who, he said, were believed to have been Murle men from the newly created Boma state. He said, “We are very sad because of this incident and we will not entertain any such behavior even if it comes from South Sudan. These are people who are terrorizing our people. They have even abducted thousands and thousands of cattle and children.” He said that South Sudanese forces were coordinating activities with Ethiopian forces at the border, adding that the joint operations will help rescue the abducted children.

South Sudan’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Ambassador Akuei Bona, also condemned the attack, describing it as “totally unacceptable and inhuman”. He said his country fully supported Ethiopia’s efforts to free the abducted children. On behalf of the people and Government of South Sudan, Ambassador Akuei Bona also expressed his condolences to the families of the victims of the attack and to all Ethiopians. He emphasized that the two countries should collaborate closely and exchange information in order to put a stop to any similar barbaric attacks.

The Chief Administrator of Gambella Regional State, Gatluak Tut, said on Wednesday that units of the Ethiopian Defense Forces were currently undertaking large scale military operations. They had, he said, identified the whereabouts of the abducted children and surrounded the area after entering into the districts of Jior and Kok. He said the abducted children would be reunited with their families when the operation ended.

The Prime Minister Hailemariam also noted that the Government was providing support to the victims of the attack. A medical team had been dispatched to the region and started to provide assistance to those injured and other victims. On Tuesday this week (April 19) the Minister of Federal and Pastoral Area Development, Kassa Teklebirhan, and the Government Communication Affairs Office Minister, Getachew Reda, visited the villages which had been attacked. During a meeting with victims of the attack in Lare woreda, Mr. Kassa Teklebirhan underlined that efforts to assist and help the victims will continue. The Minister said Ethiopia was a peace-loving country and a nation which can maintain its peace. He also noted it provided shelter for hundreds of thousands of people fleeing conflict from neighboring countries.

Ethiopia’s relations with its neighbors are deeply rooted in the principles of promoting peace, cooperation and economic diplomacy. It has been closely engaged in constructing the architecture for the new economic and political integration of the Horn of Africa, and this has led to strategic engagement with neighboring countries, with an emphasis on the economic and infrastructural integration of the region, particularly in terms of transport, communications, and energy.

Acknowledging that peaceful neighbors are good trade partners and regional stability enables a country to focus resources on addressing poverty, Ethiopia has persistently used multilateral institutions like IGAD, COMESA, the AU, the UN and other institutions to pursue shared interests. It has been a key player in deterring cross-border conflicts in pastoral areas through IGAD’s Conflict Early Warning Response Mechanism (CEWARN). There have been numerous instances of conflicts among the cross-border pastoral societies themselves, often leading to violence and cross-border raids. Border conflicts are often related to increased demands for water, pasture and theft of livestock. Ethiopia believes cross-border conflicts could be settled peacefully when countries establish increased trade and business exchanges across those borders.  It has been encouraging increased border trade to end cross-border raids and conflicts. Ensuring easy access to basic commodities through legal business transactions and expansion of road infrastructure are other ways of facilitating peaceful exchanges in border areas. It has, in fact, signed a number of cross-border agreements with Djibouti, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia to facilitate trade exchange and try to balance the gap in supply and demand in border areas, encouraging the distribution of commodities to improve people’s lives. This is all part of the initiatives aiming to reduce poverty, inequality and conflict among the peoples of the region.

The fundamental premises of foreign policy remain firm: “Our policy in the Horn of Africa should, like all other policies, be free of different sentiments and proceed from a sober analysis of the situation, keeping in constant view our development and democracy agenda.  It should understand that the success of our development and democratization has a positive contribution not only to Ethiopia but to all neighbors as well; and that a policy that is free of arrogance and greed would contribute to changing the entire region.” It is in this light that Ethiopia’s new Growth and Transformation Plan is prioritizing the efforts to boost economic cooperation with its neighbors.

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Prime Minister Hailemariam underlines the importance of peace for regional development

In an interview last week with The Worldfolio, a global content provider, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn detailed Ethiopia’s policies towards regional integration and the importance of peace and stability, as well as highlighting how the country was leading by example with its emphasis on sustainable development, its plans to shift from an agrarian-based to an industrial-based economy, and the opportunities for investors as the Government looks to the private sector to maximize the potential opening up throughout the entire value chain, from agriculture and infrastructure to energy and tourism.

The Prime Minister underlined that peace is a pre-requisite for any kind of engagement in development. As far as developing countries were concerned, it was necessary for people to mobilize around the development agenda and democratization of the country. To do so, they needed peace and stability. Peace, the Prime Minister underlined, was the most important issue that has to be addressed. In places where there is no peace, economies were dwindling and people suffering. “Ultimately,” he said, “we all live in the hope of having an enjoyable life, if peace doesn’t exist it reduces your existence.” In addition to conflicts within a country, the Prime Minister added, there is today the issue of extremism, which uses religion as a shield. Actually, religion has nothing to do with extremism, he said, and “I think this religious-based or camouflaged kind of terrorism, which affects the whole globe and is killing innocent people and focusing on soft targets, is something that we have to address very quickly, otherwise, human existence is threatened.” The recent incidents in Paris, Nigeria, Mali and in Cameroon, all at the same period of time, emphasized that this was a global problem and needed global partnership and coordination to deal with it.

The Prime Minister said Ethiopia championed all efforts to bring peace and tranquility to Africa and beyond, adding  “We have a limited capacity, but we are trying our best, looking into the fact that peace is a pre-requisite for any kind of development and democratization. “In fact, “peace is a pillar issue and fighting terrorism is an existential issue for us”. These must be worked on with the global community. The Prime Minister hoped the global community now understood this, and that it could set aside their differences and come together to fight terrorism. He pointed out that with the advance in communications and information technology and social media networks, so much information was available. Even the terrorists were using these opportunities to destabilize. We need, he said, to come together and use the opportunities these tools bring for the betterment and positive growth and engagement of our people.

Touching on the area of climate change the Prime Minister stressed that the issue of global warming and climate change was a reality not just theory. If we continue at this pace, “it means we are going to disappear from the globe within the coming years.” He continued saying Ethiopia wants to demonstrate its responsibility in this regard even though the country’s contribution to global greenhouse emissions is minimal and the impact of our contribution is very small. He said “We have to demonstrate that if a country like Ethiopia, a less developed country, can contribute this much, then how much more can big countries, like the United States, European countries, China, Mexico, India and Brazil contribute.”  The Prime Minister underlined that the global community must see the reality on the ground and realize that if global warming goes up 1.5 degrees centigrade, Africa is going to suffer. He also noted the impact of El Niño and how much Ethiopia was being affected by the drought and suffering from this disaster caused by climate change. Although governments try their best to improve these matters, there is a limit, because this is a global issue that individual governments cannot face by themselves. The Prime Minister emphasized that “We need to take climate change seriously; the ice is melting in the Arctic, the ocean levels are rising, droughts are visible in Australia and California; people are suffering. This has to be taken care of…. every one of us should feel responsible. He said e said HEthiopia would speak in one voice with “our African brothers and sisters to show that Africa is the most vulnerable continent as far as climate change is concerned and that the global community has a responsibility to act and act quickly.”

In answer to a question on Ethiopia’s regional integration efforts, the Prime Minister said that if you looked at the global order it was clear that larger the size of a community, the better their economy performed. Look at China or India, or Russia and Brazil. They all have large populations and their size allows them to compete globally. So, he said, competition now is not within Africa, it is with the global community. This means that Africa must integrate very quickly in terms of trade, investment and infrastructure. This is essential for the mobility of people as well as goods and services and for fast movement in terms of logistics. He said Ethiopia would like to expedite people-to-people relations, because Africa is important for Ethiopia. African integration is high on Ethiopia’s agenda for the next 50 years and in our short-term 10-year plan. He said that plan could be a roadmap to integrate all the regional blocks or regional economic communities. There were five regional economic communities in Africa now, and one of these was COMESA, which he himself currently chaired.

In response to questions on the strategic pillars of the Growth and Transformation Plan II and the way the country was   creating the necessary conditions for industry to play a key role in the economy, the Prime Minister said the country focused on boosting agriculture production and productivity, taking agriculture as an agent of growth, because of the huge potential. It was modernizing the sector, moving from subsistence to commercial agriculture. He noted that around half of the smallholder farmers had now become commercial. In addition, private sector investment in agriculture would be encouraged. Young people, graduates from universities and technical and educational colleges must get involved in agriculture-based investment, he said. They would have the support of the government and be offered facilitation to move into modern, intensified agriculture. This would involve a dual track approach: continuing the modernization of smallholder farming and enhancing private involvement in agriculture production, especially for agro-processing.

All this involved creating the necessary conditions for industry to play a key role in the country’s economy. The infrastructure gap needed to be filled as quickly as possible. Industrialization required reliable power, and power generated from renewable sources.  Another area that needed focus was trade facilitation and logistics, both essential. To reduce the cost of transportation, the country has constructed the new railway from Addis Ababa to Djibouti, the main corridor for exports. Another area of development, learnt from the Asian Tigers, was industrial park development to help provide one-stop service to investors. He said the federal government as now in the process of establishing eight large industrial parks, and in addition the regional states would also be developing their own industrial parks. The Prime Minister underlined thatthe Government had a huge responsibility to fill the gap when the private sector was not ready or willing to become involved. He said “Some say this is a state-led economic growth. We say: it is a private-led economic growth, but the private sector was not able to go there so we had to intervene and fill the gap. But”, he added, “we are not the engine of growth, that role belongs to the private sector.”

The Prime Minister also noted Ethiopia’s excellent relations with the United Kingdom which is the country’s largest donor and supporter in development cooperation. He said one reason for this was that Ethiopia effectively utilizes every penny; it is channeled into development with a wastage rate of almost zero. He emphasized that Ethiopia’s future strategy was to move away from aid into trade and it wanted more trading investment from UK. He pointed out that investors would find that Ethiopia was a country where they could do business easily. Investors wanted macroeconomic stability, and Ethiopia had a stable macroeconomic system under prudent management, both at fiscal and monetary levels. The country was peaceful and had friendly relations with the region. It strongly supported peace beyond its borders, notably in South Sudan and Somalia. The Prime Minister emphasized again that the private sector must be an engine of growth and it should be very active in the African context. Today, infrastructure investment was where the private sector needed to come forward, especially in energy, so necessary for African industrialization not only in manufacturing industries, but also in construction, mining and tourism.

The Prime Minister also spoke of the future he wants to create for the country. It is “one where people live in peaceful coexistence, where they have a decent job.” He said this could happen in many ways but Ethiopia believed the way forward was to go for a renaissance that would help it reach a middle-income level by 2025. That, he said, was the short-term future. However, in the longer run, in 50 years time, I want to see my country become an advanced economy; I want to see everybody here living in peace and prosperity and leading decent lives,” and this, he added, required democratic development to help the country move forward to reach prosperity.

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Dr. Tedros speaks at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs

Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom made a three day official visit to Sweden this week. He began his visit on Tuesday (April 19) by attending a roundtable discussion at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs on “Developments in Ethiopia and regional Security Challenges in the Horn of Africa.” The Swedish Institute of International Affairs is a public-service organization that was founded in 1938 as a politically independent institute supporting research and education in international political issues.

Dr. Tedros spoke on Ethiopia’s role and on the challenges and opportunities in the Horn of Africa. He noted that Ethiopia finds itself at the epicenter of one of the most volatile regions in Africa with complex and multiple security and development challenges. Two of the key challenges in the region, the growing interest of traditional and emerging powers towards the region and the longstanding problem in Somalia, helped make the security dynamics more complex and difficult. Nevertheless, he insisted: “the Horn of Africa also has tremendous potential for common development and prosperity, provided that there is durable peace and stability.”

The bigger challenges, according to Dr. Tedros, revolved around how to minimize the pitfalls and capitalize on the opportunities available to transform the region into a zone of peace and prosperity. This, he said, is what Ethiopia is trying to address together with countries of the region. Speaking on strategies that Ethiopia had deployed over the last two and a half decades, he said the country had focused on addressing its own internal vulnerabilities. He offered statistical evidence how this strategy had added to the robust and sustained growth the country had shown. “Since 2000, poverty in Ethiopia fell from 55% to 26% by 2014 according to the World Bank.”

Dr. Tedros also recalled how the road, railway, electricity, telecom, air and sea port links that the country had established with its neighbors had not only contributed to creating good neighborly relations but also boosted trade and economic ties and created better understanding between and among the peoples of the horn. He also mentioned that the country was very aware of the challenges facing the region that sprang from climate change. Had it not been for the resilience that Ethiopia has built up over the past two decades, he said, the current El-Nino-induced drought would have created a serious disaster for the people.

Along with development and the war on poverty, the country’s second strategy was the Government’s clear understanding, as demonstrated in its foreign policy, that “our peace and development cannot be thought out in isolation to what is happening around our region.” Dr. Tedros noted “That is why our forces are in Somalia under the auspices of the African Union to rid the country of the Al-Shabaabmenace and support its governance and security institutions.”  The Foreign Minister noted the encouraging progress Somalia has made over the past couple of years. At the same time, he warned about the importance of diverting attention at this critical juncture when Somalia was making a very important transition. He assured participants at the roundtable that Ethiopia would continue to work with the Government, the countries of the region and international partners to keep Somalia on the agenda.

This strategy is also why Ethiopia is closely involved with IGAD in the peace processes in South Sudan. Dr. Tedros mentioned Ethiopia’s “exemplary leadership” that played a key role in encouraging the conflicting parties to end the senseless conflict in South Sudan. Again, progress was being made. In fact, the only exception to emerging peace in the region, Dr. Tedros said, was Eritrea.  The Minister said “Sweden and other development partners should give due thought to deceitful pretenses of Asmara with which it tries to hoodwink the world with a façade that it has abandoned its destabilization policy.” Dr. Tedros went on: “The truth is Eritrea is now more belligerent and determined to support rebels and terrorist of all stripes more than ever with millions of dollars flowing into its coffers from various sources.”

The Foreign Minister commended Sweden for its generous humanitarian and development assistance over the years. He expressed his belief that since both Ethiopia and Sweden aspire to join the United Nations Security Council as non- permanent members for the years 2017/18, the election would provide the two countries with the opportunity to continue working together on many issues of common interest and concern. The discussion was moderated by Mr. Mats Karlsson, Director at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs.Later in the day, Dr. Tedros held meetings with Sweden’s Minster for Enterprise and Innovation, Mikael Damberg and Ms. Angeta Karlsson, State Secretary for Health Care, Public Health and Sport. He also held talks with representatives of a number of major Swedish companies.

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Economic forecast: Ethiopia to continue its “rapid growth” trajectory

The future trajectory of Ethiopia’s economic growth vis-a-vis current challenges, including the present drought, and the way ahead have been the subject of analysis from a number of different directions recently. One of the most authoritative came from Ahmed Shide, State Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation who gave a detailed account to the Chinese news agency Xinhua last week why he expects Ethiopia to keep up the momentum of the rapid economic growth over the last decade during the years ahead.

State Minister Ahmed emphasized that Ethiopia expected to register double-digit growth for the coming year despite the impact of the drought locally and the wider global economic problems. Speaking about the fast growth during the previous 12 years and forecasting the current year’s growth, he said Ethiopia was still sustaining its rapid double-digit economic growth, and this year “we also expect a similar growth even though there might be a little impact from the drought situation as well as from the world economic situation.” The State Minister Ahmed identified the reasons for expecting the country to keep up this rate of growth. He pointed out that the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II), the implementation of which had already started, was designed to sustain growth and further transforming the structure of the economy. Among other factors he listed contributions from the smallholder agriculture sector, the Government’s commitment to job creation and service delivery expansion and its public and other infrastructural investment, increasing industrialization and human skill development. This would ensure Ethiopia would keep its “momentum of growth”, he stressed. Indeed, as a result of all those dimensions of development, he said “we expect similar rapid economic growth.” He noted that the Government also planned to expand infrastructure investment further as well as concentrate on human skill development and institution building in order to attract foreign direct investment as well as unleash the potential of the domestic private sector.

Concerning the challenges facing the economy, the State Minister said that on the domestic front the main problem was the current drought. It was, however, being addressed through the capacity the country had built over the past two decades as well as with the significant support provided by development partners. With regard to the global challenges, he said, for Ethiopia the decline of commodity prices had both positive and negative effects. Ethiopia was, of course, a significant beneficiary of falling oil prices. However, it would also be affected negatively when the global price of some agricultural exports like sesame declined. Overall, however, because of the diversified nature of the sources of recent growth as well as the comprehensive development approach that the Government was following the expectation was that the current global impact would be minimal.

Others agree with the State Minister. Dr. Martyn Davies, Managing Director for Emerging Markets and Africa at Deloitte Frontier Advisory, South Africa recently wrote an analysis of Ethiopia “Economic growth, Ethiopian Style” inBusiness Day. It was also published in the newspaper Fortune. His analysis looks at Ethiopia’s economic policies and its approach to growth and offers insights into how the country became one of Africa’s top performers among the world’s fastest-growing economies. Dr. Davies emphasizes that Ethiopia had been among Africa’s most impressive performers over the past decade, “averaging 10.9pc annual growth during the period 2004-2014, despite not producing any oil”. He underlines that Ethiopia’s economic sector growth is not just a fickle growth rate, driven by an over-inflated commodities market. As a result, a number of major companies are beginning to sit up and take notice of the potential that the country has to offer. Among the major elements driving investment opportunities in Ethiopia, he notes, is the significant spending on infrastructure, a nascent consumer market, a stable economy, and competitive labor costs. Commenting on improvements in regulatory hurdles, Dr. Davis recognizes that significant changes are beginning to make the country increasingly attractive. Real opportunities are becoming apparent for investors and businesses looking to expand into the yet untapped investment opportunities in Eastern Africa. He notes that Ethiopia is the last sizeable country in the world that has not had sweeping telecommunications liberalization.

Dr. Davies says that Ethiopia’s political economy suggests that while the country was arguably seeking to mimic the Chinese growth model, it was not in fact copying a particular country’s economic model in its entirety. It is following its own developmental state approach. Equally, there is massive expenditure on infrastructure and a growth mentality that is not driven by any “big bang” liberalization, but rather a more gradualist approach. Ethiopia is home to the continent’s second-largest population, with more than 90 million people and the population was forecast to top 100 million by 2020. Because of the socialist past, market entry can be difficult, he says, noting that there are often significant regulatory hurdles to overcome. Any business case should be carefully planned, preferably in partnership with experts with deep sectoral expertise in frontier markets. Equally, he adds, significant changes are beginning to make the country increasingly attractive and turning that old picture on its head.

Indeed, noting that Ethiopia is now open for investments from any area, he points out that a number of multinational companies, such as Heineken, the Blackstone Group, KKR, General Electric, Orange, Etur Textile, the BDL Group, Diageo, SABMiller, PPC and Starwood Hotels, have made significant investments in Ethiopia in recent years. Dr. Davies lists some of the reasons that had attracted them. One is the implementation of tax incentives for investment in high-priority sectors, including tourism, agro-processing, leather and leather goods, manufacturing, textiles, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and mineral and metal processing.  More broadly, the Government is revising its Commercial Code to facilitate private investment and enhance the business-operating environment. This is intended to simplify regulations for potential investors, standardize accounting practices to assess operating liabilities, including tax, accurately, increase the protection of shareholders, and modernize trade and registration procedures and processes.

In addition, the Government, again replicating the Chinese model, has in the last four years been establishing state-run and private industrial zones. Indeed, these are a central element in the recently launched Growth and Transformation Plan II (GTPII). These special economic zones include a range of investment, tax and infrastructure investment incentives. In July last year China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation signed a 246 million dollar deal to construct the first of these new parks, the Hawassa Industrial Park, with another four being planned. Ethiopia also has five privately owned industrial zones, and Dr. Davies says firmly “of all the talk of industrialization in Africa, I would argue that Ethiopia presents the greatest potential for low-end but high-employment-generating manufacturing.” He notes that as the cost of production in China’s eastern provinces is rising, placing production off-shore provides real potential for Ethiopia. Indeed, he says, the largest investors in Ethiopia’s manufacturing sector are Chinese companies in the automotive, textile and garments industries. Dr. Davies also underlines that Ethiopia, in addition to its local market, is a member of COMESA, offering preferential access to 19 countries with a combined population of 390 million. COMESA, of course, aims to create a common market with the free movement of capital and labor, and with no tariffs levied on goods for the whole of Eastern and Southern Africa.

He notes that agriculture remains an important contributor to Ethiopia’s economy but its share of GPD has been steadily decreasing, down to 42% in 2014 from 52% in 1990. Services now make up 42% and industry 15%. Industry, he says, includes a “small but growing” manufacturing sector (4%). Certainly, despite a declining share of GDP, agriculture still remains the backbone of the country’s economy, accounting for almost 80% of employment and up to 70% of export earnings.

Overall, Dr. Davies underlines that African growth has been fundamentally changing in the last two years with the collapse in oil and commodity prices.  Among other effects, this means a shift in the center of gravity of growth, from West to East Africa. Investors are becoming less enthusiastic about West African economies, and are looking towards East Africa for the high-growth that capital requires. Ethiopia, he says, was still viewed through the lends of its traumatic past, but this is “now obsolete.” Ethiopia is forecast to be the world’s best-performing economy this year, and that is an impressive feat considering the global economic slowdown, the changed Africa narrative and neighboring instability. Dr. Davies concludes that Ethiopia is “a true frontier economy that presents long-term opportunities for capital seeking to invest in one of Africa’s newest growth prospects.”

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IGAD and the Troika insist Machar must return to Juba by Saturday

It has been proving harder than expected to get the leaders of South Sudan’s opposition, SPLM-IO, Dr. Riek Machar, to return to Juba. He was supposed to fly there to take up his post as First Vice President on Monday this week (April 18). The flight was first postponed to Tuesday and then again. Dr. Machar claimed that the government had failed to grant flight and landing clearance to his top military leader, the chief of general staff of the SPLM-IO, General Simon Gatwech Dual, and another 195 soldiers. The Government claimed these extra troops were bringing in heavy weapons including laser-guided missiles.

The two sides accused each other of being responsible for the delay. A government official said Machar was held up because he had wanted to bring equipment and troops into Juba in excess of what was agreed earlier. Machar told Al Jazeera that the government was creating “obstacles” to his return. The argument led the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) chairman, Festus Mogae, to warn that the delay in Dr. Machar’s return was putting the agreement at risk. A JMEC statement said Mr. Mogae expressed disappointment at Machar’s failure to fly to Juba, from Pagak near the Ethiopian border, despite a chartered flight arranged for Monday and Tuesday. He hoped the flight could be rapidly rescheduled.

On Thursday, IGAD and the Troika countries of the USA, Norway and the UK, took a hand, issuing a statement insisting that Dr. Machar should return to Juba by Saturday (April 23) at the latest. The statement, which was endorsed by Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan, African Union, China, European Union, Norway, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Netherlands and UNMISS, said that “adequate security arrangements for Riek Machar’s return have already been in place since 10 April”. The statement said the partners were “profoundly disappointed” by the decision of Dr. Machar on 17 April to impose new conditions on his return to Juba. These included a demand that his Chief of the General Staff, General Simon Gatwich Dual, as well as additional forces and light and heavy weapons, should precede his own arrival.  The statement said this decision placed the country at risk of further conflict. It also caused inconvenience to the Government, which had scheduled Dr. Machar’s reception and inauguration. He is supposed to take an oath of office immediately after arriving in Juba.

In their statement, IGAD and the Troika noted that the Government had “overwhelming military force and superiority in Juba,” and they encouraged it “to show flexibility in regard to the size and composition of Machar’s delegation.” They requested the JMEC Chairman, Festus Mogae, to propose to the Government and to the SPLM-IO that the composition of forces accompanying Machar on arrival should be limited to 195 men, 20 PKMs, and 20 RPG-7s. Ceasefire monitors should verify these weapons in Gambella and on arrival in Juba.

The statement said firmly that the regional and international partners strong objected to the introduction of any new conditions to the security arrangements in Juba. It went on: “We also share our expectation that Dr. Machar will return as soon as the necessary logistical and security arrangements can be put in place, but no later than 23 April.”  It concluded with the threat that if the parties did not agree to this, then the JMEC’s Chairman would request that IGAD hold an emergency summit, at which he would report that the parties have failed to abide by the peace agreement. He would also report to the UN Security Council and “request consideration of an appropriate response.”

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UNSecurity Council briefed on Somalia’s security situation 

Michael Keating, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), provided an update on the situation in Somalia to the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday this week (April 19). He gave details of the agreement reached last week by Somali leaders on an electoral model that allowed for a choice of candidates, voting in each of the capitals or seats of government for existing and emerging Federal member states, with 30 per cent of parliamentary seats reserved for women.  He called for the Somali Federal Parliament to endorse this model quickly. It marked a midway point between the 2012 elections, when only 135 electors selected 275 members of Parliament, and 2020, when all Somalis would be able to vote. This time there would be nearly 14,000 electors.

The breakthrough on the electoral process, he said, had also generated momentum on a technical review of the provisional Federal Constitution, which would be the strongest guarantee of Somalia’s long-term stability and democracy.

Mr. Keating paid tribute to the bravery of AMISOM troops but noted that there was still great insecurity. Al-Shabaab remained a potent threat and would try to disrupt an electoral process that threatened its agenda. He applauded President Mohamud’s commitment to strengthen Somali security capabilities and shared the President’s concern about inconsistent salary payments to personnel. Timely and regular pay was necessary, he insisted.

Security and prosperity, Mr. Keating said now depended on reversing Somalia’s dependency on aid and addressing the root causes of fragility, conflict and violent extremism.  He called, therefore, for a comprehensive political strategy to provide investments in jobs, education, the rule of law, respect for human rights and capable security and counter-terrorism forces.  This agenda would require commitment from Somalia’s political and traditional leaders, support from neighbors and partners, and strategies to address short-term issues, including drought in Somaliland and Puntland, Somali authorities had set up national and regional drought committees to raise funds and coordinate response. It was not enough. Humanitarian organizations had received only $145 million out of $885 million called for in the consolidated appeal for 2016.

Overall, progress in Somalia, he said, depended on the unity of the Security Council and the coherence of the broader international community, including the African Union, IGAD, the European Union and bilateral partners.

The AU Permanent Observer to the UN, Mr. Tete Antonio, underlined the AU’s support   for the agreed electoral model, but added thatother electoral organs have yet to be nominated and the technical committee must complete the election implementation plan. He also stressed the Government should conclude the process of joining Hiiraan and Middle Shabelle regions into one state.

Mr. Antonio noted that AMISOM forces had made significant gains, but the security situation “remained fluid”. The AU had taken steps to enhance the Mission’s operational efficiency, he said.  In February, it had hosted a summit at which Heads of State of troop- and police-contributing countries had addressed the problems of resources, command and control and support to the Somali National Army. They had also signed the Djibouti Declaration on AMISOM.  The AU and the UN had also held a working group last week (April 15) to discuss concrete options to enhance AMISOM’s command and control, including establishing a multinational sector headquarters across AMISOM’s areas of operation and bolstering its force capacity.  Technical recommendations would be made shortly.

Mr. Antonio said improved effectiveness would be needed to enable AMISOM to meet its priorities from July to December to conduct defensive, offensive and routine operations. Its strategy must be adapted to cope with ongoing security challenges, and embrace more targeted and intelligence-driven operations aimed at recovering territories from Al-Shabaab.  The AU Commission had directed AMISOM to begin planning the new strategy. It would welcome the Security Council’s support in carrying it out. Mr. Antonio emphasized that the deployment of operational enablers and force multipliers was pivotal to rejuvenate AMISOM operations. Pledges of helicopters by Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda would ensure greater flexibility and protection.  He urged the Council to facilitate this, suggesting that reimbursement for helicopters should be commensurate with the offensive nature of AMISOM operations. He also noted it was important to mobilize resources to ensure the Somali National Security Forces were paid regularly; as well as fill the gap created by the 20 per cent pay cut imposed on AMISOM uniformed personnel in order to raise morale and motivation.

AMISOM’s mandate runs out on May 30 and Mr. Antonio said there was clear justification for renewing it in light of the progress already made in creating an acceptable environment for the political process and the continued security challenges.  The African Union Peace and Security Council would be considering the situation in Somalia next week (April 28) with a view to recommending that the United Nations Security Council authorize an extension to AMISOM’s mandate.

President Mohamud of Somalia also briefed the Security Council emphasizing that the forthcoming election would be uniform across the country, with a dispute resolution process and 30 per cent of seats reserved for women. The Government was also working hard at completing the state formation process in Hiiraan and Middle Shabelle and clarifying the status of Benadir.  Commending the efforts of the Somali National Army and AMISOM in the fight against Al-Shabaab, he said:  “The fight is not yet over,” adding “We will not quit before it is successfully completed.”

The President asked the Council to lift the arms embargo, saying this would make the greatest impact on the development of Somalia’s security forces and the ability to defeat terrorism, protect its people and safeguard its future against violent and radicalized elements.  The embargo, he said, was “outdated and restrictive at best and misleading and undermining at worst.”  He also requested a review of the mandate of the Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group to reflect that Somalia was no longer at war with itself, but fighting alongside other Member States to make the world safer.

The President detailed progress in public finance management reform, including a working Central Bank and an Independent Office of the Auditor General as well as  agreement with the International Monetary Fund on a reform program for the next year, set up following an economic growth rate of 3.7 per cent in 2015.  He stressed the need for the international community to expand support for high-priority economic sectors and youth employment. He said the Somali Compact, now in its final year, had helped to improve partnership and mutual accountability between the Government and the international community.  Work was now under way on a three-year national development plan to ensure that the approach forged through the Somali Compact would not be lost.

Members of the Council underlined the importance of the electoral process and expressed concerns over the security situation and stressed all parties should push the peace process forward and the international community should acknowledge that it was Somali-owned and -led.

The UK Permanent Representative stressed it needed to be transparent, deliver on time and be inclusive,” adding  “There can be no place at the table for any group or individual that seeks to undermine this process. Egypt said the process must “be completed within the determined time frame, with a large participation of women and youth.” The Russian Representative emphasized that “State-building and federalization was a primary task for the Somali Government to ensure that remaining antagonisms did not affect the election process.” New Zealand emphasized that the August elections must be Somali-led and key issues must be addressed, such as setting regional boundaries, completing the constitutional reform process and determining national resources. Services must be provided for people in areas under Government control, with closer coordination between the Somali National Army and police forces being vital for long-term stability, defeating terrorism and implementing an exit strategy for ongoing international missions.

China, the current chair of the Security Council, noted the fragile security situation; Venezuelastressed the Security Council should need Somalia’s appeal to lift sanctions, including the arms embargo. Japan underlined the need for further offensive action against Al-Shabaab in a more coordinated manner.  Security sector reform was also important as was capacity-building needs for the maritime police force. State-building efforts had to be Somali-led and supported by the international community. France called on AMISOM to launch more offensive operations against Al-Shabaab and stressed the need for exemplary conduct among its troops. It said the role of the Somali security forces was particularly crucial in supporting AMISOM and keeping liberated areas free. The US said it would continue to use its financial, diplomatic, intelligence and military tools to help dismantle Al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups.

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The 5th Tana High Level Forum on Security held in Bahr Dar

The 5th Tana Forum was held in the city of Bahr Dar last week from 16-17 April 2016. This year’s forum was held under the theme “Africa in the Global Security Agenda”. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, President Omar Al-Bashir of Soudan, President Faure Gnassingbe Eyadéma of Togo and President Hassen Sheik Mohamud of Somalia were present as well as the former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan. Among the former presidents at the Forum were Thabo Mbeki of South Africa; Festus Mogae of Botswana; Pierre Buyoya of Burundi; Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique; Joyce Banda of Malawi; and Leste Ramos-Horta of Timor; as well as Olesogun Obasanjo of Nigeria, who is also the Chairperson of the Tana Forum Board.

The annual Forum state brought together over 250 participants, including academics, policymakers, representatives of non-governmental organizations and officials of regional, continental and international organizations as well as heads of state and governments. The Former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, who was attending the Forum for the first time underlined the value of ex-leaders coming together with current leaders “to share experience and try to talk very frankly about the challenges facing the continent and also about our relations with the international community.”

Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanom chaired the sessions and acted as master of ceremonies. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn opened the Forum, noting that “the growing attendance and diversity of participants demonstrate the growing recognition of the Tana Forum”. He added that the Tana Forum had become an invaluable platform for the exchange of views, best experiences and innovative approaches to the fast changing security challenges facing the [African] continent and the global community today”. The Prime Minister emphasized that African solutions to African problems require collecting and analyzing knowledge as well as upgrading local institutions. He said that Africa suffered from a number of security and political challenges which required African leaders to develop a strategic vision for resolution. It was welcome that a growing number of African leaders were participating in the Forum. This underscored their interest to promote a common understanding to achieve security and stability in the region. He spoke of the challenges of peace and security in the continent and the ways to resolve them, pointing out that Africa had begun to tackle these problems. Equally, he underlined the importance of cooperation among African leaders to develop the continent. They must look forward to securing participation of all to face the existing threats.

The chairman of the Tana High-Level Forum Board, former Nigerian President Obasanjo also underlined the importance of the Forum in encouraging support and promoting cooperation among African nations to resolve the challenges facing the continent. In his presentation on the “State of peace and Security in Africa”, he said that Africa, as a continent, needed to prioritize its security. As such, the African Union must be prepared to step up in times of conflict to protect the lives of civilians. Africa, he said, should position itself as a credible and relevant partner in the global security agenda. He added that in order solve the African security issues it was very necessary that there should be adequate leadership at all levels. He said the Forum sought to achieve adequate solutions for the African problems, and he expressed the hope that the just completed Darfur referendum represented a step forward to achieving peace, development and stability in the region. In this context, he welcomed the presence of Sudan’s President Omer Al-Bashir at the Forum. It underlined, he said, his keenness to resolve Sudanese and African problems. The former Nigerian President pointed to the role that should be played by African leaders, saying that if they had a sufficiently strong will they could resolve the problems facing the continent. He mentioned the issue of migration, emphasizing that the only way to prevent migration would be to develop a strategy to create jobs and eradicate poverty on the African continent.

The Forum’s keynote address came from the former Secretary General of the United Nations and President of the Kofi Annan Foundation, Kofi Annan. Mr. Annan, who also chairs the Africa Progress Panel and the Nelson Mandela-founded The Elders Group, stressed that the challenge of security in Africa was foremost a political problem. He affirmed that “you cannot have peace, security and development without security, rule of law and respect for human rights”. He said winner-take-all approaches to elections on the continent had the effect of leaving out citizens for holding an opposing view, raising tensions around elections. He also noted that economic inequality has made Africa vulnerable to instability. He stressed the need for a strong and unified voice of the African continent in the global stage, and underlined the need to recognize the work and efforts of the African Union in peacekeeping operations on the continent at a regional level.

Mr. Annan underlined that solutions to the problems that the continent faced must come from within, and Africa must build up its ability to achieve these including financing its institutions. He said: “We cannot always pass a hat around and insist we want to be sovereign, we want to be independent. We should lead and get others to support us. That support will be much more forthcoming when they see how serious and committed we are.” Mr. Annan also noted the constraints imposed by budgetary concerns for strengthening stability. To resolve this required creative ways of resourcing the African Union which has struggled to get members to pay their dues to allow it run its operations and programs effectively. He said this was affecting the work of the continent but he was happy to hear African leaders say “we must be prepared to pay for what we want; we must be prepared to put out our own money on the table and fund issues that are of great importance to us.”

In an interview later, Mr. Annan also urged African leaders to leave when their mandated time is up and to avoid excluding opposing voices if elections are to cease contributing to conflicts on the continent. Unconstitutional changes to government in Africa had declined, he said, but exclusionary politics also threatened to reverse these gains made. He said “I think Africa has done well, by and large the coups have more or less ended, generals are remaining in their barracks, but we are creating situations which may bring them back.” He went on: “If a leader doesn’t want to leave office, if a leader stays on for too long, and elections are seen as being organized to suit a leader and he stays term after term after term, the tendency may be the only way to get him out is through a coup or people taking to the streets.” Neither of these possibilities can be seen as an alternative to democracy, to elections or to parliamentary rule, Mr. Annan said, adding that “constitutions and the rules of the game have to be respected.”

Various heads of state and former leaders spoke; speakers also included Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger,the Chairman of the Munich Security Conference which had held a meeting in Addis Ababa two days earlier. Ambassador Ischinger noted the legitimate right of Africa to expect a permanent seat or two on the United Nations Security Council. He also called on Africa to focus on conflict prevention, resolution and post-conflict reconstruction with more gender sensitive programs. In addition to the formal sessions, panel discussions and symposiums on good governance, corruption, employment and the continent’s peace-keeping operations were held. This year the subject of the annual Meles Zenawi Lecture, also given at the Forum, was:

“Leadership in Africa: Reflections on the legacy of Patrice Lumumba”. The Lecture annually honors an African leader for his or hers’ leadership skills. Last year, the subject was Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of independent Ghana.

The Forum, of course, has never intended to be a decision making body, and it isn’t. It was designed as an occasion where local solutions could be discussed and explored as the region seeks to carve out its proper place in a global security architecture which has been and still is dominated by western powers. It aimed to boost Africa’s struggle to reposition itself in the global security agenda. This was underlined this year by the subjects discussed including conflict prevention, building peace infrastructures, and sustaining peace and peace support operations.

At the closing session on Sunday, Prime Minister Hailemariam announced the formation of the Tana Foundation, to replace the former Tana Foundation. The Prime Minister said “The formation of the Foundation is of paramount importance to attain the objectives and principles of the Tana Forum and Pan-Africanism, respectively”. He noted the Forum has been working by giving due attention to African affairs over the last five years, and had played an important role in promoting peace and security through education at regional and continental level. Now the Tana Forum’s Board had finished its five year- term and a new board would be designated to head the new Tana Foundation. The Prime Minister stressed that Ethiopia would strengthen its support to the Foundation; and the Chairman of the retiring Tana Forum Board, Olusegun Obasanjo, said “What we said we wanted to achieve through the Tana Forum, we have achievements.

15.4.2016

News in Brief

Prime Minister Hailemariam pays an official visit to the Republic of Ghana…

…and then visited Guinea where he received the Grand Croix award

President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti re-elected by an overwhelming majority

The Munich Security Conference Core Group Meeting in Addis Ababa

Hungary’s Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister in Ethiopia…

…and the Ethio-Hungarian Investment and Business Forum

Somalia’s National Leadership Forum agrees further details for the electoral process

A Policy Note on Eritrea’s refugee crisis and the international community

News in Brief

Ethiopia

On a visit to West Africa, to Ghana and to Guinea,  Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn held talks with Ghana President Mahama and with President Conde of Guinea from whom he received the Grand Croix award the highest honor that the country awards. The Prime Minister said his six day visit to West Africa was part of Ethiopia’s drive to strengthen partnership in the areas of peace and security as well as to promote Africa’s integration agenda (See article)

Prime Minister Hailemariam met with a Qatari delegation led by Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, former Prime Minister of Qatar on Thursday (April 14). He called on Qatari investors to invest in Ethiopia.

Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom met the Minister of Agriculture of Djibouti, Mr. Mohamed Ahmed Awaleh on Thursday (April 15).

Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros received President and CEO of the Washington Woodrow Wilson Center, Jane Herman (April 13) at his office. Jane Harman thanked the Ethiopian government for hosting the Munich Security Conference being held for the first time in Africa.

 

Mr. Péter Szijjártó,  Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade visited Ethiopia this week meeting President Dr. Mulatu and holding talks with Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros as well as opening the Ethio-Hungary Business Forum on Tuesday (April 12). (See article)

Dr. Tedros chaired African Union’s Open ended Committee of Ministers of Foreign Affairs on the International Criminal Court at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, on Monday (April 11, 2016).

Dr. Tedros met the Minister of Commerce and Industry for Sultanate of Oman, Dr. Ali bin Masoud Al Sunaidy on Monday (April 11).  An Omani Products Exhibition (Opex) was held this week (April 11-14) in Addis Ababa’s Millennium Hall.

Dr. Tedros met with Australia’s Special Envoy for Human Rights, Phillip Ruddock this week. Stressing the constantly growing relations between Ethiopia and Australia, Dr. Tedros hoped that Ethiopia would continue to engage consistently with Australia. Mr. Ruddock also briefed State Minister Ambassador Taye on Australia’s interest to run for election to the UN Human Rights council for the term 2018-2020 and requested Ethiopia’s support.

State Minister Ambassador Taye met the State Secretary of the German Federal Foreign Office, Markus Ederer, on Wednesday (April 13). Discussions covered national and regional issues.

Ambassador Taye received Djibouti’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Mr. Mohammed Idriss Farah in his offices on Monday (April 12). Ambassador Taye congratulated the people and the Government of the Republic of Djibouti on their peaceful, free and fair presidential election.

Ambassador Taye received Kenyan Ambassador to Ethiopia, Ms. Catherine Muigai Mwangi on Tuesday (April 12). Ambassador Taye noted relations between the two countries had been strengthened by the implementation of the cross border integrated program.

The Munich Security Conference which brings together political, academic, business and civic society leaders to discuss key issues of international security policy with a special emphasis in Africa was held in Addis Ababa on Thursday and Friday (April 14-15) (See article)

The fifth Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa will be held this weekend (April 16-17) in Bahr Dar, the capital of the Amhara regional state, under the theme “Africa in the Global Security Agenda.”

Ethiopia has prepared a draft proclamation of the regulation of cyber crimes (April 13). The draft proclamation will be referred to the Standing Committee of the House of Peoples Representatives (HPR) following wider discussions.

Djibouti

President Ismail Omar Guelleh has won a fourth five-year term as president of Djibouti I the election held on Friday (April 8). The President secured 87% of the votes cast, according to the provisional results announced by the country’s interior minister. (See article)

Djibouti port’s director general, Saad Omar Guelleh and the vice-president of China’s Qingdao port Cheng Xinnong, signed a partnership agreement on Wednesday (April 13) to reinforce Djibouti port’s human resource capacities and logistics.

Kenya  

Kenyan officials arrived in Kampala on Tuesday (April 12) for a three-day meeting to continue discussions on the possible three options for the proposed crude oil export pipeline. A report on the options for the US4 billion project, through Lamu, Mombasa or Tanga will be presented to the Heads of State and adopted at the 13th Northern Corridor Integration Projects (NCIP) Summit due in Kampala on April 23.

Somalia

The National Leadership Forum met in Mogadishu from April 9 to April 12 to agree details and modalities for the electoral process for the August election. Participants included President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Speaker. Mohammed Sh. Osman Jawari, Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmaarke, President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali of Puntland, President Ahmed Mohamed Islaan of Jubaland,  President Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan of the South-West, and President of Abdulkarim Hussein Guled of Galmudug. Somalia. (See article)

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud opened the 8th session of the 9th Somali Parliament on Monday, the last session of the current Parliament before the elections later this year. He told Parliament the government had failed to uphold the one-man-one vote electoral principle but it was committed to holding credible elections.

UNOCHA says an estimated 1.7 million people, nearly 40 percent of the 4.6 million people living in Somaliland and Puntland are in need of humanitarian assistance and livelihood support. OCHA says the forecasts for the Gu rains (April to June) “are less than favorable,” and it has appealed for $105 million to urgently scale up “critical, life-saving” aid and to build resilience in these areas.

The German cabinet has agreed to the continued deployment of German troops in the EU anti-piracy mission off Somalia. Troops have been engaged in this mission since 2008.

South Sudan

The government chief negotiator, Nhial Deng Nhial, had told reporters after a meeting attended by President Kiir and the head  of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission,  Festus Mogae, that President Salva Kiir will swear in first vice president designate, Riek Machar, when Dr. Machar arrives in Juba on Monday (April 18).

The South Sudan army (SPLA) has agreed to allow the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) to visit their military sites and verify the demilitarization of Juba as required by the August 2015 peace agreement. The Mechanism reports to the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission which oversees agreement.

Dr. Riek Machar has promoted General Taban Deng Gai, the chief negotiator of the SPLM-IO and leader of the advance team in Juba, and General Alfred Ladu Gore, the deputy chairman of the SPLM-IO to the rank of 1st Lt General.

Sudan

President Omer al-Bashir will take part in the fifth Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa to be held this weekend on Bahr Dar, the capital of the Amhara Regional State. Over 200 participants will attend the Forum including a number of African Heads of State and Government, academics, representatives of NGOs and officials of regional, continental and international organizations.

The United Nations Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan, Aristide Nononsi, arrived in Khartoum on Thursday (April 14)  for a two week visit to Sudan. During his visit to  assess the efforts of the government to comply with its international human rights obligations, he will also visit  Darfur and South Kordofan.

Darfur residents began voting on Monday (April 11) in a three day referendum on whether to reunite their region into a single state. Darfur is currently made up of five states. The referendum is an element  in the peace plan agreed in 2011 in Doha, but the major rebel groups have never signed up to the plan.

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Prime Minister Hailemariam pays an official visit to the Republic of Ghana…

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn paid a three day official visit to the Republic of Ghana at the end of last week (April 7-9). The Prime Minister was accompanied by First Lady Roman Tesfaye and other senior government officials, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Tedros Adhanom. The Prime Minister was welcomed on arrival, by Mr. Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, and later attended a state dinner in his honor, hosted the President of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama.  Welcoming the Prime Minister to Ghana, President Mahama appreciated what he called Ethiopia’s sustained effort towards achieving the ideals of Pan-Africanism. He recognized Ethiopia’s contribution to the fight against colonialism, its unbending determination to achieve continental integration and its continued engagement in peace-keeping around the world. President Mahama also reiterated Ghana’s support to Ethiopia’s current bid to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.

On the second day of his visit, Prime Minister Hailemariam and President Mahama held bilateral discussion and agreed to forge partnerships in counter-terrorism operations, cooperate in the mining sector and work together in the development and maintenance of hydropower systems. Prime Minister Hailemariam welcomed investment from Ghana for the establishment of tertiary educational institutions.

President Mahama noted that Ghana’s relationship with Ethiopia was being transformed into a new chapter, opening further areas of engagement in development, trade and investment. He said Ethiopia’s efforts in stabilizing Somalia and ensuring peace and stability at home set a good example to other countries. Ghana, he said, was keen to learn from Ethiopia’s experience in fighting terrorism. He mentioned that his country would be sending send security officials and other personnel to Ethiopia to emulate the country’s best experience in foiling acts of terrorism. Underlining his appreciation for Ethiopia’s economic growth and, in particular, the rapid transformation of Addis Ababa, President Mahama said any visitor to Addis Ababa should be impressed with the giant strides being made in the modernization of the city, notably the recent launch of the light rail transport system.  He said Ghana would closely follow Ethiopia’s progress as it went into second phase of the Growth and Transformation plan, designed to lead Ethiopia into middle income status by 2025.

Prime Minister Hailemariam hailed Ghana’s unmatched role in promoting a pan-African agenda, and emphasized the excellent political relations the two countries have enjoyed ever since Ghana achieved its independence in 1957. However, the Prime Minister also noted the limited economic ties between the two countries and underlined the need to strengthen and diversify bilateral economic relations. He expressed his belief that to continue and expand the political gain achieved so far, the two countries should also augment their efforts in the economic sphere. Failure to do this, he said, would “imperil the political gains achieved so far”.

The two leaders expressed their satisfaction with the longstanding cordial relations between the two countries and emphasized the need to enhance their economic relations. They reaffirmed their strong commitment to strengthen and diversify their cooperation in various issues of mutual concern. Later in the day the Prime Minister laid a wreath at the tomb of Ghana’s first President Kwame Nkrumah, in the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial. The Ethiopian Delegation also visited the Cocoa Touton Producing Plant, a company that produces 30,000 tons of processed cocoa and exports to countries in Europe, USA and the Middle East. The Prime Minister Hailemariam noted that the factory was “a good lesson for the African continent to help boost manufacturing and industrialization.” The Prime Minister also visited the Akosombo Hydroelectric Power Dam, the largest single investment in Ghana’s economic development. Built in the 1960’s during the Presidency of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the dam currently produces 1,020 megawatts of electricity. The Prime Minister hailed Ghana’s effective dam management practices and underlined that Ethiopia was keen to draw lessons in this area.

During the Prime Minister’s visit to Ghana the two countries also signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work in close cooperation on peace-keeping operations, and on peace-support and peace-building missions. Ethiopia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Tedros Adhanom and Ms. Hanna Serwaa Tetteh, Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration signed the memorandum for cooperation between the Koffi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center (KAIPTC) and the Ethiopian Peace Support Training Center (EPSTC). The MoU is expected to serve as a legal framework for the exchange of information and experience-sharing between the two countries. The agreement followed Prime Minister Hailemariam’s visit to the Koffi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center in Accra where he underlined the importance of twining the two peace-keeping centers. He noted that both Ghana and Ethiopia have assumed key roles in regional and global peace-building efforts. The KAIPTC is one of three institutions designated by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as a regional Centre of Excellence for the delivery of training and research in the areas of conflict prevention, management and peace-building. The KAIPTC has, to date, offered over 230 courses in diverse aspects of peace support operations for over 11,000 military, police and civilian personnel. Trainees from the Eastern African Region make up 6% of the total population of military, police and civil personnel at the Centre.

…and  then visited Guinea where he received the Grand Croix award

Prime Minister Hailemariam followed his visit to the Republic of Ghana with a two day official visit to the Republic of Guinea. Upon arrival, the Prime Minister was welcomed by the President of Guinea, Alpha Conde who later presented him with Guinea’s Grand Croix, the country’s highest award award, for the contribution Prime Minister Hailemariam has made to the process of strengthening bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries.

The visit aimed to rejuvenate and uplift the longstanding bilateral relations between the two countries and the Prime Minister held fruitful talks with the President Alpha Conde in which the under discussed on bilateral, regional and international issues of common concern. The two leaders underlined the need to renew the longstanding relation between the two countries, a relationship which dates back to the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963

Prime Minister Hailemariam praised the enthusiasm shown by the people and Government of Guinea to maintain the momentum of the country’s economic growth despite the unfortunate impact of the Ebola epidemic. He underlined Ethiopia’s readiness to support the People and Government of Guinea. President Conde thanked the Government of Ethiopia for the support extended to his people during the fight against the Ebola epidemic, referring to the half million dollars and the more than 200 health professionals Ethiopia sent to help in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three countries most affected by the epidemic.

In their discussions, the two leaders also specifically looked at ways to strengthen their relations. The Government of Guinea proposed seven draft agreements for further consideration by Ethiopia, and the two leaders witnessed the signing of a General Cooperation Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding on Regular Diplomatic Consultations. Reiterating their firm and joint condemnation of terrorism in all its forms, Prime Minister Hailemariam and President Conde also agreed to combine their efforts with a view to fighting this scourge which, they noted, was steadily interfering with the peace and security of the African continent.

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President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti re-elected by an overwhelming majority

Djibouti’s Minister of the Interior, Hassan Omar Mohamed announced on Saturday (April 9) the results of the previous day’s presidential election. President Ismail Omar Guelleh had won the election on Friday (April 8) with an overwhelming majority. The President, who ran on the Union for a President Majority (UPM) party ticket, secured 87% percent of the votes. Despite some opposition parties calling for a boycott, as they had done on previous votes, turnout was reported to be 68% of the eligible voters. The Interior Minister said Omar Elmi Khaireh, a candidate from the opposition Union for National Salvation (USN) coalition, came second, with seven % (9,400 of the 133,356 votes cast).  3,844 ballots were declared invalid. The remaining vote was split among the four other candidates: Mohamed Daoud Chehem, another candidate from the divided USN coalition candidate, and the three independents Mohamed Ali Moussa, Hassan Idriss and Abdurahman Djama. Following his victory, the President spoke on national TV to say that he understood the hopes of the people of Djibouti who had again entrusted him with the state’s highest office, adding “I will get back to work tomorrow.”

The African Union has commended the Republic of Djibouti for the outcome of last Frisday’s presidential elections. The Head of the African Union Observer Mission, Soumana Sako, former Prime Minister of Mali, told a press conference on Sunday that the vote was “free and sufficiently transparent for it to be considered a credible reflection of the will of the Djibouti people”. The AU Mission had visited 124 of the 456 polling stations. The Mission had seen some minor irregularities: instructions for voters were not always publicly posted or signed by the electoral officers; some booths failed to systematically ratify voter registers which used indelible ink to ensure people voted just once; some ballot boxes had not been hermetically sealed; and some officials in polling booths had worn T-shirts with pictures of the president. The Mission also noted that some booths had no opposition officials present but said there was no sign of this being the result of action by the authorities. Some opposition candidates also complained that their representatives had been turned away from voting centers on polling day.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Election Observation Mission (EOM) which also deployed to observe the Djibouti Presidential Election concurred. The IGAD mission concluded, based on what it had been able to observe, that the 2016 Presidential election had been conducted in a transparent, peaceful, and orderly manner and in accordance with the Constitution and the laws governing the Republic of Djibouti.

President Guelleh has been in office since May 8, 1999 when he was first elected President in 1999 as the handpicked successor to his uncle, Hassan Gouled Aptidon, who had led Djibouti since independence in 1977. Prior to 2010, the president could be elected for a maximum of two six-year terms. The constitution was then amended in 2010 to remove the two-term limit for the president and reduce the presidential term from six years to five.

As he repeatedly reminded the voters during the campaign, since coming to power President Guelleh has overseen Djibouti’s economic rise as it positions itself as an international port. There has been significant economic growth, driven by the expansion of Djibouti port and of its external relations, both through IGAD and towards the Gulf and more widely. Strategically located on the Gulf of Aden and the Bad el Mandeb Straits at the entrance of the Red Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping route, Djibouti has launched a series of major infrastructure projects aimed at turning it into a regional hub for trade and services. There are about US$9.5 billion of energy and infrastructure projects under way including four more ports, two new international airports and two pipelines and the railway to Addis Ababa due to open shortly.

Djibouti hosts Camp Lemonier, the only permanent US base in Africa as well France’s largest military presence abroad. France and Djibouti still have a military agreement under which France guarantees the defense of Djibouti. There is also a Japanese base as well as Spanish and German soldiers in the EU anti-piracy force based in Djibouti. China is building is first overseas military facility in Djibouti. Djibouti has in fact been laying a major role in hosting forces engaged in dealing with the menace of piracy off the coasts of Somalia and in operations against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Al-Shabaab in Somalia. In addition, Djibouti is a major strategic partner for Ethiopia and the two countries have long worked closely together on political, economic and security matters. The port of Djibouti provides Ethiopia’s main external link and with the advent of the new railway shortly the transit time between Djibouti and Addis Ababa will be cut from days to a matter of hours

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The Munich Security Conference Core Group Meeting in Addis Ababa

The Munich Security Conference is an annual conference on international security policy which has been taking place since 1963. In addition to its annual flagship conference in Munich, the Munich Security Conference (MSC) Foundation regularly organizes high-profile events around the world. In order to cover region-specific topics, the MSC also links up with national governments and prominent local partners to host ‘Core Group Meetings’ in capitals around the world. This year, the Munich Security Conference hosted its first Core Group Meeting on the African continent in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from April 14 to 15. This year’s Core group Meeting of the Munich Security Conference brings together political, academic, business and civic society leaders to discuss key issues on international security policy with a special emphasis in Africa. The joint fight against violent extremism, the crises in Northern and Eastern Africa, as well as the dangers posed by epidemics and climate change have been among the central topics of the two-day event in Addis Ababa.

Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom, who welcomed participants, expressed his delight that the MSC should hold its first Core Group Meeting in Africa here in Addis Ababa.  The Foreign Minister shared his thoughts on the “Issues of Emerging Global Challenges and their Implications to Africa.” The Minister noted that the ever increasing advancement in information flows and other technological progress in the transportation sector as well as the easy flow of knowledge made inter-linkage between countries more solid than ever. Dr. Tedros added that climate change, population growth, pandemics, global terrorism, the fragility of state institutions and the growing strength of non-state actors complicated the already complex situation. He added, “Our futures are extremely intertwined and therefore we share common destinies.” So, dialogue, exchange of venues and understanding are pertinent, and necessary.

In this regard, Dr. Tedros underlined the importance of asking the crucial questions: on how the regional integration agenda should respond to the aspirations of our youth? How can we redefine the African Peace and Security as well as governance architecture to respond to the newly emerging security threats? How can we strengthen the African Union Commission and our regional mechanisms to spearhead the continental transformation encapsulated in Agenda 2063? What mechanisms should we devise for Africa to benefit from technological advancements in various areas? In my view, he said, the institutional responses that we give to these questions will largely define our success over the next decade.

Dr. Tedros stressed that “despite the many challenges we are still facing, today’s Africa is different from the 1980s and 1990s. It has, he said, made “significant progress and showed remarkable resilience,” particularly in crisis management, adding that “Africa has become far more ready to shoulder its responsibility in conflict resolution.” Indeed, conflict prevention and management would not be possible without Africa taking the lead. In the discussion, participants emphasized the high burden African states are carrying in international peacekeeping efforts,  not least in the AMISOM mission in Somalia. They also debated the chances of cross-Red Sea cooperation to create regional conditions conducive to stabilization. One participant warned: “The jugular vein of the world economy, from the Horn of Africa through the Red Sea, now has a knife to it,” adding that “The area has never been less secure.” Discussants, however, disagreed whether collaboration across the Red Sea was at all feasible under current conditions.

At the main discussion session on “Safeguarding Peace: Conflict Dynamics in Eastern Africa” General Abdulkadir Sheikh Ali Dini, Minister of Defense of the Federal Republic of Somalia, briefed participants on how the Government of Somalia is endeavoring to strengthen the Somali National Armed Forces. The Defense Minister defined the challenges and proposed solutions that the international community should take into account. Uncoordinated and disconnected efforts only made the operations in Somalia less effective, said the Minister. He said, “We need to focus on being proactive than reactive”. The problems that arise from security coordination and lack of unity of command were also reiterated by the State Secretary for the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, Markus Ederer.  The State Secretary also stressed the importance of informing the global community on the financing for AMISOM. The European Union (EU) provides resources needed for the payment of troop allowances and other related expenses within the framework of the African Peace Facility (APF). Alexander Rondos, the EU’s Special Representative for the Horn of Africa analyzed the ways people gave “unhealthy” allegiance to their ethnic and religious identities when they lose faith in the state or nation states.

The session also underlined the importance of Africa’s development to the world. This should be self-evident, yet despite the high stakes, Europe, and the international community more broadly, have failed to devote the attention and resources that the issue merits. Today, more than ever, it would be extremely unwise to allow this situation to continue. A stronger partnership between Africa and Europe can make a real difference.

The second discussion session covered “The Rise of Violent Extremism: Implications and Counter Strategies.” This covered internal problems arising from mal-administration, corruption and the lack of response to the basic demands of people. These were identified as major reasons for violence in the global arena. It agreed on the critical importance of concerted efforts by the global community to proactively engage with governments and institutions to build up their capacity to deal with such root causes for violence.

Other roundtable discussions covered the themes of “Answering Wake-up call: African Responses to High Level Panels on Global Health Security” and “Cyber Security: More connected, less secure? Protecting Africa’s digital transformation”.  The “Answering Wake-up call: African Responses to High Level Panels on Global Health Security” Roundtable noted the recent response to the Ebola epidemic as an example of a case where logistics and the capacity to mobilize resources fast was as important as funding. It was also made clear that increasing domestic resource allocations were key to overcome finance challenges in making health systems resilient in Africa.

On the second day of the conference, held at the African Union Conference Center, discussions also “Mega trends, Mega problems, Mega chances: the Ambiguity of progress in Africa” and “Keeping peace: the Future of Africa’s security Architecture.” The first session debated on urbanization, suggesting that conflicts were lessening but at the same time underlining the worrying gap in inequality, and need for new and concerted efforts to tackle climate change and other major challenges. The session also stressed the importance of getting back to basic African values including the sanctity of life and respect for women.

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Hungary’s Foreign Affairs and Trade  Minister in Ethiopia…

Mr. Péter Szijjártó, Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister of Hungary has been on an official visit to Ethiopia. During his visit he met President Mulatu Teshome, Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanom and other high-level government ministers and sector representatives as well as participating in the Ethiopia-Hungary Investment Forum on Tuesday (April 12).

President Dr. Mulatu Teshome received Mr. Szijjártó at the Jubilee National Palace on Tuesday and they discussed bilateral, regional and global issues. President Mulatu noted the long-standing relationship that existed between the two countries, and underlined the need to further strengthen their partnership in economic, diplomatic and other multi-sectorial fora. The President, mentioning the convergence of ideas and outlook regarding the special attention both countries paid to business and economic diplomacy, said they should both make the effort to explore and exploit further opportunities for mutual growth and interest. Dr. Mulatu emphasized Ethiopia’s commitment to acquire more Foreign Direct Investment and called on the Minister to encourage Hungarian investors to come and explore the investment potential of Ethiopia. He said Ethiopia was a convenient investment destination where business could be profitable while at the same time supporting Ethiopia in its moves towards industrialization.

Foreign Minister Szijjártó said that Hungary’s new model of “Southern Opening” provided for diplomatic engagement for enhanced bilateral and political relationship with Africa and Latin American countries. He noted that “Ethiopia is one of the most rapidly thriving economies in the world and we cherish Ethiopian people’s achievement in development”. He said it was no accident that Hungary had decided to engage with Ethiopia in trade and investment activities. It was attracted by the country’s booming economy and the prospects of success. The Foreign Minister mentioned his support for Ethiopia’s policy shift towards industrialization which he said would provide inputs for bringing about better economic growth and development. Referring to Ethiopian Airlines as the largest and most successful carrier in the continent, the Foreign Minister suggested that it should start flights from Addis Ababa to Budapest and on the other destinations.

Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom later met with Mr. Szijjártó for discussions on areas of cooperation in migration, refugees, development and investment. The two sides also signed a Memorandum of Understanding on MOU on “establishing regular political consultation” to help pilot agreements on avoidance of double taxation, mutual protection of investment and the waiving of diplomatic and service visas in the future. Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, who expressed Hungary’s support for Ethiopia’s candidature for a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council, praised Ethiopia for its unparallel contribution to collective peace and security in the region. He underlined the “common heritage” of Ethiopia and Hungary in terms of “the fact that we both share a religious civilization” and “have common enemies like terrorism and migration.” The Foreign Minister said the two sides had to augment their commonalities in many different arenas. Discussing the migration and refugee agenda, Mr. Szijjártó recalled the 400,000 migrants who had crossed Hungary’s borders and the 800,000 emigrants Ethiopia hosted. He said this was why Hungary was a strong promoter of the EU’s support for Ethiopia. The EU has allocated USD$745 million and US$1.4 billion for economic and humanitarian assistance respectively. Mr. Szijjártó said the two countries had significant potential to cooperate in a number of sectors including IT, food processing, manufacturing, agriculture, education and e-commerce. He disclosed that The Minister disclosed that the Hungary Exim Bank had allocated US$28 million to take the joint venture flagship project, METEC-DANUBIA, to the next level of mass production.

Dr. Tedros noted “Hungary and Ethiopia are on the same page since their strategic engagement gave emphasis to trade and investment”. Ethiopia, he said, would actively engage with Hungary, particularly in the areas of e-commerce and the digitalizing of commerce, since this was very crucial in handling the business sector effectively. He welcomed the Hungarian government’s allocation of funds for tram manufacturing and expressed his hope for more mutual support and cooperation.

…and the Ethio-Hungarian Investment and Business Forum

Foreign and Trade Minister PéterSzijjártó also attended the Ethiopia-Hungary Business and Investment Forum held at the Intercontinental Hotel on Tuesday (April 12) at which the two countries signed a MOU to facilitate investment and business ties, trade and business information and encourage links between their respective business people. The forum was attended by high level government officials, diplomats, representatives of the business sector of both countries including more than 20 Hungarian investors, and invited guests. Opening the Forum, Mr. Szijjártó emphasized that Hungary had recently reformed its foreign policy, giving priority to economic cooperation. He stressed that Africa was emerging and that Hungary “would like to forge trade and investment ties with this continent.” He said that Ethiopia was Hungary’s most important partner in Africa. It had one of the best performing economies in the world today, and Hungary had opened a trade relations’ office in Addis Ababa. The Hungarian Embassy had been tasked with the creation of economic ties with Ethiopian partners. He said Hungary was ready to strengthen business and investment relations with Ethiopia and transfer technologies in areas including water technology, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, digital and electronic communication, food-processing, and higher education.

Mr. Elias Geneti, President of the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Organizations, said Ethiopia was glad to welcome the first high-level business delegation from Hungary. Ethiopia, he said, would like to build credible, valuable, and reliable business partnerships; and it was working to guarantee incoming investment on a lasting basis.

The Investment Forum included presentations on investment and trade potential and the opportunities available in a number of sessions.

Ethiopia’s Investment Commissioner, Mr. Fitsum Arega, described the country’s vision and the links to investment, investment opportunities, the path to middle income status, infrastructure development, market access, investment policies and incentives, as well as summarizing the main reasons to invest in Ethiopia. He underlined that Ethiopia, the second most populous country in Africa, had been registering an 11% average growth rate for the last 12 years. It had 74 million hectares of arable land. To achieve middle income status by 2025, GDP was expected to grow by 11% every year. Developments in the manufacturing sector and in the creation of industrial parks were well underway to make the country the leading manufacturing hub in Africa. It was also engaged in massive investment in infrastructure and people’s skill development. Mr. Fitsum also elaborated on the priority sectors and the manufacturing industries currently being promoted. These included light manufacturing industries with basic and import substitution sectors as priorities. The major areas were textile and garment, production leather, agro-processing, industrial park development, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, metal engineering and construction materials.  The Commissioner identified the main reasons for investing in Ethiopia including its fast and sustainable economic growth and development, a stable economic and political environment, access to international markets, availability of and abundant and wage-competitive labor force, fast growing infrastructure and very cheap, green, energy, as well as transparent investment policies aligned with GTP Targets, attractive investment incentives, naturally conditioned weather   along with the government’s clear strategy as in its Growth and Development Plan II and its continuous support.

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Somalia’s National Leadership Forum agrees further details for the electoral process

Following on from the agreement between the Federal Government and the Puntland State Administration on Sunday (April 3), the National Leadership Forum met in Mogadishu from April 9 to April 12 to agree details and modalities for the electoral process for the August election. Participants included President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Speaker. Mohammed Sh. Osman Jawari, Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmaarke, President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali of Puntland, President Ahmed Mohamed Islaan of Jubaland,  President Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan of the South-West, and President of Abdulkarim Hussein Guled of Galmudug. Opening the session President Mohamud called on the country’s political stakeholders to make concessions and engage in political harmony. He said Somalia had made ‘impressive’ political strides on security and rebuilding and added that “As we move towards achieving greater goals, it’s very important for us to promote a political solution and making concessions.”

The National Leadership Forum welcomed the agreement reached between the Federal Government of Somalia and Puntland State on April 3 and noted that it paved the way for the implementation of the 2016 electoral process, as well as for preparations for universal (one-person one-vote) elections in 2020. The Forum also reiterated the commitment that there should be no extension of the constitutionally mandated term limits of the legislative and the Federal Government. It called on all relevant entities to ensure the expeditious preparation and timely implementation of the 2016 electoral process and requested the assistance of international partners in this regard.

In a communique at the end of the meeting, the National Leadership Forum said the electoral process allows for a two-level structure, of a Federal Electoral Implementation Team (FEIT) and State-Level Electoral Implementation Teams (SEITs) in each of the existing and emerging Federal Member States. The FIET will be composed of 17 Members, five appointed by the Federal Government and two by each of existing and emerging Member States. Each SEIT will comprise of 11 members, eight appointed by the Federal Member States and three appointed by the Federal Government. These teams will be set up as soon as possible and undertake all relevant preparations for the electoral process. Their terms of reference will be developed and agreed upon by the Forum. The Forum will also set up a Dispute Resolution Mechanism for the electoral process.

The Upper House will be established before the elections of the Lower House. 30% of seats specially reserved for women candidates. The State executives will nominate at least two candidates for each seat and the state assemblies vote for each seat individually. The States will adopt their own formula for distributing seats among its communities or regions in a balanced and inclusive manner, ensuring adequate representation of the minorities. All voting will take place on the same days across all Federal Member States.

For the Lower House, the list of the 135 Traditional Elders will serve as the base of the electoral process after updating. These 135 Traditional Elders will select the Electoral Colleges in consultations with their relevant and respective elders. Each candidate will be elected by an Electoral College of 50 members. The total electorate will therefore be 275 x 50 = 13,750. The electors will be drawn from the sub-clans sharing the seat and will represent the diversity of the relevant community, including civil society and youth. Each Electoral College will contain a minimum of 30% women. The communique notes that in the absence of Somaliland’s participation, representatives who are from Somaliland. The distribution of the 275 Members of Lower House of the Federal Parliament will be based on the clans/constituencies party to the formation of each existing and emerging Federal Member State.

The communique notes that the electoral processes will be conducted in the state capitals or respective seats of Federal Member States and Emerging Federal Member States. The 2016 electoral model and its implementation mechanism shall be tabled in the Federal Parliament for final endorsement.

The National Leaders Forum also announced a Constitutional Conference would be held in Garowe in the next few weeks and this would be preceded by a meeting of the Forum to agree on political and constitutionally contentious issues to advance the review process. The Forum expressed its appreciation to the International Donors and Partners for their commitment to the electoral process. It also expressed its deep concern about the behaviour and the practices of the Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group, suggesting the targeting of Somali citizens was hindering the process of state building.

The Forum referred to existing and emerging states and this emphasizes that it expects that the process of state formation in Hiiraan and Middle Shabelle will be completed in time for these to participate fully in the electoral process. No mention was made of Benadir, the area around Mogadishu, but the Government has said previously that this will receive special consideration.  The State Formation Convention for Hiiraan and Middle Shebelle reopened on Wednesday (April 13).

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A Policy Note on Eritrea’s refugee crisis and the international community

Last month, the Nordic Africa Institute produced a Policy Note written by Redie Bereketeab a Senior Researcher at the Institute, on “Eritrea’s refugee crisis and the role of the international community”. It’s a curious, even contradictory, paper in which Professor Bereketeab admits the reality of great deal of the current comments on the Eritrean regime but then tries, as so many defenders of Eritrea have done, to blame both Eritrea’s internal and external activities and policies largely on Ethiopia and on the international community.

Professor Bereketeab, who identifies Eritrea as “one of the world’s fastest-emptying countries,” said expectations were high that the successful liberation movement would, after 1993, also prove successful at post-liberation democratic state-building. Ignoring the specific autocratic role and behavior of President Isaias, he suggests that the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) and its successor the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) government subscribed to “a model of guided democratization involving popular participation, rather than a liberal multiparty system.”  In the early years there was also, he says, “promising progress was made in areas such as education, health, road reconstruction and telecommunications, and annual economic growth reached 5-6 per cent.”

Professor Bereketeab claims the turning point with the war of 1998-2000, though he carefully refrains from mentioning, as the UN Claims Commission subsequently specified, that it was Eritrea which launched the war by its invasion of Ethiopian administered territory in May 1998.  Eritrea’s defeat certainly interrupted any positive developments, and “plunged the emergent state into a spiraling crisis,” though it was already clear earlier that President Isaias was never going to countenance many of the suggestions in the proposed constitution. Subsequently, as Professor Bereketeab correctly notes, the economy collapsed into “deep recession, with immense human and social consequences.” As a result, “More and more Eritreans were forced to look beyond the borders for better conditions, [and] the period of mandatory national service, which prior to the war was 18 months, was extended indefinitely.” Then came the Warsay-Yekealo development program in 2002, under which virtually every able-bodied person is required to serve, and “the effects of this initiative on education, family life, earnings and meaningful private activities have been drastic. Indeed, in some cases people have been unable to pursue any of these objectives.” He goes on: “In Eritrea freedom of speech is suppressed, there is no independent media, human rights violations are common and national service draftees are still forced to provide involuntary labor. People are risking their lives to flee the country en masse.”

All this is an accurate, if condensed, summation of the reality of Eritrea as described by the many thousands who have fled the country in recent years. However, it is at this point that Professor Bereketeab decides to repeat the usual Eritrean claims that it was “Ethiopia’s rejection of the Boundary Commission ruling, its constant threats to overthrow the Eritrean government and its concerted efforts to isolate Eritrea” that have led to the government’s recourse “to coercion to achieve security and to give effect to its nation-building
vision”, or in other words it was the supposed threat of an Ethiopian attack that led to the tight control of citizens, intolerance of deviant views, closing of private media, and the divisions within the leadership in 2001 which were “also harshly dealt with.” Everything, he suggests, was geared towards safeguarding the nation and so “Eritreans have sacrificed their individual rights in order to preserve their collective national rights, which the liberation struggle was fought to ensure.” They realized that “they could only achieve their collective rights if they voluntarily suspended their individual rights,at least temporarily.” The key word here is, of course, “voluntarily”, something that can hardly be substantiated by even the most superficial look at Eritrea’s recent history.

Professor Bereketeab goes on to claim that international and particularly US geostrategic interests dictated support for Ethiopia over the Boundary Commission decision because “Ethiopia is an important ally in the global War on Terror.” Indeed he even repeats the Eritrean claim that US officials “resorted to blackmail by accusing Eritrea of supporting terrorism and of jeopardizing international security and stability.” He also repeats Ambassador Herman Cohen’s allegation that all other Security Council members wanted to lift the sanctions in 2014, but the US vetoed the move. This is not a claim confirmed by members of the Council. Ambassador Cohen’s additional allegation that difficulties in relations between the US and Eritrea are “of a personal nature, involving President Isaias Afwerki and Ambassador Rice” is similarly inaccurate.

As other supporters of Eritrea have repeatedly tried to do, Professor Bereketeab tries to tie all this into the failure to resolve the impasse over the Algiers Agreement. As always, this totally ignores the fact that Ethiopia has entirely accepted the Boundary Commission’s delimitation and has repeatedly called for dialogue to provide for demarcation of the border. Eritrea has, as consistently, refused to hold any dialogue over the border or over any other issue including normalization of relations. It also ignores Eritrea’s repeated violations of the Algiers Agreements which culminated in the expulsion of the UN Mission (UNMEE), set up to oversee the border demarcation.

Professor Bereketeab similarly ignores Eritrea’s numerous incursions into Ethiopia since 2002 and its open and very public support for armed Ethiopian opposition movements, preferring merely to note what he calls “Ethiopia’s frequent military actions against Eritrea, for example in Dankalia in 2012 or near Badime the following year.” Those, the only two such episodes, in fact followed major Eritrean incursions into Ethiopia. He also refers to “repeated threats to overthrow the Eritrean government,” threats that have never been made, though Ethiopia has certainly said it reserved the right to respond to Eritrean provocation.

Professor Bereketeab ascribes the use of sensational images such as ‘the North Korea of Africa’ or ‘garrison state’ to “neoliberal scholars and human rights activists” and claims they merely cite each other without really verifying and validating their sources, producing “tainted knowledge that will in no way serve to solve the problem.” He attacks the methodology of the UN Special Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea (COI) established to investigate the extensive violations of human rights violations, possibly “amounting to crimes against humanity”, as “deficient” as it depended on information from “disgruntled government opponents, asylum seekers and neighboring countries with serious disagreements with Eritrea.” The accusations of this kind should be open and transparent, he says. In fact, the COI’s account is a devastating and detailed account of torture and forced labor given by hundreds of those who have fled Eritrea. These accounts have not been confined to the Commission of Enquiry nor are they merely repeated citations. Many, indeed most, of the accusations made over many years now are open and transparent as well as extraordinarily detailed. There is no evidence that the Commission might be politically motivated, and to suggest that the “international community is as responsible as the Eritrean government for violations of human rights”, is bizarre. Equally odd is the comment that “if the Eritrean government is violating the individual rights of Eritreans, the international community has violated their collective rights.”

Given his refusal to consider or accept so much of this publicly available evidence, it is hardly surprising that Professor Bereketeab describes UN Sanctions, in 2009 and 2011, as “unjustified.” They were, of course, imposed because of Eritrea’s support for Al-Shabaab and other extremist Somali opposition groups, and for its refusal to acknowledge or resolve conflict with Djibouti as well as its continued efforts to destabilize neighboring governments by training, arming and supporting armed opposition groups in the region, in particular in Ethiopia. The most recent Somali-Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) report has said that the Monitoring Group found no specific evidence of Eritrean support for Al-Shabaab but its earlier reports certainly produced highly convincing detail of Eritrea’s backing of organizations such as Hizbul Islam, allied to Al-Shabaab, and its open support for Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys and other extremist leaders. Sheikh Hassan, for example, spent a considerable time in Asmara as a guest of the Eritrean government, and subsequently received arms supplies from it. There is, in fact, plenty of “objective and valid evidence of Eritrean support” for Al-Shabaab and related movements. Equally, Eritrea’s consistent refusal to allow the SEMG access to Eritrean records has, not surprisingly, fueled suspicion that it has something to hide. It similarly denied its attack on Djibouti and for many years refused to acknowledge that it held a number of Djiboutian prisoners.

It’s hardly surprising that at the end of the Policy Note, Professor Bereketeab recommends the international community to resolve the boundary issue, stop using “unsubstantiated, non-verifiable, dubious data gathering methods”, stop using sanctions as a political instrument, and engage and encourage the Eritrean government as well as stop isolating and demonizing it.

However, the real oddity of this Policy Note is that Professor Bereketeab having detailed all these  references to “tainted knowledge”, made these  his allegations about the international community, US officials and neo-liberals, and ignored and misinterpreted much of Ethiopia’s actions, and pushed for engaging with Eritrea,  is honest enough to demand that “the Eritrean Government should implement the constitution, reform the political system, time-limit the mandatory national service, reform the salary system, make life affordable, respect basic human, civil and political rights, restructure the economy, and allow economic plurality.” These comments, in effect, negate almost everything he said earlier, laying the problems of Eritrea at the feet of the international community and of the Eritrean-Ethiopian war.

In addition, he adds, the Eritrean government also “needs to make profound policy changes.” Yes, indeed. Professor Bereketeab, however, fails to see that the central problem of Eritrea’s refugee crisis and of its relations with the international community, and neighbors, is that Eritrea has consistently refused to change its policies in practice, external or internal. It has said it is going to limit national service, but has yet to do so. It has said it was giving all civil servants a pay rise. It has yet to be implemented. It has denied, repeatedly, that it has supported extremist movements or regional destabilization, but it continues to arm, train and support such groups.

Overall, the major problem with Professor Bereketeab’s interpretation of events is that it takes no notice of Eritrea’s continuing activity in attempting to destabilize the region and of its support for armed opposition movements in Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Sudan. Two months ago an Eritrean incursion across the border into Ethiopia led to the kidnapping of 80 artisanal gold miners, though they have now been released. This is only one of many similar actions along the border over the last several years. And indeed, the regime’s commitment to continued violence, internally, was underlined on Sunday (April 3) when some conscripts attempting to escape from trucks taking them to the port of Assab, were reportedly shot and killed, with 11 killed and 18 injured. In its first official response five days later, the Government’s Minister of Information, Yemane GebreMeskel, gave an oddly different account on Twitter. He said, “Two National Service members died last Sunday in Asmara from injuries received when they jumped and fell from military trucks transporting them,” adding that “11 others were also injured in the same act and have been hospitalized.” He said, without additional explanation, that “Police stabilized the situation by firing few warning shots into the air”. His final Tweet was to add that “Eritrea’s arch-enemies and hired guns have now gone into their usual frantic-mode to conjure up and recycle despicable lies of a sad incident.”

8.4.2016

News in brief

The ECA launches its Economic Report Africa 2016

Fifth anniversary of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

The Federal Government of Somalia and Puntland agree on an election model

Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros makes an official visit to the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire…

“Fighting Genocide Ideology”: the 22nd anniversary of the Rwandan genocide

IGAD honors Special Envoys to South Sudan 

The International Criminal Court’s case against Kenya’s Deputy President collapses

 

News in Brief

News in Brief

Africa and the African Union

The African Union Commission (AUC) and the European Commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to deal with shared challenges (April 7). The two sides met for the biggest Africa-EU political meeting of the year to share views on key themes such as migration, peace, security and sustainable growth.

The African Union observed a two day commemoration of the 22nd anniversary of Rwandan genocide under the theme “Fighting Genocide Ideology” (April 7-8). (See article)

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa launched its Economic Report, Africa 2016 this week (April 4-6) at a Ministerial Conference. (See article)

Ethiopia

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, accompanied by First Lady Roman Tesfaye and other senior government officials started a three day official visit to Ghana (April 7).

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn addressed the AU-ECA Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (April 04, 2016). (See article)

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn following his meeting with the Algerian Minister of Maghreb Affairs, African Union and Arab League Abdelkader Messahel on Wednesday (April6), said Ethiopia and Algeria will cooperate in the fight against terrorism.

Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom held discussion with High Representative for Foreign Affairs of European Union, Ms. Federica Mogherini on Thursday (April7). The two sides discussed on issues of regional peace and security, migration, among others.

Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom received Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ms. Louise Mushikiwabo on Monday (04 April 2016). Discussions centered on various bilateral, regional and continental issues of mutual concern.

State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Atske-selassie met with Mrs. Nicole Reberton, New Zealand’s Special Representative to the United Nations Security Council and Mr. Anthony Simpson, New Zealand’s Political Coordinator at the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday (April 06, 2016).  The two sides dealt at length on ways of promoting global peace and security, and shared experiences on working as a non-permanent member in the United Nations Security Council.

State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Atske-selassie received a South Sudanese delegation headed by former Ambassador to Ethiopia Akuei Bona Malawal on Wednesday (April 06, 2016). Ambassador Akuei said his country stands by the Ethiopian side and supports the ongoing campaign for a non-permanent seat in the UNSC and Dr Tedros’ candidacy for the post of Director Generalship of the WHO.

State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Atske-selassie met with Mr. Adan Muse Jibril, a representative of the Somaliland administration (April 06, 2016). Discussions focused on enhancing the partnership in the fight against al-shabaab and strengthening cooperation concerning Berbera Port.

State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Atske-selassie received a delegation from the US National War College (April 04, 2016) and briefed them on the Ethio-US relations and issues of regional peace and security.

State Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation, Ahmed Shide said Ethiopia is keen to be a model in cooperation between Africa and China (April 7).

European Commission has announced €122.5 million euro for Ethiopia to address the immediate needs of people affected by the El Niño-driven drought in Ethiopia today (April8)

Middle East Affairs Director-General Ambassador Siraj Reshid, told Ethiopian News Agency, that Ethiopia’s economic relations with Middle Eastern countries have been on a steady growth.

The Institute for Advanced Research (IAR) tasked with “creating conducive conditions for the realization of real transformative change in the Horn of Africa and beyond” launched on Tuesday (April 5) in Addis Ababa. In the occasion, Foreign Minister Dr Tedros Adhanom said indigenous research institutions help to address problems at the Continental and regional levels.

The House of People’s Representatives (HPR) has on Tuesday (April 5) ratified the draft bill which allows Ethiopia to join the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATIA).

The annual digital diplomacy review (DDR 16) has ranked Ethiopia 3rd in Africa and 76th worldwide in digital diplomacy.

An expansion project to raise Bole International Airport’s annual passengers’ handling capacity to 20 million is well in progress. (April 6)

A Turkish Company said it was keen to engage in Ethiopia’s telecom sector at a cost of 3 billion USD (April 7)

According to the Horn of Africa nation’s athletics federation (April 7) Ethiopia will test more than 350 athletes for the use of banned substances by November.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MoLSA) is set to begin   selection of agencies to commence overseas recruitment programs within the coming 2-3 months. (April 6)

The Oromia regional state is due to unveil a 300 million birr project to address youth unemployment (April 7).

Flooding in Jigjiga town, Ethiopian Somali Regional state has claimed the lives of 15 people, including 7 children. (April 4).

Djibouti

Djibouti is holding presidential elections today, Friday (April 8). President Ismail Omar Guelleh, seeking a fourth term of office, is facing a challenge from two candidates from the opposition coalition, the Union of National Salvation, and three independents.

Eritrea

BBC reports (April6) security forces in Eritrea’s capital Asmara have killed several young conscripts who tried to escape the convoy they were travelling in. There were also civilian casualties after some of the recruits’ friends and family used a bus to block the road to help them escape.

Kenya

President Kenyatta, on a visit to Europe this week, has told German Chancellor, Angela Merkel that cutting the funding to the troops in Somalia would be a grave mistake. He said the funding needed to be increased to levels commensurate, “with similar UN peace enforcement missions.”

The International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled on Tuesday (April 5) that Kenya’s Deputy President, William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang had no case to answer. President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday (April7) expressed gratitude to the African Union and its individual member states for standing in solidarity with Kenya as the country battled International Criminal Cases (ICC).

Senior energy experts from across the world have on Wednesday (April 6) kicked off an international conference in Nairobi to address investors’ concerns when setting up energy projects.

Somalia

Federal Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke and Puntland President Abdiweli Mohamed signed an agreement on how to hold this year’s election in Somalia on Sunday (April3). The ceremony was attended by Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Minister and Chairperson of IGAD Council of Ministers, Dr. Tedros Adhanom and other members of the international community (See article)

The EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini expressed her appreciation of the recent agreement signed between Somalia Federal Government and Puntland. Mogherini hailed the deal on the election model during a meeting with Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom.

The International Monetary Fund on (April 7) said Somalia has marked a milestone in its development by taking steps to normalize relations with international financial institutions.

South Sudan

IGAD Special Envoys, Ambassador Seyoum Mesfin from Ethiopia, General Lazarus Sumbeiywo of Kenya and General Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa El Dabi of Sudan, presented their final report to Dr. Tedros Adhamon, Chair of the IGAD Council of Ministers at a ceremony at the Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa on Saturday (April 2). (See article)

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday (April 7) renewed, until 1 June, its sanctions regime imposed last year against those blocking peace in the war-torn country, including a travel ban and a freeze on their assets.

South Sudan’s First Vice President designate, Riek Machar, via his spokesperson James Gatdet Dak, announced (April 6) that he will arrive in the national capital, Juba, on 18 April.

JEMEC Chair, Festus Mogaehas expressed his wish and willingness to help facilitate the first meeting between President Salva Kiir and Vice President designate Riek Machar (April 5)

WFP and FAO’s assessment report (April 5) showed civil strife and unfavorable rains have further reduced crop production in South Sudan, contributing to a cereal deficit of 381,000 metric tons, 53% higher than in 2015

Sudan

Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir Wednesday (April 7) said he will step down by 2020 and won’t run for office again.

The European Union (EU) on Tuesday (April 6) has called on the Sudanese opposition groups to sign a roadmap for peace and democratic reforms brokered by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP).

U.N. Security Council, peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous on (April 7) said clashes and bombing continue to take place in Darfur area of Jebel Marra between the government forces and the fighters of the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdel Wahdi al-Nur.

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The ECA launches its Economic Report Africa 2016

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa launched its Economic Report, Africa 2016 this week (April 4-6) at a Ministerial Conference. This was preceded by a session for experts at the end of last week (March 31 – April 2). Among those attending were
the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Dlamini Zuma, and UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the ECA, Mr. Carlos Lopes as well as dozens of experts, ambassadors and others.

This year’s 2016 edition of the Economic Report on Africa presents the case for sustainable and people-centered green industrialization in Africa. The form and pattern of Africa’s industrialization, shaped by its abundant natural resources, especially water and renewable energy sources, are discussed in the report, alongside the reshaping of policy to tackle poverty and inequality. It stresses that Africa as a late comer to industrialization should adopt the green pathway towards sustainable and inclusive development to avoid the pitfalls and mistakes made by some developed nations. Given the impact of climate change, resource scarcities and environmental degradation, it emphasizes that measures for greening Africa’s development were critical and could bring significant benefits.

The report explores the role of de-coupling energy and economic activity and the greening of value chains as a route to generate low-carbon growth in Africa. Country case studies demonstrate ongoing greening activities across key sectors. A modeling of alternative scenarios, under “business as usual” and “greening”, make the case for the continent to achieve its strategic goals of structural transformation and industrialization, in ways that are sustainable and inclusive.

The report, which also offers governments greening policy suggestions, notes that greening industrialization provides the impetus for turning current supply chains linking natural resources to markets, into value chains that can diversify Africa’s economies and ensure greater value added. Discussants were in agreement that in this era of growing scarcity, resource-rich Africa must shift away from being a marginal supplier of raw commodities, to harness the full potential of its natural resources by diversifying into greater value addition, through processing and marketing.

The report also covers how the continent can achieve green industrialization. It highlighted projects in a number of countries, among them Kenya and Malawi, that show how countries can develop through green industrialization. Equally it notes a lack of, or inadequate infrastructure conducive for greening Africa’s industrialization process. It added, however, that there was a willingness on the part of governments to move from coal to greener pathways of development. Ultimately, the report says, a greener future holds the key to making good of Africa’s long-term development plans.

The ECA’s Chief Economist, Deputy Executive Secretary, Abdalla Hamdok, told the conference that Africa could define and design its own pathway to industrialization based on its own realities and learn from the history and experiences of other regions to leapfrog traditional, carbon-intensive methods of growth, while championing a low-carbon development trajectory. “There is now growing commitment among African countries to pursue inclusive green development,” he said. “Collective commitment from across the African Union will strengthen the speed and effectiveness of such a strategic shift.” He added that Africa could take advantage of new innovations, technologies and business models as it optimally and efficiently utilized its natural resources as inputs to an industrialization process powered by domestic endowments of clean sources of energy.

The ECA also took the opportunity to launch a series of country profiles. ECA Deputy Executive Secretary for Knowledge Delivery, Ms. Giovanie Biha, said these country profiles would provide periodic economic and social assessments of ECA member States, with a view to making relevant and strategic recommendations to governments and regional organizations on structural transformation. In the long run, country profiles would be used as a tool through which the ECA will monitor the pace of structural transformation on the continent.

The initial profiles are for Botswana, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Guinea, Lesotho, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, São Tomé, Senegal, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Ms. Biha presented a comparative analysis of the 20 countries and said that country profile exercise would be scaled-up next year to cover the entire continent. She noted that 14 out of 20 countries assessed had recorded real GDP rate in excess of the African average of 3.9%. She said “Cote d’Ivoire was the fastest growing economy in 2014 with real GDP growth of 8.5 percent. Rwanda and Tanzania registered the second highest real GDP growth rate of 7%.”

The ECA strongly believes that the country profiles will help the continent take more control of its own developmental narrative, placing Africa in a better position to make evidence-based policy decisions that address many issues that continue to plague Africa like poverty and unemployment. The ECA will update the country profiles on a quarterly basis, working with national statistical agencies and think tank organizations as well as other institutions and leaders on the continent in their bid to help transform the African economy.

In a key note speech, Prime Minister Hailemariam declared that “our future rests in our hands.”  He urged African states to be strategic, ambitious, rigorous and disciplined if they were to achieve sustainable and inclusive development for their people while harmonizing and coordinating the different policies necessary for the Sustainable Development Goals and Africa’s own Agenda 2063. The Prime Minister said Ethiopia was being successful in the process of maximizing development because the country had managed to harmonize the implementation of national policies with Agenda 2063 and the 2030 SDGs. Noting that Ethiopia had harmonized the first Growth and Transformation Plan (2010-2014) with global polices, the Prime Minister said significant institutional reforms were now being put in place for GTPII (2015-2020). He underlined the importance of Africa’s voice being heard on different international platforms and stressed the importance of African governments having a common voice for common development. Leaders, he said, should provide demonstrated commitment to address the challenges the continent faces today. The Prime Minister said, “We should attach due attention and strive to have a better tomorrow because Africa’s future prospect is in our hands today.” Africa, he added, should do more in terms of creating conducive investment environment for foreign investors.

Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, implored African countries to improve young people’s skills in science and engineering. “With an average of over 90% of graduates in social sciences, Africa’s innovation and scientific skills lag behind,” she said, noting that with a burgeoning youth population, Africa had no choice but to look for solutions. Dr Zuma also spoke on industrialization and economic diversification, on the need to reduce import dependency and on creating regional centers of innovation.

More suggestions on possible solutions came from Mr. Carlos Lopes, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, who noted “African current growth has not generated sufficient jobs and has not been inclusive enough to significantly curb poverty. Fluctuations in price have made such growth vulnerable.” Africa should, therefore, look into “structurally transforming, focusing on the potential offered by industrialization.” He suggested Africa should expand commodity value chains, and attract low-value manufacturing from Asia to Africa. Mr. Lopes said: “transformation will not happen spontaneously but rather as a result of deliberate and coherent policies that are entrenched into a coherent development strategy, enlightened by a transformational leadership.”

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Fifth anniversary of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

The 5th anniversary of the launching of the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam was observed over the last week, between March 26 and April 4, with a variety of celebrations in various parts of the country. It was five years ago that the late Prime Minister Meles had laid the foundation stone of the Dam on April 2, 2011, and since then the construction has steadily developed and continued according to schedule. One major occasion last week was the celebration at Guba, the project site of GERD in Benishangul-Gumuz Regional State on Saturday (April 2). Held under the theme “the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on which we are putting our footprints today is the beacon of our renaissance”, this was attended by high level Government officials including Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Ambassadors, religious leaders, construction site workers and invited guests.

In a keynote address Prime Minister Hailemariam noted the consensus and cooperation that the construction of the Dam had brought about among Ethiopians. It was, he said, a testimony to the mentality and stamina of the people and he underlined the economic, social and environmental implications of the construction. He noted the “Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam clearly depicted that Ethiopia has not only the interest but also the capacity to build such huge projects:” and he stressed the Dam “has become the leading project to ensure Ethiopia’s vision of becoming the hub for a renewable energy power house in Africa”. The construction was also testimony that Ethiopia could handle major projects with its own resources, expertise and professionals. The Prime Minister said GERD, self-sponsored by the people of Ethiopia, had changed peoples’ way of thinking. It was a project that challenged the age-old mentality of reluctance towards major projects. It had also further cemented the unity of Ethiopia’s nations, nationalities and peoples. Praising the contributions of both the people and the government, the Prime Minister said the country had devoted all its efforts to exploit its resources as a tool for reducing poverty in the country. He called upon the public to continue their support in the future. Clarifying the benefits the Dam would provide, the Prime Minister emphasized it would offer a wide range of benefits and be advantageous for the Nile riparian countries, particularly Sudan and Egypt. He praised the leaders of Sudan and Egypt who were now, he said, “following a principled approach as they have become aware that the Dam is not intended to harm anybody.” He was “pleased and thankful for the prevailing win-win approach”. The Prime Minister also noted the instrumental role of the project in facilitating the transfer of technology between Ethiopia and other countries.

Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen, Chair of the National Council for the Coordination of Public Participation on the Construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, also expressed his appreciation of the way the general public has been supporting the project in various ways. Religious leaders, attending the celebrations at the project site, also praised the considerable progress made and requested their congregations to sustain their contributions until the completion of the project.

Engineer Semegnew Bekele, the Project Engineer, told the press and those present that with the activities and foundations amounting to half the project now carried out, the Dam will be a reality and provide opportunities to assist the country’s renaissance journey. He said the construction of the Dam had already played significant role in establishing and developing national unity among citizens and the “the national consensus reached due to the project has been an encouraging factor for the more than 10,000 citizens working on the project despite the unfavorable weather conditions at the construction site”. He added that since the project was proceeding to completion, he would like “to ask all citizens to continue their support till the end.” Engineer Semegnew also noted that the project had initiated some substantial business potential, and these would reinforce further development. He said the opportunities went beyond the original plans and “recognizing this, the government needs to invest in the development of the necessary infrastructure like airport, hotels, business centers and the like to meet the needs of tourists.”

Mrs. Azeb Asnake, Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Electric Power, confirmed that the project was on schedule. Ethiopian Electric, which produced a brochure for the celebrations, detailed the progress Ethiopia has already made in power development. Current electric power coverage has reached 55%, and once the Dam is fully operational, generating 6,000 MW, this will add 15,692 GWh average energy to the national grid. EEP also underlined the essential impact the Dam would have on improving water resources and providing Sudan and Egypt with important benefits as well as contributing to the prospects of economic integration and both regionally and more widely in the Nile Valley.

 

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The Federal Government of Somalia and Puntland agree on an election model

The Federal Government of Somalia and the Puntland Regional State Government have finally reached a basic agreement on how to hold this year’s election in Somalia. On Sunday (April 3) Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke and Puntland President Abdiweli Mohamed signed agreement in a ceremony attended by visiting regional and international diplomats in the State capital of Garowe. Among those present were Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Minister and Chairperson of IGAD Council of Ministers, Dr. Tedros Adhanom; the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Michael Keating; African Union Special Representative and head of AMISOM, Francisco Madeira; EU Special Envoy Michele Cervone; IGAD Executive Secretary, Engineer Mahboub Maalim,; IGAD Special Envoy, Ambassador Mohamed Affey,; and Ambassadors from United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Sweden, Italy, and Djibouti. Their presence underlined the final point of the agreement that its implementation is guaranteed by IGAD and witnessed by the United Nations, African Union and European Union.

The agreement comes after months of dialogue between the Federal Government and the Regional leaders on how the elections should be carried out later this year, and it provides a basic framework for the election of a parliament which will then chose the next president. Overall, the four-point agreement offers a blueprint for the 2016 Electoral Process, including the Upper House, the 2020 Roadmap, and implementation of the agreement, bringing to an end months of disagreement between Puntland and Mogadishu.

The main points of the agreement hold that 4.5 system of election will be upheld for electing members of the federal government and the regional states will select members of the upper house. Names will be approved by the Electoral Committees made up of representatives of the Federal Government of Somalia and federal member states, and the international community will monitor the implementation of to ensure fairness and transparency.

The agreement also notes that the two parties agreed that the 2020 federal elections should be held according to a one-person-one-vote system, adding that “under no circumstances shall the 4.5 clan based power sharing arrangement be used beyond the 2016 elections, and that the international community will guarantee this.  Puntland made it clear that it was accepting the use of the 4.5 formula for this election on the firm understanding that this will be the last time the formula is used.

After the ceremony, President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali said the deal had uplifted the position of Puntland in the world and would “spearhead free and fair elections in the country.” He said the other options would have been to break away from Somalia or be left out of the expected national elections. The third possible scenario was the one taken: “a deal that is worthwhile for Puntland.”  Federal President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud thanked international partners, the public, traditional leaders, intellectuals, and civil society groups for their persistence and invaluable support towards Somalia. He said the agreement was very important for the success of the election.

The international community has welcomed the decision of the Puntland Government to participate fully in the electoral process to choose a new federal parliament later this year.  Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Minister and Chairperson of IGAD Council of Ministers Dr. Tedros Adhanom said “Thanks to the tireless efforts of its leaders and people, Somalia is slowly but surely following on the right direction. The culture of settling differences through peaceful means is maturing through time and today’s event is a case in point”. He added ‘It is now my sincere belief that Somali leaders will not disappoint the Somali people and your partners. I firmly trust that you will conduct the forthcoming election fulfilling the expectation of the Somali people and you international partners. The stakes are very high. What is at stake are the achievements you have so far scored. The stake is the future of Somalia. We all agree that the Somali people deserve a better tomorrow”. U.N Somalia envoy Michael Keating said, “The people and leaders of Puntland deserve special commendation for their political maturity. Puntland has acted in the interest of the whole of Somalia. That is encouraging for the future of the whole country’’. International partners have also agreed to provide the necessary political, financial and technical support to enable universal suffrage elections in 2020. Their support will include ways on how to conduct voter registration and help build electoral institutions.

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Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros makes an official visit to the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire…

Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom made an official visit to the Republic of  Côte d’Ivoire from Wednesday (March 30) to Friday (April 1) last week. It was the second stop in a two-leg visit to West Africa, following his visit to Senegal last week. On arrival, in Abidjan, the Minister was welcomed by Dr. Abdallah Mabri Toikeusse, Foreign Minister of Côte d’Ivoire. Dr. Tedros’ visit coincided with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations between Ethiopia and Cote d’Ivoire, and a ceremony marking the  event was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Côte d’Ivoire to mark the occasion during his visit.

Dr. Tedros first engagement was to Grand Bassam, a popular touristic destination, which was the site of a terrorist attack on March 13 in which 19 people died. Dr. Tedros laid a wreath, for the victims of the attack; and speaking on the occasion he condemned the attack in the strongest terms, expressing his condolences to the bereaved families. He stressed that an “attack on Ivory Coast is an attack on Africa and Ethiopia”, and added that “Africa must unite to fight terrorism in all its forms”.

During his stay in Côte d’Ivoire, Dr. Tedros Adhanom held discussions with Prime Minister Daniel Kablum Duncan. Speaking on the occasion the Prime Minister said that Côte d’Ivoire was interested to exchange know-how about fighting terrorism. He also welcomed the decision of Ethiopian Airlines to increase the number of its weekly flights to Côte d’Ivoire to seven. He noted that Côte d’Ivoire would like to see more intra-African trade and underlined that it was working to promote more private sector engagement on the continent. .

Dr. Tedros thanked the Prime Minister Duncan and the people of Côte d’Ivoire for their hospitality. Expressing his sympathies to the bereaved families of the victims of attack at Grand Bassam, he said ‘‘Ethiopia would like to partner with Côte d’Ivoire in fighting terrorism.’’ He said unity was vitally necessary in fighting this dangerous problem. Prime Minister Duncan and Dr. Tedros condemned terrorist attacks and discussed avenues for strengthening the bilateral relations of the two nations.

Dr. Tedros met with Amadou Gon Coulibaly, Minister of State and Secretary General of the Presidency of Côte d’Ivoire to deliver a message from Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to President Alassane Ouattara.

Dr. Tedros also held bilateral consultations with Foreign Minister Dr. Toikeusse to consider relations between Ethiopia and Côte d’Ivoire and possible future initiatives to be taken to deepen relations. The two Ministers signed four cooperation agreements during a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Côte d’Ivoire. These included a General Cooperation Agreement and an Agreement on Mutual Visa Waivers for holders of diplomatic and service passports as well as a Memorandum of Understanding on Health and a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (IARE) and the National Center of Agricultural Research of Côte d’Ivoire (CRNA).

The General Cooperation Agreement stipulates the creation of a Joint Commission between the two countries and lays down its mission, functions and objectives. The agreement on Mutual Visa Waivers will allow diplomats and other service passport holders of the two countries to stay in each other’s countries up to 30 days without requirement of a visa. The authorization of health professionals of the two countries to mutually practice their profession freely and the sharing of information and experience in areas such as emergency evacuation were the main elements covered by the MoU on Health. The Memorandum of Understanding between the tow institutes lays the basis for more cooperation on research and the sharing of best practices between the two countries in agriculture.

Following the signing ceremony, Dr. Tedros noted that the signing of the agreements and indeed the meeting should be seen as historic as they were taking place on the 50th anniversary of the start of bilateral relations. He said the signing of the cooperation agreements would be “a game changer”, and he welcomed the signing of MoU between the two research institutes to develop research capacities in both countries in the vital sector of agriculture. He said the Côte d’Ivoire’s experience in agriculture management could be an example for many countries in Africa. Foreign Minister Dr. Toikeusse also underlined that the visit of Dr. Tedros and the signing of the four agreements marked a concordance of vision between the two countries. He said Côte d’Ivoire could learn from Ethiopia’s experience in livestock development, and he called for the private sectors of the both countries to work together to bolster the relations.

Dr. Tedros also held discussions with the President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina on issues ranging from the AfDB’s country program in Ethiopia to its support for the developmental endeavors of Ethiopia as well as other issues of mutual interest.

… and lays the cornerstone for the Ethiopian embassy in Côte d’Ivoire

Dr. Tedros laid the cornerstone of the future chancery of Ethiopia in Côte d’Ivoire on Thursday  March 31), together with Ambassador Dr. Yeshimabrat Mersha, the Resident Ethiopian Ambassador in Côte d’Ivoire and the Mayor of Cocody-Ambassade district of Abidjan. The Foreign Minister noted that the building of the embassy is a testament of Ethiopia’s will to deepen its relations with Côte d’Ivoire. Located in Cocody-Ambassade, the embassy is designed to include elements of Ethiopian culture and history taking inspiration from such themes as the renaissance of Ethiopia, its economic transformation and its rich history and culture. Dr. Tedros also visited staff of the embassy before concluding his visit.

A day earlier, Dr. Tedros visited the National Agricultural Research Centre (CRNA) accompanied by the Minister of Higher Education and of Scientific Research, Bakayoko-Ly Tamara. Dr. Tedros was given a brief presentation on the works and achievements of the CNRA by senior staff of the centre, and he emphasized desire of Ethiopia to work together and exchange experiences with the Centre. This was underlined the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research and the National Center of Agricultural Research.

Dr. Tedros also met members of Ethiopian Diaspora and friends of Ethiopia at an event held at the Residence of Ambassador Dr. Yeshimabrat Mersha. On the occasion, Dr. Tedros called for a minute of silence in memory of the victims of the recent terror attack at Grand Bassam. Traditional elders from Côte d’Ivoire took part in the ceremony and blessed those in attendance, testifying to the existing strong links between the peoples of the two countries. In his speech, Dr. Tedros praised the Ethiopian Diaspora in Côte d’Ivoire for their unwavering support for the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, and handed over the GERD trophy to the members of the Ethiopian community in Côte d’Ivoire.

One other visit that Dr. Tedros made was to the training Academy of ASEC Mimosa, a football club that regularly figures in the African Champions league and is among the most popular clubs in Côte d’Ivoire. Its academy has produced a galaxy of well known football stars such as Kole and Yaya Toure, Didier Zakora, Bakary Kone, Solomon Kalou and many others. Dr. Tedros appreciated the facilities and history of the academy, whose walls stress “Be humble if you want to be big”. He underlined the need to exchange experience on sport and particularly in football with ASEC Mimosa.

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 “Fighting Genocide Ideology”: the 22nd anniversary of the Rwandan genocide

The commemoration of the Rwanda Genocide is organized annually by the African Union, following a decision to recognize April 7 as a Day of Remembrance of the victims of the genocide and a reaffirmation of Africa’s resolve to prevent and fight genocide on the Continent. The African Union’s Permanent Representatives Committee adopted the decision during its special session on the Commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of the Genocide in Rwanda. The purpose of the commemoration is to “continuously awaken greater awareness of the African peoples and the international community about the value of life and humanity, and to renew collective commitment to protect and uphold fundamental human rights.”

It was in this light that the AU, this year, commemorated the 22nd anniversary of Rwandan genocide, which took the lives of 800,000 people, murdered during 1994. The Department of Political Affairs of the African Union Commission in collaboration with the Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda in Ethiopia and Permanent Mission to the African Union organized the event. Members of the community of the Republic of Rwanda and AU Member States, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, AU Organs, Religious Institutions, Human Rights Institutions, Inter-governmental Organizations, Civil Society Organizations, UN Agencies, and International Organizations in Ethiopia, Schools and Academic Institutions attended the commemoration.

The AU observed the commemoration this year under the theme “Fighting Genocide Ideology” on Thursday, April 7. Speaking on the occasion, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Atske-Selassie noted the Rwandan genocide was, “a crime whose extent and brutality had few parallels in history.” He said, “Ethiopian peacekeeping troops were among the first to arrive in post genocide Rwanda, and see the horror of what had occurred.” It was the late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi who had proposed the International Panel of Eminent Personalities, established by the Organization of African Unity.  Ambassador Taye emphasized: that the conclusions of that Panel were worth repeating and remembering: “If there is anything worse than the genocide itself, it is the knowledge that it did not have to happen. The simple, harsh, truth is that the genocide was not inevitable; and that it would have been relatively easy to stop it from happening prior to April 6, 1994, and then to mitigate the destruction significantly once it began”.

Underlining the failure of the international community to avert the horrible incidents in Rwanda, Ambassador Taye said this was “another sad lesson that Africa must always take the leading role in matters relating to its own peace and stability.” He welcomed the African Peace and Security Architecture and the AU Peace and Security Council and added “We now have an African Standby Force ready to provide the means to prevent such activity.” All of this, he said, should go a long way towards implementing the commitment “to silence the guns by 2020.” Ambassador Taye also hailed the dramatic progress Rwanda had shown since the disaster, in reconciliation, general economic development and in demonstrating its own commitment to peacekeeping. It had also shown enormous progress regarding the empowerment of women who suffered so much 22 years ago.

During the commemoration, discussions were also held, covering the dangers of ‘denial’, as well as highlighting classic ‘Manifestations’ of Genocide Denial and how to fight it. These also detailed Rwanda’s story of reconciliation and nation building and the importance of showing solidarity with survivors. Above all, there was the insistence on the need to ensure that this could never happen again, in Rwanda or anywhere else whether in Africa or beyond.

In Rwanda itself, each year, ceremonies are held across the country on April 7 to commemorate the genocide of 1994. Under the name Kwibuka, meaning ‘remember’, the commemorations are held to remember the atrocities committed, honor the dead, and prevent them happening again.  In the capital, Kigali, President Paul Kagame and First lady Jeannette Kagame as well as visiting Tanzanian President Dr John Pombe Magufuli and his wife Janeth Magufuli, joined the country’s top officials, members of the diplomatic corps, friends of Rwanda from abroad, other dignitaries and genocide survivors at the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Gisozi to commemorate the genocide. Genocide survivors, relatives and friends of victims, global tourists and researchers among others visit the memorial every year to remember their loved ones and get a better understanding of the 1994 Genocide.

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IGAD honors Special Envoys to South Sudan 

It was at the end of December 2013 that IGAD decided to appoint its Special Envoys to negotiate an agreement between the warring parties in South Sudan. The conflict that broke out in mid December, with clashes between supporters of President Salva Kiir and former Vice-President Riek Machar, had rapidly escalated across the country, posing a major threat to regional peace and security as well as to the people of South Sudan. IGAD Heads of State and Government held an extraordinary summit on December 30 and decided to establish a committee of Special Envoys to try to resolve the conflict. It appointed Ambassador Seyoum Mesfin from Ethiopia, General Lazarus Sumbeiywo of Kenya and General Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa El Dabi of Sudan.

After 22 months of hard and determined effort, the Special Envoys finally managed to persuade the two sides to sign the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) and the Planning Implementation of the Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements (PCTSA) in August last year. Among other things this Agreement allowed for the establishment of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC). Chaired by the Former President of Botswana, Festus Mogae, the JMEC now has the responsibility for overseeing the implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict. This, in effect, ended the role of the IGAD Special Envoys who had negotiated the Agreement.

Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) is made up of representatives of the warring parties, key South Sudanese stakeholders, IGAD member states, the AU, and the broader international community. Its mandate is to monitor the implementation of the agreement and the key reforms.  It reports to the AU Peace and Security Council, the UN Security Council, IGAD, the UN Secretary-General, the AU Chairperson, and to the transitional government. The JMEC Chairman’s latest briefing  to the UN Security Council was on Thursday last week (March 31), and as we reported, he said “the implementation of most aspects of the August 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan continue to be delayed. The key milestone for the initial element of the Agreement, the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity, has yet to be reached. Violations of the permanent ceasefire also continue”. However, he added, he would be cautiously optimistic that the new Transitional Government would be in place by the middle of the month.

The signing of the August 2015 peace deal provided an end to the protracted phase of negotiations for peace in South Sudan and the beginning of the implementation phase. What remains is the need to focus on the full and complete implementation of the Agreement. Ethiopia, like IGAD, is confident that if this Agreement is fully implemented with sustained political will, courage, integrity and diligence, it will bring lasting peace and prosperity to the people of South Sudan. All the parties involved, the leaders and the people of South Sudan, members of IGAD-PLUS and the entire international community, must join hands to ensure the full implementation and realization of the Agreement, to provide for the successful establishment of the Transitional Government of National Unity and move forward.

The final conclusion of the work of the Special Envoys came on Saturday last week (April 2) when they handed over the final report of their 22 months work to Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister and Chairperson of the IGAD Council of Ministers and other IGAD representatives. Presenting the report, Ambassador Seyoum Mesfin, Chairperson of the IGAD Special Envoys, said “This report provides matters of facts in the mediation and negotiation of the South Sudan conflict as it evolved for about twenty-two months. The report shares the experience of the Envoys during the pre-mediation and mediation phase of the IGAD-Led South Sudan Peace Process. It’s our hope that the report will provide the much needed experience and contribute to policy and practice of conflict prevention, management and resolution”.

 

IGAD then presented awards of honor to the three Special Envoys, Ambassador Seyoum Mesfin, Chairperson of the Special Envoys and General Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa El Dabi, and to General Lazaro Sumbeiywo, through his representative Dr. Mohammed Guyo.

 

Dr. Tedros strongly praised the relentless and successful work of the Envoys in overseeing the peace process in South Sudan. He congratulated the IGAD Special Envoys for their patience, their perseverance and their dedication in bringing the South Sudanese Parties to sign the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan and the Planning Implementation of the Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements. He noted the long struggle of “IGAD and its Member States, the African Union, the United Nations and the international community at large” to engage the South Sudanese Parties and support the negotiation and implementation phases of the peace process. He pointed out that a lot of time, resources and energy had been devoted to try to resolve the conflict in South Sudan, but it was the IGAD Special Envoys who had particularly assumed the brunt of this burden. They had worked with a great sense of urgency, humility and responsibility during the most difficult periods of the negotiation process and had borne the blame for the making or breaking of the peace process. Dr Tedros commended the Special Envoys for their wisdom, insight and their determination.

 

Dr Tedros said that what was most important to all the parties was full implementation of the Peace Agreement in every way. He recalled the decisions made at the 55th Extraordinary Session of the IGAD Council of Ministers held in Addis Ababa on 30 -31 January 2016, and while recognizing the positive developments towards the implementation of the Peace Agreement that had taken place, he also expressed concern over delays that have been taking place. He reiterated the collective international call to  the South Sudanese Parties to put maximum effort into timely and all-inclusive implementation of the signed Agreement. IGAD and its Special Envoys for South Sudan had been making every effort to assist the South Sudanese to fully implement the Peace Agreement, whose main beneficiaries would, of course, be the people of South Sudan. Dr.  Tedros reminded the South Sudanese parties to take note of this, to cooperate and closely work with partners and commit themselves genuinely to the full implementation of the Agreement. Now, he said, is time for the South Sudanese Parties to take note of this phase of the implementation process and unconditionally commit themselves to address the challenges that have been obstructing full implementation of the Agreement. Dr. Tedros emphasized that the parties must not miss “this rare opportunity” but they must also stop taking actions that hinder the full implementation of the Agreement. They should focus their attention on the key priority issues that are crucial for the implementation of the Agreement. Dr. Tedros reiterated that Ethiopia and IGAD will continue to be fully engaged for the complete implementation of the peace agreement reached last August. He also expressed his sincere thanks to IGAD-PLUS and other international partners who have been working with IGAD from the beginning of the tragic conflict in South Sudan.

 

The Executive Secretary of IGAD, Engineer Mahboub Maalim, also expressed his appreciation for the dedicated service provided by the Special Envoys Ambassador Seyoum Mesfin, General Lazaro Sumbeiywo and General El Dabi. He also underlined the commitment shown by the IGAD Heads of State and Government who have held nine Extraordinary Sessions on South Sudan during the 22 months mediation process. IGAD had given unwavering support, as has more recently IGAD – Plus and other partners, including the UN and AUC. Engineer Maalim also praised the work of the IGAD secretariat and the staff of the IGAD Office for the Special Envoys for South Sudan, recently renamed as IGAD South Sudan Office. Others who also thanked the IGAD Special Envoys for their work included representatives of IGAD-Plus, Ambassador Haile Menkerios, UN Special Representative of the Secretary General to the AU; Dr Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, AU Commissioner for Social Affairs; Jean-Francois Hasperue, Acting Head of the EU Delegation to the African Union; Ambassador Andreas Gardeer of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Ethiopia and Representative of  the Troika; Ambassador La Yifan of the People’s Republic of China to Ethiopia.

 

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The International Criminal Court’s case against Kenya’s Deputy President collapses

 

The International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled on Tuesday (April 5) that Kenya’s Deputy President, William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang had no case to answer. They had been charged with crimes against humanity over the 2007/8 post-election violence that left over a thousand dead and several hundred thousand displaced. The ICC Chief Registrar Helena Vukasinovic said the Trial Chamber judges found no incriminating evidence to sustain the cases against the two men. The Presiding Judge Eboe Osuji said in a statement on Tuesday that proceedings were declared a mistrial “due to a troubling incidence of witness interference and intolerable political meddling”. He said “The charges are hereby vacated and the accused are discharged from the process without prejudice to their presumption of innocence or the prosecutors’ right to re-prosecute at a later time.”

 

The collapse of the case against Ruto and his co-accused follows the collapse of the case against President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2014. Though his counsel, the Deputy President said that the witnesses used to confirm his charges never took the stand, leaving the prosecution with a “case built almost entirely on hearsay”; no evidence had been produced that he supported or organized the violence. He accused the ICC of failing to investigate the Kenyan cases thoroughly.

Following the announcement from The ICC, Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a Note Verbal to the President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Note Verbal regretted the long time taken to reach the acquittal of the Deputy President but said it was pleased that “reason has finally prevailed.” It welcomed the conclusion of the last of the Kenyan cases, pointing out that the cases had been disruptive to nation building and the promotion of peace and security in Kenya. It would now be possible for the Deputy President of Kenya to “fully concentrate his efforts, undeterred and unencumbered, in the affairs of running the state, for which he was elected by the people of Kenya.”

 

The Note Verbal went on to say that the last seven years had “revealed the insidious nature of the International Criminal Court system as presently constructed.” It said that a sliding scale of standards and fluidity of thresholds had rendered “justice served by the court arbitrary at best, and capricious in the worst.” It pointed out that decisions of the Assembly of States Parties had been disregarded and efforts made to diminish and undermine its role. The result of the whole process was the widespread perception that the court was discriminatory in its prosecutorial policy and practice.

 

The Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Kenya, together with like-minded nations, would remain involved in efforts for “pursuit of Justice and equitable participation in the international criminal system.” Kenya recognized its duty to, and respect for international law and institutions. It would, therefore, “continue to pursue ways to improve the delivery of international justice, uphold the rule of law and promote a just and fair global order.”

 

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01/04/2016

Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros makes an official visit to the Republic of Senegal

State Minister meets African Ambassadors on Dr. Tedros’ candidacy to lead WHO

5th Anniversary of laying the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s foundation stone

Ethiopia’s two-year membership of the African Union Peace and Security Council

The UNSC debate on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda

South Sudan: progress still remains slow

Amhara Regional President meets Ethiopian Community in Dubai.

News in Brief

Africa and the African Union

Africa’s medium-term growth prospects for 2016 and 2017 remain positive but risks and uncertainties abound says Adam Elhiraika, Director of the Macroeconomic Policy Division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) on (March 31, 2016). The remarks are made at the ongoing African Development Week, Co-organized by UNECA and the African Union.

A Seminar aimed at establishing an inclusive platform of regional reconciliation, peace-building and transitional justice in Africa commenced (March 30, 2016) at Hilton Hotels in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said Korea’s experience in urban development has an immense contribution for Ethiopia’s ongoing housing development. The Premier made the remark during a meeting with senior experts from the Ministry of Construction and Transportation of Korea on (March 31, 2016).

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on (March 31) held discussions with First Vice President designate, Riek Machar, in Addis Ababa.

Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom who had been on an official visit to the Republic of Senegal over the week made bilateral consultations with Prime Minister of Senegal Boun Abdallah Dioune and his Senegalese counterpart,  Mr Mankeur Ndiaye among others. Ethiopia and the Republic of Senegal have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate in areas of culture and tourism, and capacity building. (See article)

Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom on (March 28, 2016) visit the Goree Island and made a stop at the historic  “Maison des esclaves” where he was given a guided tour by the curator of the world heritage site. (See article)

Ethiopia and Ivory Coast on (March 31, 2016) have celebrated 50 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The event was attended by a high-level Ethiopian delegation headed by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, who has been to Ivory Coast for first official visit. The Minister has made bilateral consultations with his Ivorian counterpart Dr Abdallah Toikeusse. In the event, series of agreements have also been signed.

The government of Japan announced on (March 31, 2016) that it would provide more than 30.1 million US dollars emergency humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia.

Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia La Yifan on (April 01, 2016) stressed that Sino-Ethiopia relations have been flourishing, particularly, against the backdrop of the latest Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit held in Johannesburg last December.

State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Atske-Selassie discussed with Ambassadors -based in Addis Ababa on the campaign of Dr. Tedros’ candidacy for the post of Director Generalship of the World Health Organization this week. (See article)

State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Atske-Selassie held talks with Ms. Amanda Dory, US Assistant Secretary for Defense today on (March 30, 2016). Ms. Amanda appreciated Ethiopia’s efforts of brining Stability in the region adding that the US would continue working with Ethiopia in the process of stabilizing Somalia.

Ethiopia and U.S. held the 6th Working Group bilateral discussions on democracy, governance and human Rights Working Group in Addis Ababa on Tuesday (March 29, 2016).

State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Atske-silasie on (March31) received copies of letters of credence of Hungarian Ambassador to Ethiopia, Mr. Gabor Sagi.

With last week marking the 5th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the celebrations of the anniversary are taking place this week. (See article)

Ato Gedu Andargachew, President of the Amhara National Regional State, held extensive discussions with Ethiopian Diaspora community drawn from different regions of the United Arab Emirates, in Dubai, on Saturday (March 26).  (See article)

State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Atske-selassie on (March31) received letters of credence of the first Bangladesh Ambassador, to Ethiopia, Ambassador Md. Monirul Islam.

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Transport on (March 30) signed MoU with Korea Expressway Corporation.

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Education and Microsoft signed an Education Transformation Agreement on March 29.

At the UNSC debate on “Women, Peace and Security” held on (March 28) Ethiopia highlighted its leading role in providing female peacekeepers. (See article)

The Ministry of Mines, Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoMPNG) revealed Ethiopia will supply potash to the global market within the coming four years.

Ministry of Health launched a five-year Health Sector Transformation Plan (HSTP 2016-2020), on (March 28, 2016) which is up for ensuring better and fair access to health services.

Mr. Demeke Atnafu, Director General of the Diaspora Engagement Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs met with Mr. Kudret Bulbul, President of the Turkish Aboard and Related Communities. The two sides shared views and experiences on promoting Diaspora engagement.

 

Djibouti

Egyptian Ambassador to Djibouti, Ahmed Adel in an interview with Daily News on (March 28, 2016) said Egypt is set to launch a new commercial services office in Djibouti. Delegations of Egyptian businessmen will also make visits to exchange information on investment opportunities, he added.

Eritrea

The People’s Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (PAFD) held its first general congress (March 21-25, 2016) in Asmara, Eritrea. PAFD is a political alliance among armed Ethiopian opposition groups, such as the Oromo Liberation Front and the Ogaden National Liberation Front.

Kenya

Kenya’s economy is projected to grow at 5.9% in 2016, recording an improvement over the 5.6% estimated for 2015, says a new World Bank Group economic report released on Thursday (March 31, 2016). The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expected to improve further to 6% in 2017.

Kenyan Energy Principal Secretary Joseph Njoroge on (March 31) said Kenya may build its own pipeline to transport oil from the northern Turkana region to a port at the coast if a proposal to build one jointly with Uganda falls through.

Judges at the International Criminal Court will hand down their ruling on (April 5, 2016) onwhether to throw out a case brought against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto for his alleged role in post-election violence.

Somalia

The United Nations said thousands of people in northern Somalia may die as a result of the El Nino-related drought and a shortage of aid, and the poor rains that are forecast are likely to make things worse (March 31, 2016).

The United Nations and Africa Union on Tuesday began the training of 200 officers of the Somali Police Force in Jubaland (March 31, 2016).

A suicide bombing in central Somalia killed at least nine people and wounded 10 others, a police official said on (March 31).  The bomber blew himself up among a group of people at a café near a hotel in the town of Galkayo.

A statement from the Galmudug government said at least 115 Al-shabaab fighters have been killed and 110 more others captured on (March 28) in a heavy fighting with pro-government forces in northern Somalia.

French Navy frigate FS Provence (March 29) has intercepted a large weapons cache from a small boat sailing towards Somalia. Several hundred machine guns, anti-tank weapons and AK47 riffles were among the weapon seized.

South Sudan

The head of JEMEC, Festus Mogae told the UN Security Council on (March 31, 12016) that the formation of a transitional national unity government in South Sudan was now within reach. He added, despite continuing cease-fire violations, “there has been notable progress.” (See article)

The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) which is overseeing the Peace Agreement, welcomed the arrival in Juba of the first thirty-nine of the SPLM-IO troops (March 28, 2016)

First Vice President designate, Riek Machar, who has been in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on (March 31, 2016) met with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.  SPLM-IO’s Spokesman, James Gatdet Dak said both sides discussed the steps being taken and challenges encountered in the implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS)

South Sudanese government (March 30) has regretted a decision of the Sudanese government to close its recently reopened border between the two countries. According to a recent UN report (March 31), more than 48,000 South Sudanese have fled to neighboring Sudan since late January amid food shortages and continuing conflict in the country.

SPLM Spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak (March 31) hinted that SPLM-IO leader and South Sudan’s First Vice President designate, Riek Machar, will soon return to the national capital, Juba.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) (March 30) has dismissed as “non existent” media reports that its peacekeepers had failed to offer protection to civilians who fled protection sites in the Upper Nile capital, Malakal.

South Sudanese army (SPLA) has accused the armed opposition group SPLM-IO of allegedly attacking their forces on Mayendit-Leer road on (March 30). Meanwhile, South Sudanese army (SPLA) has been accused of planning to attack forces of the opposition SPLM-IO in Unity state. SPLA-IO’s spokesperson, Deng on (March 29) said their forces have been warned of imminent attack in Leer and Mayandit counties in Unity state.

Sudan

An African Union team arrived in the Sudanese capital on (March 31, 2016) to monitor the three-day administrative referendum in Darfur region which will be held during the second week of April.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon (March 29) has called on the Sudanese opposition to sign the Roadmap Agreement concocted by the African mediators.

Sudanese government on (March 31) called on the international community to increase pressure on the holdout groups to sign the Roadmap Agreement brokered by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP).

Sudanese government on (March 29) has once again closed its borders with South Sudan, just a week after Khartoum threatened to treat South Sudanese in Sudan as foreigners.

A militarily official said on (March 28)the Sudanese army recaptured key positions in the areas held by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N) in South Kordofan state.

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Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros makes an official visit to the Republic of Senegal….

 

Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanom made a three-day official visit to the Republic of Senegal at the beginning of this week (March 27 to 29). The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Senegalese Abroad, M. Mankeur Ndiaye and Ambassador Mohammed Said, Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the Republic of Senegal and embassy staff, welcomed Dr. Tedros on his arrival in the Senegalese capital of Dakar.

 

The three-day official visit was an opportunity for the Foreign Ministers of the two countries to discuss ways to strengthen bilateral relations. During their discussions at the Senegalese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Tedros Adhanom and M. Mankeur Ndiaye stressed the need to reinforce their bilateral relations. Working for the full implementation of previous signed agreements and expanding the areas of cooperation were some of the ways forward proposed to strengthen the two countries’ relationship. The ministers agreed to hold the first Joint Ministerial Commission between the two countries later this year.
Speaking on the occasion, M. Mankeur Ndiaye reiterated Senegal’s support for Ethiopia’s candidacy for the United Nations Security Council Non Permanent Seat for 2017-18. Dr. Tedros thanked the Minister for the delegation welcome and hospitality as well as the support of the Senegalese government and people for Ethiopia’s bid. He noted that the good relations, the “complicite positive”, between Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and President Macky Sall provided real impetus to Ethio-Senegalese relations. Dr. Tedros briefed M. Mankeur Ndiaye on the peace and security situation in the Horn of Africa.

 

Following their bilateral consultations, the two ministers signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Culture and Tourism. They noted that this memorandum paved the way for more cooperation agreements between the two sisterly countries. The two parties agreed to cooperate in the areas of capacity building, exchange of experience and to work together to protect, preserve and promote cultural properties and heritages. This cooperation agreement is the sixth agreement signed by the two countries.

 

During his visit, Dr. Tedros also met the Prime Minister of Senegal, M. Boun Abdallah Dioune and the Minister of Tourism and Air Transport, Mme. Maimouna Ndoye Seck, They discussed economic and political relations and the avenues of cooperation to improve their Ethiopia-Senegalese relationship. The talks also provided an opportunity to stress the need to better exploit the real opportunities that existed in capacity building and provide an exchange of experience between Ethiopia and Senegal, notably in such areas power generation, industrial park development and aviation to strengthen economic and business relations.

 

…and visits the UNESCO World Heritage site at the Island of Goree

 

During his visit, Dr. Tedros visited the UNESCO World Heritage site of Goree Island. The Island of Goree lies off the coast of Senegal opposite Dakar. From the 15th to the 19th century, it was the largest slave-trading center on the African coast. Today it continues to serve as a reminder of human exploitation and as a sanctuary for reconciliation. Guided by a resident of the island, Dr. Tedros visited the many of the historical sites on the island including “La Statue de la Liberation et de l’Esclavage” and the slave house (la Maison des Esclaves) where hundreds of thousands of Africans were sold and shipped to the Americas during the slave trade. Reflecting on the visit, the Minister noted the brutality of the slave trade, and how this historic site gave the opportunity for soul-searching about such a period of history. He noted that the slave house, in particular, offered a lesson for present and future generations to help them avoid making similar mistakes. Dr. Tedros emphasized that his visit was made all the more poignant and special as it came only a few days after celebrating the International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade on Friday last week (March 25), an occasion that offers the opportunity to honor and remember those who suffered and died at the hands of the brutal slavery system over more than two hundred years.

 

Dr. Tedros also met with Ethiopian community members and friends of Ethiopia at a reception organized on March 28 at the residence of Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Senegal. The recently appointed Ambassador to Senegal, Mohammed Said, welcomed the Minister to the beautiful and historic city of Dakar. He also briefly introduced himself to members of the Ethiopian community and expressed his commitment to sustain the existing good relations between the embassy and the community.  The President of the Senegal-Ethiopia Friendship Association and former ambassador, Silcarneyi Gueye, noted that the Friendship Association was working firmly to strengthen Ethio-Senegalese cooperation. He said it had organized events to promote Ethiopian culture in Senegal in the past and would continue to do so in the future.  In his welcoming remarks, the Minister welcomed Ethiopian community members as well as members of the Friendship Association. He commended the activities of the Friendship Association for its efforts to strengthen the people-to-people relationship between the two countries. He also expressed the hope that his visit to Senegal would be the basis for further cooperation between the two countries in the future.
The Minister also visited the Abdou Diouf International Conference Centre inaugurated in 2014 and discussed the business and economic environment of Ethiopia with the President Director General of the “Les Ciments du Sahel” group, M. Latfallah Layousse.  Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros ended the first leg of his West African tour on March 29 and flew to neighboring Ivory Coast for a three-day official visit.

 

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State Minister meets African Ambassadors on Dr. Tedros’ candidacy to lead WHO

 

The State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Atske-Selassie, met with Ambassadors from African countries this week to discuss the candidacy of Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, to be Director General of the World Health Organization. Ambassador Taye noted that Dr. Tedros had been nominated by Ethiopia for the post of the next Director-General of the World Health Organization. The election for this position will be held in May 2017. Ambassador Taye, thanking the ambassadors for their presence, emphasized that the African Union has endorsed Dr. Tedros’ candidacy during the 26th ordinary session of the African Union Assembly of Heads of States and Government in January.

 

Dr. Tedros is currently serving as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, a post he has held since November 2012. He is also currently serving as a Member of the Parliament. Prior to that, he served as Ethiopia’s Minister of Health, from October 2005 to November 2013. He previously served in a number of expert and leadership positions in both federal and regional government, including the post of State Minister in the Ministry of Health and Head of the Tigray Regional Health Bureau.

 

Dr. Tedros has extensive experience in global health initiatives and diplomacy. During his tenure as Minister of Health of Ethiopia, he chaired the Boards of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Program Coordinating Board of UNAIDS and Co-Chaired the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. He also served on the Boards of GAVI, the Vaccination Alliance and the Stop TB Partnership. He made an indelible impression on many priority global health agendas. As Chair of the Global Fund, in particular, he guided a comprehensive reform agenda that resulted in a more efficient and effective Global Fund to respond effectively to the financing needs of countries.

 

In Ethiopia, his health sector reforms and the introduction of the Health Extension Program led the country to achieve most of the Millennium Development Goals, in particular those in the area of health issues. As Minister of Foreign Affairs, he also continued to champion health. Dr. Tedros led the Third Financing for Development Conference that was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July last year to a successful outcome to finance the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, in which health plays an integral part.

 

Dr. Tedros holds a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in Community Health from the University of Nottingham and a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Immunology of Infectious Diseases from the University of London (UK). He has co-authored numerous articles on prominent scientific journals including Nature, Lancet and the British Medical Journal. He has also received several awards and recognitions including being the first non-American recipient of the “Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Humanitarian Award” in 2011. He was listed among “50 people who will change the world” by the UK Wired Magazine in January 2012.

 

As Minister of Foreign Affairs, and with proven diplomatic and negotiation skills, he has also served as Chair of the Council of Ministers of IGAD, the regional economic community for Horn of Africa.  As Chair of the Executive Council of the African Union in 2014, he oversaw the successful adoption of the first 10-year plan for the AU’s Agenda 2063 for the African Union, a plan that has put health at its center. Under his leadership, Ethiopia successfully hosted the 50th Anniversary conference of the OAU/AU. Equally, as Co-chair of the main committee of the Third Finance for Development (FFD3), he played a key role in bringing together polarized positions on the future of the global development finance architecture. The conference ended with the successful adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

 

As Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros also played the leading role in brokering the Addis Ababa Agreement between the Federal Government of Somalia and Jubaland politicians which led to the formation of the Interim Jubaland Administration in Somalia, providing for the return of normalcy in Kismayo and its environs. The successful implementation of the Addis Ababa Agreement has turned Jubaland into a model for regional state formation in Somalia. Dr Tedros has been the leading diplomat in the successful negotiations between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, leading to the signing, last year, of the Declaration of Principles that helped ease tension and pave the way for dialogue. In April 2014, he authored an article titled “The Nile is Symbol of Cooperation and Collaboration” in which he made the case for the importance of cooperation for the mutual and equitable benefit of the Nile Riparian States from the Nile River. Recently, honoring his efforts as Ethiopia’s top diplomat, the leading African magazine, New African, chose him as one of the 100 most influential Africans for the year 2015.

 

State Minister Taye emphasized to the African ambassadors that Dr. Tedros was the first African candidate to run for the head of a prestigious organization like WHO. Given Dr. Tedros’ professional experience, particularly in the health sector, and his immense experience and contribution in the diplomatic arena, Ambassador Taye said that Dr. Tedros was “surely the ideal candidate to lead this organization. However, Ambassador Taye noted, “Even though the African Union fully endorsed him, there is still a long way to go to make his candidacy a reality.” He called on the ambassadors to fully support Dr. Tedros’ candidacy and requested them to pass this message across to their respective governments. Letters addressed to the highest destination in their respective countries, together with Dr. Tedros’ biography were distributed to the ambassadors.

 

The general consensus among the ambassadors was that while it would be a great loss for Africa to lose such a wise and dedicated diplomat, to achieve the Directorship of WHO should be seen as an important step for Africa as a whole. They said the election of Dr. Tedros, as Director-General of WHO, would surely help Africa and all third world countries. They also felt the decision to run for the candidacy was timely given that most of the current heath crises like Ebola are mainly affecting third world countries. They agreed that as Dr. Tedros is the AU candidate, all African countries should unite and campaign for him outside of the continent. They assured the State Minister that they will do all they can to help lobby for his election. The State Minister thanked the ambassadors for their support and the meeting agreed on the hope to see an African leading the World Health Organization next year. The State Minister also met with Ambassadors from Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the Americas, during which Ethiopia’s bid to lead the WHO was able to generate significant support.

 

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5th anniversary of laying the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s foundation stone

 

With last week marking the 5th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the celebrations of the anniversary are taking place this week. The anniversary has already been underlined by the renewed vigor of the public and the Government in reaffirming its unreserved support for the largest hydro-electric power project in Africa. With the continuous fast-paced growth in Ethiopia, the need for an increased and sufficient power supply and electricity remains substantial and inevitable. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam was started in consideration of both of the need for increased electric power for domestic consumption and development and with the specific aim of exporting the balance to neighboring countries to help develop the region, enhance economic integration and build people-to-people ties with countries in the Horn of Africa region and more widely.

 

At the celebration of the anniversary at the national stadium, Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen said the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) had further boosted national unity and the consensus among Ethiopian nations, nationalities and peoples. He described it as a “symbol of national identity” with many facets. Noting the collaboration among all Ethiopians in support of the construction of the Dam, Ato Demeke said the dam, whose total construction cost is being covered by domestic sources, had strengthened cooperation among Ethiopians even further. GERD, he said, had helped Ethiopians to further cement their unity and the “yes we can” spirit. The Deputy Prime Minister called up on Ethiopians, both at home and abroad, to intensify all-round support for the grand project.

 

The celebration of the anniversary began on March 26th and lasts until April 4. Among the various occasions are visits by farmers and others to the construction site, various sports activities, a variety of entertainments, question and answer contests across the country. The Office of the National Council for the Coordination of Public Participation for the Construction of GERD also noted that there were also programs being held at Guba, the construction site. The Executive Director of the Council, W/o. Roman Gebresillassie told a press conference before the celebrations started, that the council had been working to ensure that latest information on the status of the dam was available as well as promoting participation of the public in various celebrations. She said that since the laying of the foundation stone of the Dam five years ago the public has pledged 12 billion Birr. Of this, 8.1 billion has so far been collected for the project. This year alone some 800 million Birr had also been pledged, and of this 500 million Birr had already been collected. The Executive Director commended the participation and support of the public.

 

The State Minister of the Government Communication Affairs Office, W/o. Firehiwot Ayalew, speaking to the press about the ongoing arrangements and celebrations, noted that the Dam, which she emphasized symbolized the unity of Ethiopians, would begin trial power generation according to schedule. She also underlined the wide and commendable cooperation between Ethiopians at home and abroad as demonstrated by the public contributions. Speaking about the negotiations with riparian countries, she said talks with the lower riparian countries had continued on the basis of the previously agreed framework as well as on the basis of agreement on fair share and the mutual trust and benefit of the Nile waters.  The State Minister said that the current El Nino-induced drought had not caused any impediment to the construction of the Dam which was progressing as planned. GERD had now reached a height of 75 meters, over halfway to the final height of 145 meters. State Minister Frehiwot also noted that the installation of various other infrastructure elements including roads was progressing.

 

Members of the international community, scholars and ambassadors of various countries praised Ethiopia’s efforts and expressed encouragement for the development of the project. The Ambassador of Ghana to Ethiopia, Ambassador Albert Francis Yankey told the press that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam would play a key role in the implementation of Ethiopia’s green growth strategy. He said the Dam could be a model for Ghana’s current alternative power development activities. The Ambassador emphasized that the Dam, as well as driving the country’s green growth strategy, coupled with renewable energy development, guaranteed the sustainability of its growth.

 

Last week to emphasize the occasion the Ethiopian Electric Corporation published a brochure detailing the progress Ethiopia has made in power development. Current electric power coverage has reached 55%, and once the Dam is fully operating in generating 6,000 MW, this will add 15, 692 GWh average energy to the national grid. The Ethiopian Electric Corporation also underlined the essential impact the Dam would have on improving water resources, providing Sudan and Egypt with important benefits as well as its contributions to the prospects of economic integration contribution and both regionally and more widely in the Nile Valley.

 

 

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Ethiopia’s two-year membership of the African Union Peace and Security Council

 

Ethiopia concluded its two-year term as a member of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) on Thursday (March 31). Over the last two years, the PSC held more than 170 regular meetings, informal consultations and joint meetings with the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and with the European Political and Security Committee (EUPSC) as well as in field missions to different conflict-hit countries of the Continent.

 

It was the third time Ethiopia had the privilege of serving on the Council and as before it made every effort to contribute effectively and significantly to all activities of the Council. It also served as the chair of the Council twice, in October 2014 and February this year. During its recent membership, Ethiopia particularly played a leading role in the Council’s efforts to resolve the crises in Somalia, South Sudan and Burundi. In addition to these specific cases, it was also closely involved in helping in the thematic issues covered by the Council. These major priorities included the UN Peacekeeping Review, Early Warning and Conflict Prevention, Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD), Coordination between the PSC and the African members of the UNSC (A3).

 

On Somalia, Ethiopia successfully advocated the provision of stronger support to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and for the Somali National Army in its fight against the terrorist group, Al Shabaab. Ethiopia also emphasized the importance of enhanced command and control structures within AMISOM as a critical factor in ensuring the effectiveness of the Mission. It stressed the need for the AUPSC to encourage all Somali stakeholders to stay on course and to demonstrate the required unity of purpose and action in order to fulfil the aspirations of the Somali people for peace, security and stability. In this regard, the AUPSC expressed its strong support on a number of occasions for the formation of interim regional administrations and timely and transparent conduct of the 2016 elections.

 

Another crisis at the top of the Council’s agenda for the last two years was the crisis in South Sudan. Here, Ethiopia stressed the need for closer coordination between IGAD and the African Union throughout the mediation process. It also emphasized the critical and necessary importance of the full implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan by all parties. In light of this the Council, following the proposal of IGAD, established the IGAD Plus mechanism to complement the effort of IGAD. This complementary role is expected to continue during the implementation phase of the South Sudan Peace Agreement.  The continued support of the PSC to the work of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Mechanism (JMEC) set up under IGAD Plus will remain vital.

 

Ethiopia has also been active in the peace processes for the Burundi crisis. Over the last ten years Africa has been clearly able to see the fruits of faithful implementation of the Arusha Agreement. Despite the current unrest in the country, Burundi was not only able to nurture its own peace; it also managed to contribute its share to the maintenance of Regional Peace and Security. Indeed, it was able to deploy its own forces in the very demanding African Union Peacekeeping Missions in Somalia and CAR. Ethiopia, therefore, strongly underlined the need to find an all-inclusive political solution under the auspices of the East African Community, together with the necessary support from the African Union and in strict compliance with the Arusha Agreement.

 

In addition, during its membership of the AU Peace and Security Council, Ethiopia played a leading role in the development of the Common African Position on the UN Peacekeeping Review. Ethiopia emphasized that over the last decade the AU had shown greater readiness and capability to deploy peacekeepers in the field in a speedy manner. This included situations in which many felt there was “no peace to keep”.  Equally, the financial and logistical difficulties associated with such undertakings continue to pose significant challenges to the AU’s efforts to put effective peacekeeping force together quickly and efficiently. Ethiopia emphasized that Africa is still forced to depend on an unpredictable flow of donor funds, provided in a fragmented, unsustainable and ad hoc manner. It has underlined that the global mandate for the maintenance of international peace and security, in Africa as elsewhere, belongs to the UN Security Council. Africa has been sharing the burden of the UN in line with Chapter VIII of the Charter. Ethiopia has therefore strongly asserted the United Nations has the charter-based responsibility to cover the finances needed to fund Security Council authorized African Union peace support missions in a predictable, sustainable and flexible manner.

 

More generally on the proactive prevention of conflicts, Ethiopia has consistently underlined the need to develop an effective conflict prevention and early warning mechanism in line with the African Peace and Security Architecture. During its chairmanship of the Council, Ethiopia devoted an open session to this issue and the Council decided to have horizon-scanning sessions on a quarterly basis. The Council has also emphasized the importance of Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) to prevent the all-too-common relapse of peace agreements into renewed conflict. In this connection, the acceptance by the Council of Ethiopia’s proposal for the Council to review the 2006 PCRD Architecture of the continent is a major achievement. The review is expected to be presented to the Council this month.

 

Ethiopia also strongly advocated for closer partnership and synergy between the African Union Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council. The Peace and Security Council and the AU Summit in January this year unanimously endorsed Ethiopia’s proposal for strong coordination between the African members of the Security Council and the AUPSC.

 

During its two-year membership of the African Union Peace and Security Council, Ethiopia, along with the other Council members, did its very best to enhance the Council’s role in preventing and sustainably resolving conflicts in Africa. It did this in line with the principles enshrined in the African Union Constitutive Act and the Protocol Establishing the Peace and Security Council as well as with its strong commitment to the ideals of Pan-Africanism. Ethiopia will not be a member of the Council over the two years, but as the largest troop-contributing country to the UN and the AU as well as the seat of the African Union, it will certainly continue to be an active player in the promotion of continental stability. Its capacity in this respect will certainly be enhanced if Ethiopia joins the UN Security Council as a Non-Permanent Member for the period 2017/18.

 

 

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The UNSC debate on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda

 

The United Nations Security Council, under the chairmanship of Angola, held an open debate on Sunday (March 28) on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. The debate focused particularly on the role of women in conflict prevention and resolution in Africa. The meeting was briefed by the Executive Director of UN-Women, the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, the representative of South Sudan Women’s Empowerment Network and others.

 

The Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, noted that the role of women in preventing conflict was often lauded, but rarely visible.  She said countries with lower levels of gender inequality were less likely to resort to force; that women’s security was one of the most reliable indicators of a State’s peacefulness; and that their different spending patterns contributed directly to post-conflict social recovery.  Conversely, women were the first to notice attacks on their rights and freedoms, as well as the militarization and radicalization of individuals in their families and communities.

 

Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, Assistant-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said that promoting the effective participation of women in conflict mediation and addressing their specific needs in peace-making efforts was a priority of his Department. Since 2012, all United Nations mediation support teams included women, who made up half the number of participants in the Department’s high-level mediation skills training.  Nevertheless, unequal access and opportunities for women’s participation in political decision-making processes persisted worldwide. He said “Prioritizing prevention and inclusive political solutions has never been more urgent,” he stressed, adding that the African Union and other partners had made notable efforts to ensure that gender was more systematically integrated into electoral processes.

 

Paleki Ayang of the South Sudan Women’s Empowerment Network said the world, and Africa in particular, must move beyond stereotypical images of women as victims during conflict.  They were also fighters, peace-builders, protectors and community leaders.  With limited resources and in spite of threats, they organized peace marches, advocated for enhanced peace and security policies and led reconciliation efforts across conflict lines.  Conflict-prevention and conflict-resolution strategies would be ineffective without immediately addressing systematic, deliberate and widespread sexual violence in South Sudan and the rest of Africa.  She urged the Security Council to insist on accountability for atrocities committed by all warring parties, armed groups, security forces and peacekeepers, and said it should demand that the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission in South Sudan ensured representation and participation of women.

 

Many speakers lamented the lack of women’ involvement in peacekeeping activities, with India’s representative pointing out that women constituted less than 4 per cent of signatories to peace agreements and less than 10 per cent of negotiators at peace tables.  Brazil’s representative noted that women constituted a mere 4 per cent of the 88,000 troops and police currently deployed in United Nations peace operations in Africa. Ethiopia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Dr. Tekeda Alemu, highlighting Ethiopia’s leading role in providing female peacekeepers to UN Peacekeeping Operations, said it was a source of satisfaction for Ethiopia to note that it was the largest contributing country of female peacekeepers. It had 558 deployed in various UN peacekeeping missions. It  was also working  to further enhance the contribution of women in peacekeeping in terms of military and police personnel in the future. This was in addition to its efforts to promote women’s participation in all spheres and at all levels of government. He said a lot of progress had been made over the past two decades.

 

In this context, Dr. Tekeda also emphasized that the growing number of allegations with regard to sexual exploitation and abuse committed by UN Peacekeepers was a matter of serious concern. As one of the largest troop contributing countries to UN peacekeeping operations, Ethiopia, he said, took this matter very seriously and subscribed to the Secretary-General’s Zero-Tolerance Policy. Ethiopian peacekeepers, he said, were given all necessary pre-deployment training and was committed to carrying out investigations and taking appropriate action to deal immediately with any allegations of misconduct. He concluded by emphasizing Ethiopia’s firm commitment to improve the plight of women  “whose effective participation is extremely critical to achieve the noble objectives that we have set for ourselves in the peace and security, governance and development spheres.”

 

Ambassador Tekeda emphasized that there was no doubt that women were uniquely positioned to nurture a culture of peace and enhancing their effective participation would  have meaningful impact in prevention and resolution of conflicts  as well as participation in peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction and peace-building endeavors. He noted that as far as Africa was concerned, women and girls were indeed the most vulnerable sections of the society and they were the ones bearing the brunt of violence. That, indeed, he said was why the women, peace and security agenda was so critical. He said the African Union’s Gender, Peace and Security Program to increase women’s participation in the promotion of peace and security as well as enhancing the protection of women in conflict situations in Africa was, indeed, a step in the right direction.

 

Equally, Dr. Tekeda  stressed that what really mattered the most in making a real difference in improving the plight of women and enhancing their effective participation, was implementation at the national level. Ethiopia, he said,  subscribed to all the relevant regional and international treaties and conventions on the rights of women and was committed to the women, peace and security agenda. Accordingly, it has been striving to promote women’s participation in all spheres and at all levels of government and a lot of progress has been made over the past two decades.

 

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South Sudan: progress still remains slow

 

Head of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission for South Sudan peace process (JMEC), Festus Mogae, told the United Nations Security Council this week (March 31, 2016) that there are positive steps taken as well as delays in the formation of a Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) needed to implement reforms in the war-ravaged country. He said, “I must unfortunately report that implementation of most aspects of the agreement continues to be delayed.” Mogae, however, said, with the ongoing arrival to Juba of the 1,370 armed opposition (SPLM-IO) forces to be completed next week, Machar was likely to return and the long-awaited transitional government can be formed in mid-April. “…I am cautiously optimistic that the new transitional government will be in place by the middle of next month…That said, the Parties can do more to prepare for the return of the First Vice President-designate to Juba and ensure that the formation of the new government is not itself destabilizing,” he added.

 

On Monday (March 28), the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) which is overseeing the Peace Agreement, welcomed the arrival in Juba of the first thirty-nine of the SPLM-IO troops in Juba, These were the first of the 1,370 SPLM-IO troops expected to return to the capital in accordance with the JMEC plan for transitional security arrangements agreed on 23 February.  The JMEC Chairman, Mr. Festus G. Mogae, Former President of Botswana, said a few days earlier that: “the obstacles that have impeded the return of the 1,370 SPLM- IO troops to Juba have been overcome.  There are no remaining difficulties in the return of the First Vice President-designate and the formation of the new Transitional Government of National Unity.” A series of flights by United Nations and charter aircraft will now transport the remaining troops in the coming days.  Multiple flights are planned until the movement is complete.

 

The Peace Agreement between Sudan President Salve Kiir and Rick Machar was signed in August last year under the auspices of South Sudan’s regional and international peace partners. Despite all efforts by IGAD Plus and others, full implementation of the peace agreement remains behind schedule. The Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) is in process of formulation; other key provisions of the agreement, including demilitarization of Juba and the withdrawal of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces, are also being implemented. However, the Peace Agreement also covered such areas as the cessation of hostility and a ceasefire between the conflicting parties, and since the signing of the agreement, a whole series of violations have been registered. Article 1 (1) of Chapter Two of the Agreement, covering the permanent ceasefire, and one of its key elements, has been repeatedly violated.

 

The signatories to the Peace Agreement have the primary responsibility of implementing the provisions and their slowness in implementing the pre-transitional milestones demonstrate a serious lack of commitment by the warring parties to resolve their political differences. In fact, both the government and SPLM-IO have made continuous accusations of violations of the principles of the permanent ceasefire and transitional security against each other. The Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM), for example, released a report last week (on March 22) which notified the Chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, Mr. Festus G. Mogae, that the SPLM-IO had committed violations of article 1.7 of the protocol which states “the parties hereby agree to cease all military actions aimed at each other and any other actions that may undermine the peace process.” That article demands that all forces or armed groups under the influence, control and command of the parties should observe the agreement. As the conflict drags on, accusations of war crimes and cries for accountability continue to surface. A recent United Nations Report gave an account of the magnitude and severity of the problem over the longer terms. The report details a multitude of human rights violations, including the deliberate and systematic targeting of civilians and accounts of widespread rape of women and children. The UN report said that South Sudan faces “one of the most horrendous human rights situations in the world.”

 

 

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Amhara Regional President meets Ethiopian Community in Dubai

 

Ato Gedu Andargachew, President of the Amhara National Regional State, held extensive discussions with Ethiopian Diaspora community members drawn from different regions of the United Arab Emirates, in Dubai, on Saturday (March 26

The Amhara Regional President briefed some 300 Ethiopian community members on Saturday on the achievements of the Growth and Transformation Plan 1, the main objectives of the Growth and Transformation Plan II and the role that the Ethiopian Community could play. He also gave an account of the unfortunate recent incidents that had happened in some parts of the country including the Amhara Regional State.

 

Ato Gedu pointed out that overall the GTPI performance had been largely successful, noting the achievements in social and economic affairs, increasing democratization and the infrastructure developments of the country in general and the Amhara Region in particular. He underlined that

Ethiopia’s well-crafted policies, stable macro-economy and enhanced peace and stability had been able to continue to register double-digit economic growth. Its position as one of the fastest growing economies in the world was helping to make it a preferred destination for foreign direct investment. The reasons for this growth could also be seen in the Amhara Region, Ato Gedu underlined. The region had a total area of 170,000 sq.km and over 20 million people, over 55% of whom were trainable youth. He pointed out that it was a region where all faiths and nationalities co-exist peacefully; it had a substantial historic heritage, and extensive natural resources, including livestock, water resources and mining and mineral wealth. All this provided the key for future transformation.

 

Ato Gedu stressed that during the last 25 years the region had made continuous effort to ensure peace and develop democratization processes in line with development activities. In order to ensure human and democratic rights, a number of different reforms had been undertaken, encouraging genuine popular participation in accelerating and sustaining development of the region in a way that benefitted all. The Region had been doing well in socio-economic development and had contributed significantly the national development. In the agriculture sector, cereal production had increased from 28.6 million quintals in 1996 to 87.6 million quintals in 2014/15). Overall, 4 million hectares of farmland, 446 thousand hectares of hill and hillside terraces and 2.02 million hectares of land have been developed and protected. Forest coverage in the region had increased from a mere 1% to 15%.

 

Concerning industrial development in the region, the Regional President noted the success of the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) job creation program which had increased those employed from 15 thousand in 2006 to over 2 million (2,035,571) in 2014/15. The capital involved had risen from 467 million birr to 6.64 billion in those years, and several hundred had now become medium sized industrialists and /investors. Ato Gedu stressed the SMEs were not only intended to provide for job creation or technology transfer, but it was also a program that was aiming to create and develop medium-level investors.  He said the number of medium and large industries in the region had also increased significantly, from 11 in 1996 to 373 in 2014/15. These now had capital of 31 billion birr and had created job opportunities for about 17720 people.

 

The President also underlined the urban development of the region. The Amhara Region now has some 421 towns, he said, including three cities, 106 municipalities and 85 sub-municipalities. There were also 190 developing towns in which the regional government was making maximum effort to provide centers for industries, services and markets. To help this process, there had been major developments in infrastructure, with 64.9% of kebeles of the region interconnected by all-weather roads. Out of the Region’s total of 3479 kebeles of the region, 2447 (33%) now had access to electricity, water access had increased from 10% in 1996 to 89.5% in 2014/15, and 11 million people had mobile telephones. There had also been tremendous changes in the social sector particularly in education and health. These, he said, were due to sustained regional as well as federal government efforts, and those of the people who owned the process.

 

Ato Gedu noted that the region’s achievements were not without limitations and the process had faced challenge. He mentioned the issue of governance and other related factors facing the country on its march to its Renaissance. Democratization in Ethiopia is a process, he stressed, but both in Ethiopia in general and in the Amhara Region in particular, democracy, together with the necessary institutional and infrastructure development, was providing the foundation for economic take off. There had been remarkable achievements gained so far and, he said, “We should be proud of these”. Equally, it was necessary to build on past achievements and sustain the momentum. He, therefore, called on the Ethiopian Diaspora community to play their part. They had, he said an important role in carrying out research, providing further investment at home and in influencing their country of residence to cooperate with Ethiopia and invest there. He underlined the conducive investment environment of the region as well as the country. Ato Gedu emphasized the importance of establishing their own Diaspora association, for instance an Ethiopian Renaissance Council. Through this, for example, they would be able to challenge the regional and federal governments to fulfill their commitments. Noting the.

 

Following the briefing, Ato Gedu answered questions and continued the extensive discussions on various issues of regional and national concern. The President also explained that the Amhara Regional government’s Diaspora Outreach Program continues in Djibouti on April 1 & 2; Saudi Arabia-Riyadh and Jeddah on April 7 & 8 and further extends to different countries later in the year. In conclusion, the Amhara Regional President thanked the Ethiopian community for their contribution to the achievements to the region and the country so far. He invited them all to take part in the Amhara Region’s forthcoming Diaspora Festival to be held this July.

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25.03.2016

Drought in Ethiopia: humanitarian partners call for more action  

HRC Urged to pay close attention to human right violations in Eritrea

Premier reflects on Ethiopia’s overall development

Head of JEMEC on South Sudan: “The patience of the international community – as is my own – is being tested”

Ethiopia’s tourism industry moves on with fresh impetus

News in Brief

Africa and the African Union

Chairperson of the African Union Commission Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, on (March 24, 2016) welcomed the signing of the Roadmap Agreement by the Sudanese government and urged the opposition groups to sign it within five days.

Ethiopia

Humanitarian partners this week (March 24, 2016) launched a 90-day campaign to raise awareness on the urgent need for an additional funding for the El-Nino induced drought in Ethiopia in an effort to address the humanitarian resource gap in the country. (See article)

 

State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Atske-selassie on (March 25, 2016) received copies of letters of credence of the newly appointed Ambassador of DRC to Ethiopia, Mr. Claude Nayamugabo and the new Ambassador of Fiji to Ethiopia, Mr. Moses Tikotioga.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, has met with the newly elected FIFA President Gianni Infantino (March 24, 2016). During his stay, Mr. Infantino held talks with H.E Redwan Hussein, Minister of Youth & Sports and Mr. Juneydi Basha, President of Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF), and also visited the Ethiopian sports academy.

Mr. Mitiku Kassa, Commissioner of National Disaster Risk Management Commission, on (March 24, 2016) said the Ethiopian government has been distributing seeds for Belg season to areas affected by the El Nino induced drought at a cost of 520 million birr.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on (March 22, 2016) held discussion swith members of Joint Council of Political Parties.

Dr. Mulatu Teshome, President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia received the credentials of fourteen newly appointed Ambassadors to Ethiopia (March 24, 2016). These include ambassadors form Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Greece, Turkey, Brazil, Gabon, Rwanda, United Kingdom, Namibia, United Arab Emirates, Burundi, Mauritania, Chile and the Philippines

Ato Demeke Atnafu, Director General of the Diaspora Affairs at the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs received a Mozambican delegation on (March 23, 2016), wherein the two sides exchanged views on enhancing Diaspora engagement.

 

A statement issued on (March 23, 2016) by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Government of FDRE on behalf of the people of Ethiopia strongly condemns the Brussels attacks and offers its deepest sympathy to all the families of the victims and to the people of Belgium

Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom held discussions with Faith Ulusou, Ambassador of Turkey to Ethiopia, (March 22, 2016).  Noting that the business environment in Ethiopia has been significantly improving, and now that the country is one of the worlds’s favored investment destinations, Ambassador Ulusou expressed Turkey’s interest to sponsor a gathering of Turkish and African think thanks in Addis Ababa.

A High Level Ethiopian delegation, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen has been on a working visit to the Russian Federation over the week, wherein discussions focused on  ways of enhancing the bilateral relations between the two countries and expanding cooperation on continental and global issues of mutual interest.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn on Monday (March 21, 2016) held discussions with representatives of Troika countries (United Kingdom, United States and Norway) on the progress of South Sudan’s peace deal.

In his exclusive interview at the end of last week (March 19, 2016) with the Ethiopian News Agency (ENA), Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn  said the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) remains to be a symbol of cooperation among riparian countries. (See article)

 

According to a statement issued on (March 22, 2016) by the US Embassy in Addis Ababa, the United States government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has launched a new water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) activity.

According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MoCT), Ethiopia has secured more than 1.7 billion US dollars revenue from tourism in the first half of this fiscal year.  (See article)

Government Communication Affairs Office (GCAO) on (March 22, 2016) said the 5th year anniversary of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s (GERD) commencement will be marked with various arrangements,

The Ministries of Finance of Ethiopia and Sudan (March 22, 2016) have agreed to strengthen economic cooperation between the two countries.

Eritrea

In a joint oral statement to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project urged the Council to pay close attention to human right violations in Eritrea (March 14, 2016). (See article)

Kenya

Kenya yesterday lodged a diplomatic protest to Tanzania after Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter was denied entry to the Port of Tanga on (March 23). Reports claim the government had instructed Kenya’s High Commission in Tanzania to get an explanation of the incident.

Somalia

The United Nations Security Council on (March 25, 2016)  extended the mandate of UNSOM’s work until 31 March 2017.

 

Puntland Defense forces chief General Saeed Mohamed Hirsi on (March 24, 2016)  said that the high intensity operations against Shabaab ended successfully, with over 200 militants killed and others captured alive.

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan received on (March 21, 2016) Shaikh Mohamoud, President of Somalia at the Beach Palace.

Somalia’s  Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke on (March 23, 2016) joined more than a million others on Wednesday in signing an online petition to end female genital mutilation (FGM) in the country

South Sudan

Festus G. Mogae, Chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) on South Sudan opened JMEC Meeting this week (March 24, 2016) in Juba. He said, “The patience of the international community – as is my own – is being tested.” (See article)

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir on (March 23, 2016) sacked the country’s foreign affairs minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin, a day after he allegedly referred to people from Abyei as foreigners.

South Sudanese first vice president designate, Riek Machar (March 24, 2016)  had been to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on peace implementation consultations with stakeholders and regional leaders.

Sudan

Chairperson of the African Union Commission Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, on (March 24, 2016) welcomed the signing of the Roadmap Agreement by the Sudanese government and urged the opposition groups to sign it within five days.

The Ministries of Finance of Ethiopia and Sudan (March 22, 2016) have agreed to strengthen economic cooperation between the two countries.

Sudan’s defence minister Awad Ibn Ouf on (March 22, 2016) discussed with a visiting senior military delegation from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the prospects of the joint cooperation between the two nations.

Sudan’s foreign ministry (March 24, 2016) said that President Omer al-Bashir has received an invitation to participate in the inauguration of Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou.

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Drought in Ethiopia: humanitarian partners call for more action

Humanitarian partners this week (March 24, 2016) launched a 90-day campaign to raise awareness on the urgent need for an additional funding for the El-Nino induced drought in Ethiopia in an effort to address the humanitarian resource gap in the country.

While Ethiopia’s 2016 1.4 billion US dollars appeal has received over 758 million US dollars from the Ethiopian government and the international community, significant life-saving gaps remain across all sectors. The four months lead time to get relief commodities to people in need means that action is required now. Ms.Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onuchie, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Ethiopia said, “Ethiopia is currently contending with one of the most serious climatic shocks in recorded history with ten million people facing lost harvests and livestock as well as severe water shortages and health risks,” “We are launching this campaign to advocate for increased funding commensurate with the scale and severity of this crisis,” she added.

The El Nino has significantly impacted weather patterns in Ethiopia for the past several months, limiting agricultural production, straining livelihoods and exacerbating food insecurity among vulnerable households. In Ethiopia the government estimates that 10.2 million people, on top of the 8 million that will receive support through the governments’ safety net programme, will need humanitarian assistance this year at a cost of $1.4 billion, due to a drought that has been exacerbated by El Niño.

So far, the government has allocated 381 million US dollars and the Productive Safety Net Programme, run by the government in partnership with the World Bank, is aiming to assist about 8 million people. The government of Ethiopia has also rushed forward the opening of its new railway line—the countries only one—just to bring food supplies from Djibouti on the Horn of Africa coast. Nevertheless, the government is also urging other donors to support the drought mitigation efforts.

Despite the challenges that Ethiopia faces, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator commended the Government of Ethiopia  for its efforts of  reaching those who needed food aid. She noted that the government is one of the largest financial contributors to the crisis so far and also leads in the coordination of a complex inter-sector response, which uses government systems and relies on national capacity. She added, “The Government’s vision for development, enshrined in the second Growth and Transformation Plan, promises to steer Ethiopia further down its already remarkable path of progress.”

The United States’ Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) has recently released a report on its assessment of the current drought in Ethiopia..  At a media briefing held on (March 19, 2016), the Director of USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), Jeremy Konyndyk also commended the impressive drought response activities by the Ethiopian government and said “We have far better capability to manage such kind of situation we had 13 years ago. We have also seen a clear leadership by the government of Ethiopia to tackle this drought.”

Ethiopia right from the early days of the drought has been working to tackle the situation more on its own capabilities. This has been much due to the country’s extensive food security network, Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP), a welfare-for-work initiative that employs seven million people in public infrastructure projects in return for food or cash, and its national food reserve and early warning systems.

James Jeffrey, journalist and writer on the Horn of Africa, in his reflections published in Foreign Affairs Magazine this week (March 23, 2016) said Ethiopia’s ability and means for providing emergency relief has changed beyond recognition since 1984. Over the last decade, it has grown at about ten percent annually, giving the government enough cash to mitigate the crisis. He further said “initially, Ethiopia tried what many in the West complain developing countries don’t do enough of: tackling the situation at the route. Ethiopia employed a sophisticated food security network developed over the decades since the images of the 1984 famine came to typify the country.”  Although today’s Ethiopia by comparison is a much more politically and economically stable country, capable of self-help and robust action, he added — “but there are always limits.”

 

In fact, there are limits to what Ethiopia can prepare for.

Accordingly, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in his recent interview (March 17, 2016) with The Associated Press, has urged the international community to donate more toward emergency food aid for millions of people. He said, “Ethiopia should not be neglected by any means despite all the other crises that are going on elsewhere in the world; My country deserves more support because we are also sheltering some 750,000 refugees from neighboring countries that need food aid,” “If something goes wrong,” the Premier added, “ it is the international community who has not come in. The aid provided to us so far is very little and it often came very late. I urge organizations like UNICEF to come in if they think this is a worst case scenario. Just talking is not a solution.”

In connection Ms. Ahunna observed that drought response is not just about saving lives it is about protecting development gains – gains which the government and its development partners have worked tirelessly to build up over decades.  “We need to rally urgently to protect the development gains of Ethiopia over the past decade and ensure the country remains on its remarkable development trajectory. Urgent and substantial investment in the humanitarian crisis response this year is the only way to ensure this and we must act now,” she concludes.

HRC Urged to pay close attention to human right violations in Eritrea

In a joint oral statement to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project urged the Council to pay close attention to human right violations in Eritrea (March 14, 2016). At the “Human Rights Council 31st Session Individual Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea on (March 14, 2016), the joint statement underlined that large number of Eritreans are fleeing the country to escape lifelong military service and denial of their fundamental rights. Even worse, it was noted that Eritrean authorities tolerate no independent media outlets and have been holding dozens of journalists and activists incommunicado for years.

Although the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Eritrea has recently assured the UN Council of his country’s commitment to human rights and human dignity as a “top priority” and of its full engagement in the Universal Periodic Review, a process which offers the international community an opportunity to inspect how well individual states are complying with international human rights obligations, the Joint Statement made it clear that genuine commitment was lacking from the regime in Eretria. Indeed, ongoing practical realities remain far from what the Eritrean foreign minister attempted to sketch. In fact, the two rights group expressed their concern of the gap between the minister’s bogus claim in the description of the situation in his country and the systemic, widespread and grave human rights violations documented by the Special Rapporteur and the Commission of Enquiry on Eritrea.

The fact that human rights violations are rampant in Eritrea is now an open secret. In fact, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project are not the only ones to witness. A day after the Joint Oral Statement, United Nations rights Envoy on (March 15, 2016)  made it clear that unaccompanied children are fleeing Eritrea to avoid conscription, putting them at risk of abduction and abuse as they seek shelter in places including Europe.

 

 

As noted in their oral update, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project stressed, “Eritreans flee to avoid endless military service in a country where fundamental rights are inexistent, where there is no independent media and where the Universal Periodic Review recommendations are repeatedly ignored, a country where civil society activists and journalists are held incommunicado for years with no access to lawyers.”

While noting that cases are squarely emblematic, the Joint Oral Statement mentioned particular instances, including Dawit Isaak, a Swedish-Eritrean journalist, arrested and held incommunicado since 2001, and Seyoum Tsehaye, former head of the national television, whose films on the independence struggle continue to be screened regularly on Independence Day while he languishes in jail. Their families and the families of many others have not heard anything from their loved ones, nor do they know whether they are alive or dead.

In fact, in 2014, the UN established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate rights abuses in the East African nation and assigned Sheila Keetharuth of Mauritius as its Special Rapporteur. The Commission of Inquiry was meant to pave the way to establish accountability for the gross rights violations. However, that was difficult as Eritrea closed its doors and authorities declined to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur. The UN council’s special Rapporteur accuses the Eritrean government of ignoring the Council’s demand for unrestricted access to visit the country and provide information necessary for the fulfillment of its mandates. The United Nations Monitoring Group and the UN Human Rights Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Violations in Eritrea also issued a report showcasing the Eritrean government’s systematic use of extrajudicial killing, torture, rape, indefinite national service and forced labor, which it said may amount to crimes against humanity.

Indeed, the report provides substantial and detailed evidence of longstanding patterns of human rights violations in Eritrea, concluding that abuses remain pervasive, systemic, and the product of deliberate government policy. The report reveals arbitrary arrests are rampant, detainees are rarely charged or brought to trial, and scores of people have been victims of enforced disappearances. The commission said that prisoners are being kept in “extremely harsh” conditions of confinement; some are held incommunicado indefinitely. People practicing any religion other than the four approved by the government are usually subject to arrest, harassment, and mistreatment. Citizens are also regularly prone to constant surveillance and of violations of privacy. Freedom of movement is restricted, with permits required for mobility beyond where a person works or lives. Political parties are prohibited; there is no independent media, and Eritrea has not held an election since independence; and no constitution was developed to date.

Referred by right groups as the North Korea of Africa, Eretria is now seen as one of the world’s most repressive nations. Currently there are close to 10,000 political prisoners in atrocious conditions in different prison facilities across the country where they remain prey to different forms of torture and abuse. The government uses arbitrary arrest and detention without charge to crush all opposition and to silence any sort of dissent.

The two rights group hailed the Special Rapporteur for her continued attention to the “plight of ordinary Eritreans who continue to flee in droves,” and called for a renewal of her mandates. The Joint Oral Statement said, “We also urge the Council to renew the Special Rapporteur’s mandate, and to demand that the Government provide proof of life of those arrested and release all journalists, political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.”

 

“The international community and the Government of Eritrea need to address to tackle the country’s damning human rights record, “it added.

Premier reflects on Ethiopia’s overall development

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn made an exclusive interview with the Ethiopian News Agency at the end of last week, in which he touched upon a range of issues, including Ethiopia’s economic growth, regional integration, the country’s bid for a non permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council and the progress of the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Responding on whether the government’s projected double digit economic growth was attainable; the Premier said the estimate for the fiscal year was based on the assumption that there would be a good rain and agricultural productivity will increase and that agricultural production would grow by at least 11% annually. Despite the possible slowdown on the growth, he said, “the economy will continue to register growth, if not a double- digit fast economic growth. When we say fast economic growth, it means that it should be above 7% of annual GDP. So it will be between 11% and 7%. So I think any growth that goes beyond 7% is said to be accelerated fast economic growth.” The Premier added, “We will have a fast economic growth that will continue but there will be a slowdown from our estimate.”

On efforts being undertaken to enhance regional integration among East African nations through the construction of roads, railway networks and the development of Energy, the Premier mentioned series of ongoing regional integration projects with neighboring countries and particularly noted that the integration between Ethiopia and Djibouti as exemplary.  He said, “The first and best example in terms of economic integration is the integration between Ethiopia and Djibouti. If you see we have launched something like 800 kms of railway between Djibouti and Ethiopia that railway construction has been completed to above 97% the remaining little issues will be addressed with the coming two to three months and so it will be fully completed by then. So that means there will be a fast railway for both freight as well as human carriage and so that transport facility is one of the best in Africa. May be in this decade or so it is the first in its kind which connect the two countries in 800 kms of bridge. So I think this is the best example.”

The Premier also noted Ethiopia has been connected to Sudan and Djibouti in terms of power interconnection.  He said, “We are constructing a 400MW, it can go to 1200MW, but for now to lease 400MWs power to Kenya, to Nairobi.  But the line can cater for more than 1200MWs. It can even be upgraded to 2000MWs in the future. So I think these are the major landmarks that the integration process and construction in terms of infrastructure is concerned.”

The regional integration has also been channeled through the construction of road networks. The Premier said, “If you see our road construction to our neighboring countries, Sudan we have already completed, with Djibouti you can see that we have a number of lines not only to Djibouti port but to Tadjoura port and we have even constructed road connections to Berbera port up to our border. We are now trying to secure fund for Somaliland to construct more road towards Berbera port.” He also raised the Kenya- Ethiopia line has been upgraded and that the construction of the line from Nairobi to Moyale will be completed this year. The Kenyan highway, he said goes up to South Africa and the connection with Sudan go up to Egypt which is part of the Cairo-Cape town interconnection. He also mentioned ongoing and proposed road links to South Sudan and the recent agreements with Somalia on road and power interconnectivity. He added, “After peaceful engagement starts then we can also connect with Eritrea in the future.”

Beyond infrastructural connectivity, the Premier noted Ethiopia is also keen to work hard to integrate its economy with its neighbors. In this regard he highlighted the trade integration and the special border trade agreements with Djibouti, Kenya and Sudan. So I think we have all those views to have economic integration as a first step to have political integration in the long term. In such line, he said, “So I think we have all those works to have economic integration as a first step for a political integration in the long term.” Furthermore, he described the people to people relations as excellent.

The Premier also touched upon Ethiopia’s bid for a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council. He said, “Ethiopia is very keen to see that our region especially the Horn of Africa is peaceful and stable. That helps to bring more investment, more tourism and also to engage in economic activities in a very stable way. So we feel that peace is very important for any kind of economic development and prosperity. Even for democratization and good governance. So the Ethiopian government is trying to achieve this objective through IGAD process to pacify our region. You know that we are paying sacrifices; you know our boys and girls are in Somalia they are in Sudan, South Sudan. So they are sacrificing. This all shows that Ethiopia is keen to see, given all the sacrifices we are making in the region, that the region becomes peaceful and stable.”   According to the Prime Minister, this is because the next five years hold a determinant portion of the growth narrative in Ethiopia. He added, “if in the coming five years, we achieve the goals we have set for ourselves in terms of growth and transformation, and it all means that this will continue for the coming 10 years so that Ethiopia become a middle income country. So I think this is a very important season in the history of Ethiopia and we want to be in the United Nations Security Council to influence members of the Security Council to understand the Horn of Africa and to understand better the African Continent and to understand also better the economic and social miracles that these countries are engaging this time.” On the progress so far, he mentioned that a huge majority of Latina America, most of the countries in Europe, and countries, like China and South Korea are supporting Ethiopia’s candidacy.

On the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the Premier noted that this was a flagship project, one which was historic.  He said, “This is one of the monumental projects the country has and one of the few agenda items that our people have had consensus.” Through the years, Ethiopia, he said has progressed and the progress it has made has helped the country build such a mega project with its own resources, adding that the construction of the Dam is well underway according to the plan. Noting that Ethiopia’s relations with Sudan and Egypt have been very smooth, the Premier stressed the relationship has been evolving through social, economic and political platforms, which he said demanded a political commitment. “I believe that there is political commitment from all of us, all the three countries specially the leaders. So I think this will take us for a long period of time to have not only a consensus on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam but also to create a common economic platform that helps us to move forward in our engagement,” he added.

Head of JEMEC on South Sudan: “The patience of the international community – as is my own – is being tested”

Festus G. Mogae, Chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) opened JMEC Meeting this week (March 24, 2016) in Juba. The meeting aimed at reporting the further concrete action taken by the Government and the SPLM-IO in accordance with Chapter III of the Agreement, and further to earlier discussions, to facilitate the humanitarian response; hearing the progress made by the parties in implementing the transitional security arrangements for Juba; appraising the progress made by CTSAMM in its investigations of ceasefire violations, and reporting to the UN Security Council on progress in implementation of the Agreement.

The head of JEMEC said, “Let us be reminded that the formation of a new government will not in itself be a panacea.  The term of the transitional government, which should have begun months ago, is rapidly elapsing.  Therefore, once more, I urge the Parties to be dedicated in every respect to the task of forming the new government, and consider what will be the plan of action for the first months in office”

As the two warring parties continue to trade blame over protracted delays in forming a transitional government, apparently, the international community is beginning to lose patience with the repeated failure of parties to implement the peace agreement. JEMEC’s Chairperson added, “Ladies and Gentlemen, let me be frank and tell you that the patience of the international community – as is my own – is being tested.  While I remain optimistic, as must we all, now is the time to prove that the commitments that have been repeatedly made by the Parties are genuine and sincere.  The country cannot afford any more delays.  I implore you to heed this message.”

Earlier on Tuesday (March 22, 2016), the United States Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, Donald Booth has urged South Sudan’s rivals to quickly form a transitional government. Donald Booth made the remarks during a meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and representatives of Troika countries (United Kingdom, United States and Norway) in Addis Ababa, on the progress of South Sudan’s peace agreement. In the occasion the Premier and Troika representatives are reported to have reviewed the progress of South Sudan’s peace deal.

Taking note of Ethiopia’s continued efforts in the process of ensuring peace and stability in South Sudan; the Prime Minister Hailemariam reassured the Troika representatives that Ethiopia is committed to strengthening its partnership with the international community to make sure that south Sudan’s political stakeholders commit themselves to ensure peace and stability in the country.

Expressing concerns that South Sudan’s peace agreement was already far behind schedule, the US special envoy urged both the South Sudanese government and the opposition to form the “transitional government of national unity as quickly as possible. He said, “We will continue to work closely as Troika countries with IGAD to try to bring about an implementation of South Sudan’s peace agreement.”

Ethiopia’s tourism industry moves on with fresh impetus

With a view to transforming the Ethiopian Tourism sector in order that it contributes appreciably to the economic development of the country and creates far-flung opportunities of investment, a number of notable initiatives and new programs are being undertaken in recent years and councils and institutions were established by the Government of Ethiopia. Since then, the industry has gradually been on the rise.

In an exclusive interview on (March 20) with the Ethiopian News Agency (ENA), Mr. Gezahegn Abate, Public and International Relations Director at the ministry disclosed 478,890 tourists have visited Ethiopia during the first half of the current fiscal year, which showed a rise by 108,136 visitors as viewed against the performance witnessed during the same period of the previous yea; thereby generating 1.7 billion dollars, a figure way over last year’s performance by404, 842,160 dollars. The reliable peace and security in the country, infrastructural development and the expansion of hotels at tourist destinations, and the undertaking of active promotional packages by the Ethiopian embassies and consuls have contributed a great deal to the new impetus evident in the industry.

In an effort to enhance the competitiveness of the tourism sector and enable the industry to generate increased returns, create more jobs and help the country’s GDP growth and social development, Ethiopia has been harnessing potentials and resources in a transformational manner. Consequently, a couple of institutional platforms had been established in August 2013: the Ethiopian Tourism Transformation and the Ethiopian Tourism Organization Council. The Ethiopian Tourism Transformation Council, chaired by H. E Hailemariam Dessalegn, and the Ethiopian Tourism Organization.  In a bid to support the sector with the highest possible leadership, the Ethiopian Tourism council which is led by Prime Minister Hailemariam is composed of 68 council members, including all the ministers, regional leaders, and tourism bureaus of each region state, Ethiopian Airlines, Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral associations, hotel and restaurant and other sector representatives.  Noting that the tourism is one of the key drivers of development, the sector is given due attention in the country’s second growth and Transformation Plan (GTP2) following which the government and a task force which included the private sector and other stakeholders have begun forging new initiatives that are being well underway.  A Sustainable Tourism Master plan (STMP), is also being formulated in collaboration with different stakeholders and with the technical support provided by the sub-regional office for Eastern Africa (SRO-EA) and the division for Regional Integration and trade (RITD) of United Nations in partnership with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. In the previous weeks as well, a new national Brand has been launched and the new website of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism is now operating. Minister of Culture and Tourism, Engineer Aisha Mohammed in a statement about the launch of the new website of the Ministry said, “Ethiopia, with its impressive tourism potentials, is truly a land of contrasts and extremes, a land of remote and wild places, and of spectacular alpine terrain – including the Semien Mountains National park with its 4261 meters peak at Ras Dashen of the nine UNESCO world heritages sites; and at the other end of the spectrum, the danakil depression 121 meters below sea level is among the lowest places and extremely hot.”

The new national brand is strap-lined “Ethiopia, Land of Origins” and has the aim of leading the sector into new avenues and transforming Ethiopia’s tourism industry into a new chapter. Noting that the newly defined Ethiopian brand, “Ethiopia, Land of Origins” is set to transform Ethiopia’s tourism industry into a new chapter, the Director said, “The brand has its logo, slogan and icons drafted in a blue background and the tree with full of green, yellow and red colors and its full root simply to show Ethiopia has its original identity and strong ties among the nations, nationalities and peoples.”  The new brand, the director said would be instrumental in encouraging scientists, researchers and other interested foreign visitors to discover Ethiopia and see its unique features. Reminding that Ethiopia is the land of ancient civilization, the cradle of mankind; origin of coffee, rich history, culture and source of Blue Nile, the new brand  “Ethiopia, Land of Origins” was unveiled at the Berlin International Tourism Trade Fair in early March, 2016, he added. Indeed the extraordinary achievements of ancient civilizations of Axum, the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, the castles of Gondar, the colorful holy Islamic city of Harar are all among the World Heritage Sites found in Ethiopia. In fact, the General Assembly of the European Council on Tourism and Trade (ECTT) has rated Ethiopia as the number one World Best Tourist Destination and Favorite Cultural Destination for 2015. By the end of the second five-year Growth and Transformation Plan Period (GTP2), the country’s tourism sector is expected to generate seven billion dollars.

 

 

 

 

 

18.03.2016
Italian President Sergio Mattarella’s Visit to Ethiopia
European parliament expresses concerns on the situation in Eritrea
The 2016 Sanitation and Water for All High-Level Meeting
The Ethio-South Africa Business and Investment Forum
Parties urged to implement South Sudan’s peace deal
News in Brief
Africa and the African Union
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has lauded the relationship between Africa and Italy. The Italian President, Sergio Mattarella, paid an official visit to the African Union (AU) on (March 15, 2016) where he held a bilateral meeting with the Chairperson. “The visit is another concrete step to broaden and deepen the relationship between the AU and Italy,” Dr Dlamini said.
The farms of Africa are prospering at last thanks to persistence, technology and decent government, says The Economist (March 16, 2016)
The African Ambassadors Spouses Group (AASG) s held its annual “African Charity Bazaar” at the African Union (AU) Headquarters in Addis Ababa at the end of last week.The annual event, aimed at soliciting fund for charities supporting vulnerable children and women, brought together various NGOs, representatives of embassies based in Addis Ababa, and diplomatic communities, among others.
Ethiopia
Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom received Mr. Anthony Lake, UNICEF’s Executive Director, in his offices today (March 16, 2016). Mr. Lake also said UNICEF would assist Ethiopia in its efforts of mitigating the current draught, adding that the assistance will not only focus on an immediate response but also on long term sustainability
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on (March 15, 2016) has urged intellectuals to do their parts in the efforts of forging national consensus and realizing Ethiopian renaissance.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn who received the visiting President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella on (March 14, 2016) recalled the longstanding relations between Ethiopia and Italy and noted that such time-tasted ties should also be strengthened in the business and investment sectors.
Dr. Mulatu Teshome, the President of the FDRE received Sergio Mattarella, President of Italy (March 14, 2016) at the National Palace.
President Sergio Mattarella of Italy who has been on a five-day official tour of Ethiopia (March 14-17, 2016) revealed that his country supports Ethiopia’s bid for a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council.
Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom held talks with Micheal Keating, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) for Somalia at his offices (March 15, 2016). Discussions focused on efforts of stabilizing Somalia and the new political developments in the country, including upcoming elections.
A two-day Sanitation and Water for All High-Level Ministerial meeting which brought together governments, donors, civil society organizations and development partners opened this week (March 15, 2016) in Addis Ababa at the African Union Headquarters.
The Ethio-South Africa Business and Investment Forum was held in Addis Ababa this week (March 14-15, 2016) bringing together senior government officials and more than 50 companies from the private sectors of both countries.
Sergio Mattarella, President of Italy met with His Holiness Abune Mathias I, Patriarch of Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Archbishop of Axum and Ichege of the See of Saint Taklehaimanot (March 14, 2016) in Addis Ababa.
Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia, Ambassador La Yifan on (March 14, 2016) said Ethiopia if elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) will be successful in discharging its responsibilities in the promotion of global peace and development. Accordingly, Ambassador Yifan expressed his support to Ethiopia’s bid for a non-permanent seat at the UNSC.
Ethiopia and the World Bank on (March 17, 2016) signed a 33 million USD loan agreement. Ahmed Shide, State Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation, and Carolyn Turk, World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan signed the agreement.
Ethiopia and China signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to commence the construction of Adama equipment manufacturing industrial park
The Ethiopian Railways Corporation on (March 17, 2016) disclosed the construction of four tunnels (half of the proposed no. of tunnels) commenced along the Mekelle-Woldia-Hara Gebeya railway line. The 216 km railway project is progressing as per schedule and is now 28 percent complete.
Addis Ababa is due to host a conference aimed at sharing knowledge and experience in Kaizen management philosophy and implementation strategy, the Ethiopian Kaizen Institute (EKI) disclosed on (March 15, 2016).
Eritrea
Unaccompanied children are fleeing Eritrea to avoid conscription, putting them at risk of abduction and abuse as they seek shelter in places including Europe, a United Nations rights envoy said (March 15, 2016)
Two international right groups have urged the United Nations Human Rights Council, to pay very close attention to the human right violations allegedly committed in Eritrea. While delivering a statement on (March 14, 2016) before the UN Human Rights Council, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project expressed concern over the deteriorating human rights situations and on the conditions of political prisoners
The European Parliament on (March 10, 2016) adopted a resolution on Eritrea pertaining to the human rights situation in the country. The resolution sent a strong signal to the European Commission, the EU Council, member states and the Eritrean government that human rights violations in the country needed to be addressed immediately.
President Isaias Afwerki on (March 15, 2016) departed to Qatar for a working visit. It was reported that President Isaias and the Emir of Qatar, Sheik Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, subsequently met at the State Palace and discussed bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest.

Kenya
British energy group Tullow Oil (March 16, 2016) has discovered oil in Kenya’s northern Kerio Valley, a finding that could mean the opening of a second oil basin as the East African country prepares to become an oil exporter for the first time.
Kenya has secured a $1.5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, a facility it is allowed to tap only in case of emergency (March 15, 2016).
Somalia
Thirty insurgents in Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-aligned Shebab jihadist group were killed (March 16, 2016) in heavy clashes in the south and northeast of the country.

Puntland security forces launched crushing attacks on the hideouts of al-Shabaab militants in the Northern coastal province of Nugal on (March 17, 2016), killing scores of militants and injuring many more
South Sudan
The United Nations Security Council on (March 17, 2017) said it was deeply alarmed by ongoing violence in the country and set out specific steps for the parties to take towards full implementation of a seven-month–old peace deal, saying it would review their progress by the end of the month.
According to the Ceasefire and Transitional Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM), (March 16, 2016) South Sudan government troops and opposition forces violated the permanent ceasefire five times, between 28 December 2015 and early March. (See article)
Sudan
The Sudanese government on (March 16, 2016) decided to put an end to its open door policy for South Sudanese nationals fleeing the armed conflict in the neighboring country and decided to treat them as foreigners.
Sudan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on (March 16, 2016) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on security cooperation.
Sudan’s Vice-President Hasabo Mohamed Abdel-Rahman (March 16, 2016) discussed with the British Ambassador to Khartoum Michael Aron on bilateral cooperation between the wo countries.
The head of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) Thabo Mbeki on (March 15, 2016) has invited a newly formed opposition coalition to take part in an informal and inclusive consultations meeting with the government on the national dialogue process.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella’s Visit to Ethiopia
Italian President Sergio Mattarella had been in Ethiopia for a five day official visit (March 13 -17, 2016,) during which he had discussions with Dr. Mulatu Teshome, the President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn and His Holiness Abune Mathias I, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Archbishop of Axum and Ichege of the See of Saint Taklehaimanot.
President Sergio Mattarella of Italy had been received by President Dr. Mulatu Teshome at the National Palace. Discussions focused on a range of issues, including Italy’s new African engagement, migration, and the fight against terrorism and peace and security concerns in the region. Dr. Mulatu Teshome said relations between Ethiopia and Italy have been flourishing in all fronts, underlining that Italian public and private companies should explore the business and investment opportunities in Ethiopia.
President Sergio Mattarella mentioned Italy is keen to enhance the bilateral cooperation in areas of trade, investment, tourism, capacity building among others. He further revealed that Italy supports Ethiopia’s bid for a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council. While appreciating Ethiopia’s roles in promoting regional and international peace and security, combating terrorism as well as hosting and rehabilitating a great number of refugees, President Mattarella said Ethiopia deserves a seat at the Security Council. He underlined the partnership between Ethiopia and Italy should also be strengthened in areas of promoting regional peace and stability and working together to curb the challenge of migration.
President Sergio Mattarella also held discussions with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, where in the premier recalled the longstanding relations between Ethiopia and Italy and noted that such time-tasted ties should also be strengthened in the business and investment sectors. He added, the visit will scale up the business and investment relations between the two nations. President Mattarella on his part said Italy looks forward to establishing industrial parks in Ethiopia in a bid to enhance the bilateral trade and investment ties. While commending Ethiopia’s role in the promotion of regional peace and security, and particularly its efforts in stabilizing countries like Somalia and South Sudan, the President said his country is keen to extend support in such regards. He also hailed the people and Government of Ethiopia for hosting a great number of refugees, to which he expressed his country’s readiness to work together with Ethiopia with a view to addressing the root causes of migration.
Ethiopia and Italy, of course, have overcome the problems arising from the eras of colonialism and fascism that affected their relations from time to time. The relationship between the two countries today, following the introduction of the current Foreign Policy Strategy, has seen a steadily strengthening trend in all areas. In fact, a longstanding historical relationship has been consolidated by various cooperation agreements and by a whole series of high level visits. Recent visits to Italy by Ethiopian officials have included Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (2004) and former Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin (February and April 2009). Visits by Italian officials have included visits by Prime Minister, Mr. Romano Prodi, (January 2007), and by Foreign Minister Franco Frattini (January 2010). The visit of Prime Minister Meles to Italy in 2004 was a particular landmark. Ethiopia and Italy signed agreements for a soft loan of 220 million Euros for the Gilgel Gibe II hydropower project, for the cancellation of US $432 million of debts and for the return of the Axum Obelisk. There was also the agreement for a series of regular political consultation between the two Foreign Ministries marking the opening of a new chapter in bilateral cooperation between Italy and Ethiopia.
Indeed, Ethio-Italy relations were not only historic, long standing and cordial but also had been gradually expanding, covering economic cooperation, regional peace and security and global issues of common interests. The bilateral relations have further been bolstered with the visit of the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to Ethiopia, in July 2015. Earlier in January 2015, the Foreign Minister of Italy, Paulo Gentiloni, visited Ethiopia, during which the Executive Program for cultural cooperation for the years 2015-2019 had been signed. In addition, Foreign Minister Gentiloni signed three agreements on draught resilience and sustainable livelihood program, worth 12.9 million Euros, women economic empowerment and social integration worth 892,000 Euros and Italian support to the development of the health system in Oromia and Tigray Region States, worth 4.15 million Euros.
During his stay, President Sergio Mattarella, also met with His Holiness Abune Mathias I, Patriarch of Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Archbishop of Axum and Ichege of the See of Saint Taklehaimanot On the occasion, the Italian President said Ethiopia and Italy have longstanding socio-economic and political relations, adding that the Ethiopian Orthodox Church could play crucial role to cement the people to people relations between the two countries. His Holiness Abune Mathias I, Patriarch of Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Archbishop of Axum and Ichege of the See of Saint Taklehaimanot noted Ethio-Italy relations should be based on fraternity, and mutual understanding. His Holiness stressed Ethiopia and Italy should work together to deal with national and global challenges, including poverty, climate change, religious extremism and illegal migration. The Patriarch added Ethiopian and Italian churches could work more on the conservation of historical sites and antiquities.
The President’s tour also included a visit to the Italian Cultural Institute in the capital, a refugee camp, in Gambella Region, one of the projects funded by the Italian Development Cooperation, the historic Lalibela Rock-Hewn Churches, in Northern Ethiopia, a world heritage, recognized by the UNESCO.
European parliament expresses concerns on the situation in Eritrea
The European Parliament on (March 10, 2016) adopted a resolution on Eritrea pertaining to the human rights situation in the country. The parliament raised various issues, including consecutive sanctions by the UNSC, the reports of the Commission of Inquiry, and other related items. The resolution sent a strong signal to the European Commission, the EU Council, member states and the Eritrean government that human rights violations in the country needed to be addressed immediately.
The resolution also reviewed its previous resolutions on Eritrea, in particular those of 7 February 2002, 18 November 2004 and 15 September 2011 with respect to the human rights situations in the country. It also took note of the previous reports, including EEAS report on the Eritrea-European Union Partnership of 2015, UN Women Country Report on the Government of the State of Eritrea, June 2014 and the report submitted to the Human Rights Council on 19 June 2015 by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea and international instruments including International Labor Organization Conventions No 29 concerning forced labor, No 105, abolition of forced labour and No 87 concerning freedom of association and protection of the right to organize, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of 1981,the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.
The resolution attempted to demonstrate how the EU has been supporting Eritrea since its independence and how the country failed to meet the expectations of the people of Eritrea and the international community in terms of fulfilling the promises of building of democracy and the respect of rule of law under the pretext of consolidating the country’s national defense. It underlined the planned presidential election 1997 had been abandoned and the constitution ratified in the same year has never been implemented to date. Instead, it took note of the fact that there has been even greater repression and even more violations of human rights in the country.
The resolution emphasized several young men and women have fled the country to escape repression and mandatory military conscription, which often starts at a very young age. It also noted many of the conscripts are often exposed to forced labor and given civilian duties and the majority of those in national service end up in slavery, in which any work, job applications and the possibility of having a family life are controlled. It further noted the continued disregard to freedom of worship and conscience, freedom of the media and freedom of expression, and the extrajudicial executions, torture (including sexual torture and sexual slavery), and the shoot-to-kill policy at the border may constitute crimes against humanity.
The Parliament also took note of the significant number of refugees fleeing Eritrea, further illustrating the gravity of the persecution in the country. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, over 400, 000 Eritreans, or 9 % of the total population, have fled; whereas UNHCR estimates some 5, 000 Eritreans leave the country every month; and in 2015 69 % of Eritrean asylum seekers had been granted a refugee status in the EU while 27 % of them received subsidiary protection. In such line, the 200 million dollar fund that the EU earmarked for development cooperation with the Government of Eritrea was one of the top agendas. In addition to migrating to Europe tens of thousands of Eritreans also now reside in neighboring Ethiopia and Sudan, bringing the country’s refugee population to well over half a million, and making the country whose population is usually estimated at around 5 million people “one of the world’s “fastest –emptying nations,” according to the Wall Street Journal. In fact, the numbers of refugees may be rather higher as an Eritrean Government minister recently referred to the country’s population as between “two and a half to three million”. Certainly the tyranny of the government has encouraged the scale of the migration to increase steadily over the last few years.
Taking note of the fact that refugees who flee Eritrea are also pressured to pay 2% tax to the Government of Eritrea, the EU parliament in its Resolution Number 13, condemned the use by the Eritrean government of the ‘Diaspora tax’, which is often collected by extortion and other illegal means and called for an end the ‘guilt-by-association’ policies that target family members of those who evade national service, seek to flee Eritrea or fail to pay the 2 % income tax imposed by the government.
Despite the concerns of some members of the EU parliament, representatives of the Eritrean public, regional and international activists that EU’s € 200 million aid package will not directly benefit the Eritrean people, and fails to address the root causes of the refugee crisis in the country, the EU parliament in its resolution said, “The Parliament Calls on the Commission to ensure that the funding allocated does not benefit the Eritrean Government but is strictly assigned to meeting the needs of the Eritrean people for development, democracy, human rights, good governance and security, and freedom of speech, press and assembly; urges the EU to ensure the conditionality of the recently agreed aid.”
One cannot dispute the value of aid to a country as impoverished as Eritrea, but whether the conditions attached to aid for Eritrea will be kept is a question that will remain unanswered for the moment. The Eritrean Government has a long record of diversion of funds for purposes unintended by the donors as the EU has seen earlier and it is far from clear how the EU plans to ensure the aid goes to the intended usage. Any analysis of the root causes of migration in Eritrea makes it clear that the vast majority of Eritrean refugees are not economic migrants who flee the country because of poverty and unemployment, but that they are rather refugees from the persistent challenges of repeated and on-going human rights violations. The large migration of youth, and more recently even unaccompanied children, is the clearest sign of extreme domestic discontent and concern with the government of Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki and the indefinite conscription.

In fact, a United Nations rights envoy on March 15, 2016 said unaccompanied children are fleeing Eritrea to avoid conscription, putting them at risk of abduction and abuse as they seek shelter in places including Europe. Even more, two international right groups have urged the United Nations Human Rights Council, to pay very close attention to the human right violations allegedly committed in Eritrea. While delivering a statement on March 14, 2016 before the UN Human Rights Council, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project expressed concern over the deteriorating human rights situations and on the conditions of political prisoners. According to the reports of the United Nations Monitoring Group and the UN Human Rights Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Violations in Eritrea, the Eritrean government’s systematic use of extrajudicial killing, torture, rape, indefinite national service and forced labor may amount to crimes against humanity and migration. The Commission’s report provides substantial and detailed evidence of longstanding patterns of human rights violations in Eritrea, concluding that abuses remain pervasive, systemic, and the product of deliberate government policy. The report says that arbitrary arrests are rampant, detainees are rarely charged or brought to trial, and scores of people have been victims of enforced disappearances. The commission said that prisoners are kept in “extremely harsh” conditions of confinement; some are held incommunicado indefinitely. People practicing any religion other than the four approved by the government are subject to arrest, harassment, and mistreatment in detention. Citizens are subject to constant surveillance and violations of privacy. Freedom of movement is restricted, with permits required for movement beyond the community where a person works or lives. Political parties are prohibited, there is no independent media, and Eritrea has not held an election since independence and there is no constitution developed to administer the socio, economic and political undertakings.

The EU parliament further expressed its concern that the Eritrean government is bent on making use of the resources to fund armed groups in neighboring countries and work to destabilize the region. In fact, in addition to its persistent record of repeated human rights violations, Eritrea has continuously attempted to destabilize the Horn of Africa region in general and Ethiopia in particular. In 2009 UN Security Council has imposed sanctions on Eritrea due to the countries activity threatening international peace. The whole range of the sanctions, including an arms embargo, the freezing of assets and a travel ban on selected individuals, were imposed on Eritrea for its support to the Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist organization, Al Shabaab, and other armed groups. The UN Security Council hardened the sanctions against Eritrea in December 2011 over its alleged support for Islamist militant groups such as Somalia’s al-Shabaab. In addition, Eritrea was also sanctioned for its border dispute with Djibouti and its total rejection of all calls for negotiation over its unprovoked attack and invasion of Djibouti territory. In fact, despite this, Eritrea’s main regional destabilization activities have most consistently been aimed at Ethiopia either directly or indirectly. Eritrea has continuously attempted to support a number of Ethiopian opposition groups which have repeatedly, and publicly, underlined they are involved in armed struggle to try to overthrow the Government of Ethiopia. These groups include the Oromo Liberation Front and Ginbot 7 among others, and both of these and others are now openly based in Asmara, in recipient of arms, finance and logistical support from the Eritrean Government.
Of course, there can be little doubt that while the people of Eritrea need all the aid they can get, that donors should make every effort to be as vigilant as possible about the management of any aid package, since on past record most of the money might well be used to procure weapons for various Eritrean-backed armed opposition and terrorists groups which the government supports in the region. Aid, if delivered, must be given with strict obligations attached. There may be no easy solution for Eritrea’s domestic situation, but at the least the EU should recognize the undisputed fact that the Eritrean government is a totalitarian state the vast majority of whose migrants are real refugees are not in search of work but who are fleeing from the very real terror of over twenty years of repression and human rights violation.
Overall, the EU parliament in its most recent resolution found there are widespread and gross human rights violations that have been and are being committed by the Government of Eritrea and that there is no accountability for them. The enjoyment of rights and freedoms are severely curtailed in an overall context of a total lack of rule of law in the region. Accordingly, it urged the Government of Eritrea to respect obligations under international human rights treaties to which Eritrea is a party; ratify and implement other international human rights instruments; and respectfully the basic rights of the peoples of Eritrea.
The 2016 Sanitation and Water for All High-Level Meeting
The 2016 Sanitation and Water for High-Level Meeting was held this week (March 15-16, 2016) at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa. The meeting which was organized by UNICEF and hosted by the Government of Ethiopia was attended by government ministers and representatives of development agencies, civil society, private sector and NGOs. The meeting aimed at exploring ways to meet the targets on universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene as stipulated in the new Sustainable Development Goals, develop robust financing strategies and investment plans for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and share views on how those strategies and plans could also incorporate innovative financing mechanisms involving not-for-profits and the private sector. The High Level Meeting dialogue raised awareness and strengthened relations between WASH sector ministries and finance ministries, triggered stronger sector coordination in many countries, created a crucial context for advocacy and helped political and financial decision makers rely on a practical evidence to improve their decision-making.
Dr. Mulatu Teshome the President of FDRE told the gathering that Ethiopia has been working hard in guaranteeing full access to the basic social services and required infrastructure, including its engagement towards achieving universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene. Dr. Mulatu said Ethiopia recognizes the concern of water and sanitation not merely as an economic good but also as a basic right for all, which he said comes at the heart of the government’s pro-poor policies. Reminding his listeners that his country has achieved the MDGs, including the target in water, sanitation and hygiene domains, he said, “In Ethiopia we believe that we have put in place key pillars that can support the sector to achieve its SDGs milestones.” He noted, “Ethiopia stands ready to share its experiences on the WASH national program through field visits to our urban WASH program as well as in meeting interactions. Ethiopia seeks to identify best practices that we can learn from other members of the SWA partnership. As one of the early members of Sanitation and Water for All we are happy to see the progress that the partnership is making and indeed the opportunities it provides for collaboration especially around the newly adopted SDGs.”
On the challenges of the sector faces and the way forward, Dr. Mulatu highlighted four key factors, which he said are drawn out of the experiences and best practices in Ethiopia. First, the commitment of the government in achieving the goal set nationally and internationally is a critical factor. He noted, in Ethiopia this has been achieved in many ways such as the provision in the constitution, the inclusion of the sector in the main pillars of successive Medium Term plans, continuously increasing allocation of public funds, and the creation of a strong coordination mechanism. Second, it is apparent that if WASH program is going to be successful in a sustainable way; countries must ensure that they have technical capability and institutions that produce experts at the required level, quantity and quality. Third, it is critical to ensure harmonization of donor groups, and the procedures in terms of planning, implementation, reporting, monitoring and evaluation. Addressing inequalities, the President said remains to be a vital area. And if countries are going to meet the SDGs, he added, the disparities that may exist in the various parts of the world need to be addressed.
Kevin Rudd, newly appointed Chair of SWA (Sanitation and Water for All) and former Prime Minister of Australia, said, “I am excited to see so many ministers and senior representatives from governments in this room, but equally encouraged to see them joined by partners from the private sector, civil society, the UN system and research and learning institutions,” He added, “the Sustainable Development Goals demand both greater coordination and new modalities of finance. We need more money, and smarter ways to use the money we have.” Mr. Rudd further said, “The truth for us all is that if we began to calculate the quantum of investment necessary in water and sanitation across the world today to meet our collectively-agreed SDGs, we are looking at a vast number. And if we are truthful, there have always been limits on national budgets and certainly on budgets of the various international agencies engaged in this sector.”
According to the latest estimates, 32 per cent of the world’s population, 2.4 billion people lack improved sanitation facilities, and 663 million people still do not have access to improved drinking water sources. Diarrhoeal diseases caused by lack of access to clean water and sanitation, coupled with poor hygiene practices, kill 800 children under 5 years old every day. UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake noted, “Safe, sustainable water, and equitable, adequate sanitation and hygiene underpin all the progress we hope to make – and have to make – for children in the next 15 years.” He stressed the importance of achieving universal access in all countries, noting that in addition to health gains from safe water, better sanitation contributes to economic development, delivering an estimated US$5.5 in social and economic benefits for every $1 invested, through increased productivity and reduced healthcare costs. Mr. Lake said, “If we don’t make progress on WASH, we will not reach the SDGs – and millions of children will not realize their right to grow up healthy and strong. So we need to invest more, better integrate our efforts across sectors, and innovate to find new ways of reaching every child, every family, and every community; SDGs have raised the bar, so must we. ”
The Ethio-South Africa Business and Investment Forum
The Ethio-South Africa Business And Investment Forum was held in Addis Ababa this week (March 14-15, 2016) bringing together senior government official and more than 50 companies from the private sector of South Africa and their counter parts in Ethiopia. The Forum aimed at exploring opportunities, assessing investment prospects and building partnerships between businesses from South Africa and Ethiopia. The conference was also attended by senior government officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, Trade and Industry Department of South Africa, Ministry of Industry of Ethiopia, Embassy of South Africa in Addis Ababa, Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association.
Opening the Forum, State Minister of the Ethiopian Ministry of Trade, Dr. Mebratu Meles said Africa is on the rise and there has been a huge opportunity of trade and investment within the continent. Noting that Ethiopia and South Africa are “both members of the COMESA” sharing the East and Southern Africa free trade zones, Dr. Mebratu said there have been vast opportunities for Africans as well as global investors to do business in the African continent. He said, “The next battle field of investment will be Africa”. On the bilateral trade ties, the State Minister mentioned Ethiopia exports agricultural products such as flowers and coffee to South Africa and imports pharmaceuticals, automotive and technological products in return, while also underlining that much needs to be done to enhance the trade volume and investment flow between the two countries.
Ethiopia, he said, is massively building infrastructure, and has become one of the top three countries in expenditure on infrastructure per GDP. This remarkable growth has been the result of its development, which he said was broad-based, inclusive and sustainable. The national plan ahead is moving from agriculture led economy to industrial led economy, he added. Accordingly light manufacturing investments also are priority areas of investment. Stressing on Ethiopia’s goal of becoming Africa’s industrial hub by 2025, he said the country is massively embarking on the development of industrial parks, adding that industrial parks could be developed in three ways: government, private investor and or joint ventures. In such score, he emphasized South African Investors are most welcome to come and build their own industrial parks in the country. Accordingly, Dr. Mebratu assured South African investors that the government is ready to help and support investments coming to Ethiopia. He also related that Ethiopia is working to organize international industrial conference in October 2016.
The State Minister further listed top reasons why investors should come and do business in Ethiopia: the country’s fast growing economy, government’s commitment, the stable macro-economy, the competitive incentive packages, peace and stability, and the simple and transparent investment approval procedures among others.
Ambassaor Ndumiso N. Ntshinga, Ambassador of ‪South Africa to ‪Ethiopia, African Union and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, said Ethiopia is well placed as one of the best performing economies despite global economic slowdown. He said his government attaches a great deal of importance to trade and investment partnership with thiopia. He also said the Government of South Africa will continue encouraging the private sector players to maximize the prospect of using the ample investment opportunities in Ethiopia. Ethiopia a country with the second largest population and a well performing economy, he said can be taken as a massive opportunity to South African businesses.He further noted the Importance of working on the expansion of free trade areas to enhance the intraAfrican trade.
Getachew Regassa, Secretary General, Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce & Sectoral Association, said the chamber in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working to enhance bilateral and multilateral trade and business relations between Ethiopia and other countries, including South Africa. South African investors, he said are one of the most frequent visitors and the ties between the two nations is getting stronger by the day, adding that their relationship goes in line with the agreement made during the 18th Ordinary Session of the AU’s Heads of State and Governments meeting in 2012. W/o Hirut Zemene, Director General of Business Diplomacy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “it’s a pleasure to meet South African investors in Addis Ababa two times in less than a year” and noted that last time the bilateral business and trade relations was based in a “concrete and realistic grounds”. Hirut said South Africa has strong bases, in its industrial sectors, which she said can be of advantage to Ethiopians, noting that this area is a priority sector in Ethiopia. The Ethio-South African Investment and Business Forum also included a number of deliberations, and government–to-business (G2B) and business-to-business (B2B) sessions and round table discussions.
Parties urged to implement South Sudan’s peace deal
After close to three years of fighting and up to eight attempts to make peace in South Sudan, yet another accord was signed and ratified by President Salva Kiir, and the SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar along with the presence of former detainees on August 2015. The parties agreed to declare permanent ceasefire and establish a transitional national unity government along with a transitional security arrangement which will aspire to collaboratively work towards a permanent constitution. The Compromise Peace Agreement’s (CPA) implementation phase began on August 29, 2015 and the deal was unanimously approved by the country’s parliament on September 10, 2015. This crucial period represented a critical step in an effort to end conflict that broke out back in December 2013.
The implementation of the Agreement, however, falls far behind schedule. According to the Ceasefire and Transitional Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM), South Sudan government troops and opposition forces violated the permanent ceasefire five times, between 28 December 2015 and early March. The country’s main warring parties had reported eight incidents of clashes between them. “But both parties were implicated in the violation reports that were tabled in the meeting,” Ruth Feeney, CTSAMM’s strategic communications officer told reporters in Juba (March 16, 2016) after a meeting attended by representatives from both sides. The CTSAMM, Feeney said, confirmed that the warring factions have clashed in Western Equatoria, Western Bahr El Ghazal and in the Greater Upper Nile region. The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), the body mandated to oversee the implementation of the peace agreement, will name the party responsible for the ceasefire violations, she said. Feeney also observed that the CTSAMM was facing some problems, specifically hinged on the restrictions imposed on their movement.
As the conflict drags on, accusations of war crimes and cries for accountability are getting louder. A latest United Nations Report gave an account of the magnitude and severity of the problem. The report details a multitude of human rights violations, including the deliberate and systematic targeting of civilians and accounts of widespread rape of women and children. The UN report said that South Sudan faces “one of the most horrendous human rights situations in the world.”
Furthermore, speeding up the formation of Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) was mandatory to make the fragile peace robust and more importantly to make unimpeded humanitarian action in addressing the severe humanitarian crisis in the country. Composed of the parties, key South Sudanese stakeholders, IGAD member states, the AU, and the broader international community, the JMEC began monitoring the implementation of the agreement and key reforms have been put in place since its inception on November 2015. JMEC made visits to war torn areas like Bor and Malakal to call on parties to intensify efforts for peace in late November to the hard works it made in bringing the successful arrival of the two SPLM –IO advance teams to Juba in early and mid January; from selecting the TGoNU Ministerial portfolios where the parties had already concurred to the allotment of Ministerial Positions to urging the South Sudanese government to decide on pulling out excess presidential guards force division from its headquarters located south of the presidential palace in the national capital, Juba.
The pre-transitional period of 90 days provided for in the Agreement however ended in late November without the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity (TgoNU) and littel progress was made given the delays in the arrival of the SPLM-IO to Juba. Dhieu Mathok, the Secretary-General of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO), says that their leader Riek Machar will return to Juba after all of the 1,370 security guards and police for Machar arrive in Juba. Speaking to Radio Tamazuj, Mathok said that there were arrangements in place for the opposition forces to come to Juba. The leading member of the opposition group further said they visited sites where their forces are stationed across South Sudan, while expecting their forces to arrive in Juba by next week. The United Nations Security Council on March 17, 2017 said it was deeply alarmed by ongoing violence in the country and set out specific steps for the parties to take towards full implementation of a seven-month–old peace deal, saying it would review their progress by the end of the month.

11.03.2016

Prime Minister Hailemariam: “Ethiopia’s economy continues to be on a healthy course.”
The 4th World Coffee Conference in Addis Ababa
—–and series of panel discussions at the 4th World Coffee Conference
Minister of the Foreign Affairs of Brazil visits Ethiopia
A Consultative Forum targets at enhancing the role of Ethiopia’s broadcast media
Ethiopian Tourism widely promoted at the ITB 2016
News in Brief
Ethiopia
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn presented his government’s six-months performance report for members of the House of Peoples’ Representatives today (March 10, 2016). The Prime Minister also responded to questions of MPs on current developments in the country. (See article)

Dr. Tedros briefed Executive MBA Students from Watson School of Business, Pensylyvania University on the developments and the democratization efforts ongoing in the country (March 10, 2016).

Dr. Mulatu Teshome, the President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia held talks with King Salman of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia at Al-Yamama Palace in Riyadh on (March 09, 2016). The discussions focused on bilateral and regional matters of common interest.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil; H.E Ambassador Mauro Vieira; Who Led a high level Brazilian delegation made a two day official visit to Ethiopia this week (March 7-8,2016). (See article)

The 4th World Coffee Conference was held in Addis Ababa this week (March6-8, 2016) under the theme: “Nurturing coffee culture and diversity” at the Conference Hall of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). (See article)
A Panel Discussion under the theme: “Towards a Diverse and Sustainable Coffee Culture” was held on (March 07, 2016) following the official opening session of the 4th World Coffee Conference. (See article)

A two-day consultative forum aimed at appraising the achievements and gaps of the Ethiopian broadcast media, ensuring responsiveness, accountability, and pluralism, and thereby promoting national consensus opened on (March 07, 2016) at Hilton Addis. (See article)

Ambassador Tebeje Belay, the Director General for American Affairs at the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs received a U.S. Delegation from Air War (March 10, 2016). He briefed the delegation on a number of issues, ranging from the Ethio-U.S. relations to efforts of ensuring food security, economic growth

The 5th Ethio-Canada bilateral consultation was successfully held in Ottawa, Canada (March 4 – 5, March 2016). The consultation included strengthening political, economic and other bilateral relations.

Djibouti
The UK High Court (March 10, 2016) has rejected accusations against a millionaire Djibouti businessman that the contract to renovate the country’s high capacity Doraleh Container Terminal (DCT) by DP World had been subject to bribery. Mr Justice Flaux at London’s High Court cleared Abdourahman Boreh of three charges of bribery and fraud and said none of the payments made to his company by DP World constituted a bribe.

Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh on (March 07, 2016) held talks in Djibouti with the new UN Special Envoy in Somalia, Michael Keating. The two sides discussed about the elections set to be held in Somalia before the end of this year, and the formulation of new strategies to reinforce the efficiency of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) on the ground.

Eritrea

Following a discussion on the human-rights situation in Eritrea during the European Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg over the week, the Socialists and Democrats Group (S&D) Members of the European Parliament expressed their concerns (March 10, 2016) about ongoing human-rights violations in the country.

The UK-based All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Eritrea was launched (March 09, 2016). The Group in a statement said the purpose of forming such a platform in a Parliamentary level on Eritrea, within the UK House of Lords, is in a response to the lack of awareness and high-level debates on the worsening situation in the country.

Kenya

The construction of a 510-kilometer electricity transmission line connecting Kenya and Tanzania national grids is expected to begin in May. Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Acting CEO Fernandes Barasa (March 11, 2016) said, “The funding has already been secured and so actual construction should begin in the May and is expected to be completed in 24 months.”

Kenya and Japan on (March 09, 2016) signed a 46 billion yen ($408 million) loan agreement to go towards building a 140 megawatt (MW) geothermal power plant that is expected to be operational within the next two years.

Somalia

Somalia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (March 11, 2016) signed air transport deal. The two sides discussed ways and prospects of improving cooperation between the two countries in the field of air transport.
U.S. special operations forces and Somali troops (March 10, 2016) carried out another raid at an al-Shabab training camp in Somalia, killing 19 militants. This comes only days after U.S. airstrikes in Somalia killed more than 150 people identified as militants at an al-Shabab training camp.

At least one civilian was killed and two others injured in a hand bomb attack at a restaurant in a town, southern Somalia’s Gedo region (March 11, 2016)

South Sudan

SPLM-IO has warned (March 10, 2016) that the disagreement between the government and the opposition over cantonment areas of troops in Equatorial and Bahr el Ghazal regions may “derail” the implementation of the peace agreement.

Presidential advisor for security affairs, Tut Gatluak, (March 10, 2016) has claimed that several splits within the leadership SPLM-IO were the causes for recent ceasefire violations in Nasir county of Latjor (Upper Nile) and Unity states.

Festus Mogae, Head of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) (March 09, 2016) has called on South Sudan’s rival parties to undertake radical economic measures to reform the economy of the country instead of placing too much hopes on foreign intervention to elevate suffering and deteriorating economic situation in the country.

According to the secretary general of the SPLM-IO, Dhieu Mathok Diing Wol ( March 07, 2016) a joint force from SPLM-IO may arrive in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, next week

Sudan

Unidentified gunmen killed a South African soldier in an ambush on a patrol of the hybrid peacekeeping mission in North Darfur (UNAMID), said a joint statement released by the United Nations and African Union on (March 10, 2016).

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on (March 09, 2016) removed a private cement factory from a blacklist of Sudanese firms and individuals subjected to economic sanctions.
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Prime Minister Hailemariam: “Ethiopia’s economy continues to be on a healthy course.”
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn presented his government’s six-month performance report to the House of Peoples’ Representatives on Thursday (March 10, 2016). The Prime Minister in his report said sectors which include construction, service and manufacturing have witnessed growth over the past six months, where investment has shown a threefold growth in comparative terms to the same period last fiscal year. The Premier however noted efforts would intensify to sustain the growth ahead in the remaining half of the budget year. Noting that the export sector has generated 5.3 billion USD, the Prime Minister, however said the performance on the part of the import-export sector was lower as viewed against the plan, to which he ascribed the impacts of the global financial crisis and the limitations in the country’s manufacturing sector.
He explained that inflation over the past six months remained at 10 percent on average, which is the lowest after 14 months. According to the Prime Minister, the government managed to collect 65 billion birr from tax, a 10.7 percent from the previous fiscal year. While on the import side, Prime Minister Hailemariam noted that the country had imported 8.3 billion US dollar worth of goods; the gap between import and export trade has widened. The government with a view to ease forex crunch had to resort to utilizing its deposit and the money from transfer, and foreign direct investment. The target to raise the gross domestic savings to more than 22 percent, the Prime Minister said is set to be achieved following the expansion of the banking service and improvements in savings due for the housing program and bond sales of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Overall, he said the country’s economy has continued to be on a healthy course.
The Premier however said the El Nino-induced drought is likely to affect the country’s agricultural productivity. In all these, the Prime Minister underlined that his government is working towards minimizing the impact and compensate the loss of crops through a number of interventions, including irrigation and natural resources conservation works, distribution of best seeds and fertilizers along with major works of watershed management.
Mindful of the necessity of addressing unemployment, the Premier said the government would further strengthen ongoing efforts of expanding small-scale and medium level industries in urban areas. Prime Hailemariam said the government has been engaged in the construction of industrial parks across the country in a bid to boost the export sector and enhance foreign currency earnings. In this regard, he said significant progress has been achieved, noting that the Bole Lemi Phase I project has already gone operational, and so was the Hawassa industrial park. He also noted that the construction of agro-processing industrial parks will soon be launched in four regional states.
He also noted negotiation on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has been progressing well and the studies on the impact of the dam as per the recommendations of the IPOE are due to start soon. He added the Gibe-III hydropower plant has begun generating 540 MW, projected to operate with its full capacity in due course. He said, the Gibe-III hydropower plant was compensating the current power shortage induced by the recent drought, which left some of the country’s major dams to generate only 10 per cent of their capacities. He also said negotiations investors are beginning to engage in geothermal, wind and solar energy development.
The Prime Minister also responded to questions raised by members of the House of Peoples’ Representatives on current developments in the country, including government responses to the El-Nino-induced drought, the recent unrest in some parts of the country, among others. He said the government has so far allocated 8 billion Ethiopian Birr in the efforts to mitigate the impact of the El Nino phenomenon. On the ongoing efforts of addressing issues of good governance, he underscored that his government is committed to ensure transparency and accountability. He added the response from the international community has been very slow. Asked whether there was any policy change with regards to dealing with Eritrea, Prime Minister Hailemariam said his country has no new policy towards Eritrea, while noting that Ethiopia will keep on working to restore the people-to people relations between the two countries. The Prime Minister, however, said his country upholds the right to respond to any form of attack from the regime in Asmara in a manner that conforms to international law.
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The 4th World Coffee Conference in Addis Ababa
The 4th World Coffee Conference was held in Addis Ababa this week (March 6-8, 2016) under the theme: “Nurturing Coffee Culture and Diversity.” The conference was attended by more than 1500 participants from over 80 countries. Participants represented Governments, African Development bank, International Coffee Organization, African Union, United Nations, Global Coffee Council, Inter-African Coffee Organization, EU constituted the global gathering.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn in his key note address said, “Welcome to Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee,” and underlined that the conference has much more significance to Ethiopia, and equally to other attending coffee producers and consuming countries. The Prime Minister said, “Coffee is part and parcel of Ethiopia’s social fabric,” adding that the coffee culture is deeply embedded in the identity of the Ethiopian People. The Premier said Coffee in many aspects reflects “our tradition and culture” and its economic value to small holder farmers and coffee producing countries is of great significance to development.
Indeed, coffee is an integral part of the country’s socio-economic fabric; Coffee and the coffee culture play such a heavily ingrained role in the Ethiopian tradition that it appears in many expressions dealing with life, food and interpersonal relationships. Ethiopian homage to coffee is often uniquely ceremonial. An invitation to attend a coffee ceremony is considered a mark of amity and respect and is an excellent display of Ethiopian hospitality. In fact, the Ethiopian coffee ceremony takes us back to a time when value was given to conversation and human relations.
Ethiopia is the home and cradle of biodiversity of Arabica coffee seeds of which most of them are often identified by their distinct and characteristic flavor, aroma or taste. More genetically diverse strains of Coffee Arabica exist in Ethiopia than anywhere else in the world; a country which botanists and scientists believe was the centre of origin, diversification and dissemination of the coffee plant. Ethiopia is the world’s fifth largest coffee producer and Africa’s top producer and exporter. Ethiopia with a per capita consumption of 2.40kg leads the African continent in domestic consumption and up to 20% of the population, one way or the other depends on coffee production and trading for a living.
Coffee primarily cultivated by small-scale farmers is often exposed to price fluctuations and environmental impacts. Emphasizing on the need to make sure that small holder farmers benefit much from the multibillion industry, he stressed the conference remained vital in exploring ways to ensure that growers receive a fair financial return so that their hard work amounts to a decent and stable life. The Prime Minister underlined on the need to address economic inequality as the volatility of the global coffee price is a major challenge and the scenario is worse for small coffee growers whose profit margins are already very thin. He also underlined the need to ensure that women are placed at a better receiving end of the coffee industry.
The Prime Minister said the poverty of small coffee growers is also exacerbated by the effects climate change as rising temperature, declining rainfall, resilient paste and plant disease have already begun their toll on the coffee industry. Climate change is a series threat to the industry, and its impact is most felt by small holder growers, farmers and their families. Ethiopia, the Prime Minister said had embarked on building climate resilient green economy, which he said was initiated in 2011. He said, “We needed this strategy since Ethiopia is working relentlessly to make sure coffee which amounts to 24% of our export is well protected from the effects of climate change.” Ethiopia has also taken the initiative to encourage major green house emitters to commit for a responsible action. The task of mitigating the challenge he said should not be left to governments adding that all other stakeholders in the value chain need to support the global efforts of protecting coffee growers from the effects of climate change. In this regard, he noted the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals and the recent Paris Climate Deal “to which we all subscribe” were key milestones to address the challenges in the industry.
Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Erastus Mwencha saluted the Government and people of Ethiopia for hosting such a global event and noted that coffee is one of the most important industrial commodities in the African continent; contributing substantial share of the economy, noting that today Africa makes up 12% of the global coffee production. Reflecting on the trends, opportunities and challenges in the industry, he stressed on the pressing need to improve the quality of coffee produced in the continent and improve the supply chain by value addition. He pointed out capacity and technology limitations and poor infrastructure across the continent were the key drawbacks which reduce earnings in the industry. As the effect of climate change is hugely impacting the coffee industry, Mwencha called for a concerted global action. On the way forward, he underscored the need for establishing partnership and cooperation to maximize productivity and ensure that farmers and growers benefit most. In such score, the Deputy Chairperson said other African countries should take lessons from Ethiopia and Uganda, which he said were able to boost coffee productivity and support their farmers and coffee growers.
Executive Director of the International Coffee Organization (ICO), Mr. Oliver Silva also presented the global, African and Ethiopian outlook for the coffee market. He said the conference would help connect actors in the coffee sectors and attain targets set at a global level. ICO’s current estimate for global coffee production in crop year 2015/16 stood 143.4 million, 60-kg bags, 1.4% higher than the previous year, and the lower production in Brazil, where 43.2 million bags has been compensated by increased productions in Vietnam, Colombia and Indonesia, among others. In Africa, production is rising by 6.1% reaching 17.1 million bags, and representing nearly 12% of the world’s total. Mr. Tefera Deribew, Ethiopia’s Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources said Ethiopia has attached at most weight to the development of the coffee sector, describing that the government and coffee growers have long been exerting concerted efforts to improving productivity and maximizing the quality of coffee. He noted the prospect of maintaining the high quality of Ethiopia’s organic coffee goes in line with the country’s climate resilient strategy.
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—–and series of panel discussions at the 4th World Coffee Conference
A series of panel discussions were held at the 4th World Coffee Conference. One such conference was held under the theme: “Towards a Diverse and Sustainable Coffee Culture.” Mr. Fred Kawuma, Secretary General, Inter Africa Coffee organization stressed on the need for public-private partnership to make sure that the coffee industry remains more sustainable, adding that encouraging domestic consumption was needed to create a more diverse coffee culture. Mr. Roberto Velez, CEO, NationalFederation of Coffee Growers explained the important role coffee plays in Columbian society and the role of coffee growers in the peace building process, adding that more than 20 million Colombians in 15 states depended on the coffee industry. On globalizing the coffee culture, Ms. Jingya Fu, Secretary, General, Chinese coffee Association, talked about making coffee more affordable in consumer countries which will lead to a more diverse coffee culture. Noting that the Chinese tea ceremony helped to promote the image of China, she pointed out the need to promote a coffee ceremony across different cultures. Mr Carlos Brando, Independent Coffee Expert from Brazil, advised more development work will bring sustainability, adding that small holder farmers and growers should be concerned about Sustainability than profitability and branding. Mr. Abdullah Bagersh, Board Chairman, African Fine Coffee Association (AFCA), explained the diverse coffee culture in Ethiopia and the growing Coffee Consumption which he said was creating a new urban Coffee Culture.

A panel on Trends in Specialty Coffee was moderated by Dr. Abera Tola, Regional Director, Synergos, where participants underscored the need for adopting specialty coffee characteristics. Mr. Ric Rhinehart, CEO, Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), noted the importance of ensuring equitable value chain in specialty segment in the coffee industry. He pointed out that specialty coffee used to be defined by the taste of the consumer than the totality of all the process. Mr.Samuel Kamau, Executive Director, AFCA, noted defining the characteristics of the African Coffee often used to be based on the demand from the consumers afar. He emphasized Africa has comparative advantage in specialty coffee, adding that strengthening the relationship between growers and retailers was needed for the specialty coffee market.

Mr. Mick Wheeler, Former Executive Director, Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE), gave detailed accounts on the current trends, explaining how specialty coffee helped gain consumers lost in the 80’s. He added consumption in some countries of Europe is linked to affordability than specialty as compared to the trend in the U.S. The U.S. specialty coffee he said had significant influence in the coffee industry and helped improve the quality coffee use and production. The panelists also dealt at length on the advantages of specialty segment to coffee growers and producers.

A brief Panel discussion on the effect of climate change on the coffee industry was also held on the final day of the conference under which participants shared views on the effect of climate change on coffee production and alternatives of addressing the challenge in a sustainable way. The panelists raised the need for research on coffee production and the importance of changing coping strategies, and updating methods of production and improving technologies to strengthen resilience. The role of innovation and the need for viable public policy was also highlighted for enhanced coffee production and improved quality. Ensuring coffee varieties was needed to cope with the effects of climate change.

A panel discussion was also held on promoting gender equality with a view to maximize the sustainability of the coffee sector. Mrs. Roman Tesfaye, Ethiopia’s First Lady said coffee has been the integral part of societies around the world. She added coffee central to the socio-cultural makeup has for long involved women, with no sound economic benefits. In this regard the First Lady called for the adoption of sustainable and inclusive intervention.

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The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil visits Ethiopia
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil; H.E Ambassador Mauro Vieira; Who Led a high level Brazilian delegation made a two day official visit to Ethiopia this week (march 7-8,2016). The delegation held discussions with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on ways to promote economic ties. The Premier underlined the need to strengthening the relationship between the two nations. He emphasized that cooperation in agriculture research fields which already started was a priority. He also said Ethiopia`s investment environment was conducive for Brazilian investors. The Delegation agreed to enhance economic ties in all fields. The Brazilian Foreign Minister mentioned that Brazilian Aircraft Company, construction companies and others` are keen to invest in Ethiopia.
The delegation also held bilateral meetings with Dr. Tedros Adhanom. During the discussion Dr Tedros explained the historic relationship between Ethiopia and Brazil and underlined that this relationship would be strengthened in the future. He added the two countries should cooperate more on areas of trade and investment, particularly in the fields of aircraft and pharmaceutical cooperation, and automobile manufacturing.
Dr. Tedros also briefed the delegation on Ethiopia’s efforts in the region and its role as IGAD’s Chair in the process of promoting regional peace and stability. He mainly emphasized on Ethiopia’s peace keeping role in Somalia and South Sudan. The Minster also spoke about Ethiopia’s efforts of mitigating the refugee crises, which he said was a global concern, noting that his country is currently hosting over 800, 000 refugees from neighboring countries; the largest number in Africa. Expressing the country’s long standing commitment and active role in the UN and African peace keeping operations, Dr. Tedros also related Ethiopia’s bid for a non permanent membership at the UNSC and called for Brazil’s endorsement.
Ambassador Mauro Vieira thanked the Minister for having him and stated both countries have significant roles to play in their respective regions. Ambassador Vieira said the two countries should continue working on areas of trade and investment, noting that the Ethio-Brazil business seminar should be seen as the first step towards a higher level of business and investment partnership. He further commended Ethiopia’s immense role in the peace keeping process and its peace and development efforts in the region and said Brazil would endorse Ethiopia’s bid for a non-permanent membership at the UNSC. The two sides also signed Memorandum of Understanding to promote trade and investment whose implementation is hoped to strengthen the bilateral business relations.
An Ethio-Brazil Business Meeting was also held on Tuesday (March 08, 2016) at Sheraton Hotels in Addis Ababa. The event was attended by Ethiopia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Tedros Adhanom and his Brazilian counterpart, Ambassador Viera Mauro and members of the business community drawn from the two countries. Dr. Tedros, in his opening remarks stated “I believe that strengthening the relations of the business communities of the two countries will serve as a strong foundation for the sustained relation of the two countries and organizing a business seminar like this will play a crucial role and I hope it will continue in the future.” Dr. Tedros said the visit of the Brazilian delegation provided an opportunity to scale up and re-energize the longstanding relationship between “our governments and peoples of the two countries.” He further said the Ethio-Brazil Business Meeting offers the opportunity for Brazilian companies to invest in Ethiopia. He also noted the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for the promotion of Trade and investment between the two countries and its implementation will create a good opportunity to further strengthen the business relations.
The Foreign Minister of Brazil, Ambassador Mauro Viera pointed out that the two countries should increase their economic ties and continue working on areas of trade and investment. He emphasized the Ethio-Brazil Business Meeting is the first step towards achieving a higher level of business and investment partnership between the two countries. Taking note of the fact that Brazil is among the top ten economies in the world and one of the players in the BRICS, Dr. Arkebe Ekubay, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister with a ministerial portfolio, presented some key points on why Brazilian companies should invest in Ethiopia. He explained how Ethiopia has ushered a new democratic path since 1991 and how significant changes have been witnessed in the last two decades. He noted that life expectancy has increased from 45 to 64 and poverty rate declined from 54% in 1991 to 22% in 2015.
Emphasizing that his country’s 10 year plan focused on making Ethiopia the leading manufacturing hub in Africa, Dr, Arkebe highlighted the country’s investment potentials, Ethiopia’s large population size, the country’s focus on infrastructure and energy, the huge work force and Human resource development in the country among others. He said the country has been an ideal place for labor intensive industries. With the highest federal budget being allocated to the infrastructure sector, he also highlighted investing in this area is beneficiary for investors. He also described how the country has been working on human resource development, with over 1300 training schools for 1,000,000 trainees and more than 40 universities..
Dr. Arkebe also encouraged Brazilian investors to focus on the manufacturing sector, aircraft, vehicles and machinery and leather production industry and livestock sectors. Dr. Arkebe assured the investors that Ethiopia is both politically and economically stable. Noting that the diplomatic ties between the two countries began way back in 1960, and reminding that the signing of the MOU on promotion of trade and Investment and the avoidance of double taxation agreement that had been in force. Dr. Arkebe noted that this was time to scale up the economic ties between the two countries. The Ethio-Brazil Business Meeting also included a couple more presentation sessions from the Department of Trade Promotion and Investments of the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Minister Rodrigo de Azerdo Santos and members of the Ethiopian and Brazilian business communities.
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A Consultative Forum aimed at enhancing the role of Ethiopia’s broadcast media
A two-day consultative forum aimed at enhancing the role of the Broadcast Media in Ethiopia was held this week (March 7-8, 2016) at Hilton Hotels in Addis Ababa, under the theme: “Broadcast media, rule of law and national consensus.” Co-organized by the Ethiopian Broadcast Authority and Government Communication Affairs Office, the forum brought together policy makers, representatives of government and private broadcasters, media experts, journalists and other stakeholders.
Opening the forum, Deputy Prime Minister Ato Demeke Mekonnen emphasized that the broadcast media have got enormous potentials which usually influences the public opinion. Accordingly, it remained imperative that the broadcast media should abide by the rule of law and work towards promoting national consensus in the country. He noted media makes up a considerable share in the efforts of achieving the country’s rapid economic growth. In this regard, the Deputy Prime Minister commended both the government and private media for the role they played in the process of democratization for over two decades. The Deputy Prime Minister, however, said media should continue their efforts in building democracy, ensuring good governance and forging economic development, which he said are the primary concerns of the peoples of Ethiopia. He also called for both the government and private media to uphold the commitment and will to accommodate national agendas in a bid to promote national consensus and work to the buildup of one political and economic community. To this effect, the Deputy Prime Minister said the Government of Ethiopia has been working towards establishing a national steering committee with the view to embark on successful digital transformation. He added the government of Ethiopia has also been engaged in the process of designing appropriate and workable legal and regulatory frameworks, which are hoped to lay the enabling platform for the conduct of credible and responsible media broadcasting.
Mr. Zerai Asgedom, General Manager of the Ethiopian Broadcast Authority also underlined that the consultative forum targets at assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the broadcast media and spot the way forward. He said the forum targeted at reviewing and evaluating the achievements and gaps of the Ethiopian broadcast media, and thereby enhancing its roles in the efforts of maximizing responsiveness and accountability, and promoting pluralism, and building national consensus in the country.
The consultative forum included a series of panel discussions, wherein stakeholders in the country’s broadcast media were able to explore strengths, challenges, opportunities and prospects of the industry. Key issues included “agenda setting,” “freedom of the media vis a vis observing the rule of law and creating the culture of a responsible media, and ultimately working towards the promotion of national consensus. Indeed, media provides the means by which people participate in their country’s socio-economic and political developments. Media thus has the potential to foster a civic forum or a public sphere, a network for communicating information and points of view in which matters of public concern can be explored openly and rigorously.
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Ethiopian Tourism widely promoted at the ITB 2016
Ethiopian Minister of Tourism and Culture H.E Engineer Aisha Mohammed opened the Ethiopian Pavilion at the ITB 2016 (March 9). The Exhibition will stay until March 13, 2016. Ethiopian Tourism Organization, Ethiopian Airlines as well as 24 Tour Operators participated to showcase the huge potentials of Ethiopia’s tourism to more than fifty thousand private visitors and more than 120 thousand trade visitors. Around 185 countries and more than ten thousand exhibitors participated in the show.
Minister Aisha, during the opening hour visited the Ethiopian exhibitors’ stand together with Mrs Fetiha Yusuf Mummed, Chairperson of Culture, Tourism and Mass Media Standing Committee at the House of Peoples Representatives, Ethiopian Ambassador Kuma Demekesa, Ato Solomon Tadesse, Director of Ethiopian Tourism Organization as well as embassy staffs. She also met Mrs. Iris Gleicke, Parliamentary Secretary of State at the German Federal Ministry of Economy and Energy and discussed on future relationship in the tourism sector.

Minister of Culture and Tourism, Engineer Aisha Mohammed gave a press conference (March 10) to the German Media on the tourism potentials of Ethiopia, the new tourism brand and the future strategies designed to increase tourism flow to Ethiopia.
The Minister highlighted the fact that Ethiopia is the origin of human beings, the home of Lucy, the 3.2 million years mother of human kind. She said, Ethiopia is “the Root where human race originates and Spread to every corner of the globe.”
As Ethiopia is a very ancient country, it has a robust history of art and culture with ancient cave paintings and tools; with state- of -the –art buildings, rock-hewn churches and obelisks; with tolerance and coexistence between indigenous African beliefs and the three major Abrahamic religions, she said. She also stressed the fact that Ethiopia is home to more than 70 nations and nationalities that have their own distinct language, culture and art; with a combination of natural, historical, archeological and cultural attractions.
“These all give Ethiopian tourism uniqueness and diversity and placed it as the most special tourism destination in Africa,” the Minister noted.
According to the Minister, this year’s Tourism Show was organized at the right time that Ethiopia has finalized the Second Growth and Transformation Plan, in that Culture and Tourism would play prominent role in gearing towards achieving its Renaissance.
Ethiopia’s vision in the next Growth and Transformation Plan (2016-2020) is to make the country one of the top five tourist destinations in Africa through developing its attractions and promoting the culture and tourism products. The Minister also highlighted the five main focus areas which were identified: natural and cultural heritage conservation and development; culture and tourism products marketing; service excellence; improved culture and tourism research and information systems; and enhanced cooperation and collaboration with development partners.
During the Press conference, the new tourism brand named, “Land of Origins” was unveiled. The Minister said the logo cultivates the identity of Ethiopia in its most natural form as the origin of humanity, the source of the Nile, the origin of coffee, as well as how Ethiopia and its culture are original in many ways.
According to the Ethiopian Tourism Organization, the inspiration behind the new logo typeface comes from Ethiopia’s own Ge’ez alphabet, as it reflects the originality of the cultivation of language in Ethiopia. In the icon, the blue circle represents the blue skies and pleasant weather that can be enjoyed in Ethiopia most of the year. The tree – depicting the colors of the national flag – is a symbol of growth rooted in our origins: our people, our history, and our land.

The press conference was followed by a question and answer session. On the questions raised on the El-Nino-induced drought, which left 10.2 million people in need of aid. The Minister said, the current stage for Ethiopia is critical in many aspects. It is time we start implementing the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II) that envisages transforming the economy from agrarian-led into manufacturing-led economy, she said.

The Minister noted that the first Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP I) which has spanned from 2011-2015 gave the country a very focused but a very determined view of where it should be over the next five, ten, fifteen years. According to her, the GTP I created an environment that set the pace to grow faster and showed the country can achieve big. Noting that Ethiopia became one of the fastest non-oil economy and among the ten fastest in the world, the Minister emphasized it has, in many dimensions, achieved huge results of halving poverty level; of reducing under-five mortality rate; of achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals ended in 2015 and is on the right track of becoming a lower middle income country by 2025

When asked what strategies Ethiopia has, other than the new brand, that enables the country increase the number of tourist flows, the Minister highlighted Ethiopia’s vision to place itself among the top five tourism destinations in Africa by 2020. As home to uniquely diverse tourism potentials in the world and among the highly recommended country yet “overlooked and under-visited,” the Ministry of Culture and Tourism design clear policy and strategy to achieve this vision, she said. She added that the Ministry identifies five intervention areas: natural and cultural heritage conservation and development; culture and tourism products marketing; service excellence; improve culture and tourism research and information systems; and enhance cooperation and collaboration with development partners.

In order to successfully implement these strategies and achieve our goal, institutional reorganizations were made such us the establishment of the Ethiopian Tourism Organization, focusing mainly on destination marketing and promotion as well as destination development in terms of service, quality and access, she said. The Ethiopia Tourism Transformation Council, chaired by the Prime Minister, is another establishment set to enhance the transformation endeavor, the Minister noted, and explained its mission as: meant to provide leadership and set directions for the country’s tourist destinations development and marketing initiatives, give decisions to remove impediments as well as challenges to the development of the industry.
The Minister was also asked why she believed people should visit Ethiopia. In her response, she said Ethiopia is the only country that a human being proudly say “it is my origin.” That is why CNN once said a “place to see before you die,” she noted and made a call to visit Ethiopia, the “land of origin.”

On the economic role tourism play and of the vision for the next five years, she said, the economic role is growing and is contributing for the fast economic development in the country. According to her, the sector generated $2.9 billion in 2015 and created to the tune of 700,000 jobs. With its vision to become one of the five top destinations in Africa, the country aims to triple the number of foreign visitors and increase it by more than 2.02 million by 2020. With the ambitious plan designed and with the government’s commitment, Ethiopia’s tourism will witness its golden age in the next five to ten years, she emphasized.

As Germany and Ethiopia have close relations since more than 100 years, the Minister was asked how they can motivate the young generation of Ethiopia and Germans to get even closer together. She recognized the people-to-people relationship between Ethiopia and Germany is not as strong as the longest close ties of the two governments. It is indeed one of the areas the two governments should look into it, she noted. “Globalization, especially Information Communication Technology, gives us the best opportunity to engage the younger generation to know and share what the two countries have in common. We have to utilize this opportunity, utilize the technology, feed as much and diverse information about the two countries and enable this part of the society communicate each other,” she said. Also, “we have to enhance other means such as cultural and education exchange programs, music and cultural performance programs, exhibitions and other soft areas of engagements in order for the public know each other better apart from the formal government-to-government relations,” she emphasized.

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26.02.2016

Haad Line

The First Ever Ministerial Conference on Immunization in Africa
The Africa 2016 Business Forum in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt
Somalia: The High Level Partnership Forum, Istanbul February 2016
IGAD’s new report on Smuggling and Human Traficking in the Horn of Africa
The Ethio-Qatar Joint Technical Committee meeting
Agro-Industrial Parks: the focus to transform Ethiopia’s economy
News in Brief
Africa and the African Union
The First-Ever conference on Immunization in Africa was held this week (February 23-25) in Addis Ababa, at the African Union, Plenary Hall under the theme: “Fulfilling a promise: ensuring Immunization for all Africa”. (See article)
Presidents Jacob Zuma of South African, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania, Macky Sall of Senegal, Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in Bujumbura, Burundi on (Feb 25) to mediate between President Nkurunziza and opposition politicians.
The Africa 2016 Business Forum was held in the Egyptian Sinai resort city of Sharm el Sheikh at the end of last week (February 20-21). (See article)
Ethiopia
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn is in Bujumbura, Burundi attending peace negotiation between President Nkurunziza and opposition politicians since Thursday (Feb 25).
Dr Tedros Adhanom held discussions with Second permanent secretary of the U.K home office, Mr. Oliver Robbins on Wednesday (February 24). Dr. Tedros and the permanent secretary discussed several issues, ranging from migration to regional peace and security. The permanent secretary appreciated the Government of Ethiopia for its commendable leadership roles in the region, particularly on migration issues.
Prime Minister Hailemariam and the first vice president designate Rick Machar held discussions on Wednesday (February 24) about the ways of realizing the implementation of the peace agreement in Addis Ababa. They have also discussed about ways of enhancing the establishment of a joint army in Juba, following the formation of the transitional government.
Co-organized by the African Union, World Health Organization and the Government of Ethiopia, the First-Ever Ministerial Conference on Immunization in Africa kicked off on Wednesday (February 24) at the African Union Plenary Hall. (See article)
State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Atske-selassie held discussions with Mr Hayrettin Kaplan, CEO of Turk Exim Bank, on Tuesday (February 23,) on the margins of the High Level Partnership Forum on Somalia held in Istanbul, Turkey. The discussions of the two sides covered the financing of Ethiopia’s GTP-2 projects by the Turkish Exim Bank.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn is in Bujumbura, Burundi attending peace negotiation between President Nkurunziza and opposition politicians since Thursday (February 25).
The Second Ethio-Qatar Joint Technical Committee Meeting opened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Tuesday (February 23). The two day joint technical committee meeting was deliberated on the progress of the First Joint Technical Committee meeting and on areas of cooperation in finance, investment and social sector.
State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regassa Kefale, received a high-level delegation from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) today (February, 23).
The High-Level Partnership Forum on Somalia (HLPF) opened in Istanbul Turkey on Tuesday (February 23) with a major focus on Somalia’s progress. On this occasion, Ethiopia’s State Minster of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Aske-Selassie arrived in turkey to attend High Level Partnership Forum (HLPF) on Somalia. Ethiopia’s participation in this ministerial meeting affirms the country’s commitment to supporting international efforts towards a more stable, peaceful and resilient Somalia.
Eritrea
A report on Feb (25) said Eritrea won’t shorten national service despite migration fears. It added the Asmara government insists conscription is vital for national security
Eritrea on (Feb 23) denied it sent soldiers to fight with a Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen, accusing the United Nations of reporting flawed and “unsubstantiated” allegations against the Horn of Africa country
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in collaboration with the Nairobi-based SAHAN Foundation in its new report (Feb 19) revealed that Eritrean diplomats including prominent Eritrean nationals are massively involved in human trafficking and smuggling activities in the Horn of Africa region. (See article)
Djibouti
IOM Djibouti welcomed a delegation of European, North American and Asian diplomats and representatives of humanitarian aid agencies. Their mission was to learn about one of the world’s most treacherous migration routes and the growing migrant crisis that is killing hundreds of migrants each year as they attempt to reach the Arabian Peninsula from the Horn of Africa.

Kenya
Kenyans have mastered the art of stealing, promoting tribalism and hurling insults, President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Wednesday (Feb 24). Addressing Kenyan students in Israel, he admitted Kenya faces unending problems created by its own citizens.
Somalia
The High-Level Partnership Forum on Somalia came to a close (Feb 24) in Istanbul, Turkey today, after two days of deliberations on Somalia’s progress particularly in the security, political fronts.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said At least 180 Kenyan troops were killed when al-Shabab attacked the Kenyan base. The President gave the death toll of 180 in an interview with a Somali television station, while defending his attendance at a memorial for the soldiers in Kenya.
Somali cabinet members have held their weekly cabinet meets in Mogadishu on Thursday (Feb 25) The cabinet has passed Security and Defence Council for Somali Coasts bill as part of accelerated government policies in piracy-ridden waters in East Africa.Defence and Security Ministries briefed the cabinet on latest security developments in central and southern Somalia.
Somali government forces aided by African Union peacekeepers have seized Middle Shabelle region village of El Baraf without resistance on Wednesday (Feb 24) forces are in control of El Baraf, 40km off Middle Shabelle regional district of Mahaday according to witnesses. Al Shabaab militants are reported to have fled in advance of onslaught.
South Sudan
The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki moon during his visit to Juba on (Feb 25) has strongly condemned the most recent outbreak of violence at the UN protection of civilians’ site in Malakal, the Upper Nile state capital, urging the South Sudanese government to conduct full investigations and bring the perpetrators to account.
South Sudanese first vice president designate, Riek Machar, discussed with former president of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete, (Feb 25) on the SPLM reunification process.
Police and military officers loyal to the SPLM-in-Opposition are expected to travel to Juba immediately, the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission said in a statement on its website on Tuesday following a meeting with the parties. The SPLM- leader Riek Machar has assured the U.N. secretary-general by phone that he is ready to return to Juba in March to take up his position as first vice president.
South Sudanese government has announced on Thursday (Feb 25) a decision to pull out excess presidential guards force division from its headquarters located south of the presidential palace in the national capital, Juba.
South Sudanese First Vice President designate, Riek Machar, on Wednesday (Feb 24) met with the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, in Addis Ababa. The meeting covered the status of the implementation of the peace agreement signed in August 2015
Sudan
Sudan’s Justice Minister, on Thursday (Feb 25) formed a fact-finding committee on the alleged burial of radioactive waste in northern Sudan desert during the construction of Merowe Dam.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Sudan has welcomed a contribution of $1 million from the Government of Japan to support food assistance activities in Darfur
Belgium on Wednesday (Feb 24) signed a loan agreement of 551,000 euro with the Sudanese government to provide 1,200 water pumping stations to ten states.
South Africa to pull its National Defence Force soldiers out of Darfur, Sudan, from April 1, the Presidency said on Wednesday (Feb 24). Presidency spokesperson Bongani Majola said in a statement, “President Jacob Zuma has terminated the employment of members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in Darfur, Sudan.”

The First Ever Ministerial Conference on Immunization in Africa
The First-Ever conference on Immunization in Africa was held this week (February 23-25) in Addis Ababa, at the African Union, Plenary Hall under the theme: “Fulfilling a promise: ensuring Immunization for all Africa”. Co-organized by the African Union, World Health Organization and the Government of Ethiopia, the summit was attended by hundreds of participants, high-level political dignitaries and decision makers from all over Africa and stakeholders, partners and invited guests across the world.
Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General, WHO, in her televised address commended the success evident in conducting the first ever Ministerial conference on Immunization in Africa, and stressed on the importance of immunization and vaccines development, the need for country ownership and accountability, as well as global access to Immunization. Dr. Chan congratulated the WHO Regional Office for Africa and Mediterranean and the African Union Commission for hosting such a “Milestone event”. She said, “Your presence creates a powerful political platform with a potentially huge impact”. Underlining the instrumentality of immunization for the African continent, Dr. Chan said, “In Africa Universal access to Immunization is a nation building strategy.” She added, “Immunization saves lives and it saves money; we can measure the impacts in striking ways.” The Director General said African Leaders had good reasons to celebrate since the continent had not reported a case of wild polio since August 2014 and as Polio was no longer endemic in Nigeria. She said, “If this situation could be maintained for the next two years, Africa will be certified polio free; you can celebrate the impact of the meningitis vaccine projects, which with outstanding support from partners helped more than 30 million people across 16 countries in Africa since 2010 and as we make critical moves from campaigns to routine immunization, the alliance with support countries is planning to introduce the vaccine from this year onwards. We can do even more”. Emphasizing on the need to ensure country ownership, and noting that many countries allocate in adequate budgets to immunization, Dr Chan noted countries should put their immunization programs on a path to long term sustainability by increasing domestic investments. The Director General also stressed on the need for setting clear mechanisms and appropriate strategies so as to ensure accountability at all stages of immunization programs.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in his address said, “Ethiopia is proud to host this landmark conference, which is being convened by the World Health Organization’s Regional Offices for Africa and Eastern Mediterranean in collaboration with the African Union Commission.” He also thanked Government Ministers, Parliamentarians, religious leaders, civic society, and international partners for their respective roles in bringing life-saving vaccines to all children across the African continent. The Prime Minister noting the purpose of the conference said, “We have all come together today for one simple reason. We have achieved great things so far, but we have much more to do” with respect to vaccines and access to immunization. He said, “Since 1990, we have achieved a 50% reduction in child death rates in Africa, thanks in large part due to our expansion of infant immunization programs.” Describing the success in Africa, the Prime Minister said, “We are currently in the process of reaching an historic milestone. Africa is celebrating 18 months without a case of polio, an important step toward making Africa polio-free forever.”
And speaking about Ethiopia the Prime Minister noted “Africa’s success in immunization is also mirrored here in Ethiopia.” He said, “We’ve first launched our national immunization program 36 years ago,” adding that in all these, the country had partnered with numerous health advocacy organizations, other stakeholders, and international agencies such as WHO, UNICEF, Gavi and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.” The Prime Minister further said these organizations contributed tremendously in expanding access to life-saving vaccines for several children in Ethiopia. On the need for investing in immunization programs, the Prime Minister said, “For every dollar, ever birr, and every franc invested in vaccination programs, 16 will be saved in reduced treatment costs for our health systems and increased productivity in our economies; Frankly, we can’t afford not to invest in universal access to immunization. The hard work will not be easy, but it all starts with all the people in this room. It all starts with our renewal of an important pledge. It all starts with every African nation reaffirming, at the highest levels of government that universal access to immunization is not an optional extra, or a luxury, but it is a fundamental human right”.

The Africa 2016 Business Forum in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt

The Africa 2016 Business Forum was held in the Egyptian Sinai resort city of Sharm el Sheikh at the end of last week (February 20-21). Under the auspices of the African Union commission, the business summit was organized by the Egyptian ministries of investment, trade and industry, international cooperation and foreign affairs. The summit was attended by African leaders and more than 1,200 prominent businessmen. Present at the smite were Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, President Buhari of Nigeria and Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, of Sudan were among others at the Africa 2016: Business for Africa, Egypt and the World conference
Opening the two-day forum, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi told attendees that “achieving development is one of the main challenges facing Africans, which requires developing the mechanisms of joint action.” The Africa 2016 Business Forum, El-Sisi said aimes at pushing forward trade and investment in the continent to strengthen Africa’s place in the world economy. He said, “It not only aims to present investment opportunities that Africa offers to the international business community… but aims to pave the way for active decisions, communication and cooperation.”
The President mentioned key points which he believed would represent a platform for action for the African continent in the coming period. Accordingly, El-Sisi stressed the importance of developing human capacity, along with giving adequate attention to African youth, education and its development in a way that would provide youth with the necessary skills to engage effectively in the labor market. He also raised the importance of enhancing productivity, growth and the need to focus on the transition to knowledge societies through development in the fields of research and innovation. Achieving development, which was considered the major challenge that all African countries face, the President said requires that countries work on the development of mutual mechanisms through regional integration models, especially with the close link between the requirements for economic development in Africa and the need to execute large regional projects in several fields, including infrastructure. He said, “We hope such efforts contribute towards doubling intra-African trade, which only represents 12 percent of the size of African trade with the world, a number that does not correspond with the potential of economic integration between our African countries.”
Egypt El-Sisi said was looking forward to the future establishment of the African Free Trade that aims to create free trade zones for goods in the short term and the hope of introducing services and intra-continent investor opportunities at a later stage. In June 2015, Egypt hosted Africa’s three major Regional Economic Committees (RECs) during a tripartite summit in Sharm El-Sheikh where a free trade agreement across all three RECs was launched. The Continental Free Trade Area brings together the 26 African countries that are members of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern Africa Development Cooperation (SADC). Touching upon the prospect of pushing the African trade movement with international markets, El-Sisi said, “I call on my African brother leaders and our partners in development to put together the first building blocks to launch several projects and developmental initiatives in a frame that ensures a needed balance between the legitimate aspirations of the sons of the continent for a better tomorrow and the aspiration of our partners in development to incentives and rewards that open new horizons for more investments and capital flows,” El-Sisi said.
The role of private sector in the process of promoting trade and investment in Africa was also one of the issues of the Forum. In this regards, Akinwumi Adesina, the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) highlighted the key reasons for maximizing private sector participation. He noted as insufficient energy was among the daunting challenges of the continent; where 645 million people do not have access to electricity, the only way to address the gap is to widen private sector participation in the energy sector. He said, “we plan to invest 12 billion dollars in the energy sector over the next five years… so that people in Africa can have universal access to electricity.”

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn told the Forum that the event reaffirmed Egypt’s involvement in Africa’s Renaissance and its commitment to strengthen partnership and cross-border private sector engagement. The Prime Minister said the forum would serve to showcase the economic prospects of our continent and help both public and private sectors to better understand these potential and make the best out of it.” Taking note of the summit’s bold initiative at strengthening inter-Africa trade relationships and promoting peace and security, The Prime Minister said, “Development, no doubt, needs clear policies and strategies that can fit into our own specific conditions, concerted efforts and genuine partnerships among nations and institutions and a favorable political, economic and social environment in order to attract international capital.” “Over the last few years” the Prime Minister added, “we have laid a strong foundation for our economic and social development. We have put in place many of the necessary and critical factors so vital for development, including growing power generation; major construction of roads and railways; a large, trained and enthusiastic workforce; complimentary legal frameworks and a sustainable peaceful environment. All this is helping to open up significant opportunities for the participation of foreign investment.”

Emphasizing on the importance of forging regional integration, Prime Minister Hailemariam mentioned how Ethiopia’s efforts are not confined to itself alone. Ethiopia, as the second most populous country in Africa, the Prime Minister said was fully aware of its responsibility, wherein it had already started laying the necessary infrastructural basis. . Reminding his listeners about the country’s ongoing endeavor in creating power interconnections, road and rail links and expanding these with Djibouti, Sudan, Kenya and South Sudan, Prime Minister Hailemariam said, “Ethiopia had gone a long way to lay the basis for consolidating economic ties within the Horn of Africa”. The Prime Minister said, “Underlines our resolve to play our part in regional integration.”

On the margins of the Africa 2016 Business Forum, Prime Minister Hailemariam met with El-Sisi and Sudanese President Omar al Bashir. The trilateral meeting was aimed at addressing their common vision of promoting inter-regional partnerships and enhancing economic cooperation among the three countries. The three countries have also agreed to form a Joint Investment Fund to bankroll the implementation of various developments. As a key player of the intra-African trade, investment, peace and security in its region and beyond, Ethiopia had shown its usual commitment not only for being part of the business summit but also securing a business deal out of the summit; a five-year contract to export environmentally friendly alternative solid fuel to an Ethiopian company. Speaking about how important the deal was, Hisham El-Khazindar, co-founder of Qalaa Holdings noted, “Within the context of our continent and within the context of using waste and developing solid waste solutions, this is really very important milestone with ECARU (The Egyptian Company for Solid Waste Recycling- part of Qalaa Holdings) getting out of Egypt and going into Ethiopia.” The company had also signed a five-year memorandum of understanding with Ethiopia’s East African Mining to establish a new joint venture. Egypt’s cable maker firm, Elsewedy Electric Group announced that it would establish the Egyptian industrial zone in Ethiopia within the upcoming two years in a bid to attract Egyptian investors to establish their projects in the country.

Somalia: The High Level Partnership Forum, Istanbul February 2016
Organized by the Government of the Republic of Turkey, and co-chaired by the President of Somalia and the UN Deputy Secretary-General, H.E. Mr. Jan Eliasson, the High-Level Partnership Forum (HLPF) on Somalia was held this week (February23-24, 2016) in Istanbul, Turkey with the theme “Focusing on Progress in Somalia”. The Forum which reviewed Somalia’s progress in the political, security and economic sectors aimed at addressing the challenges that the country faces in the implementation of speedy peace and state-building processes brought together key international partners and 200 Representatives from 54 countries and 11 international organizations, leaders of the Somali Federal Government and Interim Regional Administrations. This year’s forum followed the previous meetings held in Copenhagen in 2014 and Mogadishu in 2015.
Commending the progress in Somalia and referring to the country’s political, security and development agenda, the President of the Republic of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in his opening remarks said, “As you all know, Somalia is going through a critical period. … On this rocky road, we need to support Somalia and never leave [Somalis] in the lurch”.
Taking note of the fact that stability is vital for Somalia progress, Erdoğan called for the implementation of key 2016 milestones. Somalia’s security needs are being addressed in efforts to seek tangible solutions to fight al-Shabaab terrorist activities in the country. Al-Shabaab is an al-Qaeda-linked militant group and was among the topics covered throughout the forum. He said, “I believe that the improvements that we will make for easing our Somali brothers’ daily lives and increasing their welfare will also contribute to the country disposing of its terror problem. Essentially, the thing that lies under the success of the Turkish model in Somalia, which you all watch with interest, is our acting with this mentality. We also expect international cooperatives to support Somalia with the same attitude”. Explaining that Turkey shouldered the country’s reconstruction process through universities, orphanages, roads, hospitals and even street lamps that are put into service through humanitarian institutions, Erdoğan noted, “We will continue our work until Somalia finds tranquility and becomes a peaceful, stable country with the cooperation of the international community and regional countries, hopefully.”

Stressing on the tremendous progress Somalia has made over the last few years, Deputy- Secretary General of the United Nations. Jan Eliasson said Somalia once mired in a conflict has now better functioning governance on relative terms. As this year marks the end of the Somalia Compact, and the mandate of the first Federal Institutions formed under Somalia’s 2012 Provisional Constitution closes in, the Deputy- Secretary General said, “Yet, 2016 is not a finish line,” noting that the country had tough challenges ahead. The international community must move beyond crisis management and work together towards maximizing stronger partnership for sustainable peace and development, while also ensuring the rule of law, and respect for human rights. He noted Somalis have worked hard over the past four years to build the foundations of a new federal, democratic state. Jan Eliasson stressed on the importance of forging a visible strategy which he said was crucial in the promotion of peace and state building in the country. On Somalia election 2016, the Deputy–Secretary General commend the Federal Government’s decision of working on a viable electoral model, particularly its commitment to make sure that women would make up 30 per cent of the seats in the new Parliament. In all these, the Deputy–Secretary General urged all national and international stakeholders to support implementation of such a decision which should come in line with the Mogadishu Declaration and Security Council resolution 2232, adding that a secure, fair and transparent electoral process held on time would do much to sustain confidence in the process of Somalia’s transformation.
The President of the Federal Republic of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, detailed the positive achievements in the country, such as recovering most of Somalia from al-Shabaab, subsequently working to defeat extremism on its own soil, building institutions within all but one of the federal member states and forming the National Independent Commission along with the ongoing review of the Constitution and the upcoming action plan for the electoral process. He said, “The future of Somalia is embedded in democracy and will only be secured through inclusivity, diversity and equal access to democracy”. The President however stressed on the significance of the continued assistance of every Somali and of the international community for the promotion of sustainable peace and development in the country.
A high level Ethiopian Delegation headed by State Minster of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Aske-Selassie attended the High Level Partnership Forum on Somalia. Ethiopia is one of the key `players in the process of bringing sustainable peace and development in the region and its participation in this ministerial meeting affirmed the country’s longstanding commitment to supporting international efforts towards a more stable, peaceful and resilient Somalia. During the event, State Minster Ambassador Taye Aske-Selassie had made it clear that Ethiopia remains committed to consolidate its endeavor towards bringing lasting peace and stability in Somalia. He said the political landscape of Somalia has fundamentally changed in the last four years. Since the establishment of an internationally recognized government under the leadership of Hassan Sheik Mohammed in September 2012, Ambassador Taye said, “All witnessed the formation of three regional administrations and we are looking forward to the formation of one regional and one city administration in the coming months”. According to the state minster what is more significant in terms of political change in the last three and half years is the transformation of the violent political culture into civil, peaceful and legal political mode of engagement. Ambassador Taye however added that the problem in the security sector has the potential to undermine all the political achievements. He said unless the security sector is strengthened, all our political and stabilization plans will be brought into distress. Moreover, H.E Ambassador Taye said, “The strategy is never wait for a deadly enemy to come and attack. Chase it! Isolate it, contain, degrade and finally eliminate it!” The state Minster stressed that this required commitment and resilience resource, potential will and support. It should be underlined that this is a strategic task that required a coordinated plan and action of all partners; and Ambassador Taye finally underlined, “While we are in charge of respective countries we have to make sure that we support the cause of building of a strong and vibrant Somalia.”
The High Level Partnership Forum in its communiqué welcomed the second annual progress report of the New Deal Somali Compact and commended the detailed Compact Review process, the joint analysis of achievements and the challenges in the implementation, as well as identification of milestones for 2016. It also welcomed Somalia’s progress in many areas and called for continued engagement and provision of assistance. Noting that the constitutionally-mandated terms of the Federal Government and Parliament close in, the communiqué noted 2016 was a decisive year for Somalia. Mindful of the fact that the one-person one-vote elections would not be possible this year, it welcomed the inclusive and participatory processes that helped parties agree on the key principles and actions of the 2016 electoral process in line with the ‘Mogadishu Declaration’ of 16 December 2015. The communiqué further underlined that there must not be any impediments to the timely implementation of the electoral process, including ensuring freedom of expression, and making sure that the constitutionally-mandated term limits of the legislature and executive are observed. Accordingly, it called for parties to work for an inclusive 2016 Electoral Process Implementation Plan and the development of the 2020 Roadmap. On the prospects of ensuring universal suffrage, the forum also stressed on the importance of setting clear political vision and path and urged all stakeholders to come to terms with a view to consolidate twin-track planning in support of a one-person one-vote electoral model, one that is overseen by a workable National Independent Electoral Commission by 2020.
IGAD’s new report on Smuggling and Human Traficking in the Horn of Africa
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in collaboration with the Nairobi-based SAHAN Foundation released a new report “Human Smuggling and Trafficking on the Horn of Africa-Central Mediterranean Route” at the end of last week (February 19, 2016). The report which was summarized and presented to the Addis Ababa-based diplomats aimed at providing a baseline assessment of the criminal syndicates along the smuggling/trafficking corridor, and how they operate across source, transit, and destination countries. The report was prepared upon the request of the governments of Ethiopia and Sudan and described the illegal activities that are taking place from the Horn of Africa via Libya to Europe as a “dangerous and organized illicit trade”.
The report is divided into five sections. The first two sections provided an overview on the general trends and patterns of migration from the Horn of Africa; the third section synthesized evidence unearthed by various law enforcement operations and identified some of the criminal ringleaders involved in human smuggling and trafficking from the Horn of Africa through the Central Mediterranean. The forth section examined the responses of the various national authorities and international organizations to human smuggling and trafficking and the final section covered some major recommendations for consideration.

The report has identified the route through Sudan and Libya, the corridor towards southern Africa and the route to the gulf countries as the primary routes out of the Horn of Africa. The report that more than a quarter of the 128,619 people recorded by FRONTEX who arrived in Italy via the Central Mediterranean Route between January and September 2015 were identified as being from Eritrea. The sharp increase in the arrivals of Eritreans on Italian shores was identified as the large and growing volume of Eritreans fleeing their country into northern Ethiopia, as well as into eastern Sudan. The report has revealed that Eritrean diplomats including prominent Eritrean nationals are massively involved in human trafficking and smuggling activities in the Horn of Africa region. The report in its interviews with dozens of those who were confirmed as Eritreans suggest nothing to contradict the recent findings of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea, which concluded in June 2015 that “widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed by the Government of Eritrea”. Of those interviewed, dozens provided convincing testimony of abuses that they were subjected to, including severe beatings and torture in detention. Most of those detained claimed to have been placed in prison for refusing to obey orders as national service conscripts, for attempting to escape national service, for their religious beliefs, or for either vocalizing criticism of the government. While there were also numerous cases of Eritreans leaving the country principally to escape living under an authoritarian regime with limited freedoms and opportunities, there is little evidence from the study to support recent arguments for the re-classification of Eritrean asylums seekers in Europe as simply “economic migrants.
The third section of the report sketched the sophisticated and integrated international networks that derive massive profits from the mass movement of thousands of migrants and refugees, often in aggravated circumstances. It stated the principal smugglers and trafficking kingpins who dominate the Central Mediterranean Route are predominantly Eritrean in nationality, but that they collaborate with ethnic Somalis, Sudanese and Ethiopians, in order to be able to operate easily across borders and amongst the diverse communities of the Horn of Africa. Due to the complex transitional nature of these networks, the report recommended that combating them would effectively require an equally sophisticated multilateral approach as opposed to what most governments continue to do; viewing human smuggling and trafficking as merely a domestic problem.
The Forth section reflected on the efforts made by IGAD member states towards combating human smuggling and trafficking through a patchwork of strategies, policies, institutions, and capacities of individual member states, within the context of the IGAD Peace and Security Strategy and the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). Accordingly, two member countries; Ethiopia and Sudan were selected and an assessment of the measures taken by these countries to combat human trafficking and smuggling was made.
Ethiopia established the National Council against Human Trafficking and Smuggling in June 2012, wherein, the National Council, supported by a law enforcement task force is sub-divided into four working groups; Protection Working Group, Victims Assistance Working Group, Legislation and Prosecution and Research monitoring and evaluation. The country also promulgated a new law; Proclamation 909/ 2015, “The Prevention and Suppression of Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants”. In addition to its criminal provisions with regards to aggravated trafficking, this draft law has provisions dealing with issues related to protection, rehabilitation, and compensation of victims.
Sudan also has a National Committee for Combating Human Trafficking, which was mandated under the Combating of Trafficking Act of 2014. This Committee is tasked with reporting every two months to the Council of Ministers with updates on various threats and challenges. This report is then addressed to the Head of State, who subsequently tasks various organs of government as necessary. The Committee also oversees the work of special investigations units that have been formed on an ad hoc basis to deal with the smuggling and trafficking networks in the eastern state of Kassala and in Khartoum.
The report states the African Union also played a tremendous role in combating smuggling and trafficking. The Khartoum Declaration of 16 October 2014 launched the AU-Horn of Africa Initiative on Human Trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants laid out member state commitments to ratify international conventions on human smuggling and trafficking and directed the obligation on member states to address the socio-economic causes of migration, strengthen law enforcement efforts, protect victims, and foster cooperation with international organizations willing to assist in developing capacities. This process provided a political forum for facilitating the more practical measures that should be accomplished in the international, national, and regional levels. The European Union, in addition to pursuing an independent course of action to prevent further loss of life at sea, had also pledged financial assistance for regional efforts to combat human smuggling and trafficking within the context of the Khartoum Process.
The report in its final section called for enhancing and expanding cooperation between law enforcement agencies, authorizing UN sanctions against individuals and entities responsible for human smuggling and trafficking in Libya, ensuring enhanced European Union engagement in regional law enforcement and border protection initiatives, enhancing the role for IGAD’s Transnational Organized Crime Pillar and Sponsored public awareness campaigns to help mitigate the challenges of human trafficking and smuggling.
The Ethio-Qatar Joint Technical Committee meeting
The Second Ethio-Qatar Joint Technical Committee Meeting was held this week ( February 23-24) in Addis Ababa. Opening the two day meeting, Ambassador Siraj Rashid, Director General of Middle Eastern Affairs at the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign affairs welcomed the Qatari delegation led by Director of International Cooperation, Tarik Bin Ali Al-Ansari, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar and emphasized on the investment boom in the Ethiopia in many different sectors and its significance towards creating meaningful economic ties with the Qatari investors. The Director General also stressed on the need for further strengthening the bilateral cooperation. Ambassador Tarik Bin Ali Al-Ansari revealed the importance of South-South cooperation and the need for integrated actions among developing countries through developmental exchange programs mainly focusing on investment and cooperation in education, technology transfer and trade facilitation.
The two sides discussed on strengthening bilateral relations and exploring ways of enhancing them in political, economic and investment sectors. They stressed the importance of the completion of ratification and activation of agreements that had been signed during the high-level visits made previously, notably the ratification of the agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income between the two countries and the implementation of the labor agreement. Ethiopia and Qatar agreed to consider negotiating on visa waiver agreement for holders of Diplomatic and Service (special) passport of the two countries. The importance of implementing the agreement on the establishment of Joint Ministerial Commission between the two countries was also top of the agenda, where in. the Qatari side expressed its interest to host the First Joint Ministerial Commission meeting.

The Joint Technical Committee Meeting also offered a platform for the two countries to emphasize cooperation in the field of Trade and investment. They reviewed the trade relation between the two countries and agreed to pursue innovative options culminating into finding a solution. The Ethiopian delegation delivered briefings on the most important investment sectors available in the country and the major amendments made on the investment legislation which encouraged foreign investors to invest in priority sectors, such as agriculture, mining and power generation. Other potential investment sectors included integrated agro-processing investment in animal feed, animal fattening, dairy farming and slaughter house and processing of fruits and vegetables. The Qatari side took note of the proposals and agreed to channel them to responsible authorities for consideration and requested for the business plans to which the Ethiopian side agreed to provide. The Qatari Investment Authority also expressed its interest to explore, through its subsidiary companies, to work towards making use of the investment opportunities in Ethiopia. Ethiopia and Qatar also signed a cooperation agreement in the field of recruiting Ethiopian oversees workers.

On developmental Cooperation the Qatari side, through Qatar Development Fund, provided briefings about development loans that have social and economic impacts, under which they expressed interest to work with Ethiopia on water, electricity and railway projects, and of course with the possibility of funding them. Ethiopia and Qatar also agreed to extend their level of cooperation and forge institutional linkages through higher institutions of learning, staff and students exchange as well as networks of scholarships. The countries also agreed to undertake promotional activities such as participation in trade fairs, workshops, trade missions and exchange of trade and investment information through their respective Chambers of Commerce.
Agro-Industrial Parks: the focus to transform Ethiopia’s economy

Among the sectors to which the second Growth and Transformation Plan gives emphasis is manufacturing and industrialization to provide the basis for economic structural change; and a central element in this strategy for transforming the industry sector is development and expansion of industrial parks and villages around the country. The concept of developing industrial parks actually started several years ago but was significantly encouraged after the amended proclamation two years ago for the development of industrial zones – the Amended Investment Proclamation No 849/2014. The proclamation defines the development of industrial parks as areas with distinct boundaries “designated by the appropriate organ to develop identical, similar or interrelated industries together or to develop multifaceted industries, based on a planned fulfillment of infrastructures and various services such as road, electric power, and water, and having special incentives schemes, with a broad view to achieving, planned and systematic development of industries, mitigation of the environmental pollution and development of urban centers, and includes special economic zones, industrial parks, technology parks, export processing zones, free trade zones, and the likes designated by the Investment Board.”

Under the previous Growth and Transformation Plan (2010/11-2014/15) industry and the service sectors, along with agriculture, took the largest share in the economic development and GDP growth of the country. Agriculture with 43% had the major share of GDP. Those developments are now intended to provide the basis for accelerated structural change in the years ahead and transform the economy from self-subsistence and small-scale production to large scale industrial and market oriented productivity and competitiveness. This will be achieved by creating a wider range of enabling conditions for domestic and foreign investors, and with the aim of sustaining the fast growth registered over the past decade in the current GTP II, the special focus is being given to the industry sector. It is intended that the base for manufacturing, industry sector will be widened and expanded through increasing a range of diversified micro and small enterprises as well as medium and larger industries at the federal level and across all the regions of the country. In fact, the second Growth and Transformation Plan envisages an annual growth of 29% in export revenue and making agro-processing products and light manufacturing the main export revenue generating sectors. It aims to achieve an annual growth of 24% in the manufacturing sector, and to increase the contribution of the manufacturing sector to 25% of export earnings, up from the current 10%. It also involves a policy of supporting regional states and cities to develop international standard industry parks.

Last week, the Government announced that four Integrated Agro-Industrial Parks, at a cost of about $30 billion birr, were going to be launched next September, in Western Tigrai, South-west Amhara, central Oromia, and in eastern SNNP. Seven million square meters of land will be made available for investors engaged in manufacturing and related sectors. These parks will be linked with millions of smallholders to supply inputs, as well as regional administrations and cities and towns. They will also get the necessary support to develop standardized industrial clusters and parks for those investors and so generate employment opportunities. The Government has already begun to invest heavily in the necessary supporting elements for these Integrated Agro-Industrial Parks, to develop the necessary infrastructure, research center development and agriculture extension services as well as consider the required market development and micro-financing needs. For these zones, it has also identified some 17 agro-processing locations have been identified. Bahker in Tigrai, Bure in Amhara, Ziway in Oromiya and Sidama in SNNP are among those slated to be in the first round of development as their feasibility studies have been completed.

Given availability of technology and skills, the potential to lift production to the next level of manufacturing in say garment manufacturing is substantial. There is still obvious potential for domestic firms to increase their share in the domestic and global clothing markets. They have significant labor cost advantages, access to a state-of-the-art and well-located container port in Djibouti, and duty-free access to the U.S. and EU markets. This offers a real opportunity to expand the garment industry and foreign direct investment will accelerate the process of increasing both production and exports. The Textiles and Garments sub-sector already offers one of the best demonstrations of the process of industrialization. During the first Growth and Transformation Plan the sector began to make fundamental structural changes. It is now set to make Ethiopia an important hub for the manufacturing. It is showing export revenues of nearly US$100 million as a result of the continuous improvement in the production capabilities of domestic textile, garment, knitting and weaving firms. More than 45% of the national production is exported to Germany. Even more important, has been the performance of foreign firms which have recently entered the industry. The government’s efforts to attract foreign direct investment into the sector have been highly successful, in effect placing the country as an emerging textile powerhouse on the global industry map, underlining its comparative advantages in terms of production factors and the attractive government policies.

Another subsector which will certainly benefit from the development of agro-industrial parks is the leather industry that is even more labor intensive than garments. Italian shoe importers already express the highest regard for Ethiopian leather. It only requires some relatively small developments for Ethiopia to produce vast amounts of some of the best leather in the world. The current constraint is limited access to high-quality processed leather but the sector has already been registering high growth in export revenues year after year. Ethiopia possesses the largest livestock herd in Africa, and the 10th largest in the world. It annually produces 2.7 million hides, 8.1 million sheepskins and 7.5 million goatskins, but until now it has largely produced low value-added hides and skins. The Government is now actively promoting the shift of export items from low value-added hides and skins to high value-added finished leather. It has made the leather and leather products value chain one of the top four priority industries, not least because of the industry’s links to the rural economy and its strong potential to help alleviate poverty as well as increase exports and the flow of foreign currency. The export of leather footwear only started in 2005, but its value has been steadily increasing. Its importance has been underlined by the mention in the Plan for Accelerated and Sustained Development to End Poverty where it is mentioned as an important sector for trade and industry development. In fact, Ethiopian leather products are now being exported in large volumes to markets in Europe, especially Italy and the UK, America, Canada, China, Japan and other Far Eastern countries, the Middle East and other African countries. Ethiopia is already making a name for itself in the world of mass-produced footwear. At the same time, foreign investors are now showing increased interest in the potential. The country has recently become an increasingly important destination for international buyers looking for high-end shoes, because of its fine leather and a strong commitment to quality. Indeed, the footwear industry is thriving with an increasing number of new and innovative enterprises and improving quality of products as well as new ideas for product design, production methods, labor management, procurement, and marketing.

Industrial parks play a significant role for countries that are transitioning from an agricultural-led economy into an industrial-led transformation as a central element in an economic revival. The best experiences of other countries suggest that among the benefits of the establishment of the industrial parks should be included the delivery of integrated power transmission, supply of water, waste disposal and recycling mechanisms and raw material supply arrangements. Also needed is adequate infrastructure, import–export transport and logistics facilitation, shared market utilization and effective security as well as competent and effective management. The Integrated Industrial Parks process will take taking advantage of these benefits and, with the costs pooled among the many enterprises involved, they will have a greater chance of creating a self-sustaining operation from the outset and rapidly contribute to the development of the industrialization of the overall economic and social sector.

The Industrial Parks Development Corporation’s Chief Executive with the rank of State Minister, Sisay Gemechu, has said that Ethiopia is aiming to become the hub of light manufacturing industry in Africa, coupled with an ambitious plan to develop world class soft and hard infrastructure facilities. The ongoing expansion of industrial parks will, of course, also play a significant part in helping the country move towards becoming a middle income country by the year 2025. The mandate for developing and administering the industrial parks has been given to Industrial Parks Development Corporation, by the Council of Ministers Regulation Number 326/ 2014. The corporation is also responsible for preparing and implementing the national industrial parks’ master plan and creating the industrial park land bank set up in accordance with agreement concluded with the regional states. The parks that have been set up so far have created jobs for an estimated 10,000 women and men. Almost 95% of production is being competitively supplied to foreign markets. The manufacturing firms involved are effectively utilizing local raw materials and creating value chains within the agriculture sector. Among the parks that are already operating are the Addis Ababa Bole Lemi I and II, Kilinto, Hawassa, Dire Dawa, Kombolcha, Mekalle, Adama, Bahr Dahr and Jimma.

The planned Agro-Industrial parks should go a long way to tackle the lack of value chains and significantly to the value of agricultural products destined for export. The feasibility studies indicate there are abundant raw materials in the identified areas and they will be attractive to investors given their proximity to towns, infrastructure and ports for exports. The industrial parks will initially be linked to eight rural transformation centers for pre-processing sites, which are established in coffee, sugar, sesame seed, fruit and vegetable production areas. They will incorporate companies engaged in exporting value-added agricultural products. Not surprisingly, Foreign Direct Investment is being increasingly attracted to the industrial park developments and to the other government policies offering excise breaks, tax holidays and cheap land rental as well as political stability and the added advantage of a competitive and youthful workforce. All of this provides for development of value-added export commodities, boosting the country’s global competitiveness, helping ensure market access and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, and contributing significantly to the war on poverty and to the development of an industrial-led manufacturing sector.

Head Line
OCHA concerned over need for further funding for drought relief
Ethiopia launching New Tourism Strategy
Developments in the energy sector and regional energy integration
A conference on Ethiopia’s Textile and Garment Industry
Media reports on Eritrea continue to headline human rights abuse….
…and a Dutch Court rules in favor of an Eritrean human rights advocate
News in Brief

Africa and the African Union

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon this week launched “One Humanity: Shared Responsibility”, a report for the World Humanitarian Summit due to take place in Turkey in May. The Summit, he said, will be the moment for us to come together to renew our commitment to humanity and implement the commitments in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction Framework, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

President Barack Obama signed into law the Electrify Africa Act on Monday (February 8) aimed at expanding electricity to millions of households in sub-Saharan Africa. It will leverage partnerships with the private sector to bring electricity access to some 50 million people. It will provide investment of about $7 billion in US funds, largely financed through the US Export-Import Bank, to create 30,000 mw of clean energy generation. (See article)

Members of the Climate Vulnerable Forum met in Geneva for the first time this year on Friday (February 5) to discuss the implementation of the Manila-Paris Declaration and the 2016-2018 Road Map adopted at the High Level Meeting of the Climate Vulnerable Forum at COP 21 in Paris. The CVF has 43 members vulnerable to climate change including 16 from Africa: Burkina Faso, Comoros, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Morocco, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Tunisia.

Ethiopia

Prime Minister Hailemaraim Dessalegn inaugurated Ethiopian Airlines its refurbished Aviation Academy on Sunday (February 7). The newly refurbished academy has education centers to provide for the pilot training school, aviation maintenance training school, commercial and ground service school and leadership school. The changes will allow for the Academy to increase its annual intake capacity to 4,000 students.

The State Secretary of Justice and Public Security of Norway, Mr. Joran Kallmyr paid a courtesy visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia and held discussions with Foreign Minister Dr Tedros Adhanom on Tuesday (February 9).
The 10th Tripartite National Committee meeting of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam was held in Khartoum (February 7-11) to discuss the Updated Technical Proposals of the French firms, Artelia and BRL Group selected to undertake the dam impact studies, and the financial proposals and contracts. The proposals were put to the respective Ministers of Water and Irrigation, and contracts are expected to be signed at the next meeting of the TNC in Addis Ababa after pending issues have been resolved.

A conference focusing on Ethiopia’s Textile and Garment Industry with a theme “Towards Increasing Sustainability and Competitiveness in Ethiopia’s textile and garment industry” took place in the Hilton Hotel on Monday (February 8). (See article)

Ethiopian Investment Commissioner, Fistum Arega, told an “Ethiopia Ease of Doing Business Reform Validation Workshop”, organized by the World Bank and the Commission on Tuesday (February 9), that Ethiopia was shortly going to issue revised regulations to improve the flow of foreign direct investment to the country. It had already established an Investment Climate Directorate to improve the overall activities of the commission.

Djibouti

US Assistant Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Djibouti this week for the two-day meeting of the second annual US-Djibouti Bi-National Forum. Initiatives included the plans for a pipeline from Ethiopia, a million dollar USAID grant for community programs for women, young people and vulnerable group, and the launch of Djibouti’s first international school of English. Mr. Blinken also met with President Ismail Omar Guelleh.

Eritrea

Italian and German authorities have arrested a suspected human trafficker from Eritrea who had been on the run for months, police in Palermo announced on Saturday (February 6). The man is accused of being the leading member of a gang of traffickers who organized illegal crossings of the Mediterranean for, and of being responsible for the Lampedusa disaster in October 2013, when 366 people, mostly Eritreans, died when their boat caught fire and capsized.

A Dutch court dismissed an attempt to sue Professor Mirjam van Reisen, Professor of International Relations, and a long time advocate for Human rights in Eritrea, for libel. (See article)

A Kunama organization has issued the names of 51 Kunama youngsters, 46 of them under 18, which it claimed had been “forcefully conscripted by the Eritrean regime” last month in Eritrea.

Kenya

President Kenyatta presided over a two-day conference of Government officials and the County Governors this week (February 10-11) to discuss reports on public finance management, grants to the counties, health services and capacity assessment. After a warning that next year’s budget estimates would be lower than this year, the meeting adopted a policy of austerity to release resources from recurrent expenditure to development including a commitment to a 50% reduction in travel and allowance expenditure across all government offices.

Somalia

President Mohamud stressed Parliament’s importance when addressing MPs on Sunday (February 7). He said the political process was now Somali-led and Somali-owned. “Our politics cannot be guided but you can help us capacitate security sector, and install key facilities. By the way, we can’t make politicking out of difficult days in the past.” He said the new proposal for the electoral process for 2016 would be put to parliament for discussion.

Prime Minister Sharmarke met with a high-level delegation of the Arab League on Wednesday (February 11) at his office in Mogadishu. The delegation was headed by Ambassador Zaid Al Sabban and he assured Somalia’s of the League’s continued support for Vision 2016 and the upcoming elections.

The Somali Federal Parliament speaker, Mohamed Osman Jawari, told MPs on Sunday (February 7) that Parliament would debate the constitutional review on February 15. The Federal Justice Ministry and the independent Constitutional Review and Implementation Commission will present the review road map of the constitution to parliament. The Speaker said Federal states and the Somali public will both be asked to participate in the constitutional review. He also invited all the Federal states’ parliaments to take part in this review.

Puntland President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gaas and senior Puntland officials on Tuesday (February 9) met in Garowe with a delegation of international community diplomats led by the Special Representative of the Secretary General of United Nations, Michael Keating to discuss the outcome of the National Consultative Forum. Puntland favors district and geographical representation and distanced itself from the Federal Government’s decision to use the 4.5 formula for the elections in August. President Abdiweli said after the talks: “no agreement has been reached; however we have agreed to hold further talks and continue negotiations.”

Federal Interior Minister Abdirahman Mohamed Hussein “Odowa” on a visit to Galmudug State has called on Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a to settle its dispute with the Interim Galmudug Administration, based in Adado. Ahlu Sunna currently holds the proposed state capital of Dusamareb. He also called on Galmudug president, Abdikarin Hussein Guled, to make fresh efforts to end the differences between the two parties peacefully.

Minister Abdirahman “Odowa” and Galmudug State President Abdikarim Gulled on Wednesday (February 10) launched the project for the construction of a seaport at Hobbyo. The Minister asked the Galmudug Diaspora to participate in the construction of the port. President Gulled said this would be a key development project for the region.

The latest food security and nutrition assessment for Somalia, released in Mogadishu this week by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in collaboration with the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, describes the situation as critical, with 931,000 people in crisis and 22,000 more people in emergency across Somalia through June. In total, the assessment reports that nearly 4.7 million people, 38% of the total population of Somalia, are acutely food insecure and need humanitarian assistance between now and June.

AMISOM denied reports at the end of last week that it had abandoned Merka, describing media reports that its troops has left the town as “falsehood.” In a press release on Saturday (February 6), Ambassador Madeira said AMISOM had moved its base in the town for “tactical considerations” and over “concern for the safety of the local population in case of any combat engagements.” AMISOM troops were again patrolling the city at the beginning of the week.

AMISOM has warned its troops that Al-Shabaab fighters are planning to disguise themselves as AMISOM soldiers using captured uniforms to carry out attacks on Somalis. It said it has information that Al-Shabaab fighters plan to dress in AMISOM uniforms and carry out atrocities in parts of Somalia controlled by AMISOM and the Federal government.

A conference on internal security and ways to create harmony between Federal and Member State police forces and improve the quality of internal security and police force capacity opened in Mogadishu on Tuesday (February 9). Ministers of security from all the Federal member states and officials from the Federal ministry of Security attended.

South Sudan

President Salva Kiir issued a decree on Thursday (February 11) re-appointing Riek Machar as 1st Vice-president in accordance with the power sharing provisions in the Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS). The decree also appoints James Wani Igga, previously Vice-president, as 2nd Vice-president. The opposition SPLM-IO said the appointment was welcome.

President Kiir signed a Non-governmental Organization (NGOs) Bill into law on Thursday (February 11). It requires humanitarian organizations to have at least 80% South Sudanese in their employ. Non citizens will loss their jobs to give way for nationals. Humanitarian agencies said such a law would impede the work of reaching to the most vulnerable people in the country.

At least 40,000 people are starving to death in the war zones in South Sudan and conditions are “escalating” said the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, UNICEF and the World Food Program in a joint statement released on Monday (February 8). There were also more than 2.8 million people now needed aid in the country and nearly 25% of the population remains in urgent need of food assistance.

The Council of Elders of Jeing/ Dinka said on Sunday (February 7) it welcomed the IGAD communiqué asking parties to the conflict in South Sudan to form a government of national unity and suspend operationalization of the 28 states. It calls on the Government “to suspend further action on implementing the operationalization of new states until an inclusive, participatory National Boundary Commission comprising all Parties to the ARCSS reviews proposed states and their boundaries, and that this review process occurs, for a period of up to one month.”

Sudan

President Omer al-Bashir said the recommendations of the national political and societal dialogue conference have offered solutions for the country’s entire problems. He was presented with the conference’s recommendations on Monday (February 8). The conference opened last October but was boycotted by major opposition parties.

President Omer al-Bashir met with the United Nations Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Haile Menkerios on Wednesday (February 10) to discuss the national dialogue in Sudan and the participation of the armed movements in the peace process. Mr. Menkerios described the dialogue initiative as a positive step. He said the national dialogue had regional and international support, and a “real comprehensive dialogue is the only means to achieve a lasting peace in Sudan.”

Sudan has requested the United States Institute of Peace to put pressure on rebel groups in Darfur to join the peace process. It has also asked the German government to exert more pressure on the SPLM-N to seriously engage in the peace talks to end the nearly five-year conflict in the Two Areas.

The UN Security Council on Wednesday (February 10) renewed until 12 March 2017 the mandate of the Panel of Experts monitoring sanctions imposed on those behind instability in Sudan’s western Darfur region. It also expressed regret that members of the Government as well as armed groups continued to disregard its demands and signaled its intention to impose measures against parties perpetuating violence. The current sanctions regime involves an arms embargo, an assets freeze and a travel ban.

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OCHA concerned over need for further funding for drought relief

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in its latest report on Monday (February 8) noted that El Niño global climactic event wreaked havoc on Ethiopia’s summer rains, following failed spring rains. This had driven food insecurity, malnutrition and water shortages in affected areas of the country. OCHA said a well-coordinated response was already underway and expanding rapidly although the scale of the developing emergency exceeded resources available to date. It emphasized that the lead times necessary for the procurement of relief items, meant the Government and its international partners need further urgent action to deal with the danger of a break in the pipeline of supply.

The report stressed that the window for procurement of seeds for the Belg planting season closes by end of March, and the number of household requiring seeds for this has almost doubled since December when the Humanitarian Requirement Document for 2016 was launched. The recent Government, Agriculture Task Force and FAO data collection exercise reported an increase from 500,000 households to 900,000 households. The Government will be able to respond to 30% of this need, but there is a funding gap of US$52.2 million. If funds are not mobilized for the procurement of seeds by late March before the closing of Belg planting season, food production will continue to drop. This will have implications for access to food and heightened malnutrition. Seed procurement and distribution is urgent now to protect livelihood assets, prevent further displacement and avoid increased food aid needs that are already stretched. In addition, with the Meher season approaching in a few months, there is urgent need for funds for further procurement for seeds as the Meher planting accounts for more than 80% of the crop production in the country.

Humanitarian partners have commended steps taken by the Government to scale up food response with the food it currently has available but food pipeline data reveals projected pipeline break by end of April. The Ministry of Transport’s agreement to allow the United Nations World Food program to bring in additional trucks to aid in the massive logistics operation will also help to reduce delivery times from 6 to 4 weeks per round which signals a shift to monthly distributions, and ensures sufficient off take capacity from Djibouti port.

The Humanitarian Requirement Document seeks US$1.4 billion for the 10.2 million people affected by the current drought. US$1.2 of this amount is urgently needed for food assistance. So far, the Government and the international community have already mobilized over US$680m, but the current funding available for food aid will be exhausted by 1 May, and there is a risk of pipeline breaks in other sectors.

Save the Children UK said on Wednesday (February 10) that the emergency food aid will run out at the end of April unless donors provide more funds by the end of this month. In a statement, SCF UK said “The international community has just three weeks to provide $245 million in emergency food aid to help prevent a potentially catastrophic escalation in severe acute malnutrition cases…”. Country Director, John Graham said, “If these emergency funds do not arrive in time, there is no question that there will be a critical fracture in the food aid supply pipeline.” The $245 million now being sought is the cost of food aid for Ethiopia for the three months from May to July. It can take four months to buy food aid and transport it into landlocked Ethiopia via Djibouti, “so the window for action is rapidly closing” said SCF. “We only have until the end of February for the international community to pledge and disburse more funds for urgently needed food aid. It can take around 120 days to purchase and transport food into Ethiopia through Djibouti, so we all must step up now otherwise children and families in dire need of assistance could simply not have any food from outside.”

Mr. Graham added: “In 2016, when we have all the right systems in place to prevent a massive humanitarian disaster, it would be absolutely unforgivable if the international community failed to act.” He said the government had shouldered much of the financial burden so far, but if it didn’t get more immediate help from foreign donors it might be forced to redirect funding from other vital areas, including education and maternal and child health programs, in order to buy life-saving food aid.”

This week, the Australian Government announced it was providing further humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia, and to Somalia, to support those affected by drought conditions, and those affected by the ongoing conflict in Somalia. It will provide an additional $10 million to Ethiopia to help provide food and nutrition support, and services such as health and sanitation. In addition, the United Nations World Food Program has channeled $6.4 million of Australia’s core funding towards its operations in Ethiopia bringing Australia’s total funding for the Ethiopian drought to $16.4 million. The Australian Government is also providing a further $5 million in humanitarian assistance to Somalia, bringing Australia’s contribution to the Somalia crisis to $9 million since the beginning of 2015.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who described the drought situation as severe during his visit last week, called on international agencies to support the efforts of the people and the government. He noted the Government’s response had been impressive, calling the leadership and commitment of the Government as ‘exceptional’ and commending its efforts in mitigating the impacts of El Nino. Indeed, the country’s ability to provide emergency relief has improved beyond recognition. Ethiopia today, by comparison with the past, is much more politically and economically stable, capable of self-help and robust action, but there are always limits. As a result, despite all it has achieved, Ethiopia has had to turn to the international community for help. The UN Secretary General said his visit had enabled him to understand the way UN Agencies and the Ethiopian government were working together to respond and help those affected. He said the UN was committed to help the Ethiopian people overcome the problem. There were some 120 million people in the world who were food insecure, of these some 10.2 million people were in Ethiopia, and 1.7 million of these were children and women. The effects of El Nino and the drought will be a major item on the agenda at the forthcoming Humanitarian Conference in Istanbul in May.

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Ethiopia launching New Tourism Strategy

Tourism is a large global industry that is expanding rapidly in developing countries. The market share of tourism in developing countries is also increasing significantly and developing countries now account for two-thirds of long-haul destinations according to the World Bank. Tourism in Ethiopia currently generates about US$2.9 billion annually, close to a million jobs and about 4.5% of GDP. The Government, however, is determined to significantly increase the number of tourists during the 2nd Growth and Transformation Plan (2015–2020). The Ministry of Culture and Tourism plans to triple foreign visitors to more than 2.5 million by 2020. This would make Ethiopia one of the top five tourist destinations in Africa. Last financial year, 770,000 tourists visited Ethiopia and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism hopes to increase this to one million, and the revenue earned to well over US$3billion by the end of this Ethiopian budget year, by July 2016. To attain this the Ministry has identified five main focus areas for the GTP 2 agenda. These are: natural and cultural heritage conservation and development; culture and tourism products marketing; service excellence; improve culture and tourism research and information systems; and enhance cooperation and collaboration with development partners. Based on these focus areas, the Ministry now has clearly defined goals for the next five years.

Ethiopia’s Minister of Culture and Tourism, Aisha Mohammed Mussa, recently explained some of the details behind the extra impetus the Government is adding to the development and promotion of the tourism sector in order to achieve and indeed surpass the ambitious growth targets it has set for 2020, the end of the Growth and Transformation Plan II. Indeed, she hopes that these aims can be exceeded if tourist sites can be developed quickly enough and promoted accordingly. She admits to being very ambitious in her vision. The Government’s interest in the sector has been underlined by the drawing up of a Sustainable Tourism Master Plan; by the revitalization of the Ethiopian Tourism Organization, to concentrate mainly on destination marketing and promotion, as well as destination development in terms of service, quality and access; and by setting up of the Ethiopian Tourism Transformation Council, chaired by the Prime Minister. Ms. Aisha pointed out the Ministry was now working on different websites to promote Ethiopia as a favorite tourist destination. It was also working on changing the tourism brand and trying to build a completely new communications’ campaign. This is going to be launched before March.

Minister Aisha is quite clear about the immense natural, cultural, and historical attractions of Ethiopia. It has eleven registered world heritage sites by UNESCO, with most recently the Konso Cultural Landscape, Meskel Demera Festivities and Fiche-Chambelala, the Sidama people’s New Year celebrations, being added to the list. Ethiopia is the origin of humanity, the birthplace of ‘Lucy’, the world’s oldest known almost-complete hominid skeleton, more than three million years old. It is the land of the Queen of Sheba, home of the Ark of the Covenant, the origin of coffee and of the Blue Nile. It is also the home of Erta Ale, a unique active lava lake, in the beautiful Danakil Depression, in part below sea level and the hottest place on Earth. It has beautiful scenery including the Simien Mountains, a spectacular chain of mountains that are sometimes called “the roof of Africa.” There are four biosphere reserves registered by UNESCO. There are numerous Rift Valley lakes, hot springs and highland lakes even around Addis Ababa. There are various national and regional parks, such as the Awash National Park and the Simien Mountains National Park, among nine other national parks and two beautiful sanctuaries. It has spectacular sites dedicated to the some of the earliest buildings of three great religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; with old cities, beautiful ancient mosques and churches, monuments. Axum, Lalibela and the Nejashi mosque are major sites that attract many tourists and, indeed academic researchers. There are extensive national archives and a national library with rare and beautiful manuscripts. Ethiopia has its own unique calendar and alphabet. In addition, it has more than 80 nations and nationalities and peoples, all with their own distinct cultures and amazing traditions. On top of this, the Minister underlines, Ethiopia also has dependable peace and stability. Never colonized, it remains a symbol of independence for many in Africa and other continents. Addis Ababa, of course, is the seat of a number of international organizations including the African Union, the UN Economic Commission for Africa and more than 100 embassies. Conference tourism is another area of growth potential.

This entire heritage and the associated potential for tourism are at the centre of Ethiopia’s plan to quadruple the number of foreign visitors by 2020. The Minister emphasizes that the new strategy of tourism is a central part of the Government’s integrated development plans. As the number of visitors increases, the demand for developed infrastructure also increases. Ethiopia has immense and untapped natural resources, a competitive labor force and stability. These attributes make it a major investment destination in Africa, and this creates many opportunities for the tourism sector. Ethiopia’s tourist destination sites used to be inaccessible due to inadequate road and air infrastructure, lack of power infrastructure and other facilities. In the past 10 years, the Government has carried out large-scale investments in the construction of airports, road, and railway and the energy sector; she added “power infrastructure is our top priority so as to support this growing economy and we are doing well in this regard.”

Overall, infrastructure development remains one of country’s top priorities. Now, the Minister said, the Government is investing a lot into these areas. Tourists are accessing these destinations more easily and, equally, investors are keen to invest in building lodges, hotels and restaurants at the tourist sites or operate as tour operators. Potential investors can take advantage of these opportunities through direct investment or joint ventures with local partners. Tourism opportunities exist in the construction of star-rated hotels, lodges and resorts, international and specialized restaurants. The return of investment for government and the private sector is growing. The new strategy focuses on coordinating and communicating the many stakeholders at both the national and sub-national levels effectively in order to improve Ethiopia’s image, market presence and penetration.

Along with this, another priority is education to provide the necessary human resources to work efficiently in the hospitality sector. The Minister underlined the importance of providing market-oriented training for young people who want to work in hospitality, invest in the expansion of employment and proper professional training, to encourage entrepreneurship among young people, including women. All this, she said, had to go along more generally with ensuring good governance and democracy in order to use this young workforce most effectively. Also important is minimizing the rate of corruption, ensuring the rule of law, accountability and integrity among stakeholders. All these factors would contribute to the country’s growing economy. One element behind this is, of course, the Government’s strong commitment to end poverty. Another is the development of clear and appropriate government policies and strategies for each and every sector that is leading us to the eradication of poverty. The Government also works hard for mutual cooperation and win-win collaboration with partners in every sector. The tourism sector has benefited greatly from the stable political arena over the past two decades giving Ethiopia some competitive advantage over other countries. It also works hard to maintain peace and security with neighbors. All in all, it provides a conducive environment for the tourism sector.

The Ministry is now planning to have a new brand and a new slogan to communicate Ethiopia’s attractiveness and uniqueness more fully to the rest of the world. It is developing new websites, software and mobile apps to promote Ethiopia. It is participating in different worldwide trade fairs in order to expand promotion and get better market access to tourism products. Equally, “the current stress is on destination development and service excellence in order to sustain current and future customer relationships.” During the last Growth and Transformation Plan (2010-2014) the Ministry assessed nearly 400 hotels in collaboration with UNWTO, and in Addis Ababa alone 68 hotels were awarded with stars from 1 to 5. It is also encouraging the diversification of the tourism product offering to include nature-based tourist elements, such as mountain climbing, river tracking, bird watching, and similar areas. The country has ample resources in all these areas.

Whether the Ministry achieves the longer-term aims, revenue and tourist numbers are already both up this year. The country’s image is continuing to improve as indeed the international media has noted. The widely acclaimed Rough Guides and Lonely Planet rated Ethiopia last year as one of the most impressive tourist destinations and the UN World Tourism Organization has highlighted the untapped cultural and natural resources. Last year, Ethiopia was named ‘Best Tourism Destination’ by the representatives of the 28 countries on the General Assembly of the European Council on Tourism and Trade (ECTT). The judges noted that the Simien Mountains showed the potential for national parks and offered a model of achieving ecological tourism that should be recognized throughout the world. They described Ethiopia as perfect for safari and adventure tourism, providing safety and peace, making the country one of the world’s top adventure destinations. The award is offered to countries that comply with the principles of the UN Tourism Division, UNESCO and ECTT on fair and ethical tourism.

ECTT President, Professor Anton Caragea, said “the Government of Ethiopia is recognizing the importance of tourism as a key facilitator for the country’s development, investing in infrastructure, creating a special team under the Prime Minister’s leadership for destination promotion and management and protecting the cultural, natural and historical patrimony of the country.” He said the community-based approach, promoted by the Prime Minister was the perfect way of sharing revenue, increasing incomes and supporting marginal and rural community development. “Ethiopia”, he said, “ is a perfect, safe and outstanding place to visit, and all world tourism experts have expressed their confidence in the future of tourism in Ethiopia”. Dr Ray Muntida, Advisor to IGAD’s Sustainable Tourism Master Plan for the region, believes that if Ethiopia fully implements its Sustainable Tourism Master Plan by 2020, it really can become one of the five leading tourist destinations in Africa. Minister of Culture and Tourism, Aisha Mohammed, agrees.

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Developments in the energy sector and regional energy integration

President Barack Obama signed into law the Electrify Africa Act on Monday (February 8) aimed at expanding electricity to millions of households in sub-Saharan Africa. It will leverage partnerships with the private sector to bring electricity access to some 50 million people. The act was passed a week earlier by the U.S. House of Representatives. This was the culmination of nearly two years of trying to get the measure through both chambers of Congress. The Act provides a framework for a major public-private partnership between the United States and sub-Saharan African countries to help millions of people gain access to reliable electricity.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, Ed Royce of California, said the Electrify Africa Act is a “direct response to the fact that today 600 million people living in sub-Saharan Africa — that is 70 percent of the population — do not have access to reliable electricity”. It seeks to address the massive electricity shortage that affects the everyday lives of millions of people. The bill directs the President to establish a multi-year strategy to assist countries in sub-Saharan Africa in implementing national power strategies with a mix of energy solutions, including renewable energy sources. During the debate, bi-partisan members of Congress emphasized that without reliable electricity millions of people in Africa cannot use tools necessary for modern life, such as lights, cell phones and computers, nor did they have access to refrigeration for foods or medicines. Others pointed out that the lack of electricity forces people to use charcoal and other toxic fuels that cause more deaths than HIV/AIDS and malaria combined. Equally, the high cost of energy in much of sub-Saharan Africa makes producing goods for export almost impossible. Congressman Royce emphasized that it was in the United States’ interest to help Africa become one of the world’s great trading partners. The Electrify Africa Act will help make that a reality by providing a framework for companies to invest in promoting energy solutions in Africa.

It was back in 2013 that President Obama outlined his Power Africa Initiative, which aims to grant first-time access to electricity to 50 million people by the year 2020. Power Africa is a project launched to support economic growth and development in Africa by increasing access to reliable and affordable energy. Ethiopia is one among the six nations selected for the scheme, together with Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Liberia, and it is now finalizing a national action plan to utilize the Power Africa initiative properly. Ethiopia is, of course, endowed with abundant potential for renewable energy production and the Water, Electricity and Irrigation Ministry has announced that the action plan will put in place mechanisms that guarantee the benefits from Power Africa; allowing for the generation of 30,000MW of clean, sustainable, energy and add 60 million new interconnections which will also increase access to electricity across the continent. USAID stated that Power Africa will support Ethiopia’s energy development strategy through technical assistance to the Government in negotiating its initial landmark Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) and facilitating the financing of private-sector-led geothermal, solar and wind projects. In this context, the Eastern Africa Power Pool (EAPP), seeks to facilitate the cross border trading of renewable energy power supplies to the region at the lowest possible cost. The EAPP is working towards efficiently managing an integrated system and Power Africa will assist the EAPP to develop common grid codes and structural transmission interconnection projects that will facilitate integrated development as well as the operations of national power systems in East Africa.

Other recent developments in Ethiopia’s energy sector included the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Ethiopian Electric Power and the United States Trade Development Agency (USTDA), the commencement of the Kenya-Ethiopia power line, and the visit of various Ambassadors resident in Addis Ababa, including the US Ambassador to Ethiopia, visited the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam to see progress. The Memorandum of Understanding was signed on Friday last week. Azeb Worku, CEO of the Ethiopian Electric Power, said this was to help “Ethiopia to get standardized electric materials, supplies and equipment from the international market”. USTDA has pledged over $400,000 to improve access to electric equipment and other related elements of cooperation.

The Kenya Electricity Transmission Company announced last week that the construction of high voltage transmission lines covering 612 kilometers to the Ethiopian border at Moyale would begin in May. Kenya’s plans to buy cheap power from Ethiopia are reaching an advanced stage with the preliminary engineering and design elements of the project complete. The Kenya-Ethiopia transmission line will traverse Marsabit, Samburu, Isiolo, Laikipia, Nyandarua and Nakuru and the total cost of the project is an estimated Kenyan Sh129.12 billion. This is one of a number of planned regional projects with neighboring countries now in progress.

Overall, the country’s energy project developments are keeping up to schedule, but with Ethiopia one of the world’s fastest growing the need for power continues to grow. New agreements and partnerships and regional power integration projects development are needed and are well underway to support and maintain a decade-long rapid development and growth rate. The plans require expanding electric power supply at a rate of more than 14% per year.
To meet this demand, Ethiopia is primarily aiming to exploit its vast potential for sustainable power: hydro, geothermal, solar and wind power. There are plentiful renewable energy resources, including a potential of 45,000 MWs in hydropower. When adequately captured, the projected power supplies will far exceed the growing domestic demand, opening major avenues for the possibility of export of energy and for increased infrastructure integration with neighboring countries. Ethiopia, as its policies underline, is already beginning to establish regional energy infrastructure and power lines links. The country’s Climate Resilient Green Economy strategy, for example, specifies sustainable green economy developments and energy sector vision. The basic pillars of this approach include agriculture, forestry and sustainable power, as well transport, industrialization and construction. Within these, the power sector is specifically based on expanding electricity and power generation from renewable energy for domestic and regional markets. The regional energy infrastructures are implementation of Ethiopia’s recognized policy of regional integration, mutual growth and development within the framework of the Regional Economic Community. In the same way, in reference to transport, industrial and construction sectors, the national strategy aims to jump into modern and energy-efficient technological deployment.

The newly launched Growth and Transformation plan (GTP II) sets out, ambitious targets for infrastructure, energy generation and economic growth, and gives an even stronger focus on the promotion of industry. It also requires further expansion of the energy sector to fuel up industrial activities on a wide scale and the electrification of rural areas. The Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity announced this week that preparation of a legal framework to allow Ethiopia to benefit from the “Power Africa” initiative was nearing completion. The only element left is the approval of the framework by the national parliament. This is also needed to deal with problems arising from the laying of power transmission cables and for the power export program. The target for increasing electricity coverage to 75% in the first Growth and Transformation Plan period was not fully met as the increase achieved was only 55%. The aim now is to virtually complete coverage during the current GTP II.

Rural electrification across the country is a major element of focus for the energy sector. Currently some 5,554 towns have been connected in the country. During GTP II (2015-2020), using local, private investment and international cooperation, the plan is to connect a total of 10,205 towns to the national grid, raising the current 54% rural access to electricity to 90% by 2020.

Other major power sector development projects under construction besides the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam include the Genale Dawa III (254 MW) and other renewable projects including the Aluto Langano Geotheramal expansion, Repi Waste-to-Energy, and the Melka Sedi Biomass project. The Gilgel Gibe III hydropower project, which will eventually have capacity to produce 1870 MW, started operations some weeks ago.

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A conference on Ethiopia’s Textile and Garment Industry

A conference focusing on Ethiopia’s Textile and Garment Industry with a theme “Towards Increasing Sustainability and Competitiveness in Ethiopia’s textile and garment industry” took place on Monday (February 8) at the Hilton Hotel in Addis Ababa. The conference was organized by the relevant government ministries, including the Ministry of Trade, the Ethiopian Textile Industry Development Institute, GIZ, and the Ethiopian Textile and Garment Manufacturer Association ETGAMA. ETGAMA’s mission is to create a vibrant textile and garment sector to play a leading role in the growth and development of manufacturing industry. Senior government officials, leaders from Ethiopian and international textile and garment manufacturers, and professionals from partner organizations participated in the conference.

The government is now working towards the development of cotton, textile and garment sector as a priority within the planned industrial development. It is a sector that touches a wide spread of other sub-sectors maximizing production and creates substantial sources of employment. It also offers the prospect of significant foreign export earnings. The aim is to enable the industry to develop rapidly and become internationally competitive. The Government has underlined its commitment to develop this industry and aspires to export more than a billion dollars worth of apparel by 2016. In fact, in response to government’s policies, investors from different countries and major global brands are now investing in the country or are opening branches in the country. Currently a number of garment industrial companies from Turkey and India and also European high-street stores have started production in the country.

The overarching objective of Monday’s conference was to help improve the competitiveness of the Ethiopian textile and garment industry as a contributor to sustainable employment generation and to the economic development in the country. It aimed at promoting awareness of the importance of social and environmental standards with a view to drawing attention to key sustainability challenges within the Ethiopian textile and garment industry. It also intended to provide inspiration for practical action, as well as set the stage for a continuous dialogue and joint action amongst stakeholders from the private, public and citizens sectors in Ethiopia including local manufacturers and international buyers.

The conference had a number of sessions, including a discussion forum on “Inputs: sustainability and competitiveness from field to fashion”, assessing the current state of sustainability standards and compliance in Ethiopia, and a plenary session: “Practitioner perspectives on sustainability”. There were also breakout sessions on practical approaches and best practices with applicability to Ethiopia with particular reference to social and environmental standards for increased competitiveness, as well as training approaches for effective skill development: “Social and environmental standards for increased competitiveness and best practices from Bangladesh” and “Training approaches for effective skill development”. Another plenary discussion focused on opportunities and the way forward to improve the sustainability and competitiveness of the Ethiopian textile and garment industry.

The Director General of the Ethiopian Textile Industry Development Institute, Sileshi Lemma, launching the conference, emphasized that the Ethiopian cotton, textile and garment sector was one of the key manufacturing industries prioritized by the government. There was, he said, substantial anticipation of its contribution to the success of the Growth and Transformation Plan II. Dr. Axel Klaphake, Country Director of GIZ for Ethiopia, noted that there were three areas that were important for creating the backbone of a strong textile and garment industry: investment in the implementation of social and environmental standards across value chains, strengthening skill development for qualified personnel and promoting local and sustainable cotton production. Sustainability, he said, was an issue that needs to be considered in the whole textile value chain from field to fashion. The President of the Ethiopian Textile and Garment Manufacture’s Association, Fassil Tadesse, emphasized that the association was working to create a vibrant textile and garment sector which could play a leading role in the growth and development of the manufacturing industry by bridging the gap through capacity building, market link and policy advocacy.

The industry is currently growing rapidly. Exports have increased substantially over the past ten years. The Ethiopian government has set the sector as a focus for the Growth and Transformation Plan II (2015-2020), aiming to boost exports to reach one billion USD by the end of the Plan period, and to create close to 350,000 jobs. Investment incentives, capacity building and skill upgrades, competitive salaries and EU/US tax regulations and export agreements in Ethiopia as well as growing production costs and insufficient social standards in some Asian countries have been encouraging buyers to look for opportunities in Africa. Ethiopia has the potential to serve as a benchmark for sustainable textile industries for a number of reasons including the relatively high status of social and environmental standards in some export-oriented Ethiopian industries, and the large trainable labor force that can provide for the needs of the labor-intensive textile and garment industry. In addition, the sector, with some 130 companies, is still small enough to help implement a system based on sustainability principles from the beginning.

The conference was intended to be a starting point for initiatives to catalyze sustained and sustainable development of the textile and garment sector in line with international social and environmental standards. It aimed to help improve the competitiveness of the Ethiopian textile and garment industry as contributor to sustainable employment generation and economic development of the country, and promote awareness on the importance of social and environmental standards. It drew attention to key sustainability challenges within the Ethiopian textile and garment industry; and emphasized the importance of organizing continuous dialogue and joint action amongst stakeholders. As part of the process, the 2nd Ethiopian International Textile and Apparel Expo, designed to promote the textile and apparel industries and serve as a platform for local and international suppliers and producers, was organized at the time of the conference, at Addis Ababa’s Millennium Hall, from February 6 to 9. The Expo provided another example of the Government’s emphasis on the importance of expanding textile production through foreign direct investment and high textile export performance.

In addition, the major Swedish firm H&M, together with the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), on Monday this week announced the launch of an industrial relations project aiming to improve the development of a socially sustainable textile and garment industry in Ethiopia. In a statement, H&M said that promoting a well-functioning dialogue between partners on the labor market was a fundamental and important part of the company’s fair living wage strategy. The ILO highlights the importance of promoting freedom of association and collective bargaining as necessary for workers and employers to negotiate wages and working conditions, and H & M said it shared this view and that was why its strategy was focused on improving industrial relations. The firm said “this three year project will assist the Ethiopian government, social partners and major industry stakeholders in their efforts to promote social dialogue and improve productivity as well as improve wages and working conditions through nurturing sound labor relations practices and promoting collective bargaining.” The project is funded by SIDA and H&M and implemented by the ILO in collaboration with the Ethiopian Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Industry, the Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions and Ethiopian Employers Federation. The Head of Sustainability at H & M said: “Well-functioning relations and social dialogue on the labor market is key to improve working conditions and establish fair living wages. We are engaged in projects which have the aim of strengthening employees’ rights and their ability to negotiate on their own behalf on their terms and conditions through trade unions and or democratic elected employee representatives. Our goal is for all of our strategic supplier factories to have democratically elected and functional workplace representation in place by 2018 at the latest.”

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Media reports on Eritrea continue to headline human rights abuse….

The Eritrean Government has recently been publishing a series of articles in its “Eritrea Profile” reviewing events of the last year and Eritrea’s “many successes” during 2015. The first of these articles, on January 20, was entitled “‘Curbing’ Migration”. Given the international concern with the flood of refugees and migrants from Eritrea, this was not surprising. The refugee issue has taken center stage in the international media since the tragic drowning of 360 Eritreans off Lampedusa in October 2013, a disaster which highlighted “the truth about the brutal and ugly repression in Eritrea”

Nor, given the source, was it surprising that the article welcomed the report of the Danish Immigration Service, the earlier report of the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration and the subsequent report of the UK Home office. All of these, originally at least, suggested that “claims of political repression and ground realities in Eritrea may have been misinformed and that Eritreans were largely leaving Eritrea due to economic migration rather than repression.” The article in “Eritrea Profile” did not mention that the main source of the Danish Report disassociated himself from its conclusions and that two of its three authors resigned from the Immigration Service because of criticism of the methodology and disagreement with the conclusions. The report had been withdrawn from use in immigration cases.

The report of the UK Home Office has also been the subject of a highly critical and detailed comment by Dr. John Campbell in a report released last month by the British Immigration and Independent Advisory Group on Country Information. The report strongly criticized the UK Home Office’s use of “misleading and biased” information to reject Eritrean asylum seekers from the UK. The report says two official documents, the Country of Origin Information and the Country Guidance Information, issued by the UK Home Office in March last year, were largely based on the findings of the Danish report despite the fact that it has been largely discredited. In effect, the report claims that the Home Office has distorted evidence in order to reject Eritrean asylum seekers. Dr. Campbell said the Home Office could not rely on the Danish report because its findings are simply “not credible”. He noted, in particular, that despite claims in the Danish report, there is still no evidence that a decision to limit national service to 18 months has been decided. Government officials have made statements to this effect in private that the system has been changed, but nothing has been formally announced by the Government and there has been no indication that any such policy has been implemented. Nor is there any indication that those returning to Eritrea are safe from prosecution or persecution

Those immigration reports were, of course, wildly at variance with almost all other reports from a wide range of other sources, including the reports of the UN Special Rapporteur and the UN Human Rights Council’s Commission of Enquiry into Human Rights in Eritrea which quoted from the testimony of hundreds of those who have fled from Eritrea in the last year or so, as well as a number of detailed media reports over the last year. The amount of media coverage on Eritrea in 2015 showed a considerable increase, as the government allowed some media outlets to visit the country in an apparent attempt to improve its image. If this was the reason, it failed. Eritrea Profile claimed that until 2010 there were “a number of correspondents from foreign newspapers and agencies present in Asmara, including BBC, Deutsche Welle, Agence France-Presse, Al Jazeera, Voice of America and Reuters” but then, it claimed that they all decided, with the exception of AFP, to leave “of their own accord.” In March 2015, a BBC visit was categorized as providing a string of “lies and misrepresentations” over its claims of peoples’ reluctance to talk and the amount of “minding” to which the journalists were subject. However, according to Eritrea Profile, the BBC also had “to affirm the positive ground realities in Eritrea, admitting that there was significant health care progress and that there was no censorship of the internet.”

In October, the Wall Street Journal (“Thousands flee isolated Eritrea to escape life of conscription and poverty,” 20.10.2015), noted that more than half a million Eritrean refugees were residing in the neighboring Sudan and Ethiopia, in addition to the hundreds of thousands making their way to Europe. At the center of its story is a boy, Binyam Abraham, turning 16, who made a 19 hour journey to neighboring Ethiopia to escape the “forced conscription that had trapped his father for decades; for as long as I’ve known, he’s been a soldier…. Each year I saw him once, when he was allowed leave”. The Government claims the service is limited to only 18 months and the age limit starts at 18, but the fact remains that thousands leave to avoid the indefinite national service characterized by harsh treatment. From 16 on, there is always the possibility of being rounded up in one of the Monday night “gifa”, round-ups to catch anyone trying to avoid conscription. The article which quotes describes Eritrea as “one of the world’s fastest-emptying nations: a country of about 4.5 million on the Horn of Africa, governed by a secretive dictatorship accused of human-rights violations, that is playing an outsize role in the biggest global migration crisis since World War II.” From the start of 2012 to the middle of this year [2015], it is calculated that 1 in 50 Eritreans sought asylum in Europe, nearly twice the ratio of Syrians. “On the rickety smuggling boats crossing the Mediterranean, Eritreans comfortably outnumber other nationalities…Eritreans accounted for a majority of the 3,000 people who have drowned in the Mediterranean this year, humanitarian agencies say.” And the numbers continue to grow. The Wall Street Journal concludes “Eritrea is seeing its future walk away. Relative to its population, Eritrea has the biggest group of refugees who are unaccompanied minors.”

The Council on Foreign Relations published an article “Europe’s Migration Crisis,” in September. This quotes the International office of Migration, describing the situation of Eritrean refugees, making up on of the three largest groups with Syrians and Afghans, and their main reason for leaving being “fleeing forced labour.” Another article “Authoritarianism in Eritrea and the Migrant Crisis” three months later, concludes that “conscription in the national-service program is the factor most commonly cited by [Eritrean] asylum seekers who have fled their country.” The Guardian, in an article “Giving Money to Eritrea to stop refugees is almost Satire” (13.11.2015) , describes what it calls the futile exercise of the EU to provide Eritrea with a quick concession, amounting 200 million Euros. It is based on “a deeply flawed logic” that ignores the reasons behind people fleeing from home. The article suggests that if any meaningful solution is to be achieved, the EU should put pressure on the regime in Asmara to end the indefinite military service, which it notes as characterized by harsh treatments and forced labor.

A Photograph and Video report “Desperate Crossing”, depicting the story of over 700 refugees who had crossed via tiny fish boats to Italy, noted that “most of them were from the impoverished and despotically ruled Northeast African Nation of Eritrea.” Dozens of other reports during the year made the same points time and again: those arriving in Europe from Eritrea were refugees and their reasons for leaving were the repression they faced in their home country. It was clear that no amount of money going into Eritrea would curb this movement of people.

Last year, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea stated categorically that “systematic, widespread and gross” human rights violations have been and were being committed under the authority of the Eritrean Government. It said that some of these abuses might constitute crimes against humanity. The Commission found that Eritrean citizens live under constant fear in a controlled state and are subject to abuse, exploitation and slavery. Other human rights bodies have documented similar abuses over many years.

This is why the current efforts, as exemplified by the EU’s decision to provide 200 million euros of aid will make no difference to the issue that underlines European interest: interrupting the flow of refugees. The aid package is intended to support development endeavors in the energy sector and improve governance. Some will also go on education. Neven Mimica, the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, said the package would help to tackle the root causes of migration from Eritrea. In fact, it is most unlikely to have any impact on the numbers of refugees, as all the evidence is that they are leaving Eritrea because of political repression. Their exodus will continue. It will not be affected by increased aid for education – all that can do is provide for “more educated refugees”, nothing else. It is most unlikely to limit even numbers of migrants, let alone refugees. The flow of refugees will only be reduced when Eritrea actually makes changes in policy and reduces repression, and implements major changes in policy.

There have been a number of suggestions, by European ministers and others, that Eritrea is changing policies. However, as all reports from media and others demonstrate, there appears to be no change on the ground in Eritrea. Nor is there any indication of changes in the operation of the Special Military Court under which political prisoners are sentenced, usually without charge or trial. The Government refuses to respond to repeated international demands for news of the G15, arrested in 2001, along with a number of journalists, and held in such atrocious conditions that there are reports that most may well have died. Both the G15 and the journalists used to be a concern of the European Union. They now appear to be forgotten, victims of the refugee crisis. Nor has there been any indication of any change in Eritrea’s foreign policies, or the continuing pattern of attempts to destabilization of its neighbors, in particular Ethiopia. The Eritrean regime is still continuing to support armed opposition which makes no secret of its intent to try to overthrow the Ethiopian government by force.

Given the damning report on the human rights situation in Eritrea by the UN Human Rights Council’s Commission of Enquiry, and the failure of the regime in Asmara to make any change in its policies of regional destabilization, it is no surprise that in October last year the
UN Security Council decided to extend the mandate of the Somalia-Eritrea Monitoring Group, and retain existing sanctions on Eritrea for another year. The Commission’s report and the reports of the UN Monitoring Group, both long term and comprehensive accounts of the nature of the government in Asmara, provide authoritative and detailed information based on a wide variety of sources. The UN sanctions resolution imposes an arms embargo on the regime and prescribes assets freeze and travel ban on some of its political and military leaders.
The Commission’s report was accepted by both the UN Human Rights Council in June and the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly in October 2015.

Given the poverty in Eritrea and the lack of development, no one can argue against the provision of aid, but if the EU believes that this will limit the flood of refugees, it is certainly mistaken. It is also surprising, given the long history of difficulties that the EU has had with Eritrea’s autocratic regime over the last twenty years, marked by abruptly alternating periods of cooperation and confrontation. The EU is fully aware of the lack of justice, democracy or the rule of law. The treatment of the G15 and of journalists arrested and held in solitary confinement under appalling conditions without charge or trial, for example, has frequently been raised by EU officials, and, as frequently, totally ignored by Eritrean Government officials. EU leaders have witnessed time and again that promises, of dialogue and cooperation, of change or reform, made by the regime have been consistently broken. The surprise was that the EU made no effort to ensure that any aid package should include conditions for introducing democratic reforms or respecting human rights or any concrete steps to demonstrate any changes of policy, internal or external. There was not even a demand that the regime should allow the Commission of Enquiry access to Eritrea, something that has been repeatedly requested.

…and a Dutch Court rules in favor of an Eritrean human rights advocate

Mirjam van Reisen, Professor of International Relations, and a long time advocate for Human rights in Eritrea, was sued for libel earlier in the year by Meseret Bahlbi, former chairman of the youth movement of Eritrea’s single and ruling party, the Peoples Front for Democracy and Justice in the Netherlands. In an interview, Professor van Reisen said that she was concerned that the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service was using interpreters who were siblings of the “centre of the Eritrean intelligence in the Netherlands”. Interpreters are in a position to twist the meaning of what is being said and they are supposed to be screened to prevent employment of people with links to the Eritrean regime. If asylum seekers discovered that interpreters had ties to the regime from which they fled, this would undermine their confidence in the Dutch government, said Professor Van Reisen. Although Mr. Meseret was not mentioned by name he felt it was clear the statement referred to him.

At the hearing this week, the judge dismissed the claim. He found Professor van Reisen not guilty of libel and slander and added that the youth party of the Eritrean regime could be seen as a means of collecting intelligence abroad. When the case came to court two weeks ago, the focus was on the nature of the regime in Eritrea, and the role played by its supporters in Europe. On Wednesday (February 10) the judge ruled that van Reisen had no case to answer and awarded damages against Bahlbi in her favour.

The judge declared that van Reisen’s statements were warranted and that she had provided sufficient evidence of the facts. Her lawyer demonstrated that the YPFDJ was the “eyes and ears” of the Eritrean regime, gathering intelligence for the government in Asmara and being responsible for attempts to intimidate UN personnel, journalists and Professor van Reisen herself because they have drawn attention to the human rights abuses perpetrated by the regime and its supporters.

After the hearing, Professor van Reisen expressed her relief that the judge ruled in her favour, but she also underlined her continued concern for those fleeing from and suffering in Eritrea. She told the Dutch press “I now know what it feels like to be Eritrean” having witnessed the legal and less than legal attempts to silence her. She posted a message on Facebook: “victory to all justice seekers. Together we will continue to pursue the truth.”

Head Line
The African Union Summit: the Assembly of Heads of State and Government
…. the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee session
The IGAD Council of Ministers considers South Sudan ….
…and plans for an AMISOM Troop-Contributing Countries’ Summit….
UN Secretary-General: at a Donor’s Roundtable and visiting drought areas
The 10th Biennial US-Africa Business Summit held in Addis Ababa….
…and a “Doing Business in Ethiopia” Forum

News in Brief

Africa and the African Union

The two day 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union took place at the African Union Headquarters, Addis Ababa at the weekend (January 30-31) under the theme: “African Year of Human Rights with a particular focus on Women Rights”. President Mugabe handed over the AU chairmanship to Chad’s President, Idriss Deby. (See article)

The 34th Session of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee (HSGOC) took place on Friday last week (January 29). (See article).

The 55th Extraordinary session of the IGAD Council of Ministers was held in Addis Ababa at the weekend (January 30-31) on the margins of the AU Summit. The focus of the meeting was the situation on South Sudan and Somalia. (See articles).

The three-day 10th Biennial US-Africa Business Summit 2016 opened on Monday (February 1) at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa. It was organized by the US Corporate Council on Africa and Co-hosted by the Ethiopian Government and the African Union. (See article)

Ethiopia

On the sidelines of the AU Summit, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn and President Abel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt agreed that their bilateral relations were based on mutually agreed principles and any negative information in the media should not affect their relationship. They also agreed on the need to strengthen the Joint Ministerial Commission and to further cooperate in counter terrorism.

During the AU Summit, Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom’s bilateral meetings included the Foreign ministers of the Netherlands, Luxembourg, the UK’s Minister for Africa, Kazakhstan’s Deputy Foreign Minister, and Special Representative of the Secretary General for Somalia. State Minister, Ambassador Taye Atske-selassie also met with Canada’s Assistant Deputy Minister for Africa, the Special Envoy for Finland, and the Philippines’ Under Secretary of Foreign Affairs among others.

Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros met a delegation headed by the Special Representative and UN Under-Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict on Tuesday (February 2). Discussions covered the follow-up of the United Nations Inquiry Commission Report on South Sudan and placing woman and children in South Sudan conflict areas on IGAD’s priority agenda.

Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros held talks with the Foreign Minister of Austria, Sebastian Kurz, on Tuesday (February 2), focusing on development cooperation, humanitarian assistance partnerships, investment and regional issues.

State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Atske-selassie met Ms Claudia Wiedey-Nippold, and other delegates from the European Union, on Tuesday (February 2). The visit was part of the follow-up process to Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanom’s recent visit to Brussels and Ms Wiedey-Nippold presented a draft aide-memoire of possible actions under the Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility.

Ethiopia and the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission for South Sudan Peace Process (JMEC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish JMEC’s Office in Addis Ababa on Thursday (Feb. 4). The MoU was signed by State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Atske-selassie and JEMC’s Chairman Festus Mogae.

After participating in the Donors’ Humanitarian Roundtable in Addis Ababa on Monday (February 1), UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon visited drought affected areas on the Oromiya National Regional State. (See article)

The head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) announced $97m in emergency assistance to Ethiopia to combat the severe effects of the drought brought on by the El Niño climate phenomenon. (See article)

A “Doing Business in Ethiopia” Forum was launched on Tuesday (February 2, co-organized by the US Corporate Council on Africa and Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros spoke at its opening. (See article)

An Ethio-Sudan Trade and Investment Forum opened on Saturday (January 30) in Khartoum, 2016. It was attended by Dr. Hasabo Mohamed Abdurahman, Vice president of Sudan; and the Ethiopian delegation was led by State Minister of Industry, Dr. Mebrhatu Melese.

The Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association and its Luxembourg counterpart signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Thursday (February 4) at the Ethio-Luxembourg Multi-Sectoral Economic Forum this week (February 3-6).

Ethiopia signed an agreement to host the headquarters of Eastern Africa Standby Force (EASF) on Monday (February 1). The agreement was signed by State Minister for Foreign Affairs Taye Atske-selassie and Eastern Africa Standby Force Director, Ambassador Chanfi Ismail.

Djibouti

President Ismail Omar Guelleh met with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam on the sidelines of the AU Summit. Discussions covered further economic cooperation and enhancing trade relations. They agreed to encourage and make it easier for investors in both countries, and also considered ways to combat terrorist groups such as Al-Shabaab.

The Foreign Minister’s offer for Djibouti to host a summit-level meeting of the AMISOM Troop-Contributing Countries before the end of the month was accepted by the IGAD Council of Ministers (See article).

Eritrea

The city of Asmara was submitted to the World Heritage Center at UNESCO headquarters in Paris as a candidate for the World Heritage List on Monday (February 1) under the title “Asmara: Africa’s Modernist City.”

Kenya

President Uhuru Kenyatta met with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to discuss Somalia and the activities of AMISOM on Saturday (January 30).

President Kenyatta presented a report on the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) to the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government, on Sunday (January 31).

President Kenyatta addressed the AU Peace and Security Council Summit in Addis Ababa at the weekend and called for a review of AMISOM’s mandate to allow it change its rules of engagement as it fights to eradicate terrorists in Somalia.

Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Amina Mohamed and Somalia’s Foreign Minister, Abdisalam Omer, signed a cooperation agreement to provide a framework for the promotion of bilateral links on Monday (February 1). They also agreed to re-launch the Joint Commission of Cooperation to help boost bilateral ties.

Somalia

President Mohamud held talks with Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam on the peace and security situation in Somalia on Monday (February 1) in Addis Ababa. The Prime Minister said Ethiopia would continue its support to bring peace and stability in Somalia.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman visited Mogadishu on Wednesday (February 3) and held talks with President Mohamud and the Speaker of the Parliament. Talks focused on the political and security situation and the electoral process. Mr. Feltman pledged continued support to the Government and welcomed the 30% quota of women’s representation in the forthcoming Parliament.

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, Michael Keating, and representatives of the international community, visited Kismayo on Thursday (February 4). They met with President Sheikh Ahmed Islam “Madobe” and Jubaland officials and MPs, who expressed reservations over the 2016 electoral model and asked for guarantees that it would not be used again. They accepted the proposed model for 2016 in the interest of peace and unity.

The International Maritime Bureau has called on foreign vessels to remain vigilant off the coast of Somalia despite no Somali-based piracy attacks being reported in 2015. However, in its annual report for 2015 the IMB warned vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean to stay particularly vigilant as “the potential for an attack remains high.”

South Sudan

A communiqué issued on Sunday (January 31) after an extraordinary meeting of the IGAD Foreign ministers, called on all the parties to the Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan to form a transitional unity government at the national level without an amended new constitution. (See article)

The South Sudanese army said on Thursday (February 4) that its forces are ready to deploy outside Juba, in preparation for the arrival of SPLM-IO forces, but it lacked resources to establish military camps outside Juba as provided for in the security arrangements. The two sides were represented in the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) meeting on Tuesday to identify areas where forces are to be redeployed.

Minister of Petroleum and Mining, Stephen Dhieu Dau, said on Wednesday (February 3) that South Sudan had agreed with the Government of Sudan that costs of transporting South Sudan crude oil through Sudan to international markets would fluctuate according to global oil prices. The post 2011 transitional financial arrangement would be extended to ease payments.

In another agreement, signed on Wednesday, South Sudan will also provide Sudan with 28,000 barrel of crude oil per day to be used in power production and cover local needs.

Sudan

President al-Bashir announced the resumption of river transport with South Sudan on Thursday (February 4) ending a four-year halt declared by Khartoum for security concerns and accusations of support to rebel groups.

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The African Union Summit: the Assembly of Heads of State and Government

The two day 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union opened at the African Union Headquarters, Addis Ababa on Saturday (January 30) under the theme: “African Year of Human Rights with a particular focus on Women Rights”. The session opened in the presence of the assembled Heads of States and Government of Africa; the outgoing Chairperson of the African Union, President Mugabe of Zimbabwe; the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma; the Secretary General of the UN, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon; the President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akiniwumi Adesina; the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, Dr. Carlos Lopez. Other present included the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Sweden, Mr. Stefan Lofven; the CEO of the NEPAD Agency, Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki; representatives from Regional Economic Communities; heads of AU organs; members of the diplomatic corps; and other prominent personalities.

Speaking at the opening session the AU Commission’s Chairperson, Dr. Dlamini Zuma began her speech acclaiming the song performed by a group from Zimbabwe on the aspirations of the people of African for Agenda 2063. She thanked the group for capturing the essence of transformation that is required, and encouraged artists all over the continent to embrace Agenda 2063 as an individual as well as collective aspiration. After mentioning the Mekele Retreat of the Executive Council earlier in the week and the discussions there on the great diversity of Africa, “its biggest strength and its enduring splendor” said the Council “came to the conclusion that indeed the Africa we have is rich, but the paradox is that the majority of African people are poor.” Dr. Zuma said: “We must resolve this ironic paradox that deprives us from creating wealth and shared prosperity.” Along with using these riches in diversity for encouraging tourism, the Chairperson proposed domestic encouragement of tourism to take advantage of the demography of the continent. “We continue to welcome tourists from outside the continent, but for the over one billion Africans to visit Africa, we ask our Heads of States to consider the change proposed by the Executive Council, that will make the free movement of Africans on our continent possible.” Dr. Zuma said Africa had the human and natural resources that could allow the continent to leapfrog to prosperity. “Through renewed commitment,” she said, “African leaders should work towards realizing a prosperous and peaceful Africa.” In this regard, she emphasized the critical need to “unlock the wealth of the African continent.” Africa

Dr. Zuma pointed out that during the coming year, “As we celebrate the Year of Human Rights, with particular focus on the rights of Women and Girls, we must therefore speed up transformation.” She said: “We must continue to place our people and their basic human rights, at the center of Agenda 2063. This includes our people’s rights to education, to food and nutrition, to health care, to safe water, sanitation and energy, to join in peace, to be safe from violence and extremism, to reach their full potential, in addition to the right to association, to free speech, to freedom of the media and to be protected from discrimination on any grounds. We are making progress, but our pace is very slow.” Dr. Zuma also noted the importance of educating and giving training to the young men and women so that they can become the engine and the drivers of Africa’s renaissance and transformation. She announced the inauguration of the African Economic Platform in Mauritius to be held on April 14 and 15 April to provide for discussions with African private sector academics and think tanks on the urgent issues of the huge skills gap on the continent, on industrialization and integration and other critical matters. Dr. Zuma also urged the Secretary General of the United Nations and the UN agencies to help resolve the matter of the independence of Western Sahara “before the threat of radicalization of young people in the camps – in the face of our indifference and inaction – becomes a further destabilizing force.”

The United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, after congratulating the AU for deciding to focus on human rights as its theme for 2016 stressed the need for ratifying the many vital commitments made by AU on human rights and women’s rights, including the Maputo Protocol on the Rights of Women’s rights, the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, and the Protocol creating the African Court on Human and People’s Rights. He noted protecting women’s rights was decisive for peace and security, for the fight against violence and extremism and the promotion of sustainable development; and urged the importance of moving on from setting standards to what he called, “the three Is; Implementation, Institution building and Investment.”

Mr. Ban Ki- Moon said that Africa had made major progress in its vision of promoting peace and security, adding that “the UN is proud to having your company on this path”. He looked for enhanced partnerships between the African Union and the United Nations. He commended the AU ‘s “greater involvement” in mediation and conflict resolution; the efforts AMISOM made to stabilize Somalia, the support made to Chad Basin countries in their collaborated campaign against Boko Haram’s terror in the region. He added, “We count on our strong rights-based partnership with African governments to tackle the spread of violent extremism.” He welcomed the proposal to deploy human rights observers and to establish a prevention and protection mission in Burundi. The Secretary-General, while commending AU’s efforts of bringing peace and stability to South Sudan, noted that it was regrettable for the parties to miss the deadline to form the transitional government and urged them to let the people of South Sudan enjoy the fruits of independence. On Somalia, he applauded the efforts of AMISOM in stabilizing the country and making sure that that upcoming national election is held peacefully. Mentioning Africa as the continent that has endured discrimination of the worst kind he added, “My dream is that Africa will provide a shining example to the world of tolerance, understanding, and respect for human rights.” Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, setting elections as the test of good governance, warned leaders should not use undemocratic constitutional changes and legal loopholes to cling to power, adding, “leaders must protect the people not themselves.”

Mr. Mahmoud Abbas President of the State of Palestine and Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee appreciating the “kind invitation” by the AU for inviting his country, Palestine to attend the Summit said, “your support rendered to us over the years in various fora and at several meetings confirms and emphasizes your genuine concern for the question of Palestine as an African issue”. The President noted his country would support the demands of Africa for the reform of the Security Council of the United Nation, and its demand to have a permanent membership in the Security Council, as well as its efforts to bring peace to all parts of the continent.” Mr. Abbas asked the AU to give his country its fullest support possible to push for an international peace conference, for the implementation of the Arab peace initiative, for the application of the two-state solution and for the creation of a new mechanism of international and group works “along the lines of groups working to resolve the crises in the region such as the 5+1 and other.”

In his last speech as Chairperson of the African Union, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe focused on historical racial injustice and the equality of humankind, either black or white. He bitterly criticized the continued dominance of the developed countries over world affairs, as well as the lack of African representation in the UN Security Council. He said, “We have asked and asked and asked for Security Council reform,” adding that Africans were tired of making “hollow speeches” at the UN with no results. He said, “If the United Nations should survive, we must all be equal members of it”. This brought loud applause and cheers from the audience. He reflected on the NEPAD partnership and the launch of the Africa Global Partnership (AGPP) and said, “As we cooperate with these partners, we need to ensure we retain control of the African development agenda as we have the unique advantage of fully appreciating the needs and priories of our people.” President Mugabe also focused on the state of peace and security in the African continent, noting that despite continuing conflicts in some parts of the continent, “we witnessed some successes and overall, there was political stability”. He complimented the Amani Field Exercises II, saying it means the continent can now deploy the African Standby Force as a tool for conflict prevention and this was a step towards “silencing the guns”. He too called for the freedom of the people of Western Sahara. President Mugabe went on to note that climate change had become a real threat, saying the current El Nino phenomenon was increasing the chance of hunger and disease.

Before the summit opening ceremony concluded, President Mugabe handed over the AU chairmanship to Chad’s President, Idriss Deby, giving him a mock bang on the head with the chairperson’s gavel as he did so. In his acceptance speech, President Idriss Deby urged the continent to take advantage of its increased profile in the international system and organize itself to defend its interests. He noted the need to give the AU the means to attain its objectives, saying it was unacceptable that the functioning of the AU should be financed by the outside world. He urged the continent to be action-oriented in order to change its history. He spoke strongly against terrorism, saying the continent should ensure its own security, using its own human resources. He said, “We have to organize our selves to collectively defend our interests,” adding, “Our solidarity must be in words and in deeds; we must support the current restructuring of the African Union.” Meanwhile, the full new bureau to serve with Mr. Deby was announced as follows: First Vice-Chairperson, President Yayi Boni of the Republic of Benin; Second Vice-Chair, President Paul Kagame of the Republic of Rwanda; Third Vice Chair, Ageila Salah Issa, Speaker of the House of Representatives of the State of Libya; and AU Rapporteur, President Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

On its second day of deliberations, the Assembly heard reports of various committees and adopted decisions and declarations earlier endorsed by the Executive Council. The Assembly extensively discussed the report of the Peace and Security Council on its activities and on the current state of peace and security in Africa. It expressed its deep concern on the continuing stalemate in Burundi, despite the sustained efforts by the East African Community, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region and both the AU and the UN. It stressed the need for an inclusive and peaceful settlement of the political problem in the country and emphasized the deteriorating security situation risked jeopardizing the important gains recorded following the signing of the Arusha Agreement and the Global Ceasefire Agreement of 2003. It decided that the deployment of the proposed protection force (MAPROBORU) should only be with the consent of the Government of Burundi which has not been given. It therefore decided to send a High Level Delegation to Burundi for an inclusive dialogue which would entail disarming the militia in collaboration with the local police and facilitating the deployment of human rights observers.

The Assembly also expressed its deep concern at the existing situation in South Sudan. It strongly condemned all the ceasefire violations committed by all parties and urged all parties to fully play the role expected of them in fostering dialogue. In a press conference, the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smail Chergui said later that the Assembly had welcomed the significant progress made in Somalia both on political and security fronts, but had underlined the importance of working to make sure that Vision 2016 goes in effect. The need to reassess AMISOM, in order for the mission to implement a more conducive environment for the pursuit of the political process in Somalia was underlined. Other issues that were discussed included the problems of eastern DRC, the need to tackle unemployment and poverty in Guinea Bissau, and the conclusion of the Assembly that sending troops to Libya would complicate an already difficult situation there. Overall, the Commissioner said, the Assembly discussed the impact and the possible ways out from the evils of terrorism across the continent at considerable length. It also decided that the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC) should only be dissolved after a thorough assessment of the readiness of the African Standby Force in each region. This will take place at the upcoming Maputo meeting of the Chiefs of Staff.

The President of Liberia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf presented the report of the High-Level Committee on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. President Sirleaf noted that the through preparation made in forging a common position had enabled Africa to negotiate in a coherent manner and so influence the outcome of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Indeed, she noted that Africa was the only region that came up with a common position during the negotiation of the SDGs. She said the African Negotiator Group in New York, as the sole negotiating body of Africa, was able to ensure that African priorities had been incorporated in the SDG’. In particular, she noted that the incorporation of peace and security as a condition for realizing development was incorporated due Africa’s coherent and consistent negotiation. She said that “when we are united our voices are heard well.” Prime Minister Hailemariam of Ethiopia noted that Africa had provided able leadership in the agreements made at the Third Finance for Development and the Paris Climate Change Conference as well as drawing up of the SDGs. He said “the key lesson to draw from our success is that when we are organized and speak with one voice we are better positioned to influence.” Following discussion, the report on the post-2015 development agenda was adopted with acclimation.

The report of the Committee of Ten Heads of State and Government of the African Union (C-10) on the reform of the United Nations Security Council was also presented and adopted with a proposal to hold a closed summit session at the next AU Assembly in June. President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt presented the report of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSSC) He noted that despite the Committee’s challenge in taking up the concerns of developed and developing countries equally, important gains were made in pushing for the interests of Africa. In particular, he noted that the CHAOSSC was able to come up with the African Adaptation and Mitigation Initiative and the African Renewable Energy Initiative. He also presented the renewed commitment to find new sources of finance for adaption and mitigation of African countries and to uphold the 100 billion dollar commitment through the Green Climate Fund and other multilateral funds. He noted that the African Renewable Energy Initiative was supported by both the G-20 and the G-7 with pledges to finance it to the tune of 10 billion dollars. Prime Minister Hailemariam noted that the implementation of the Paris Agreement had significant implications for the unity and solidarity of Africa, given the continent’s vulnerability to climate change. The report of CHAOSSC was also adopted.

Other reports adopted unanimously included the report of the Open-ended Committee on the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Assembly expressed the unjust relation of the ICC and Africa and the need to rectify this with one voice. The Assembly also endorsed Ethiopia’s candidature, announced last year, for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council for 2017-2018. The announcement flagged up Ethiopia’s renewed commitment to middle power diplomacy and its ambition to actively prosecute its regional and global policy agenda. The Assembly also unanimously endorsed the Executive Council’s decision on the candidature of Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, for the election of the post of Director General of the World Health Organization scheduled for May 2017. The election of the post of the Director General WHO will be held during the 70th session of the WHO Assembly in June 2017. The Assembly adopted decisions on items proposed by member states and on Commission Governance, Democracy and Elections in Africa; on the Election of the fifteen members of the Peace and Security Council; on the election of one member of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child; on the streamlining of the AU Summit and its work methods; on alternative sources of financing; as well as Declarations on the Status of Palestine; on the Unilateral Sanction of the US against the Sudan; on US-Cuba Relations. The reports of NEPAD and the APRM were also adopted; and the Assembly passed a decision to hold the next Summit in Rwanda, Kigali.

…. the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee session

The 34th Session of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee (HSGOC) took place on Friday last week (January 29) the day before the 26th Ordinary Session of the African Union Heads of State and Government. The theme of the NEPAD meeting was “NEPAD’s role in the implementation of Agenda 2063 with a particular focus on Youth and Skills Development”. The NEPAD Session also prioritized discussions on specific substantive agenda issues. These were an “Overview of the 2015 Results-based Performance Report of the NEPAD Agency;” “Progress on the NEPAD Presidential Infrastructure Championship Initiative (PICI)”; “Skills Development, Youth Unemployment and Migration”; and “Africa’s Global Partnership.” The Session was attended by high-level participants including HSGOC Heads of State and Government, representatives of Regional Economic Communities, members of the NEPAD Steering Committee; the Chief Executive Officer of the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA); the Chairperson and Members of the Panel of Eminent Persons of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM); the Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA); AU Commissioners; the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group; and other stakeholders and partner institutions.

In its meeting, NEPAD received and commended the report of the Chairperson of HSGOC, President Macky Sall of Senegal. It reaffirmed the continued relevance and uniqueness of its vision, and the sector priorities and core values enshrined in NEPAD as the flagship program of the African Union and as a shared vision for the advanced regional, political and economic integration for the economic emancipation of the African people. The Assembly among its decision endorsed the implementation of key regional and continental programs and projects as reflected in the NEPAD Agency Results-based Performance Report for the year 2015. It specifically noted the progress on African Science Technology and Innovation Indicators (ASTII); the African Medicines Regulatory Harmonization Program (AMRH); NEPAD Agency’s contribution to the fight against Ebola Virus Disease; Strategic Engagements on Natural Resource Governance; Technical Support to Africa’s Participation in the Global Climate Change Negotiations; Technical Support to Regional Economic Communities (RECs); National Agriculture and Food Security Investment Plans (NAFSIPs); National Gender Climate Change Agriculture Programs and Capacity Development for Women in Agriculture under CAADP; and Institutional Development Support to member states and RECs under the Capacity Development Strategic Framework (CDSF).

The Session in its report also appreciated the progress recorded in the Rural Futures Program. This promotes a multi-sectoral approach for rural transformation by creating an enabling environment through people-centered development based on equity and inclusiveness. It calls for member states to support the Rural Futures Program as it accelerates rural transformation and provides opportunities for youth employment. The progress made in the development of the NEPAD Policy Framework on Youth Employment in Africa was also noted by the Assembly. The Session took note of the importance of the African Rural Development Forum (ARDF) as a platform to engage on dialogue for inclusive development and rural transformation as well as on south-south cooperation. This is due to be held in the second half of 2016. NEPAD has requested full support and participation in the Forum from African Member States, the UN Food and Agricultural organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and other development partners.

The report also noted the NEPAD partnership with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on the G7 CONNEX Initiative. This is an initiative on Strengthening Assistance for Complex Contract Negotiations (CONNEX) to provide developing country partners with extended and concrete expertise for negotiating complex commercial contracts, focusing initially on the extractives sector, and working with existing fora and facilities to avoid duplication. The report requested the partnership to strengthen knowledge generation and exchange as well as capacity development for African countries and AU institutions, particularly with NEPAD.

The 34th NEPAD Assembly appreciated the support extended to African Union Member States and Regional Economic Communities under the NEPAD Climate Change Fund. It reaffirmed its support to the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency to seek accreditation to the Green Climate Fund as a Regional Implementing Entity. It also called on development partners and member states to contribute financially to the NEPAD Climate Change Fund, the report of the in the Session stated.

HSGOC commended the effective collaboration between the NEPAD Agency, the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in hosting the African pavilion at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21) in Paris. It noted that the NEPAD Agency continued to provide technical support to member states in implementing and monitoring the outcomes of the Paris Climate Agreement. Within the framework of the African Resilient Landscape Initiative (ARLI) and the African Landscape and Forests Restoration Initiative (AFR100), the report also noted the commitment of the African countries and development partners to bring 100 million hectares of degraded and deforested land under restoration in Africa by 2030, to improve soil fertility and food security, improve access to clean water, combat desertification, increase biodiversity and habitat, create green jobs, bolster livelihood diversification and economic growth. The report, along with these decisions, also endorsed other substantive agendas including those related to and addressing Africa’s global partnership.

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The IGAD Council of Ministers considers South Sudan ….

The 55th Extraordinary session of the IGAD Council of Ministers, chaired by Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, was held in Addis Ababa at the weekend (January 30-31) on the margins of the AU Summit. The Foreign Ministers of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and attended as did AU representatives and the Executive Secretary of IGAD. The focus of the meeting was the situation on South Sudan and Somalia.

The Council was briefed by South Sudan’s Foreign Minister and Former Botswana President Festus Gontebanye Mogae, the Chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, before the detailed discussions and decisions. In its final communiqué the Council welcomed the commencement of the work of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangement Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM), the National Constitutional Amendment Committee (NCAC) and the Joint Military Ceasefire Commission (JMCC) as well as the agreement between the Parties on the selection of ministerial portfolios and the Parties’ continued compliance with the Permanent Ceasefire in most parts of greater Upper Nile. However, it also noted the “limited progress to date in most aspects of the implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCRSS). It expressed concern at the ongoing violence in Western Equatoria and Western Bahr el Ghazal, and demands that the Parties take all necessary actions to ensure that the Permanent Ceasefire is fully respected. It also underlined that it was appalled by the deterioration in the humanitarian situation in South Sudan, and demanded immediate action by the Parties to ensure unconditional humanitarian access across the country to avert further crisis and tragedy.

The Council said it was “concerned” by the recent decision of the Government of South Sudan to implement the October 2 Presidential Decree on the creation of 28 new states. It said firmly “that such action is inconsistent with the terms of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict. At the same time the Council said that this should not delay the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity. It urged the parties to form this rapidly so there could be dialogue on the number of states, In this connection, the Council also urged that all parties should participate in the JMEC and called on the South Sudan Government to facilitate “unimpeded participation of all Parties” in these institutions, including in the Transitional National Legislative Assembly, as provided for in the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict.

IGAD also demanded the full and unconditional implementation of the Agreement by the Parties, and called on the Parties to immediately implement, the first phase of the Transitional Security Arrangements for Juba no later than the first week of February. This would then provide for the establishment, without further delay, of the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU). In the absence of agreement on the creation of new states, it also urged the Parties, after forming the TGoNU at national level, to suspend further action on implementing the operationalization of new states until an inclusive, participatory National Boundary Commission comprising all Parties to ARCSS could review the proposed states and their boundaries. It suggested this process should last a month, and said that as there were still outstanding disputes at the end of the boundary commission review process, the Parties should revert to the provisions of the Agreement.

The Council called on the Parties to incorporate the Agreement into the transitional constitution as signed, and confirmed that the Government could be formed on the basis of the Agreement to Resolve the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan, and the provisions which render it supreme to the constitution. It also called on the African Union Peace and Security Council and the United Nations Security Council to affirm their previous commitments to supporting the JMEC and the Agreement, including the willingness to support consequences should the Parties fail or refuse to implement the Agreement. It asked those bodies to review progress in implementation within two weeks of the meeting. The Council did not spell out any details of the possible action if progress was insufficient.

Following the IGAD Council of Minister’s Meeting, the South Sudan Government said on Monday (February 1) that IGAD’s call to form a Transitional Government of National Unity with the opposition factions without waiting for a constitution was a welcome decision. The Minister of Information, Michael Makuei Lueth, said the government was in full agreement with the idea of a boundaries’ commission, adding that that was “actually what we have been working for.” He said on Monday that “the IGAD communiqué is consistent with our position;” however, he also repeated that the expansion to 28 states was a popular demand of the people and could not be revoked. He said: “The order establishing the 28 states has already provided for establishment of boundaries committee and this boundaries committee is the body which is supposed to address any border issue.”

The leadership of the opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) also welcomed the IGAD communiqué, but it stressed the suspension of the 28 states and the forming of a transitional unity government. In a statement on Tuesday (February 2), it said political decisions made by President Kiir’s government outside the peace agreement were only proposals that had no legal binding on the constitution and the peace deal agreed by all parties in August last year. James Gatdet Dak, official spokesman of the SPLM-IO said: “The leadership of SPLM/SPLA commended the decision which calls for suspension of the 28 states. The parties should abide by the peace agreement and form a Transitional Government of National Unity in accordance with the provisions of the Agreement.” He said since the current constitution only recognizes 10 states, also stipulated in the peace agreement, there is no reason not to incorporate the provisions of the peace deal and pass a new constitution as the basis for formation of a new unity government. He added that the decision to suspend the 28 states implied that the 10 states which have been in the constitution and in the agreement should prevail until whenever in the future consensual change might take place on the number of the states. He pointed out that the SPLM-IO had a policy which suggested creating 21 states but added that it didn’t want to impose it and violate the agreement. “We keep it as our proposal to be tabled before the other parties to the agreement at an appropriate time,” he said.

IGAD’s statement echoed the previous statement by the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission concerning the 28 states. Festus Mogae, Chairperson of the Commission, described the creation of 28 states as a “political” and not “legal” matter, urging the parties to reach a consensus on the “political matter.” It urged the parties to form a unity government at the national level and delay formation of state governments until they reached a consensus on the number of states. Prior to the AU Summit, both sides, despite the mounting regional and global pressure to break the deadlock, were still failing to make any progress in setting up a Transitional Government of National Unity. President Kiir’s declaration of the creation of 28 states appeared to be one of the main causes of problem. SPLM-IO leaders stressed that the Agreement for the Resolution of the Conflict was signed on the basis of 10 states and if there was a need to increase the number then this would have to be done with participation of the citizens or in the constitution. Government officials accused the SPLM-IO delegates of “frustrating” the efforts of the President because of their “intransigence.” One official was quoted as saying: “It has to be made clear that the cancellation of 28 states as Riek Machar wishes will never happen. It is better for heaven and earth to end than for the Establishment Order to be revoked.”

A Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) meeting was held on Tuesday this week (February 2), and the South Sudan Minister of information said afterwards that there was an agreement to form the Transitional Government. He said the meeting had discussed the IGAD communiqué and adopted it as the best option for the way forward and as a roadmap for the implementation of the agreement and the establishment of the Transitional Government of National Unity. Mr. Lueth also said there was agreement over the deployment of about 3,000 components of the joint police and military forces from the opposition faction. This would include 1,500 police for Juba town and another 1,200 for the greater Upper Nile, as well as another 1,410 security forces. He said these should arrive as soon as possible so the Transitional Government of National Unity would be established.

Meanwhile, a UN Panel of Experts, in a report issued last week, recommended that both South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and the SPLM-IO opposition leader, Riek Machar, should face sanctions as forces within their control had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity on civilians. According to the 55-page report from the UN experts, “there is clear and convincing evidence that most of the acts of violence committed during the war, including the targeting of civilians and violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, have been directed by or undertaken with the knowledge of senior individuals at the highest levels of the government and within the opposition.” The report also recommended that an arms embargo was a critical element for promoting end to the violence. It accused specific officials in President Kiir’s government of “waging an aggressive war involving the targeting of civilians and extensive destruction of communities.” It also said Machar “continued to seek funding and weapons to prosecute the war and to further his personal political ambitions at the expense of peace.”

The report said the long-term implications of such actions were very threatening. The panel concluded that South Sudanese increasingly perceive the conflict “as a zero-sum struggle where the exclusion of competing tribes from political power and the monopolization of resources for personal gain have become the principal aims of the belligerents.” The report recommended actions that, it said, should be taken with immediate effect to prevent this conflict from becoming a generations-long struggle. It urged the United States needs to take immediate steps to move the two warring sides toward peace. The role of the US, according to the report, should include pressing for an immediate arms embargo at the UN Security Council against both sides, beginning consultations on individual sanctions against senior leaders who have command responsibility and who have directed violent acts against civilians, or have had knowledge that such acts have happened under their command, and imposing sanctions if the parties do not comply with their obligations under the agreement. It said the African Union should establish the hybrid tribunal on South Sudan called for in the Agreement, investigate senior leaders responsible for the violence, and support other transitional justice mechanisms as well as the independence and security of civil society.

The UN Panel’s report concluded that: “Both sides have continued to seek to arm their forces, even after the signing of the peace agreement in August [2015] and in the face of considerable economic stress. The continued influx of arms has had a devastating impact on civilians and on the overall security situation in the country…” It therefore called for a comprehensive embargo on the supply, sale, transfer or trans-shipment of weapons, ammunition, military vehicles and any other forms of military assistance, including technical and financial assistance, equipment maintenance and training, to South Sudan.

…and plans for an AMISOM Troop-Contributing Countries’ Summit….

The other main subject of the IGAD Council of Minister’s meeting was Somalia. On Somalia, the Council was briefed by Dr. Abdusalam Omer, the Foreign Minister of Somalia and Ambassador Mohamed Abdi Affey, IGAD’s Special Envoy for Somalia. Also present was Ambassador Francisco Caetano Jose Madeira, the Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia and head of AMISOM.

Following its discussions, the Council noted the Somali Federal Government’s commitment to ensuring an inclusive electoral process within the constitutionally mandated timeline this year. It commended the Federal Government and Somalia’s regional federal states for their efforts to seek a consensus agreement for the elections, and supported the Federal Government’s decision on the model chosen for the 2016 elections. It directed the IGAD Office for Somalia to assist in ensuring an inclusive and consensus-based implementation of this model.

The Council decided to establish an IGAD Ministerial team, composed of the Chair (Ethiopia), the Rapporteur (Kenya), Djibouti and Uganda, to support the Federal Government’s engagement with the federal states. This should also assist to ensure the smooth and timely implementation of this electoral model. It urged the Federal Government to rapidly conclude the remaining elements of the process for Hiiraan and Middle Shabelle State formation, as well as the on-going dialogue and reconciliation process between the Galmudug Federal State and Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a (ASWJ).

It welcomed the offer made by the Foreign Minister of Djibouti that Djibouti would host a summit-level meeting of the AMISOM Troop-Contributing Countries before the end of the month to consider proposals on how to revitalize the current campaign, secure outstanding force enablers, deliver effective command, control and co-ordination across sectors and establish a sustainable financing framework. It requested the African Union Commission to urgently initiate preparations for this meeting. It recommended that this Summit should be preceded by an African Union Commission expert level meeting bringing together Chiefs of Defense of the Troop-Contributing Countries and the Somalia National Army leadership to develop concrete proposals for adoption by the February Summit.

The Council welcomed the appointment of Donald Kaberuka as the African Union’s High Representative for the African Union Peace Fund. It recommended the establishment of an AU, IGAD, UN joint expert working group to develop proposals for sustainable AMISOM financing. The experts’ findings and proposals should be presented at the February Summit.

The Council commended the Federal Government of Somalia’s decision of last September to fast-track public financial management reform within the security sector. It urged swift implementation and international support to this initiative as AMISOM’s exit and the IGAD region’s security was directly linked to the ability of the Federal Government of Somalia to predictably finance and manage its security forces and institutions.

More widely, the Council also said it was concerned that the IGAD sub-region was facing a number of interrelated transnational security threats, increased levels of terrorism and radicalization. It recognized that the recent worrying pledges of allegiance to the Islamic State by some Al-Shabaab elements and the regional security implications of the Yemen conflict highlighted the need for effective mechanisms for joint regional security co-operation. It, therefore, recommended the establishment of a Regional Security Co-operation Framework between Somalia and its neighbors, and the establishment of a platform for regular security dialogue and co-ordination to address common security threats and challenges. It decided to hold a Ministerial meeting with relevant IGAD member states to implement this initiative on the sidelines of the February Summit in Djibouti.

In conclusion, the IGAD Council of Ministers reaffirmed the commitment of its members to continue to support state-building and reconciliation in Somalia, expressing appreciation to international partners and organizations that are currently providing financial, material and technical assistance to Somalia. It noted the significant progress made since AMISOM’s deployment in 2007 but agreed the recent attacks in Leego, Janaale, El Adde and Mogadishu, showed that overall progress remained fragile. It commended the continued courage and commitment of AMISOM and Somalia National Security Forces and condemned the recent Al Shabaab attacks in El Adde and at the Lido beach in Mogadishu as well as all attacks against the civilian population. It also welcomed the critical role that the IGAD Office of the Facilitator for Somali Peace and National Reconciliation continued to play in supporting the implementation of the Federal Government’s Vision 2016.

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UN Secretary-General: at a Donor’s Roundtable and visiting drought areas

During his visit to Ethiopia for the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government, UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, also participated in a donor’s humanitarian round table on Monday (February 1) where he urged donors gathered in Addis Ababa considered ways to step up assistance for the drought. The Secretary-General called on the international community to stand with the people of Ethiopia in their time of need, as they were facing their worst drought in thirty years. The scale of the emergency was too much for any single Government. “The impact of El Niño is unpredictable, but experts say it is likely to affect food security for the next two years,” he stressed. Mr. Ban said, “The Government of Ethiopia has shown remarkable leadership in this drought response. It has made the greatest financial contribution, allocating more than $381 million to the crisis so far, noting that the Government-managed Productive Safety Net Program, in partnership with the World Bank, aimed to assist some eight million people with emergency food and cash transfers. The UN had boosted early action with $25 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund in 2015, but more was urgently needed. “Immediate support for Ethiopia will save lives and avoid preventable suffering. Immediate support will also safeguard the impressive development gains that Ethiopia has made over the past years and decades,” Mr. Ban underlined. Such support would also strengthen Ethiopia’s national distribution channels and social support networks, and build resilience for the future.

During the roundtable, the Vice-President of the European Commission, Kristalina Georgieva, said the European Union had mobilized 170 million Euro of emergency support for Ethiopia to tackle the effect of ‘El Niño’. This would contribute to the joint effort of bringing life-saving emergency assistance and increasing resilience in Ethiopia, she said. Ms. Georgieva added: “The Ethiopian government is doing an enormous effort to tackle the impact of one of the worst droughts ever registered. It is showing strong leadership and will to protect its population. And it is also showing remarkable generosity with its open-border policy. The coordinated effort of the government, donors and partners is an example of how a common response can deliver results.” At the same time, she noted, “the current situation requires our full attention. The Ethiopian Humanitarian Requirements Document shows us that the needs are huge. The future is still unknown, with an unpredictable belg season and the potential, dangerous impact of La Niña phenomenon in Ethiopia causing additional draught in the south eastern pastoral areas.” Ms. Georgieva concluded that “The global scale of El Niño requires global and effective actions. It requires a global and bold response. We have a collective responsibility to act now.”

Later, Mr. Ban visited one of the drought-hit regions of Ethiopia, and witnessed first-hand efforts to battle the effects of one of the most powerful El Niño phenomena. He was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister, Demeke Mekonnen, and Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the UN World Food Program. Mr. Ban visited a health post, a water borehole and a food distribution and cash transfer point in Zway-Dugda District, in Arsi Zone of the Oromiya National Regional State. He said it was “a very moving experience for me as Secretary-General to witness myself how the Ethiopian Government and the United Nations agencies, the World Bank, all humanitarian workers are working together to address difficult challenges.” He stressed that it was important that the Government was leading the response and the United Nations was now helping. The Secretary-General said he was impressed with the humanitarian workers at the small health post where he had seen health workers distributing vaccines, and providing check-ups. It was impressive to see that malnutrition levels had dropped significantly and that people had been saved from malaria. He said that the UN was committed to help the Ethiopian people overcome the problem, and emphasized that it would be discussed at the forthcoming Humanitarian Conference in Istanbul.

Deputy Prime Minister Demeke described the government’s policies which were concentrated on mitigation efforts and overcoming effects of poverty on the national level and providing for drought-resistance across the country, with 70% of the federal budget dedicated to pro-poor development activities. Structures had been set up to provide for effective institutional and program capacity to mitigate adverse effects of drought and other climatic effects and provide for conducting nationwide relief programs, one of which was an effective early warning system. There was a National Drought Coordination Committee, to coordinate emergency relief action, allocating budgets for the purchase of food and non-food items.

USAID Administrator Gayle Smith, who headed the U.S. Delegation to the AU Summit, said at a press conference after the donor roundtable that the El Niño had affected the African continent in particular and no country more dramatically than Ethiopia. She said the difference between this and some other natural disasters in the past was that the government had immediately worked at every level from the top down to respond and provide resources. There was a foundation of resilience, of safety nets and progress in agricultural development that would help Ethiopia respond to emergency needs without losing the gains that have been made in development. The challenge was that funding is not where it needs to be and we are up against a very tight timeline. The US had already provided over $400 million in assistance since October 2014, and was now giving a further $97 million to expand the reach of food programs designed to help the most vulnerable. Ms. Smith said that the emergency assistance that is needed now is to assist the most vulnerable, poorest people in this country who don’t have anything to fall back on, but also to make sure that they are able to have in hand the seeds they need to plant so that they are not dependent again next season. Time was therefore very important. She said that prior to donors’ roundtable on Monday morning, the appeal had been about 46% funded. Other donors are in the process of making decisions, but, she added, 75% isn’t good enough because that would still leave a lot of people in need, kids who are going to be malnourished, and farmers who wouldn’t be able to do enough planting. Ms. Smith said USAID would be constantly looking at what more it could do.

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The 10 Biennial US-Africa Business Summit held in Addis Ababa….

The U.S-Africa Business Summit opened on Monday this week (February 1), at the United Nations Conference Center in Addis Ababa and continued for three days with a series of Government-to-Business and Business-to-Business sessions. The opening ceremonies were attended by Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn; Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanom; the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma; Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Washington, Ambassador Girma Biru; the US Ambassador to Ethiopia, Ambassador Patricia M. Haslach; Mr. Solomon Afework, President of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association; and Mr. Stephen Hayes, President and CEO of the US Corporate Council on Africa, as well as African leaders and business and senior government representatives. This was the first time this event was co-hosted by the African Union and the Ethiopian Government together with an American business association. The 2016 US-Africa Summit was also sponsored by a number of leading American and African businesses including: Chevron, Exxon-Mobil, Symbion Power, Acrow Bridge, AGCO Corporation, AstraZeneca, Gilead Sciences, Petrolin Group, USAID, Zenith Bank, Boeing Company, Development Finance International, John Deere, Microsoft, Mota-Engil Africa, Varian Medical Systems, Ford Motor Company and International Green Structures. It provided an excellent opportunity for US and African corporations to look at each other’s new business opportunities.

Ms. Zain Verjee, President of the Zain Verjee Group, gave welcoming remarks, noting that Africa, and particularly Ethiopia, was a cradle of civilization from where the legendary Queen of Sheba travelled to Jerusalem long before Cleopatra and Helen of Troy, which she said demonstrated how much Ethiopia had contributed to the world. Underlining the fact that Ethiopia, along with Rwanda and Mauritius, was one of the most resilient economies in Africa, she stressed that the business representatives present were meeting in “Addis Ababa, the land of new opportunity in a country of one of the fastest growing economies at a time of global economic commotion.” Ms. Zain Verjee said the best thing for doing business in Africa was “to be in Africa.” Paul Hinks, Chairman of the Corporate Council on Africa, noted that Africa presented a huge potential for various investors and it was high time to invest in Africa.

In a key note address, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn commended the initiative of the Corporate Council on Africa for bringing together such an impressive number of distinguished business representatives, CEOs, government officials, entrepreneurs and investors, decision-makers and managers. He welcomed those who had “come from the United States, from Africa, and beyond, to take a closer look at the business and investment opportunities available in Africa, and between Africa and the United States.” The Prime Minister said the Summit was being held at a time when US investment flows to Africa and Ethiopia were beginning to show promising trends and he added that this is a real opportunity to help investors and business communities discover the potential and the prospects of investment in Africa. He affirmed that Ethiopia believed the Summit would have a real impact in generating interest among business communities, and not just in Africa and America, but also in other business communities around the world, as well as for investment and business in Africa. The Prime Minister emphasized: “Today, Africa is rising and its future is bright, very bright. Its economy has been growing rapidly for the last decade, and it is among the fastest growing economies in the world. Seven of the fastest growing economies of the last decade have been in sub-Saharan Africa.”

The Prime Minister also underlined that the United States has been a central and longstanding partner of Africa in political, social and economic development for many years. Throughout those years, the US had provided Africa with generous amounts of humanitarian and development assistance. The whole continent was deeply grateful. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister went on: “I have to say that U.S. private sector engagement in Africa has been rather more limited. U.S. business and investment in Africa is simply not reaching the levels it could, or it should. Indeed, the current U.S. investment in Africa represents no more than a small percentage of total U.S. global investment. To enable Africa grow faster than ever before, the private sectors and various stakeholders need to work hard to increase trade and investment between the United States and Africa.”

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn concluded by highlighting Ethiopia’s desire to attract more investment from the US, particularly in energy development and manufacturing industry. “We have investment friendly laws and investment protection mechanisms, “he said, and “U.S. companies are encouraged to invest in Ethiopia in renewable energy and light manufacturing sectors.” The Prime Minister ledged to offer all the necessary support for U.S. investors interested to invest in Ethiopia: “I can assure you my government is fully committed to assist the US business community in every way possible in Ethiopia. I believe we can successfully work for the mutual benefit of both our countries,” adding, “we do have a great deal to offer.”
The Summit concluded on Thursday (February 4) following deliberations on the “African Industrial Revolution.” In closing remarks, Reed Kramer, the C.E.O of the African Media Group and Moderator of the US-Africa Closing Ceremony said the African economic renaissance which had been attributed, in part, to the development of its natural resources also benefited from the dynamism of its entrepreneurs who found solutions to local issues. Mr. Kramer noted that this growing prospect of economic development in Africa was expressed through efforts that provided services for a growing middle class and created a viable network that facilitated communications and helped introduce technologies, reduce construction cost and time, and provide financing to make ideas reality.
…and a “Doing Business in Ethiopia” Forum

On the margins of the US-Africa Business Summit 2016, a “Doing Business in Ethiopia” Forum was also launched on Tuesday (February 2). The Forum was also co-organized by the US Corporate Council on Africa and Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros spoke at its opening. He expressed his appreciation to the Corporate Council on Africa for staging a platform to discuss “mutual business opportunities between Ethiopia and the rest of the world” and thanked the US Government for its continued commitment to strengthen economic relations with Africa. It was “a clear demonstration and recognition of the new circumstances that Africa has reoriented its priorities toward sustainable economic development”. In this regard, Dr. Tedros said the US-Africa Business Summit generally and the “Doing Business in Ethiopia” Forum would further consolidate the “long standing historic and multifaceted relations between Africa and the United States”. The Minister noted that Africa was registering good macroeconomic stability, improved governance and a better business climate, growing consumer markets, and a greatly expanding number of dynamic youth. It currently offered ample opportunities for increased trade and investment links with the United States. “Africa”, he said, “is a continent whose time has come, and while the opportunities are almost self-evident and tangible, they are there primarily for the bold, the agile and the swift. Africa has achieved rapid growth, becoming the second-fastest growing region after Asia, and attracting accelerated flows of investment from around the world”.

Dr. Tedros pointed out that the United States’ foreign direct investment flow to Africa, increased from time to time. Significant numbers of American Companies had expanded their presence in the continent during the last five years. In Ethiopia, the Minister noted, this trend had certainly been on the rise, Over 60 companies made pre-investment visits in 2014/15 alone and major US companies were working closely in various investment areas. He emphasized that the AGOA platform was “contributing very significantly for the impressive economic growth in many African countries. ‘Made in Africa’ products are accessing the big market in the United States and they are becoming more competitive having the advantage of duty exemption”. This, in turn, he said had become a considerable motivating factor for businesses to consider investing in Africa. Ethiopia, he pointed out, had now started to make better use of this market access than ever before, but nevertheless much remained to be done to inject more investment ventures to bridge the trade imbalance.

Reflecting on relations between Ethiopia and the United States, Dr. Tedros said the two countries had enjoyed warm government-to-government and people-to-people relations, relations which had transcended the passage of time for more than a century. The two countries shared many issues of common concern at regional and global level. At the regional level, Dr. Tedros noted that both Ethiopia and the US wanted to see a stable and secure environment in the Horn of Africa, and both were keenly aware of the importance of working together for the promotion of peace and stability in the sub-region. At a global level, the Minister said Ethiopia and the US shared a common interest in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals and dealing with the deleterious effects of climate change. Dr. Tedros stressed: “Ethiopia deeply treasures its partnership with the United States and looks forward to continuing to strengthen the ties of friendship that unite our two great nations and their peoples”.

The Minister, noting that Ethiopia was one of the fastest non-oil producing economies, the fourth largest destination of Foreign Direct Investment in Africa, a country with double-digit growth over the last 12 years and one with the right development trajectory, said, “Ethiopia today has a new face; it is a great place to invest and do business”. This development, the Minister said had come about as a result of the united efforts of the Ethiopian people. Dr. Tedros said: “my government is persistently seeking to employ policies and strategies for positioning Ethiopia as an attractive destination for productive investors; it has put in place appropriate institutional frameworks and competitive incentives to encourage foreign investment inflows”. With its firm intent to become one of the top nations for doing business in Africa, Ethiopia had also put in place “important social overhead projects” to create and encourage productive human capital and the necessary physical infrastructure for development. As a result the country was now in the process of a series of major development programs which had already resulted in the massive expansion of installed electricity capacity and distribution, new road and rail networks, greatly expanded water supplies, and telecommunication services. Infrastructure ambitions were even larger.

Dr. Tedros noted that Ethiopia was also committed to build a green non-carbon economy by 2025, adding that the country was investing in clean, modern and efficient technologies. This meant, he said that Ethiopia was “an ideal partner for companies whose investments are aligned to our green economic strategy”. And this was not just confined to Ethiopia as the set up of economic conditions for regional integration was a key element for foreign companies to do business in the sub-region. The Minister noted that Ethiopia was taking concrete actions to promote regional integration by linking the region with massive infrastructure development. He made it clear that Ethiopia was also working hard to develop industrial zones as one of the key strategies to facilitate and support foreign and domestic private-sector partners and to enhance exports. Ethiopia, he told the Forum, has “many things that you need to look for in taking a decision about where to invest”. These included a conducive business environment, political stability, sound economic policies, macro-economic stability, abundant natural resources, a large and trainable work force, low-cost energy, a sizeable and captive market, and one of the cleanest business climates. He said: “We look forward to increased investments because the opportunities are many, the returns are good, protection is guaranteed and incentives are really competitive. We also look forward to increasing trade and tourism between Ethiopia and USA; my government stands ready to facilitate your efforts.”

Other speakers at the “Doing Business in Ethiopia” Forum included Mr. Stephen Hayes, President and CEO of the US Corporate Council on Africa. Touching upon the historic relations between Ethiopia and the United States, he noted the enormous potential and greater business interests between the two countries. He also announced the establishment of a Joint Working Group designed to facilitate and ease the prospect of investment and business dealings. Other who spoke at the Forum included Ambassador Patricia Haslach, US Ambassador to Ethiopia, Ambassador Girma Biru, Ethiopian Ambassador to the US, and Mr. Solomon Afework, President of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association.

Following the Opening Session, several key presentations were made. Mr. Zemedeneh Negatu, Managing Partner, Ernst and Young-Ethiopia, presented a paper on “Investing in Ethiopia-Growth Driven by Fundamentals”; Mr. Fistum Arega, Director General, Ethiopian Investment Commission spoke on the business and investment opportunities in Ethiopia; Brian Herlihy, Founder and CEO of BlackRhino shared his company’s experiences in investing in Ethiopia; and Mr. Kimiaki Jin, Representative of the Japan International cooperation Agency (JICA) presented a working paper on “Access to New Markets through champion product Approach”.

Head Line
The 28th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union …
.…preceded by the 3rd AU Ministerial Retreat held in Mekele.…
…. Dr. Tedros’ paper to the Council on “Capacities for implementation of Agenda 2063”
Ethiopia’s Candidature for Non-Permanent Membership of the Security Council
Dr. Tedros Adhanom’s candidature for the post of WHO Director General
Somali leaders finally reach agreement on modalities for elections in August
Prime Minister Hailemariam at the World Economic Forum in Davos
EAPP endorses master plan to inter-connect East Africa
UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator visits Eritrea
Report calls UK guidelines to return Eritrean asylum seekers “misleading and biased”

News in Brief
Africa and the African Union
The Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union opens on Saturday (January 30). Among the guests will be UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

The 28th Ordinary Session of the AU Executive Council of Foreign Ministers opened on Wednesday (January 27) at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa for a two day session, under the theme: “2016: African Year of Human Rights with a Particular Focus on the Rights of Women”. (See article)

The Executive Council of the African Union held its 3rd Ministerial retreat in Mekele, Ethiopia at the weekend. (See article)

The Executive Council of the African Union endorsed the candidature of Ethiopia for election as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for 2017-2018. (See article)
It also endorsed the candidature of Dr. Tedros Adhanom for the post of the Director General of the WHO in 2017. (See article)

In a briefing in advance of the 26th AU summit, the UN Economic Commission for Africa warned on Tuesday (January 26) that Africa, especially countries that have borrowed in foreign markets, was facing increased debt repayments. This could give rise to “imported inflation” and the ECA underlined the importance of policies that would allow countries to pay debts without compromising their macroeconomic climate.

The World Health Organizations warned on Friday last week (January 22) that the El Niño phenomenon would cause a major global increase in health consequences from emergencies this year. It believed the impact on public health is likely to continue throughout 2016, even after El Niño winds down. It said Tanzania, Kenya, Chad, Somalia, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Peru would be at greatest risk.

The International Organization for Migration says that five countries in the Horn of Africa, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and Sudan, experienced a marked increase in irregular migration, by land and sea, last year. The region was a major source of migrant arrivals in Europe and deaths in the Mediterranean in 2015 with Eritrea the leading country of origin for migrants arriving in Italy, with over 37,000 Eritrean migrants arriving in 2015 as well as 11,000 Somalis and nearly 9,000 Sudanese.

The 11th Council of Ministers for the Eastern African Power Pool (EAPP) has endorsed a master plan to inter-connect the region through energy. The East African Power Pool, set up in 2005, includes Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Libya and Tanzania with South Sudan and Djibouti expected to join soon. (See article)

The CEO of King Abdullah Economic City, a new port on the Red Sea, announced last week at the World Economic Forum that a non-profit policy think tank, the Red Sea Foundation, is being set up to develop a trade facilitation framework for the Red Sea region. It aims to significantly improve the flow of goods within the Red Sea region and foster growth and prosperity. The UN suggests population growth in the region will drive a threefold increase in regional GDP from $1.8 trillion today to $6.1 trillion by 2050 and an increase in trade from $881 billion to $4.7 trillion.

Ethiopia

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon announced last week that Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn of Ethiopia will co-chair the UN’s High-level Advisory Group for Every Woman Every Child, together with President Michelle Bachelet Jeria of Chile.

Prime Minister Hailemariam, speaking at a roundtable at the World Economic Forum in Davos, urged African countries to improve their energy supply for effective implementation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. (See article)

On the sidelines of the AU Executive Council meeting, Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom met Danish Foreign Minister, Kristian Jensen, on Wednesday (January 27, 2016) who said Denmark was keen to work with Ethiopia on renewable energy development and cooperate with Ethiopia to address root causes of irregular migration. He also held discussions with Margot Wallstrom, the Foreign Minister of Sweden on how to deepen cooperation on issues of climate change, and irregular migration. A day earlier, Dr, Tedros held talks with the Polish Under-Secretary of State for Development Cooperation, Africa and the Middle East, Ms. Joanna Wronecka.

Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom on Thursday met with the UK’s Minister for Africa, Caribbean, and the Overseas Territories, James Doddridge, who presented a letter from the UK’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Philip Hammond. Dr. Tedros briefed Mr. Doddridge on the recent incidents surrounding the now withdrawn Addis Ababa-Oromia Special Zone Master Plan and on the consular access allowed to Mr. Andargachew Tsigie, a British citizen.

Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanom held talks with the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Paolo Gentiloni on migration, economic cooperation and regional peace and security issues. Dr. Tedros also met with Portugal’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Portugal, Auguso Santos Silva. Ethiopia and Portugal are commemorating the 500th anniversary of their diplomatic relations this year.

State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Atske-selassie met with the State Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain, Igancio Ybanez on Wednesday (January 27), and with Ms Tone Skogen, State Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Norway on Thursday (January 28). Ambassador Taye also met with Jeff Langley, Deputy Secretary of State of New Zealand, and with Ambassador Villa Hernandez, Director of Sub-Saharan Africa and Special Envoy of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba on Thursday (January 28).

State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Atske-selassie met with the Singapore Ambassador to African Union, Ambassador T. Jasudasen on Tuesday (January 26). The State Minister also received a copy of the credentials of the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, Ambassador Ghazi Abdulla Ashoor Al Mahri on Monday (January 25).
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Save the Children UK has called on the United Nations to urgently raise the global alarm over Ethiopia’s worst drought in 50 years. It says the international community urgently needs to immediately increase funding for the $1.4 billion drought appeal, which is currently less than one third funded.

The Ministry of Trade said on Saturday (January 23) that the country has earned close to US$1.1 billion from exports of agricultural, manufacturing and mining products in the first five months of this budget year, close to US$789.4 million from agriculture and US$146 million from manufacturing. This was 25% lower than the Ministry’s aims and almost 8% lower than the comparable period of the previous year.

Eritrea
Eritrean President Isaias Aferwerki in an interview on Eritrean media on Saturday (January 23) dismissed concern about food shortages in Eritrea. The President stated that the country would not face any crisis despite the fact of reduced agricultural output because of the Government of Eritrea’s “judicious policy and its approach to bolstering its strategic food reserves.”

Ms. Kyun-wha Kaang, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator of the United Nations, paid a three day working visit to Eritrea this week (January 25-27). Discussions with the Foreign Minister and other ministers covered “the full range of challenges facing Eritrea, including human rights and the role of the UN and international actors in support of the Government efforts to meet basic needs and build resilience among the most vulnerable communities.(See article)

A report released last week by the British Immigration and Independent Advisory Group on Country Information has strongly criticized the UK Home Office’s use of “misleading and biased” information to reject Eritrean asylum seekers from the UK. (See article)

Kenya

President Uhuru Kenyatta, speaking on Wednesday this week (January 27) at a memorial service in Eldoret for the soldiers killed on January 15 at El Adde in Somalia, said the Kenyan Defense Forces will pursue Al-Shabaab terrorists “to their last hideouts”. “We will continue in Somalia to fulfill our mission.” Also present were Somali President Mohamud and Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari.

The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has expressed its solidarity with Kenya following the Al Shabaab attack on the Kenyan troops at El Adde. The Assembly observed a minute’s silence for those killed on Monday (January 25). Speaker Daniel F. Kidega said the Assembly condemned “in the strongest terms possible, the recent attacks by Al Shabaab terrorists.” It also urged the International community “to equally stand with Kenya and Somalia to fight against these evil forces.”

Somalia
Political leaders in Somalia agreed on a framework for holding elections in August this year after a three day meeting in Mogadishu that ended on Wednesday (January 27). The agreement was welcomed by the UN Security Council and the international community. (See article)

AMISOM’s Acting Force Commander, Major General Nakibus Lakara, during visits to El-Adde, the base attacked eleven days earlier, and other Forward AMISOM Bases in Sectors 2 and 3, reiterated AMISOM’s commitment to ensuring the destruction of terrorist groups in Somalia.
He also called on people to “reject and extract Al Shabaab terrorists from their midst. Only by doing this, will they rid themselves of terror. This cannot be left to AMISOM only.”

Swedish Land Forces Commander, Brigadier General Stefan Andersson paid a visit to Mogadishu on Tuesday (January 26). He held talks with Somalia Army Commander, General Mohamed Aden Ahmed on the military support Sweden is providing for the rebuilding of the national army.

South Sudan

A joint statement issued by the Troika member countries, the United States, the United Kingdom and Norway, expressed “deep concern” after the parties to the peace deal signed in August 2015 failed to form a Transitional Government of National Unity on Saturday (January 22). The statement noted that “the Presidential Decree establishing 28 states has created an obstacle to consensus.”

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday (January 25) issued a statement calling on IGAD and the African Union to save the peace process and address “the political impasse that is impeding the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity”. He said the formation of the transitional government was an essential step in implementing the peace [agreement] and laying the foundation for peace and stability in South Sudan.

The UK Minister for Africa, James Doddridge, said on Wednesday (January 27) there should be no further delay in forming South Sudan’s Transitional Government of National Unity in accordance with the August 2015 peace accord to end the war and alleviate the suffering of the people. He was on a visit to Juba where he met President Salva Kiir, Foreign Affairs Minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin and the Chief Negotiator of the SPLM-IO, Taban Deng Gai.

Michael Makuei Lueth, Minister of Information and Broadcasting said on Wednesday (January 27) that legal requirement might mean the Transitional Government of National Unity could not be formed before mid-March. He said the constitution had to go to the Ministry of Justice; then to the Cabinet, and then to Parliament to be considered for a month and then sent to the President for assent and signature.

A report on South Sudan from the United Nations Panel of Experts, issued on Monday (January 25), said President Salva Kiir and SPLM-IO leader, Riek Machar, should both face sanctions since they control forces that have committed atrocities against innocent civilians. The panel said there was “clear and convincing evidence that the majority of acts of violence committed in the course of the war have been directed by or undertaken with the knowledge of senior individuals at the highest levels of government and within the opposition.”

Riek Machar, head of the SPLM-IO, visited Kampala on Sunday (January 24) for talks with President Yoweri Museveni. He said he would be trying to persuade Uganda to play a key role in convincing President Kiir to reverse the order of expanding the number of states in South Sudan from 10 to 28.

Sudan

The Government and a joint delegation from the Sudan Liberation Movement- Minni Minnawi and the Justice and Equality Movement issued a statement on Monday (January 25) after a three day meeting in Ethiopia, agreeing to continue informal discussions under auspices of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel. They also reiterated their seriousness to reach a negotiated solution to end the conflict in Darfur.

Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, told the Security Council on Monday (January 25) that the political process to resolve the conflict in Darfur through dialogue remains fragmented with only limited progress. He hoped a strategic-level meeting among the United Nations, the African Union and the Government of Sudan would take place on the margins of the African Union Summit.

The 28th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union …

The 28th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union’s Foreign Ministers took place on Wednesday and Thursday this week (January 27-28) in Addis Ababa. Held under the theme of this year’s AU Summit “2016: African Year of Human Rights with a particular focus on the Rights of Women”, the session considered the reports of various AU Committees, and set recommendations for consideration by the Summit of the Heads of State and Government at the weekend, emphasizing the importance of upholding human rights, especially women’s rights, in Africa. In attendance were the AU Foreign Ministers, the AU Commissioners, leaders of intergovernmental organizations, ministers and duly designated authorities of member countries. Among the guests were the United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, Mr. Carlos Lopez, and ambassadors to the African Union.

The 28th Ordinary Session considered the report of the Permanent Representatives’ Committee which held its session from Thursday (January 21) to Saturday (January 23); and the Annual Report of the Chairperson of the Commission for the period January to December 2015. It also considered and adopted the revised AUC budget for the 2016 Financial Year. The Executive Council considered the reports of the ad-hoc Ministerial Committee on the Scale of Assessment; the Ministerial Committee on African Candidatures in the International System; the progress report of the Ministerial Committee on the Challenges of Ratification and Implementation of the OAU/AU treaties; the follow-up Committee on Agenda 2063; and the report of the Ministerial Committee on Elections of the Members of the Commission in June /July 2016.

Another function of the Executive Council was the election of the members of the African Union Peace and Security Council and of the one member of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC). These took place on Thursday (January 28). The fifteen members of the Peace and Security Council that were elected are: South Africa, Botswana, Rwanda, Uganda, Chad, Burundi, Algeria, Niger, Togo, and Sierra Leone for two year terms, and Kenya, Zambia, Congo, Egypt and Niger for three year terms. The Executive council also considered and adopted the election and appointment of a member of the African Committee of Experts on ACERWC. .

In his directions to the Council, Zimbabwe’s Foreign Minister, the Chair of the Executive Council, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, stated that the Council would “receive updates on the restructuring of the AU Commission and other AU organs and institutions, and on the evaluation of our partnership.” Among the issues he emphasized was the face that the new scale of assessment would inevitably place heavy demands on our economies, but, he added, this was “the price that we have to pay for our Union to be self-reliant and reduce dependence on external funding.” Mr. Mumbengegwi also noted that the Council’s “discussions, decisions and recommendations, of necessity, have to always take cognizance of the principled policy pronouncements by our principals.” This, he added, was meant to ensure ownership and control of the African Union, its processes and programs by the Member States.” The Chairperson also emphasized that the Council had directed the AU Commission “to take all the necessary measures to popularize Agenda 2063 and invite Member States and Regional Economic Communities to domesticate the agenda in their internal systems and processes to speed up regional and continental integration”

Addressing the Executive Council at the opening ceremony, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma reiterated the AU vision to build an Africa that is driven by its citizens. She stressed the relevance of this to the theme of the “African Year of Human Rights with a particular focus on the Rights of Women”. The Chairperson recalled the African Union’s aim of achieving “an Africa whose development is people driven, relying on the potential of the African people especially its women, youth and caring for children”. This is aspiration 6 of Agenda 2063. The Chairperson emphasized that Agenda 2063 was not just the program of the African Union. It was for all the diversity of Africa, people from all walks of life, poets, singers, dancers, youth, women and girls, private sector business people, farmers, entrepreneurs, the children of Africa and all African citizens, men and women, young and old, urban and rural as well as the Diaspora. The AU Commission Chairperson recalled that the report from the Executive Council Retreat in Mekele on the critical skills needed for Agenda 2063 had highlighted a huge skills gap. She called for discussions with Africa’s private sector on industrialization, agriculture, and infrastructure development, the movement of goods, and on people and services. Referring to the theme of the Summit on Human Rights with particular focus on the rights of women, Dr. Dlamini Zuma said that since the launch of the first African Gender Scorecard, countries had been taking steps to do better. She said that in 2016, the gender score card would focus on indicators related to human rights.

.…preceded by the 3rd AU Ministerial Retreat held in Mekele.…

In preparation of the 26th African Union Summit and for the Executive Council meeting opening on Wednesday this week, the AU Commission organized a ministerial retreat for the members of the Executive Council in Mekele, the capital of the Tigray National Regional State of Ethiopia on Sunday and Monday (January 24-25). 2016. The idea of the retreat was first proposed by Ethiopia two years ago to allow AU Ministers of Foreign Affairs or External Relations and other ministers or authorities designated by their Governments to brainstorm and exchange views on the implementation of Agenda 2063. This time the retreat was intended to work on identifying approaches on the strategic moves necessary to achieve the key items and how to implement the “flagship” projects of Agenda 2063. These flagship projects include the integrated high speed train network; an African virtual e-University; formulation and establishment of a commodities strategy; establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) by 2017; the African passport allowing for the free movement of people; implementation of the Grand Inga Dam project; the Pan-African e-network; silencing the guns; an African outer-space strategy; a single aviation market; African financial institutions; and a focus on the First Ten-Year Implementation Plan.

The President of the Tigray National Regional State, Abay Woldu, delivered welcome remarks at the official opening, underlining “The vision of our Union that aims to create an ‘integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa,’ and indeed the agenda of this retreat, has significant meaning to this region of Ethiopia.” Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Ethiopia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, stressed how important such ministerial retreats could be to the implementation of Agenda 2063 and disclosed the programs to be convened in the next sessions. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission in her remarks, congratulated the people of the city of Mekele for hosting this important Pan-African gathering and recalled the agreed core interests of the Executive Council at their first retreat at Bahir Dar two years ago: mechanization of agriculture; silencing the gun; youth unemployment; effective management and the use of African resources to affect transformation, inclusive growth and industrialization; effective and visionary leadership with political commitment; accelerated regional integration; and accountability. Similarly, in his opening statement, the Chairperson of the Executive Council Zimbabwe’s Foreign Minister, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, stressed the significance of a single aviation market and the conservation of the flora and fauna of Africa to realizing implementation of Agenda 2063.

During their sessions, the retreat discussed the issue of free movement of people, Africans having free access to all African countries. This is an enduring project of Pan-Africanism and African integration. The retreat identified benefits of the free movement of people as a facilitator for tourism, intra-African investment and trade, for people-to-people integration and cooperation, and for circulation and utilization of skills in the continent. It welcomed the lessons from countries such as Rwanda and from the Regional Economic Communities on free movement and recommended the adoption of a Protocol on Free Movement of People by January 2018.

Tourism and Wildlife Conservation was another major focus of the discussions of the retreat. Presentations on wildlife conservation were made by the Minister of Tourism of Zimbabwe on African tourism and branding, by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Executive Secretary of United Nations Environment Program. The presenters noted that despite Africa’s huge potential for tourism, it attracted a negligible percentage of global tourist arrivals and revenue. The consensus of the presentations was that given the huge potential of tourism for job and wealth creation, Africa needed a concerted strategy to promote tourism across the continent.

The retreat noted the progress report of the African Commission on the flagship projects and made observations on the plans to conduct a pre-feasibility study on the Pan African High Speed Rail Network, on the progress of the legal and institutional framework for the Grand Inga Project in the DRC and on the commendable job made by the thirteen countries that have signed up to “Solemn Declaration” to make a “single aviation market” a reality by 2017, as well as numerous other issues.

…. Dr. Tedros’ paper to the Council on “Capacities for implementation of Agenda 2063”

Ethiopia, Dr. Tedros said, had identified ten key areas of critical importance for implementing its national development agenda. These key areas were: leadership, commitment and ownership; the design of the right policies for each priority sector; capacity building strategies based on goals and related strategies and specialized sectoral institutions to take these forward; domestic resources to finance national priorities and the use of development aid; changing mind sets; education and training with a focus on critical technical and high level skills for the development of the country or the continent; capacity building linked to value addition and beneficiary strategies; performance management and building capable state institutions; the role of the Diaspora and building knowledge networks; and the role of Regional Economic Communities.

On leadership, commitment and ownership, Dr. Tedros stressed the role of leadership in enhancing state-capacity, financing mega projects and underlined the comparative advantage of the state in many areas. He said that at early stages of the country’s development and democratic process, the role of the government remained very important. He said: “in our case, this involves continuing to keep and run the commanding heights of the economy,” adding “this would help counter market failures.” These commanding heights, the Foreign Minister also said, help the country finance its mega projects: “in effect these sectors are money printing machines.”

The Foreign Minister strongly emphasized the design of the right policies and strategies. He stressed Ethiopia’s experience in designing the right policies begun years earlier with the adoption of its “Agricultural Development Led Industrialization”. This draws on the fact that the population of Ethiopia, like that of Africa as whole, predominantly derives its livelihood from agriculture and the fact that this policy could enable the country to create linkages with industry through a specific industrial policy. On capacity building enablement, Dr. Tedros stressed that in the field of agriculture, the country had established widespread agriculture extension services and agricultural research centers as well as an agricultural mechanization agency. He also noted that for “industrialization capacity building” the country had established a Textile Development Institute and Leather Research Institute as well as most recently an Industrial Zones Development Agency. On “self-financing”, Dr. Tedros noted that once one was clear on the policies and strategies, it was necessary to decide on the priority projects. Ones that were identified as transformative needed to be financed from a country’s own resources. He pinpointed a number of important projects in Ethiopia which could be mentioned in this regard; the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the National Rail Network Program, the Urban Development and Construction Program, the Education and Training Program and the Rural Electrification and Telecommunication Program.

On public mobilization and ownership strategy, Dr. Tedros said, “We did that by engaging all stakeholders, that is the public, the private sector and different segments of the society by involving them in the draft policy and strategy documents for discussion and obtaining their feedback.” This, he said, had also enabled the public to develop ‘can-do attitudes’ at all levels. Dr. Tedros stressed the importance of accelerated enrolment in higher education to address the problem of ‘brain-drain’. He said, “We opted to address the root cause of supply and demand through flooding,” providing the Universities with the necessary students. . Regarding value addition and its benefits, he mentioned the role of the Metal and Engineering Corporation (METEC) in accelerating the country’s industrialization and technology transfer, adding: “so far, METEC has been able to source locally about 60 per cent of the value of its industrial products such as buses, cars and tractors. METEC is also playing a key role in know-how and technology transfer in the area of rail construction and building hydro dams.”

Dr. Tedros’ paper also revealed Ethiopia’s designs for comprehensive civil service reform through Business Process Re-engineering and Performance Management Systems. Referring to engaging the Diaspora and knowledge sharing, Dr. Tedros stressed the importance of asking how to establish a knowledge-exchange network so that countries could connect the qualified Diaspora with African universities and research centers. He added, “ I also think that we can develop a targeted advisory service to be rendered by the Diaspora.” In conclusion, the Foreign Minister recommended the importance of emulating the performance of the Northern Corridor of the East African Community as an example of “how RECs can work to achieve Agenda 2063.”

Following the presentation, the retreat discussed the “capacity for implementation of Agenda 2063” on the basis of these key areas, drawing upon Ethiopia’s experience. Its conclusions were included in the final outcome of the retreat. Participants described the 3rd Ministerial Retreat of the Executive Council of the African Union as “successful”. It allowed many ambitious ideas to be raised and brainstormed and it demonstrated increasing commitment to find ways to solve challenges. Those attending urged the AU Commission to organize another retreat on the basis of “the Africa we have, the Africa we want” to allow for more in-depth discussions on the paradox of ‘rich Africa, poor Africans,’ ‘changing mindsets’ and other issues raised during the debates. Such Pan-African gatherings could provide another major step forward for Africa and its future.

The retreat elected a Ministerial Follow-Up Committee composed of five countries, one from each region of the continent, to serve for two years. The members are Algeria, Namibia, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Rwanda, joined by the Chairpersons of the RECs, the outgoing and incoming Chairperson of the Executive Council, the AU Commission Chairperson, the CEO of the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, the President of the African Development Bank, and the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa. The Ministerial Follow-Up Committee was established on the recommendations of the Bahir Dar Ministerial Retreat and it is reviewed every two years to allow rotation and regional balance.

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Ethiopia’s Candidature for Non-Permanent Membership of the Security Council

In 2015, the Government announced Ethiopia’s bid for a mom-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for 2017–18. It was announcement that underlined Ethiopia’s renewed commitment to middle-level diplomacy and its ambition to actively develop its regional and global policy agenda. The United Nations Security Council is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations, charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. The has Security Council has fifteen members consisting of the five permanent members , the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom, with veto power and ten non-permanent members, elected for two year terms. The world’s pre-eminent crisis management forum, the Security Council plays an increasingly visible and authoritative role in global politics. Empowered by the United Nations Charter, the Security Council holds the authority to impose sanctions and exercise the use of force in response to threats to international peace and security, an authority that it has been exercising with increasing regularity. It is also mandated with the power of establishing peacekeeping operations, enforcing international sanctions, and authorizing military action in certain cases. A seat at the Security Council provides the elected states with the opportunity for developing countries to have a voice in shaping global agendas and to respond to global issues, to engage and negotiate with the major international powers on a regular basis, and raise their own international profile and standing. Ethiopia has an excellent track record in the promotion of peace and stability in continental and global for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council is something that aligns closely with its international interests both in its neighborhood and in Africa generally.

Ethiopia has, therefore, shown its interest in being elected to the Security Council again. It is, of course, a founder member of the United Nations, one of the only two African founding members of the United Nations Organization set up following the end of the Second World War, the other being Liberia. It has been a non-permanent member of the Security Council on two previous occasions, in 1967/1968 and 1989/1990. From the outset, it has demonstrated real commitment to the United Nations, as it did to its predecessor, the League of Nations, and to the principles of collective security anchored in the UN Charter. Indeed, it has a long and proud history of promoting international peace and security, starting in the 1950s with the Korean War. When North Korea crossed the border to invade South Korea, Ethiopia joined a multinational UN peacekeeping force of 16 countries to restore the status quo. In the three-year conflict, 121 of its troops were killed and another 536 others wounded. Surprisingly, Ethiopia was the only country which had no troops taken prisoner in the conflict. The heroism, discipline and commitment of the Ethiopian contingent has been a model for all subsequent Ethiopian involvements in peacekeeping and peace enforcement operations.

Ten years after that first major involvement in a UN authorized peacekeeping mission, Ethiopia’s commitment to global peace and security was further underlined by its involvement in the UN operations in the 1960 war in Congo. The performance of the Ethiopian contingent in this second peacekeeping operation was once again commended, and the Ethiopian forces were able to restore peace and order in their area of operations, notably in the Orientale Province of Congo, in a remarkably short period of time, and win the confidence of local communities. Subsequently, Ethiopia has been involved in UN peace keeping in Rwanda and Burundi and Ethiopian military personnel, mission experts and police force are currently engaged in observing regional peace and security in various UN authorized peacekeeping missions. These include the UN Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), UN Mission in Liberia (UNML), UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan(UNMISS), and UN Operations in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) as well as the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) in which Ethiopia is providing all of the 4,400 troops deployed in Abyei, between Sudan and South Sudan. Ethiopia is now the second largest contributor to UN peace keeping operations and the largest in Africa. In addition, Ethiopia is also a major contributor to the African Union Mission on Somalia (AMISOM) and is an active participant in the establishment of the East African Standby Force, to which it is contributing one of the five contributions to the 5,000 strong unit.

In all these peacekeeping missions, Ethiopia has received substantial continental and international recognition and commendation for the effective execution of ongoing peace keeping and peace-building operations. It regards this a major contribution to the promotion of regional, and continental, peace and security, one of the most important elements of its foreign policy aims. Ethiopia has consistently over the last two decades underlined the importance of regional peace and security as a necessity for regional development, another pillar of its foreign policy.

Ethiopia also believes there are a number of areas in which reform is required to further invigorate the UN’s role in addressing the current challenges to such issues as world security, climate change and the global economic problems. Ethiopia strongly believes that the voice of Africa in the UN and its institutions, including the Security Council, deserve to be heard more prominently. It strongly supports the establishment of a permanent seat for Africa in the United Nations Security Council. The United Nations, the only supra-national organization enjoying the membership of virtually the entire world, is far better placed than any other body to effectively address the challenges that face humanity today.

Following Ethiopia’s announcement of its candidature for a non-permanent seat at the Security Council, both Kenya and the Seychelles abandoned their possible candidature in favor of Ethiopia, allowing it to become the sole candidate to representing the African continent and its fifty-four member states. Ethiopia’s bid was endorsed by the African Union’s 28th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council on January 28 and is expected to be endorsed by the Assembly of the African Union at the weekend’s Summit.

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Dr. Tedros Adhanom’s candidature for the post of WHO Director General

The Executive Council of the African Union on Friday (January 29) endorsed the candidature of Dr. Tedros Adhanom for the post of the Director General of the World Health Organization. His candidature is expected to be endorsed by the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government at the weekend. The election is scheduled for May 2017 during the 70th session of the WHO Assembly.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus took up his post as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in November 2012. Prior to that, he served as Ethiopia’s Minister of Health from October 2005. Dr. Tedros also served in a number of expert and leadership positions in both federal and regional government, including the position of State Minister in the Ministry of Health and Head of the Tigray Regional Health Bureau.

After joining the health sector in 1986, Dr. Tedros dedicated his career to public service and scientific research on health concerns. A globally recognized researcher on Malaria, Dr. Tedros has co-authored numerous articles on the subject in scientific publications, including Annals of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology, The Lancet, and Nature and Parasitologia. He published a study of malarial incidence among children living near dams in northern Ethiopia, a key contribution to the field, in the British Medical Journal in 1999. This seminal contribution earned him the distinction of the ‘Young Investigator of the Year’ award from the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. In 2003, the Ethiopian Public Health Association (EPHA) recognized his important research work through its prestigious “Young Public Health Researcher Award”. Dr. Tedros was also the first non-American recipient of the “Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Humanitarian Award”, in 2011. This is an award conferred by the US National Foundation of Infectious Diseases to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to improving the health of mankind. In March 2012, he received the 2012 Honorary Fellowship from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. This is the highest honour bestowed by the School and goes to those who have achieved exceptional distinction in international health or tropical medicine.

In addition to his specific work on disease and malaria in particular, Dr. Tedros has also been recognized for his leadership in the rapidly evolving field of global health, working to enhance Ethiopia’s active engagement in a number of major international forums. In May, 2009, he was elected to represent Ethiopia as the Chair of the Fourth Conference of Ministers of Health of the African Union. In July, 2009, he was elected Chair of the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, for a period of two years. Previously, he served as Chair of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, as Chair of the UNAIDS Programme Coordination Board for 2009, and as Co-Chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health from 2005 until December, 2009. He has also served as a member of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization Board as well as of the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation. In 2009, he was also a member of the High-Level Task Force for Innovative Financing for Health Systems, co-chaired by World Bank President, Robert Zoellick, and UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. Dr. Tedros co-edited “The Labor Market for Health Workers in Africa: A New Look at the Crisis” in 2014. This widely acclaimed book challenges established views on migration of doctors from Africa.

In his career as Health Minister, Dr. Tedros oversaw the rapid expansion of primary health care in Ethiopia. It was as a result of this that Ethiopia was able to meet most of health-related Millennium Development Goals. In recognition of his extraordinary achievements in expanding preventive health care in Ethiopia, the UK-based Wired Magazine included him in its annual ‘Smart List 2012’ of the 50 “people who will change the world.”

Since taking up the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Tedros has also served as chair of IGAD’S Council of Ministers, the regional economic community for Horn of Africa. As chair of the Executive Council of the African Union in 2014, he oversaw the successful adoption of the first 10 year plan for the AU’s Agenda 2063. Under his leadership, Ethiopia successfully hosted the 50th anniversary conference of the OAU/AU. During his chairmanship of the Executive Council of the African Union, he also chaired a ministerial contact group that voiced the concerns of Africa over the International Criminal Court and worked for the deferral of the ICC cases against President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto in 2014. Astute diplomacy led to withdrawal of President Kenyata’s case and procedural amendments to the Rome Statute. In September 2015, Dr. Tedros was elected again as the chair of the Open-ended Ministerial Committee on the ICC, to follow up on the cases of President Al-Bashir of Sudan and Deputy President Ruto of Kenya. Equally, as co-chair of the main committee of the Third Finance for Development (FFD3), he played a key role in by bringing together polarized positions on the future of the global development finance architecture. The FFD3 ended with the adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

As Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros played the leading role in brokering the Addis Ababa Agreement between the Federal Government of Somalia and Jubaland politicians which led to the formation of the Interim Jubaland Administration, providing for the return of normalcy in Kismayo and its environs. The successful implementation of the Addis Ababa Agreement has turned it into a model for regional state formation in Somalia. Dr Tedros has been the leading diplomat in the successful negotiations between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan over Ethiopia’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, leading to the signing, last year, of the Declaration of Principles that helped ease tension and pave the way for dialogue. In April 2014, he authored an article titled “The Nile is Symbol of Cooperation and Collaboration” in which he made the case for the importance of cooperation for the mutual and equitable benefit of the Nile Riparian States from the river. Recently, honoring his efforts as Ethiopia’s top diplomat, the leading African magazine, New African, chose him as one of the 100 most influential Africans for the year 2015.

Dr. Tedros holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in Community Health from the University of Nottingham in the UK in 2000. He obtained a Master of Science degree in Immunology of Infectious Diseases from the University of London (UK) in 1992, and completed his undergraduate studies in Biology at Asmara University in 1986. Dr Tedros is married and has four sons and a daughter.

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Somali leaders finally reach agreement on modalities for elections in August

Political leaders in Somalia have agreed on a framework for holding elections this year in a move widely welcomed by the international community. The agreement came after Somali leaders opened their third round of talks on the divisive issue of the electoral process on Sunday (January 24), a week after the two sides had failed to narrow the gap between them at the second round of the National Consultative Forum held in Kismayo. Although the Kismayo meeting broke up without agreement, some Somali officials and representatives of the international community attending the talks continued expressed optimism that the country’s stakeholders would be able to resolve their differences, revolving around whether the elections should be based on the controversial 4.5 formula or on a constituency model. Puntland and Jubaland made it clear they would prefer to see an essentially constituency-based method of electing the MPs; Puntland had indicated its support for the Lower House to be based on districts and the Upper House on regions in a position paper. The Galmudug and Southwest State administrations wanted to continue with the current 4.5 model.

The meeting in Mogadishu was attended by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud; Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke; the 2nd Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mahad Awad; President of Puntland’ Abdiweli Ali Gaas; President of Jubaland, Ahmed Mohamed Islam; President of South-West, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan; and President of Galmudug, Abdikarim Hussein Guled; as well as Ministers and respective delegates from the Federal Government and Federal Member States and observers from the international community. At the opening session, President Mohamud said that the Federal Government’s position was that the Lower House of 275 MPs should be established on the basis of the 4.5 formula and the Upper House of 54 members should be on the basis of equal representation from the federal states with the addition of three extra members for Puntland and three to Somaliland because they had been established longer. In fact, Somaliland which declared its still unrecognized independence from the rest of the country in 1991, has shown no interest in the process of elections in Somalia and rejected any suggestions that it be involved in any way. There was some concern that the President’s statement might pre-empt discussion and regional leaders held a series of talks with international community representatives and with Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke before agreement was reached and a communiqué issued on Wednesday.

The agreement provides for 275 seats in the Lower House, to be allocated according to the 4.5 formula. A minimum quota of 30% of the seats in the Lower House of Parliament will be reserved for women. Voting and counting will take place in each of the capitals of the existing and emerging Federal member states. It adds that there will be special arrangements for Somaliland which has made it clear it is not participating in any way in this process. The Upper House is to be established before the formation of the Lower House of Parliament and to have 54 members. 48 of these will be distributed equally among Somalia’s existing, emerging and prospective Federal member states, identified as Somaliland, Puntland, Galmudug, Hiiraan/Middle Shabelle, South-West and Jubaland. The remaining 6 members will be divided equally between Somaliland and Puntland, reflecting both their political status and maturity and the fact that they include the largest numbers of regions. A minimum quota of 30% of the seats in the Upper House of Parliament will also be reserved for women. The Members of the Upper House will be elected by caucuses of the regional assemblies in each existing and emerging Federal member state. The communiqué gives no dates for the elections but the current mandates for Parliament and President run out in August and September respectively. Once Parliament has been formed, it will choose a president to succeed President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

In a statement on Wednesday (January 27), Somalia’s international partners welcomed the framework and commended Somali leaders for reaching a compromise. The UN, AMISOM, IGAD, the EU, Ethiopia, France, Italy, Qatar, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America all expressed their support. In a statement, they welcomed the decision, and commended the leaders of Somalia’s existing and emerging federal member states for the serious efforts they made, over several months, to reach a compromise. The statement said the international community recognized that this model required compromises from all parties, and it called on all people in Somalia to put the interests of the country first and avoid conflict in the electoral process. It said that the decision demonstrated “the determination and commitment of Somali leaders to respect the constitutionally mandated term limits of the legislature and the executive and to conducting an electoral process in 2016”. They also pledged to support the immediate next political and practical steps needed to ensure the implementation of the decision and “the measures required to make progress towards a qualitatively better electoral process and political dispensation in the future.” The international community also intends to make sure that a detailed plan of action is produced for the period between 2016 and 2020 to make a one person, one vote, election possible in 2020.

The UN Security Council has also welcomed the agreement reached by Somali political leaders on the electoral model to be used in the parliamentary elections due to be held in August this year. The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-0General, Michael Keating, told a meeting of the Security Council on Thursday (January 28) that the agreement, reached the previous day was the culmination of almost six months of intense consultations, adding that “it may be a watershed moment, marking the growing political maturity of a federal Somalia”. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon also congratulated the Somali leadership on their decision, noting that it paved the way to a timely transition at the expiry of the current term of the Parliament. A statement said the Secretary-General particularly applauded the commitment to representation of women and minority groups, including that women will comprise 30 per cent of the next Parliament, in line with the Mogadishu Declaration of December 2015. It also reiterated the urgency of establishing a political roadmap towards universal suffrage in Somalia by 2020, to ensure continued momentum in the country’s transition to democracy.

Some uncertainties still remain, as implementation of the process has yet to take place, and much as to be done within the next six months. This includes the holding of the Hiiraan and Middle Shebelle state formation conference, and Puntland and Galmudug still have to resolve their differences which include disagreement over the allocation of the extra seats in the Upper House. However, there was general relief that the main issue of the modality for the election process had been agreed and that the elections for Parliament and the Presidency would now be able to go ahead in August and September as planned.

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Prime Minister Hailemariam at the World Economic Forum in Davos

The 46th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting last week (January 20-23) was held under the theme: “Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. It categorized this as a fusion of technologies, blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres, and building on the Third Industrial Revolution, the digital revolution using electronics and information technology to automate production that has been gathering strength since the middle of the last century. The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production; while the Second used electric power to create mass production. Now were are moving into a Fourth Industrial Revolution and over 40 Heads of State and Government, and more than 2,500 leaders from business and society attending to consider the future.

The Forum recognized that the world stands on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. Responses must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from public and private sectors to academia and civil society. It covered the multitude of critical current challenges facing the world, including security, climate change and the “new normal” global growth and commodity prices, all of which need to be addressed. The Ethiopian Delegation led by Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn also took part in many debates and discussions covering such areas as Global Trade and Investment, Future Global Financing, the Internet, Gender Equality, Inclusive Growth, as well as considering how a Fourth Industrial Revolution would impact on Africa, a continent which is home to nine of the world’s fifteen fastest growing economies.

The Forum emphasized that the Fourth Industrial Revolution would increase overall global productivity, but it also noted that power, a key enabler of this progress, a fundamental necessity for manufacturing and job creation, was lagging behind. More than one in six people around the world still lack access to electricity and one in three can’t depend on the sources they have. This was particularly the case in Africa, where over 600 million people still lack access to any basic electricity resource and some 70% of businesses cite unreliable power as a major constraint in doing business on the continent. It was also underlined that the world’s poorest often pay the most for what little electricity they do get. Lower oil prices might enable market reform; sustained lower oil prices might mean governments have the political space to wind down subsidies. Energy policy reforms are attracting investors to address the challenge of ‘global electrification’, but this is a challenge that will require really massive investments and a renewed focus on energy by the Global Community. There is awareness of the need. The UN Sustainable Development Goals, adopted last year in New York provide for a specific goal to expand energy access. The COP21 in Paris last month reached a global climate agreement that recognized the need for the world’s least developed countries to provide sustainable electricity to their people. There does, in fact, appear to be newfound momentum, driven by recognition of the importance of governments and the private sector working together, behind the goals of electricity access, efficiency, and sustainability.

This was very much the subject of the Africa Roundtable Debate: “Turning Africa into a Powerhouse!” in which CNBC’s Bronwyn Nielsen was joined by Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn of Ethiopia, President Kagame of Rwanda and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo of Nigeria as well as other stakeholders from Africa. But there are other areas in which Africa needs all the support it can get.

Prime Minister Hailemariam looked back at the major challenges that Africa faced in working to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Africa certainly needed transformation, but this also required effective and committed leadership. He spoke of the challenge of technological transfer and the lack of capacity and of the resultant logistical problems that countries like Rwanda and Ethiopia have. Infrastructure, particularly power, remained a problem. He detailed the necessity for power requirements for Ethiopia’s economic growth. Ethiopia has been registering double-digit economic growth for over a decade but this meant energy requirements had increased by 32%.

The Prime Minister Hailemariam made it clear that accelerated, sustainable and inclusive growth was not an alternative for Ethiopia. It was a necessity. Ethiopia, therefore needed to step up its efforts to accelerate economic activity and to ensure that the benefits reached all the different Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of the country. It was this that was driving the imperative for its fast and double digit economic growth, despite the failure of the world economy to provide proper support. He said the global push for economic growth in recent decades had led to substantial increases in wealth for large numbers of people across the globe, but despite the huge gains in global economic output, there was no doubt that the current social, political and economic system was exacerbating inequalities, rather than reducing them. Ethiopia was, therefore, focusing on becoming a manufacturing hub, and the Prime Minister underlined that it needed to attract more investors, including major known companies. This needed power and Ethiopia had devoted substantial effort to produce just this, with its development of green, sustainable hydropower. Africa, too, he emphasized, also needed green and renewable energy.
The importance of agriculture in Africa, a business that feeds over 60% of the globe, was also noted. These were among the factors that emphasized that Africa was now a place to invest and, indeed, it was a place where private investors were welcome. Prime Minister Hailemariam said there were two possible scenarios to describe Africa: Africa falling, or Africa rising. He was in no doubt that the latter was correct.

President Kagame underlined that the challenges were there and they would remain there. What mattered above all, he said, was political will. Of course there was political will but it needed to be driven by the necessary sense of urgency must be there. The starting point must be for everyone to come together. Africans must consider the problems more seriously. He emphasized the importance of developing the current low levels of intra-African trade,. He also stressed the importance of energy for promoting special economic zones, to boost production and productivity and to create job opportunities.

The Vice-President of the Republic of Nigeria, Mr. Yemi Osinbajo, explained the new deal for Africa, looking at Nigeria’s economy, the impact of the oil price reduction and the issue of security, with particular reference to Boko Haram which he said was now seriously degraded and no longer had the capacity to affect the activities of the government or the people of Nigeria, though it was still making efforts to distract. He emphasized that the government was concentrating on the mobilization of domestic resources. Domestic revenue, he asserted, was an absolute necessity to create effective and efficient development and allow for improved governance issues. Transparency was a key issue for government expenditure. Mr. Osinbajo underlined infrastructure, information and efficient public services as three of the most important factors He recognized that the oil price reduction really had a major impact on the country’s economy and it might lead to budget deficits; however, this, he said, could be managed.

All the discussants were in agreement that the prospect of a Fourth Industrial Revolution was exciting. It had the potential to raise income levels and improve the quality of life for populations around the world, particularly in Africa. Technology has made possible new products and services that increase the efficiency and pleasure of personal lives; technological innovation can and does lead to increases in efficiency and productivity. It will continue to do so. Transportation and communication costs will drop, logistics and global supply chains will become more effective, and the cost of trade will diminish, all of which will open new markets and drive inclusive economic growth. It is enticing prospect, but it one that will also require determination, commitment and resources. It remains a challenge for everybody.

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EAPP endorses master plan to inter-connect East Africa

The 11th Council of Ministers for the Eastern African Power Pool (EAPP) has endorsed a master plan to inter-connect the region through energy. The East African Power Pool, set up in 2005, is made up of Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Libya and Tanzania. South Sudan and Djibouti are expected to join soon. Its secretariat is based in Addis Ababa.

The Council of Ministers concluded its three-day meeting at the end of last week, finalizing and amending the new master plan that was drawn up by a Danish company, Energinet. Member states will meet in March to develop a strategic plan in line with the master plan. The 25-year master plan will enable all the countries in the region connect through regional power interconnections, providing a significant boost to economic development. All the member countries of EAPP, with the exception of Egypt, agreed on six points that will lead to the implementation of the master plan. The Egyptian delegate said that Egyptian claims had not been addressed and the plan paid insufficient attention to risk analysis and environmental assessments.

Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, Motuma Mekasa, said that the master plan would help countries to work together for the realization of rapid economic development in the region, including the development and utilization of natural gas resources in the region. The Minister said that the Government of Ethiopia would exert maximum effort to help implement the master plan, because of its benefits for the region.

EAPP Council Chairperson, Burundi’s Energy and Mines Minister, Come Manirakiza, said the master plan would enable countries in East Africa to jointly utilize resources and ensure mutual development. He underlined the importance of engaging in infrastructure development and said countries should extend the necessary support so as to get moving as fast as possible.

The steering committee’s presentation to the Council of Ministers recommended moving on the proposed action plan as soon as possible. Until now regional interconnections have been largely limited to bilateral agreements. Ethiopia, for example, is providing power to Sudan and to Djibouti and service provision to Kenya. The next stage of integration promises much wider power networks with effective and streamlined integration between Ethiopia and Kenya, and the possibility if extending this to Tanzania by 2018.

Representatives of international partners of the EAPP members welcomed the master plan. They said the outcome of the discussions, and in particular the roadmap that “now provides a high-level tool for steering East Africa’s power development and integration.” The road map “is a tool for cooperation of member states of the EAPP and other African institutions; and it provides a framework for cooperation between the EAPP and international development partners.” Overall, the master plan was described as “an integrated approach that aimed to speed up infrastructure projects and ensure the effective systems of operation, trade mechanisms, planning tools and regulatory environment.”

The mandate of the East African Power Pool is to provide for the optimum development of energy resources in the region and to improve access to electricity power supply to all the peoples of the Eastern Africa Region through regional power interconnections. It aims to provide a framework for pooling energy resources, promoting power exchanges between utilities in Eastern Africa and reducing power supply costs through the development of an integrated master plan. This also involves optimizing the use of the energy resources available in the Region, working out regional investment schemes in power generation, transmission and distribution. This should allow power systems’ interconnection and increasing power exchanges between countries and provide for reduced electricity costs across the Region. It should also mean efficient co-ordination between various initiatives taken in the fields of power production, transmission and exchange across the East African Region.

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UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator visits Eritrea

Ms. Kyun-wha Kaang, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator of the United Nations, paid three day working visit to Eritrea this week (January 25-27). She met and held talks with senior officials and representatives of UN agencies to discuss strengthening engagement and cooperation. Minister of Information, Yemane Ghebremeskel, told Ms. Kaang that U.N. agencies should not confine themselves to development programs only, but should also play their due part in helping “to lift the illegal sanctions imposed on Eritrea in contravention of international law.”

Ms. Kaang also met with Foreign Minister Osman Saleh to discuss development efforts as well as Yemane Gebreab, Head of Political Affairs of the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice and Presidential Advisor; Arfaine Berhe, Minister of Agriculture; Amna Nurhusein, Minister of Health; Semere Russom, Minister of Education; and Kahsay Gerehiwet, Minister of Labour and Human Welfare, and donor representatives. In a statement the UN said that discussions covered “the full range of challenges facing Eritrea, including human rights and the implementation of the [UN Human Rights Council’s] Universal Periodic Review recommendations and the role of the UN and international actors in support of Government endeavors to meet basic needs and build the resilience among the most vulnerable communities in the country.”

Last week, in a speech to the nation on January 22, President Isaias said that Eritrea would not face any food crisis this year despite the harvest shortfall that has affected the whole Horn of Africa region. The President that because of the Government of Eritrea’s “judicious policy” and its approach to bolstering its strategic food reserves the country would not face any crisis despite the fact it had also had reduced agricultural output.

In a press release in Asmara at the end of her visit on Wednesday (January 27) Ms. Kaang urged broader support for the Government’s efforts to meet basic needs and build resilience of the country’s most vulnerable communities. She welcomed the growing opportunities for engagement between the Government and UN partners and for a fruitful collaboration in implementing the Strategic Partnerships Cooperation Framework (SPCF) 2013-2016 as well as calling for a speedy conclusion of the SPCF for 2017-2020.”

Ms. Kaang noted that “Programs that provide supplementary feeding, immunization and nutrition surveillance are vital to reducing malnutrition and building resilience; Eritrea has made significant progress in improving child and maternal health, and I urge partners to continue supporting national and international efforts. During her visit, Ms. Kaang visited two health centers and some elementary and middle schools to assess various health provisions for students and met with officials of the National Union of Eritrea Women to discuss progress in gender equality.

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Report calls UK guidelines to return Eritrean asylum seekers “misleading and biased”

A report released last week by the British Immigration and Independent Advisory Group on Country Information has strongly criticized the UK Home Office’s use of “misleading and biased” information to reject Eritrean asylum seekers from the UK. The report says the two official documents, the Country of Origin Information and the Country Guidance Information, issued by the UK Home Office in March last year are largely based on the findings of a Danish report that has since been discredited. The documents have been used to justify the return of hundreds of Eritrean asylum seekers.

The report by the Danish Immigration Service (DIS) published in November 2014 was used as grounds to reject a large number of Eritrean asylum applications to Denmark until it became the centre of a political dispute. It has since been discredited for its highly selective use of information. The DIS researchers declared that they were under pressure to deliver specific results and subsequently resigned.

While the report has not officially been retracted, it is no longer used as a policy reference in Denmark. The report was described as “more like a political effort to stem migration than an honest assessment of Eritrea’s human rights situation. Instead of speculating on potential Eritrean government reforms, host governments should wait to see whether pledges actually translate into changes on the ground.”

Despite this, the UK Home Office has continued to use the report and the IAGCI report criticizes the Home Office for increasingly blurring “the distinction between objective evidence and Home Office policy”. In effect it says that the Home Office of distorting evidence in order to reject Eritrean asylum seeker. The author of the report, Dr. John Campbell, says the Home Office cannot rely on the Danish report because the criticism of that report is justified and its findings are simply “not credible”. He noted, in particular, that despite the claims in the Danish report, there is still no evidence that a decision to limit national service to 18 months has been decided. One of the main reasons for the continuing flight of refugees from Eritrea, amounting to thousands a month, has been the indefinite conscription with many people serving for well over a decade, and even up to eighteen years. Although government officials have made statements in private that the system has been changed, nothing has been formally announced by the Government and there has been no indication that any such policy has been implemented. Nor is there any indication that those returning to Eritrea are safe from prosecution or persecution.

Last year, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea reported on the “systematic, widespread and gross” human rights violations that have been and are being committed under the authority of the Eritrean Government. It said that some of these abuses might constitute crimes against humanity. The Commission found that Eritrean citizens live under constant fear in a controlled state and are subject to abuse, exploitation and slavery. Other human rights bodies have documented similar abuses over many years.

Head Lines
The 26th African Union Summit opens in Addis Ababa
IGAD celebrates the 30th anniversary of its foundation
Somalia’s National Consultative Forum meeting in Kismayo ends without agreement…
…. but Somalia’s South-West Regional Parliament inaugurated
An AMISOM base at El Adde in Gedo region of Somalia overrun
The Brookings Institute looks at priorities for Africa in 2016
SCF and FAO responses to the drought in Ethiopia

News in brief

Africa and the African Union

The 26th AU Summit opened this week on Thursday (January 21) with the 31st ordinary session of the Permanent Representative Committee. The Summit concludes at the end of next week with the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government (January 30-31). The theme of the Summit is: “2016: African Year of Human Rights with a particular focus on the Rights of Women”. (See article)

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on Saturday (January 16) announced that “IGAD is celebrating its 30 years since its establishment as a regional body to address issues of drought and mitigate the effects of desertification in the greater Horn of Africa.” (See article)

The Inter Governmental Authority on Development’s Security Sector Program (ISSP) and Global Counter-Terrorism (GCTF) held a regional workshop at the weekend to look into ways that the IGAD Member States including Tanzania can work together to criminalize terrorism financing as well as learn, share and adopt best practices in dealing with counter-terrorism.

The UNHCR said that 92,446 people, the majority from the Horn, arrived in Yemen by boat in 2015. At least two thirds have arrived since March 2015. The UNHCR issued a warning this week about the difficulties of the situation in Yemen and the dangers of the sea crossing. It said three dozen people died on 8 January this year and 95 deaths were reported last year.

Ethiopia

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn is attending the World Economic Forum in Davos this week (January 20-23). The theme of the Forum is “The Fourth Industrial Revolution”, but subjects discussed also include the slow down in the Chinese economy, proposed UK referendum on whether to stay or leave the EU, Europe’s refugee crisis and climate change. The Prime Minister told the Forum that Ethiopia had already embarked on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals for inclusive, sustainable and resilient development and called on the international community to work for ending poverty by 2030.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn met with a US Congressional delegation to Ethiopia led by Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee at the weekend. Discussions covered collective security, economic cooperation, counter terrorism, South Sudan peace and ways of supporting the drought affected areas in Ethiopia. Congressman Royce welcomed their good relations in economic cooperation, counter terrorism and other areas; Ranking Committee Member, Eliot Engle, described Ethiopia as a very valued partner.

Dr. Tedros, Foreign Minister of Ethiopia and Chair of IGAD’s Council of Ministers attended the inauguration of the South-West Regional State Parliament in Baidoa, in Somalia’s Bay Region. He also visited Ethiopian troops serving with AMISOM who are stationed in Baidoa. (See article)

The FAO announced a new response plan for the drought in Ethiopia on Friday last week (January 15), to provide US$50 million to assist farmers and livestock keepers in 2016 to reduce food gaps and restore agricultural production and incomes. (See article)

Ethiopian Airlines announced on Wednesday (January 20) that in will start a service to New York City’s JFK Airport in June 2016 three days a week. The flight will go via Lome in Togo. This is Ethiopian’s fourth destination in the Americas.

Ethiopia is hosting the 2016 African Livestock Exhibition and Congress (ALEC) over this weekend from January 22 to 24.The Director General of the Ethiopian Meat and Dairy Industry Development Institute said the occasion would help local industries to interact with others for trade and investment in the livestock sector.

Major-General Hassen Ebrahim Mussa was appointed as Force Commander of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday (January 16). Major General Hassen was previously Head of Ethiopia’s Peacekeeping Coordination Center and has served as Sector Commander North in UNAMID.

Djibouti

President Guelleh announced on Wednesday (January 20) that he had signed agreements with China to set up a trade zone and establish a legal framework for Chinese banks to operate in Djibouti.

The World Food Program announced on Wednesday (January 20) that it was opening a new Horn of Africa logistics base in Djibouti to expand its ability to respond to major crises in the region, including the conflicts in South Sudan and Yemen and the drought in the region.

Eritrea

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on Wednesday (January 20) called for the immediate release of the former Eritrean Orthodox Patriarch Abune Antonios who was removed from his position by the Government and detained ten years earlier.

Eritrea launched the beginning of its Silver Jubilee Independence Celebrations on Friday (January 15) with the lighting of the Independence Torch in Nakfa. Major General Humed Karikare, Commander of the Eritrean Navy, presided over the torch lighting ceremony. The Independence Torch will cover more than three thousand kilometers around the country before reaching Asmara on Independence Day in May.

Kenya

Following the killing of Kenyan troops when Al-Shabaab overran an AMISOM base in Somalia, President Kenyatta expressed his deepest sympathy to the families and loved ones of those who died and said “We will not be cowed by these cowards; we will continue in Somalia to fulfill our mission; we will hunt down the criminals involved. Our soldiers’ blood will not be shed in vain.” (See article)

The Chief of the Kenya Defense Forces, General Samson Mwathethe, said on Thursday (January 21) that Kenya believed Mwalimu Janow, the leader of the Al-Shabaab brigade which attacked El Adde, had been killed in Kenyan air strikes on Al-Shabaab bases. (See article)

Somalia

Somalia’s partners, including the United Nations, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, the European Union, United States, United Kingdom, Sweden and Italy issued a statement on Tuesday (January 19) after meeting President Mohamud emphasizing the importance of reaching agreement on the election process in Somalia. (See article)

The meeting of the National Consultative Forum in Kismayo at the end of last week failed to reach an agreement on the electoral process for the planned elections in August (See article)

Al-Shabaab claimed that it had killed a hundred Kenyan troops when it attacked and overran the AMISOM forward base at El Adde in Gedo Region on Friday (January 15). (See article)

The new Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, Michael Keating arrived in Mogadishu on Monday (January 18) to take up his post, and held talks with both President Mohamud and Prime Minister Sharmarke.

The South-West Regional State Parliament was formally inaugurated on Tuesday (January 19) in Baidoa, the capital of the South-West State. (See article)

The European Commission announced on Wednesday (January 20) that it was providing €29 million in humanitarian support for the most vulnerable populations in Somalia in 2016.

South Sudan

On Sunday (January 17), the Chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) in South Sudan, Festus Mogae appointed Guinea’s former Prime Minister, François Lounceny Fall as his deputy.

In an interview with Al Jazerra on Friday last week (January 15) the Head of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), Festus Mogae, said President Kiir’s unilateral decision to split South Sudan’s 10 states into is going to have a disruptive effect on progress towards peace. He said the move was inconsistent with what was envisaged in the peace agreement and was, therefore, “not acceptable.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Tuesday (January 19) that aid agencies have launched a humanitarian appeal for 2016, calling for US $1.3 billion to provide assistance to 5.1 million people in South Sudan. OCHA said a total of 114 humanitarian organizations need more funds for project plans to be implemented in 2016.

The UNHCR office in Ethiopia said the number of South Sudan refugees crossing the border into Ethiopia had sharply declined during the recent weeks after the two sides began to implement the Compromise Peace Agreement signed last August. The UNHCR said the number of refugees from South Sudan that had arrived in Ethiopia between December 15, 2013 and January 10, 2016, had reached 226,473.

Sudan

Following the fall in oil prices, President Omar Al-Bashir on Thursday (January 21) agreed to review the oil transit fees agreed with South Sudan in 2012. The move followed a written request from the South Sudan Government.

The Foreign Ministry held its sixth diplomatic forum for over 80 ambassadors and charge d’affaires from abroad and other officials on Monday (January 18) to discuss the issues and challenges facing the Sudanese diplomacy besides the future plans of the diplomatic work. Discussions covered the objectives of Sudan’s foreign policy, the exit of UNAMID, foreign cooperation and international issues such as human rights, water and children.

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The 26th African Union Summit opens in Addis Ababa

The 26th AU Summit opened this week on Thursday (January 21) and will continue until Sunday (January 31) at the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa. The theme of the 26th Summit is: “2016: African Year of Human Rights with a particular focus on the Rights of Women”. It concludes at the end of next week with the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government. The Summit brings together all the African Union’s policy making organs, with representatives from the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the private sector, the Diaspora (the 6th region of the union), civil society organization, partner organizations, continental and international media, invited guests and dignitaries worldwide.

The 26th AU Summit begins with the 31st Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representative Committee (PRC) which opened on Thursday (January 21) and lasts until Saturday (January 23). The Committee, whose opening was addressed by the Chairperson of the PRC and which heard welcome remarks from the Chairperson of the AU Commission, then considered the reports of the activities of the African Union sub-committees. These include the reports of the advisory Sub-Committee on Administrative, Budgetary and Financial Matters; the Sub-Committee on Structural Reforms; the Sub-Committee on Programs and Conferences; the Sub-Committee on Refugees and Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa. Other reports cover the conclusions of the Sub-Committee on Economic and Trade Matters; the Sub-Committee on NEPAD; the Sub-Committee on Contributions and the Sub-Committee of the Special Emergency Fund for Drought and Famine in Africa. The reports of other AU organs such as the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR); the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR); and the Economic, Social and Council of the African Union (ECOSOCC) are also discussed. The Permanent Representatives, after adopting the reports of the Sub-Committees, deliberate on the draft agenda to be presented to the Executive Council of Foreign Ministers for consideration before it is submitted to the Assembly of the Union for adoption.

The 28th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of Foreign Ministers takes place on Wednesday and Thursday next week (January 27-28). The session will be preceded by a Ministerial retreat of the Executive Council in Mekelle, the capital of Tigray Regional State between Sunday (January 24 and Tuesday (January 26). The session on Wednesday will be opened by the Chairperson of the Executive Council, the Foreign Minister of Zimbabwe, and will hear statements from AU Commission Chairperson, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, and Dr. Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa. The Ministers deliberate in closed session the report of the PRC, the annual report of the Chairperson of the Commission for 2015, and the revised African Union Commission budget for the 2016 Fiscal year. Among the reports the Executive Council will consider are the Report of the Ad-hoc Ministerial Committee on the Scale of Assessment; the Report of the Ministerial Committee on Elections of the Members of the Commission in June/July 2016; the Progress Report of the Ministerial Committee on the Challenges of the Ratification/ Accession and Implementation of the OAU/AU Treaties, and the Ministerial Committee on African Candidature in the International System.
The Executive Council meeting will also include the election and appointment of the fifteen members of the Peace and Security Council, and of one member of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC). The session will debate and forward the draft agenda and decisions to the Assembly of Heads of State and Government whose 26th Ordinary Session takes place on Saturday and Sunday next week (January 30 and 31). The particular focus on the rights of woman follows on from last year’s declaration of 2015 as the “Year of Women Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”. The Session of the Assembly will as usual begin with the election of the New Chairperson of the African Union for the year 2016, to succeed Robert Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe.
Prior to the opening of the 31st ordinary session of the Permanent Representative Committee, the African Union also held the 8th African Union Gender Pre-Summit attended by over 400 women worldwide. With participation from 45 African countries, delegates reiterated their commitment to ensure that the recommendations stipulated in the Addis Ababa Communiqué on women and youths’ development be fully implemented by their respective governments. Addressing participants on behalf of the AUC Chairperson, Commissioner Aisha Abdullahi, Commissioner for Political Affairs, said she believed that the communiqué adopted during this Summit would achieve the main goals of gender development which is to mobilize women around common continental issues, and to ensure that gender remain high on the AU Agenda. She congratulated all the Women and Gender Ministers following the successful outcome of their Specialised Technical Committee, stressing the importance of focusing on the mobilization of women from all works of live, to participate in the implementation of Agenda 2063, in its entire dimension. The Commissioner joined delegates in congratulating the two African Union Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Awards; Laureates for the Regional Awards for Women, Professor Merzouk Hafida from Algeria, and Professor Yalemtsehay Mekonnen from Ethiopia. The Commissioner highlighted the importance of Science, Technology and Innovation as valuable opportunities to empower women, noting that AU Agenda 2063 lays emphasis on Science, Technology and Innovation as tools for achieving continental development goals.
Recognizing and congratulating the two laureates of the AU Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Awards, De Paul Ikounga, Commissioner for Human Resources Science and Technology noted that the Award was a holistic and deliberate measure taken by the AU Commission to maintain science and technology at the top of Africa’s development, cooperation and political agenda. He urged Member States, Regional Economic Communities and key stakeholders to promote and support the participation of African citizens particularly women in achieving the goals of this award and become involved fully in Africa’s sustainable development.
Ambassador Gary Quince, Head of Delegation of the European Union to the African Union commended the commitment of the African Union to the support of gender equality, and underscored the importance of prioritizing science and technology and the continuous involvement of women. These, he said, were key pillars of development.
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IGAD celebrates the 30th anniversary of its foundation

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) started the celebrations of its 30th anniversary holding several events in Djibouti City on Saturday (January 16). One of these was a panel discussion, the first of a series, to take a thematic look at development in the Greater Horn of Africa for the past three decades and reflect on the region “we want thirty years from now”. The panel included three former Executive Secretaries of IGAD, Dr. David Muduuli from Uganda (1991 to 1996), Dr. Tekeste Ghebray from Eritrea (1996 to 2000) and Dr. Attalla Bashir from Sudan (2000 to 2008), as well as the present Executive Secretary since 2008, Ambassador Engineer Mahboub Maalim and Djibouti’s Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf. The panelists shared their experiences and views around the main topic “The Prospects and Challenges of Peace, Security, Economic Development and Integration in the Region, as well as how best IGAD can position itself for Higher Impact.” It was a platform for experience sharing, allowing the dissemination of information and inspiring a broad discussion of ways forward to address the many challenges the region faces.

Other IGAD workshops at the end of last week and the weekend included a workshop aimed at Establishing an IGAD Gender Management System within the framework of IGAD Institutional Strengthening Action Plan and another on Criminalizing Terrorist Financing as a Good Practice in Prevention, Investigation and Prosecution of Terrorism Cases in the Horn of Africa. The first of these had the overall objective “to identify in a comprehensive and critical manner strategies and actions for strengthening leadership and accountability measures for gender mainstreaming at IGAD Secretariat, Specialized Offices and Programs.” The Director of the Economic Cooperation and Social Development Division of IGAD, Mr. El Sadeg Abdallah, told the 50 participants drawn from IGAD Member States, COMESA staff members and IGAD personnel, that workshop was a clear demonstration of IGAD’s firm commitment to the agenda of Gender. He said it was “unacceptable to find that gender inequalities remain a prominent feature of our socio-economic, political, and cultural fabric,” and the workshop would provide vital inputs to the IGAD Institutional Gender Policy and to the IGAD Gender Strategy 2016-2020. This aims to put in place within the existing organizational framework, the process of mainstreaming gender into all areas of the organization’s work, in order to achieve greater gender equality and equity within the context of sustainable development.

The workshop for Criminalizing Terrorist Financing was held in Kampala by IGAD’s Security Sector Program (ISSP) and Global Counter-Terrorism (GCTF) to look into ways that IGAD Member States including Tanzania could work together to criminalize terrorism financing as well as learn, share and adopt best practices as stipulated in the Rabat Memorandum. It looked at the challenges and explored international anti-money laundering and countering terrorism legal regimes and initiatives; regional strategies, mechanisms for combating money laundering and financing terrorism; challenges faced by private financial institutions in implementing AML/CFT legal regimes, and the role these institutions play in the transfer of funds. The workshop was opened by the Director of IGAD Security Sector (ISSP) Commander Muluneh Abebe, who noted the importance of countering the financing of terrorism as key in the fight against terror. He urged enhanced collaboration, harmonization of laws and exchange of information between the IGAD Member States to eradicate mutual threat of terrorist financing. The discussions sought ways through which the capacities of the IGAD Member States can be enhanced to prosecute and apply criminal sanctions against terrorism financing as well as to obligate states to criminalize the financing of terrorism, terrorist acts and terrorist organizations and to designate terror-related offenses. Member States were called to put measures in place to detect the physical cross-border transportation of currency and bearer negotiable instruments. They noted that human trafficking and corruption were sources of financing terrorist activities and urged law makers and judicial bodies to put in place more stringent penalties and sanctions against those that make false declarations, including the freezing and seizure of terrorist funds. The workshop brought together a team of experts from various fields including financial forensics, international law prosecution, financial regulatory institutions, law enforcement agencies and counter transnational organized crimes.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Eastern Africa is a regional organization of eight countries of the Horn of Africa established in 1996 with the aim of promoting economic cooperation and social development, peace building and human security, as well as environmental protection and food security. It was created in 1996 to supersede the Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD) which was founded in 1986. Severe droughts and other natural disasters between 1974 and 1984 caused widespread famine, ecological degradation and economic hardship in the Eastern Africa region. In 1983 and 1984, six countries in the Horn of Africa, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda, took action through the United Nations to establish an intergovernmental body for development and drought control in their region. The Assembly of Heads of State and Government met in Djibouti in January 1986 to sign the Agreement which officially launched IGADD with its headquarters in Djibouti. The State of Eritrea became the seventh member after attaining independence in 1993.

Although IGADD was originally established to coordinate the efforts of member states to combat drought and desertification, it became clear that it could also provide a regular forum where leaders of the Eastern African countries were able to solve other political and socioeconomic issues in a regional context. Realizing this, the Heads of State and Government of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda, at an extra-ordinary Summit on 18 April 1995, resolved to expand the mandate of IGADD. They made a declaration to revitalize IGADD and expand cooperation among the member states. This revitalized IGADD was renamed the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). IGAD’s member states are now Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda, though Eritrea suspended its membership in April 2007 and not since rejoined the organization.

IGAD, as one of the five regional pillars of the African Economic Community (AEC) alongside COMESA, ECCAS, IGAD and SADC, carries out a number of activities and programs in the areas of agriculture and food security, peace and security, and economic cooperation and social development. Among these are the IGAD Drought Disaster Resilience and Sustainability Initiative (IDDRSI), the Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN), the IGAD Climate Prediction and Application Centre (ICPAC), the IGAD Regional HIV and AIDS Partnership Program (IRAPP), the IGAD Inter Parliamentary Union, the IGAD Centre for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (ICPALD), the IGAD Security Sector Program (IISSP), the Somalia Facilitation Office (SFO) and the Office of Special Envoys for South Sudan (OSESS).

IGAD has made it clear it aims to work to be the premier regional organization for achieving peace, prosperity and regional integration in the region. It also works to promote joint development strategies and gradually harmonize macro-economic policies and programs in the social, technological and scientific fields, as well as harmonize policies with regard to trade, customs, transport, communications, agriculture, and natural resources, and promote free movement of goods, services, and people within the region.

Ethiopia has been committed to IGAD from the outset and it has played a significant and prominent role in the organization. Its forward-looking foreign and national security policies and the country’s role in regional peace and security are concomitant with IGAD’s objectives. Its role as Chair of IGAD have meant it has been deeply involved in the efforts in bringing conflict groups in South Sudan to the negotiating table and through CEWRAN (Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism) it has also addressed some of the conflicts between cross-border pastoral border peoples. It has also joined hands with other states in the region to fight extremists in Somalia as well as playing a long-standing role in the efforts to re-establish an effective government in Somalia. It has also provided significant numbers of peace keeping troops for peace keeping missions. Ethiopia was actively involved when IGAD forces intervened during the 2006 Islamic Courts insurgency in Somalia and in the planned IGAD Peace and Support Mission in Somalia (IGASOM), a precursor to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Ethiopia has also worked hard and long to try to resolve tensions with Eritrea, despite Eritrea’s continued and still active efforts to destabilize both Ethiopia and the region. As Ambassador Mahboub Maalim, the Executive Secretary of IGAD, has said the situation over Eritrea “can only be resolved through dialogue, and only when Eritrea is ready for dialogue.”

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Somalia’s National Consultative Forum meeting in Kismayo ends without agreement…
The meeting of the National Consultative Forum in Kismayo which opened on Thursday last week (January 14) ended on Saturday without reaching any decision on the method to be used in the elections due to be held in August this year. Although no agreement was reached at Kismayo, Prime Minister Omar Sharmarke expressed optimism over the ongoing discussions on the electoral process. He said the Federal Government would soon release a schedule of follow-up meetings to the Kismayo conference to come up with the final decision for the elections. He said “We have recorded tremendous success in our last meeting which brought the leaders closer than before. The Federal government will make extra efforts to ensure successful completion of the national forums. We are left with a few technical formalities, which we hope to sort out soon.” Puntland President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali said afterwards that there had been a breakthrough in Kismayo and he said the talks had been successful as the leaders had narrowed their divisive issues.
Another meeting is expected to take place soon According to Somalia’s Provisional Federal Constitution, the mandate of both the Somali Federal Parliament and of the Government will come to an end in August and September 2016, respectively. The Federal Government had earlier ruled out the possibility of one-person- one-vote elections because of continued security concerns. The main difference of opinion in the discussions at Kismayo was between those who wanted an electoral process to take place on the basis of constituencies in either the districts or the federal states, and those who supported a continuation of the 4.5 clan-based formula that was used to elect Parliament in September 2012. Another option proposed was to extend the life of the present Parliament for a year to allow for further deliberations.

Prior to the meeting, the heads of the Puntland and Jubaland administrations recommended holding the election on the basis of constituencies within the regional states, either organized in the 18 regions identified by the draft constitution or at the federal state level, though there was no agreement over which would be most appropriate. The Federal Government and leaders from Galmudug and South-Western administrations suggested an enhanced version of the system of clan elders and the 4.5 formula, based on the country’s four major clans plus a cluster of five small clans, for the election. This was the system used for the election of the Parliament in 2012.

Earlier, the National Consultative Forum meeting in December found that the regional consultations which it had carried out had produced no overall agreement for the election process. Its “Mogadishu Declaration” called for Parliament to have balanced constituency and clan representation, electoral colleges with representation from women, to vote in Federal capitals, enhanced representation of women, youth and marginalized groups, recommendations for establishing an Upper House, and for a political roadmap to be developed. Among other things the Forum proposed that 30% of the 275 parliamentary seats be reserved for women. It said the final decision over the electoral process would be held in at the Kismayo meeting.

Following the Kismayo meeting, representatives of the United Nations, the AU, IGAD, European Union, United States, United Kingdom, Sweden and Italy issued a statement on Tuesday (January 19) firmly reiterating that any extension of the term of office for Parliament or the President would not be possible. The international community and donors have said on several earlier occasions that Somalia’s Vision 2016 plan must be delivered without extension. It told Somali leaders to put the interests of the nation first, to complete the Somali-led and Somali-owned process that began in July last year. “Time is short, and much remains to be done to ensure an electoral process can be implemented by August without delay,” the statement added. According to Somalia’s Provisional Federal Constitution, adopted in 2012, the mandates of the Somali Federal Parliament and of the Government come to an end in August and September 2016 respectively.

The statement followed a meeting with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Prime Minister Omar Abdisrashid Ali Sharmarke, and Speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari the previous day (January 19), the representatives of the international community underlined their expectation that Somali leaders would present, in the coming days, an agreed model for the electoral process later this year, together with an implementation plan and a political roadmap for the period 2016-2020, which they had committed themselves to in the ‘Mogadishu Declaration’ adopted at the conclusion of the previous meeting of the National Consultative Forum held in Mogadishu on December 16 last year. The international partners welcomed the discussions in Kismayo and the apparent narrowing of the gaps between Somali leaders on an electoral model for 2016. They said it was positive that Somali leaders had spent several days deliberating on the most appropriate and feasible model for the electoral process to be implemented later this year. They were disappointed that no agreement had been reached yet but welcomed the commitment to urgently achieve a compromise.

In their talks, the international representatives underlined their continued strong expectation that there would be no extension of the constitutionally mandated term limits of the legislature and the executive. This reinforced the imperative for talks to continue and for an agreement to be reached shortly. According to UNSOM, the international partners offered their support to Somali leaders as they continued their efforts to agree on a detailed electoral model. They looked forward to a meeting of the Somali leaders to finalize the electoral model. They called on all leaders to engage constructively and in a spirit of compromise and stressed their readiness to assist the Federal Government and all other stakeholders in this process. They also pointed out that with consultations of the members of the UN Security Council on 28 January and the forthcoming African Union summit in Addis Ababa just days later, they expected work on the electoral model, implementation plan and political roadmap would be completed “well in advance” of these important meetings.

…. Somalia’s South-West Regional Parliament inaugurated

Somalia’s South-West Regional State Parliament was formally inaugurated on Tuesday this week (January 19) in Baidoa, the capital of the South-West State. The President of the Interim South West Administration told the new MPs that the immediate tasks they should undertake included “reconciliation in south west regions and the whole of Somalia, liberation and reconstruction of the remaining areas in south west, and in enacting of legislation.” The newly elected Speaker of the regional assembly, Abdukadir Sharif Sheikhuna, promised that the Members of the Parliament would “ work diligently to uphold the federal and regional constitutions. As a parliament, we will do our best to be united, collaborative and strive to bring law and order in Somalia.”

The ceremony was attended by Federal President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the Speaker of the Federal Parliament, Mohamed Osman Jawari, Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister and Chairman of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development Council of Ministers, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, as well as the Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary ¬General (DSRSG) for Somalia, Raisedon Zenenga, and the Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission Lydia Wanyoto.

Dr. Tedros congratulated the Somali people, the Federal Government and South-West State Regional Administration for the successful election of the region’s parliament. He stressed the inauguration of the state parliament was one of the most important milestones in the building process of peace and stability in Somalia and emphasized that peace and stability as well as development in Somalia had a major impact on the region. He underlined that nation building was a gradual process and the Somali people and government should work in hand in hand to realize a peaceful and prosperous Somalia. Dr. Tedros said it was time for Somalia’s federal and regional government leaders to focus urgently on to provide the necessary constructive dialogue and discussion to ensure the socio-economic and political interests of the Somali people. Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister reiterated that Ethiopia would always stand with the people and Government of Somalia in its efforts to achieve peace and stability in the country.

Raisedon Zenenga, the Deputy SRSG said that the inauguration of the new Parliament was a testimony to Somalia’s progress on all fronts. He commended the inclusion of women in the parliament which has allocated 30 seats for women, and said this was an exemplary example for Somalia’s other regional states and the Federal Government. He described the occasion as “marking a major milestone in the implementation of federalism in Somalia, and in reaching a new milestone today with the inauguration of the regional assembly.” Mr. Zenenga called on the members of the new parliament to work to bring about consensus for the election later this year, and he took the opportunity to reiterate the UN’s commitment to realize a peaceful Somalia.

During his visit to Baidoa, Dr. Tedros also visited Ethiopian troops serving with AMISOM. He told the troops that their unwavering commitment and efforts to bring peace in Somalia was much appreciated.

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An AMISOM base at El-Adde in Gedo region of Somalia overrun

An AMISOM forward base at El-Adde in Gedo region was attacked and overrun on Friday by Al-Shabaab. The base was manned by a company of Kenyan troops which had arrived there only a few days earlier. The attack, at dawn, was carried out by an unusually large Al-Shabaab force, an estimated 300 militants belonging to what Al-Shabaab calls the Saleh Nabhany Brigade.

It appears that suicide bombers drove three Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIED) into the camp and one, a huge bomb with a fragmentation radius of 200 meters, was detonated in the center of the camp. Al-Shabaab fighters then charged in. There have been reports that one of the vehicles used in the attack was an Armored Personnel Carrier captured from Burundian peacekeepers last year. Reports from Kenya indicate that some Al-Shabaab fighters were also killed in the explosions as well as in the subsequent fighting. The attackers apparently had two anti-aircraft guns set up at a nearby school which meant that reinforcements could not be flown in. El Adde was the third AMISOM forward operating base that al-Shabaab has overrun during the last year. In 2015, it attacked AMISOM’s base at Leego, killing more than 50 Burundian soldiers and stealing equipment, vehicles and arms. In September, it stormed AMISOM’s base at Janaale, killing 19 Ugandan soldiers and taking others hostage.

Following the attack, Kenyan Defense Forces launched a number of air raids and carried out a series of counter-operations in the areas. General Samson Mwathethe, Chief of the Kenyan Defense Forces said on Sunday that operations were going on but that they were “delicate” because some Kenyan soldiers have been captured and were being used as human shields. He said “We have information to the effect that some soldiers are being used as human shield and we will not allow any further casualties.” On Thursday (January 21), General Mwathethe, told journalists that it was believed that Mwalimu Janow, the leader of the Al- Shabaab brigade, who led this attack, had been killed in one of the air raids which targeted two Al- Shabaab camps where the militants were hiding.

Al-Shabaab claimed it had killed at least 63 Kenyan soldiers in the attack, though it subsequently increased the figure to a hundred. The Kenyan authorities have yet to give any casualty figures. President Kenyatta said in a statement that: “Regrettably, some of our patriots in uniform paid the ultimate price; I want to take this opportunity to express mine and the country’s deepest sympathy to the families and loved ones of the fallen. I stand with you. Our country stands with you.” He also vowed a strong response. He said: “We will not be cowed by these cowards. With our allies, we will continue in Somalia to fulfill our mission. We will hunt down the criminals involved. Our soldiers’ blood will not be shed in vain.” The government established support facilities for the families of the fallen soldiers and those who were injured at the Kenyan Defense Force barracks in Eldoret, Gilgil and Nairobi.

Somali President Mohamud sent his condolences to President Kenyatta, to the people of Kenya and to the bereaved families of “brave soldiers killed in the line of duty while stabilizing Somalia.” He said Somalia stands shoulder-to-should with troop contributing countries in the hopes of Al-Shabaab neutralization over the coming months. He also underlined the need for more coordinated operations against Al-Shabaab.

In a statement on Saturday, Somali Foreign Minister Abdusalam Omer, said the Government of Somalia shared “the pain of the loss of our Kenyan brothers and sisters in arms who came to restore and advance hope and peace in Somalia as part of AMISOM.” He said their loss was heart-breaking, but as “we mourn the passing of these heroes and stand in solidarity with the survivors and the families of all the victims, we must direct our collective anger at defeating the enemy: terrorism, one of the greatest challenges the world faces.” The Foreign Minister underlined that Somalia and Kenya were brotherly nations whose future prospects were intertwined: “what affects one will certainly impact on the other.” He emphasized that the two governments were working together to defeat terrorism. He said: “we are sharing intelligence and working alongside one another on the ground both in Somalia and Kenya.” He said the two governments had proved time and again that they would not allow Al-Shabaab to achieve their goal of dividing us, but he added that despite their collaborative efforts, more needed to be done, urgently to enhance knowledge sharing, border management and monitoring and economic development to close security gaps.

The Minister, writing in Kenya’s Daily Nation, also said, “we also need to reach out to our youth who are being radicalized and misled by baseless ideological nonsense which rests on the twin pillars of hate and societal destruction.” He said “We will not and cannot rest until Al-Shabaab is militarily and ideologically annihilated for the mutual benefit of our two nations,” adding that “the surest way to deliver the killer blow to Al-Shabaab and terrorism in the Horn of Africa is for all nations to share information, enhancing border management and by making financial transactions more transparent. “ The Minister concluded: “We have a common enemy in terrorism and we must defeat this evil collectively for a safer, progressive and prosperous region and world.”
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The Brookings Institute looks at priorities for Africa in 2016

The Africa Growth Initiative at the US Brookings Institute has produced a report entitled “Foresight Africa, Top Priorities for the Continent in 2016.” The Africa Growth Initiative at the Institute is an initiative that brings together African scholars to provide US and other policymakers with high-quality research, expertise and innovative solutions that aims to promote Africa’s economic development. The Initiative also collaborates with research partners in the region to raise the African voice in global policy debates on Africa. In this year’s report emphasis is given to six themes that it believes place Africa at a tipping point.

The first theme of the report is “Managing Economic Shocks: African Prospects in the Evolving
External Environment” and it covers dealing with the effect of China’s slowdown in growth, and African prospects in the evolving external environment. It tries to assess the adverse effects of recent external economic shocks on Africa’s already slowing economic growth. According to the IMF, the region’s real GDP growth fell from 5.0 percent in 2014 to 3.75 percent in 2015 and will rebound to 4.3 percent in 2016. In fact, the report suggests the IMF may revise this downwards in the light of recent global and regional trends. Equally, the report argues that these sorts of changes are not always totally bad. They can create opportunities for appropriate and timely policy measures that can make a difference and which could help sub-Saharan African economies regain their growth momentum both in the short and long terms.

In 2008, Africa, like the rest of the world, faced a global financial shock, but it was in part insulated from it thanks to its less pronounced financial linkages with the rest of the world. In 2015 and 2016, however, the continent faces a “triple threat” from the changing global environment: the prices of Africa’s main exports, oil and minerals, have fallen significantly and are expected to remain low; the economy of Africa’s main bilateral trading partner, China, is slowing down; and external borrowing costs are increasing as the U.S. Federal Reserve raises U.S. interest rates, and the options for borrowing become more limited. In addition, there is climate change, with East and Southern Africa being most affected by the El Niño phenomenon this year.

The report argues that Sub-Saharan African countries will now need a two-pronged approach to accelerate their growth momentum, implementing macroeconomic policies to cope with the short-term effects of the external shocks, and implementing medium- to long-term structural policies. This changing environment makes 2016 an opportune year for policymakers to act to make fiscal reforms particularly in commodity exporting countries. Equally, it is important to alleviate the impact of such policies on the poor. Other revenue boosting measures that should be considered include reducing tax expenditures, improving tax administration, and reviewing tax policy on luxury goods. It says now is also the time to review and prioritize expenditures and maximize the efficiency of budget spending. Policymakers should also consider broader policy responses to strengthen economic resilience. This means “successfully implementing the economic transformation agenda of the continent, starting with investment in infrastructure and kick-starting the engines of the economy beyond commodity exports. Increased domestic revenue mobilization also depends on a growing economy, and the changing environment should be a catalyst to expand the non-oil economy.”

The report says sub-Saharan Africa’s external environment is definitely becoming less supportive of African growth but rather than seeing this as no more than a challenge, policymakers in 2016 should also see it as an opportunity to strengthen the resilience of their economies. It also underlines that despite the overall problems some African countries, and it mentions Côte d’Ivoire, the DRC, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Tanzania, will be among the fastest-growing economies in the world in 2016.

The second theme is “Sustaining Domestic Growth: Structural Transformation depends on Jobs, Industry and SMEs”. It argues that having placed job creation and industrialization on the global agenda with the Sustainable Development Goals, Africa now needs to show leadership in designing and implementing the policies to achieve them. To compete in the global market for manufactures, African governments need to develop new policies to promote exports, build the capabilities of domestic firms, and foster industrial clusters. These are areas where financial support and new ideas from the aid industry have been lacking. Policies and institutions similar to the “export push” strategies adopted by countries in Asia since the 1970s are essential for breaking into global markets. Several African countries, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Kenya among them, have recently emphasized manufactured exports, but, the report cautions, there is little evidence that they have implemented the coherent set of policies that need to develop an effective export push.

To move from aspiration to implementation, governments across the region, it suggests, need to focus on three critical areas: policy and institutional reforms affecting exports, trade logistics, and regional integration. It also emphasizes that it is important sustainable industrial policies also need to be inclusive and to promote industries with job creation potential. Africa’s industrial sector, it notes, is dominated by micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that very often lack affordable credit and access to dependable markets. Improving the growth prospects of these enterprises through market development training and strengthening linkages between MSMEs and larger enterprises will have significant implications for job creation and poverty reduction

“Supporting Human Development; Triumphs and Challenges on the Continent” is the third theme of the report. The report quotes the 2015 World Bank’s report “Poverty in a Rising Africa” as documenting substantial improvements in well-being in Africa and indicates this resonates with the new perspective of “Africa rising” and an “African 21st century.” Poverty rates are down, it points out, and other dimensions of human development have also significantly improved. The share of people in Africa living on less than $1.90 a day fell from 56% in 1990 to 43% in 2012. Substantial progress is also recorded in other dimensions of human development, especially in health and personal security. Since the mid-1990s, life expectancy at birth has risen by 6.2 years, and the prevalence of chronic malnutrition among children under 5 fell 6 percentage points. Deaths from politically motivated violence have declined. Tolerance and the incidence of gender-based domestic violence declined. But the report underlines although poverty rates continue to fall, the number of poor in sub-Saharan Africa is actually rising. Some countries have finally achieved agricultural sectors strong enough to support savings and investment by farmers but at the same time the five countries with the highest food and nutrition security needs in the world are also to be found in Africa. These issues along with inequality, fragile states, women’s empowerment, and climate resilience and what to do about them in 2016 were discussed. Contributors concluded that significant progress has been made in the arena of human development though Africa’s human development challenges remain enormous,

The fourth theme is “Capitalizing on Urbanization; the Importance of Planning, Infrastructure and Finance for Africa’s Growing Cities”. The report emphasizes the need for successful planning for urbanization as Africa is rapidly transforming both demographically and geographically. With the rapid growth of megacities on the continent, the urbanization rate is expected to reach 50% by 2035 and this is expected to grow even higher. This growth demonstrates a great need for better urban management and institution building. It notes that the next United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, Habitat III, will be held in Quito, Ecuador, in October. This will specifically aim to “reinvigorate the global commitment to sustainable urbanization and focus on the implementation of a New Urban Agenda, building on the Habitat Agenda of Istanbul in 1996.” The report underlines the importance of including rural areas and intermediate cities, as well as large cities in the calculations. Development in African cities today, it says, is not in the megacities of Kinshasa, Lagos, and Cairo, but in intermediate cities that are directly linked with their surrounding environment.

“Maintaining Governance Gains; the National and Regional Agendas” is the fifth theme of the report, noting that 2016 brings a number of complex political and governance challenges continuing from the previous year. It also points out that the quality of governance in sub-Saharan Africa varies wildly. 2015, it suggests, did see some important successes, including Nigeria’s peacefully election and the signing of the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement. Equally, it also saw turmoil like the civil wars in the Central African Republic and South Sudan and the continuing concerns among the Nile riparian states. 2016 could see a continuation of these trends, and the report covers how leaders might address the continuing obstacles to peace, prosperity, and good governance at both the national and regional levels in 2016. It concludes, however, that transformative growth that requires robust capital flows, greatly improved infrastructure, enhanced labor skills, diversified exports, and the revolutionizing of agriculture, is still more theoretical than reality over much of the continent.

“Expanding Africa’s Trade; Creating a Comparative Advantage and Strengthening Regional Partnerships” is the final issue for the report. This looks at the way Africa responds to and addresses the changing international trade environment. It worries that Africa is not a party to the US/EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement, or the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement between ASEAN states and other Asian economies. At the same time, little progress is being made on the WTO Doha Round negotiations. There is a risk that Africa’s views are being left out, and this will make it increasingly difficult for African businesses to compete globally. It emphasizes the importance of the Tripartite Free Trade Association between three major regional African economic communities which comes into force this month – which will comprise 26 countries, 640 million people, and have a total GDP of $1.2 trillion. It is also a building block towards the Continental FTA, to which the Africa Union is committed to completing by 2017. That would incorporate 54 African countries representing over 1 billion people and $3 trillion in GDP, and, the report suggests, would stimulate intra-African trade by around 50% ($35 billion) by 2022.

Overall, the report pinpoints many of the problems Africa faces today and will face during the year ahead. It looks at what policymakers need to do to temper recent economic shocks and create opportunities from them. On the domestic side, the report notes the shifting make-up of African economies and the importance of job creation particularly through industrialization. It discusses the growing trend of urbanization in Africa, how governance relates to economic growth and new, regional governance frameworks are developing, and how the continent is performing on good governance indicators. It also offers recommendations for addressing a variety of human development challenges, including gender equality, economic inequality, conflict, education, and climate change to allow African and international stakeholders to create and support a strong, sustainable, and successful Africa in what it generally sees as an optimistic future.

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SCF and FAO responses to the drought in Ethiopia

The “El Nino” phenomenon has significantly impacted weather patterns in Ethiopia over the last few months, causing severe drought, limiting agricultural production, seriously affecting pastoralist livelihoods and creating food insecurity among vulnerable households. The required levels of food aid have grown significantly since the middle of last year; and the demand for emergency food assistance is expected to grow during the coming months.

The Government is making every effort to mitigate the effects of the drought, both in the short and long-term. In recent years, as part of its substantial and successful development progress, it has set up structures that allow for conducting nationwide relief programs with better institutional and programmatic capacity to mitigate adverse effects of drought or other climatic effects. The Government and agencies have just released their Joint Humanitarian Requirements document. This is, in effect, a national emergency operational plan for drought response for 2016 and lists the responses needed per sector, identifying the humanitarian requirements for the coming year. It also identifies the organizations and bodies from Government, UN and NGOs which are expected to respond. The Government has also called for additional support to cover relief food needs, and international partners like Save the Children Ethiopia and FAO have been responding in the last week.

UK’s John Graham, Ethiopia Country Director of the Save the Children, UK, has just been on a visit to the worst hit areas of the Afar and Amhara Regional States. He was accompanied by the visiting CEOs of Save the Children from Finland, Norway and the United States who came to assess drought affected areas in Afar and Amhara Regional States, and by local media. Mr. Graham described the situation as “very bad “, but on “ the positive side”, he said, “ Ethiopia has had a period of economic growth so is not as vulnerable to this kind of drought, people’s capacity to survive the droughts is improved, we don’t see people heading off to feeding camps and things like that. I am very impressed by the actions the Government has taken, first of all in measuring what the impact of this was, acknowledging it and getting it out to the public very quickly; and in terms of the response, allocating millions of dollars to the response. They have allocated more than the international community, usually it is the other way around. So the government is to be congratulated, we are very pleased to be working with them.”

John Graham told a press conference last week that livestock losses in the Afar Region were substantial. The impact of what was the worst drought in fifty years was very serious, and, inevitably, cases of severe acute malnourishment were being recorded. Current forecasts indicate that there could be 136,000 cases of moderate to acute malnutrition in the Afar Regional State by August, according to the Joint Humanitarian Requirement document released by the Government and humanitarian partners. At the national level, the figure could reach 400,000 cases of severe acute malnourishment by the same date. North Wello Zone is one of five most seriously drought-affected zones in the Amhara Regional State with 289,576 people needing food aid this month. The Humanitarian Requirement’s projection at the national level is that 1.7 million will need assistance to deal with moderate malnutrition in 2016. The Joint Report says the cost of overall needs for the coming year is currently estimated at US1.4 billion dollars.

John Graham said Save the Children had so far mobilized US100 million dollars. He told the press conference that the impact of the drought was getting worse but things were not getting out of hand. He said: “Inevitably when you have a drought and shortage of food, you are going to have children falling into malnutrition, but the great thing about what we saw is that through the [Government] screening systems, malnutrition is being detected early and is being dealt with.” The visiting Save the Children CEOs said that they were going to work to mobilize additional resources for drought mitigation from their respective governments as well as from individuals. Save the Children works in 60 of the worst affected areas in Ethiopia, providing food, water and medicine, and has delivered emergency food aid to 250,000 people and treated over 4,000 cases of child malnutrition since the drought started.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced a $50 million plan to assist agriculture and livestock dependent households and enhance their resilience last week on January 15. The organization outlined an emergency roadmap aiming at assisting 1.8 million farmers and livestock keepers, reducing food gaps, and restoring agricultural production and incomes in 2016. The first critical phase of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 50 million USD assistance will focus on the Meher season between January and June. This intervention will include a mix of emergency seed distribution, small scale irrigation projects and backyard gardening incentives targeted at empowering women’s groups with tools, knowledge and access to microloans. As the current drought has not only affected smallholder farmers but also seed producers, it has aggravated already existing seed shortages across the country and made it even harder for farmers to plant. For this reason, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) officials stated that FAO is interested in supporting 10,000 seed producers to produce high quality seeds and get the local market for seeds back on its feet.

According to FAO another 293,000 households will benefit from livestock interventions, such as the distribution of emergency animal feed, vaccination drives to protect some 3 million animals against diseases and restocking of 100,000 goats and sheep to vulnerable households. As many animals have been severely weakened by lack of food and water, the organization will also reimburse farmers for bringing unproductive livestock to slaughter and support community feed production. A third leg of the response plan will focus on strengthening livelihoods of more than 30,000 households and build their resilience to future shocks. This will include cash-for-work programs that will boost families’ incomes and improve critical local infrastructure and water access for livestock. This part of the plan will also target farmers’ and women’s groups through integrated community projects that support community savings-and-loan schemes, farmer field schools and other methods to help families accumulate and diversify assets.

By focusing specifically on rebuilding the productive capacity of farming and pastoralist families, FAO is supporting the ongoing efforts of the Government, and other UN agencies and NGO partners, which are dealing with the immediate needs of at-risk families. FAO said that in Ethiopia, El Niño was not just a food crisis, it was also a livelihood crisis, underlining the need to intervene now to protect and rebuild livelihoods and people’s capacity to produce, to prevent families from becoming long-term dependent on food aid.

This week, January 20-23, the World Economic Forum is holding its annual meeting in Davos. The theme of this year’s conference is “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” and among major issues it is addressing will be automation and technological innovations; China and the slow down in the China economy; the slowdown in emerging markets; and the proposed UK referendum on whether to stay or leave the EU. Another major topic will be refugees, and there will no doubt be discussions on climate change and the effect of the Paris COP21. Equally, according to Saadia Madsbjerg, Managing Director of the Rockefeller Foundation, the meeting should consider the links between these two issues, refugees and climate change. She argues that another refugee crisis is poised to begin and this will be caused not by civil war in Syria or Libya, or a repressive government in Eritrea, the factors driving the current refugee crisis in Europe, but by the environment.

She points out that years of climate degradation are causing populations to leave their homes to seek refuge elsewhere. According to the Norwegian Refugee Council since 2008 an average of 26.4 million people annually, equivalent of one person every second, have been forced to leave their homes due to natural catastrophes. Reasons include drought and food shortages in eastern and southern Africa; migration from coastal regions to escape rising sea levels in Bangladesh. If climate change continues unchecked, she says, as many as 200 million climate refugees may be on the move by 2050. The impact will be global. To stem the tide of climate migration, leaders across government, philanthropy, business and civil society should be taking steps now.

Saadia Madsbjerg says the first step must be recognition of the problem; policymakers must reform laws and provide greater rights to people forced to seek refuge due to climate change. New financing solutions will be necessary. The new Green Climate Fund, for which advanced economies have agreed to invest $100 billion per year by 2020 to address the consequences of climate change, may be helpful, but it won’t be enough. Philanthropists and development institutions must focus on producing innovative financing mechanisms today, so solutions like the Extreme Climate Facility currently in development that aims to provide African countries with funds dedicated to climate adaptation, can be found to provide for communities in their struggle with the impacts of climate change.

Another necessary step is to provide immediate access to funds following natural disasters. This provides people with the possibility of staying and rebuilding after disasters. The African Risk Capacity catastrophe insurance pool, created in 2014, aims to reach 30 countries with nearly $1.5 billion of coverage against drought, flood and cyclones. In effect, this is indirectly insuring 160 million Africans. Another possibility under development is Financial Disaster Risk Management, a mechanism designed to channel funds more quickly to micro-finance institutions to provide loans to people living in disaster prone areas of Africa, Asia, and South America. This aims to raise more than $300 million by 2020. Saadia Madsbjerg says an answer to the problems posed by 200 million climate refugees on the move will not in stricter border controls or relocation quotas. Solutions must emerge from joint efforts by international financial institutions and international development organizations. Responses to climate change must ensure people have the resources to stay resilient and remain where they want to be: at home. FAO, SCF and the Ethiopian Government would agree.

 

 

exports. He mentioned the importance of building the necessary infrastructure to connect the large-scale farms located in the periphery of the country to the center and underlined the need to organize graduates in agricultural science to engage actively and scientifically in the sector. He emphasized that agricultural productivity over the next five years’ would be more closely attached to Ethiopia’s ambitious climate resilient economic development. The Prime Minister also mentioned the failures of some of the investors engaged in the commercial agriculture sector and their failure to properly utilize loans provided for them. He said that administrative corrections need to be taken in such circumstances. The Prime Minister said the GTP II gave due emphasis for further development of pastoral areas situated in the emerging regions of the country; a corollary was that the capacity of the relevant regional states needed to be boosted.

On issues of finance, the Prime Minister stressed the need to strengthen the administration’s capacity to collect domestic finance if the country was going to undertake the plans laid out in the GTP II effectively. He noted: “the share of tax to the country’s GDP is projected to grow from 3% to 17.2%”, adding “but the sector is faced with severe rent-seeking and corrupt trends. The reforms launched in this sector should be strengthened. We have to take examples from the experiences from countries like South Korea.” The Taxpaying culture is expected to improve further in the coming years, the Prime Minister said. Referring to the need to modernize the tax collection system, Prime Minister Hailemariam said the nation would soon introduce a single window system for the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority and would continue to do make every effort to improve the current low level of tax collection.

The Prime Minister noted that the GTP II had placed the issue of making youth and women beneficiaries of the economic growth of the country as a separate pillar for the Plan’s development. He pointed out the Government had now identified the main bottlenecks to development and their causes in administration and in the justice sector and it was working hard to deal with mal-administration problems across the whole administration. It was doing everything in its power to overcome challenges in the manufacturing sector and boost agricultural productivity and tax collection as well as deal with other shortcomings.

Responding to questions of MPs over the problems registered in GTP I concerning manufacturing and the measures that would be taken under the GTP II to ensure that plans were implemented, the Prime Minister said the Government had given top priority to the manufacturing sector in the GTP II. It would encourage investors to engage in the sector by providing loans, creating market opportunities, offering management training and other similar benefits. The Prime Minister also went on to say that the Development Bank of Ethiopia would provide loans for manufacturers and those engaged in agro-processing businesses with a view to encouraging the transformation of the agrarian economy to an industrial-led economy.

On the issue of good governance, the Prime Minister said that this could not be left solely to the Government since officials inside the Government were also part of the problem. The public, he said, should be empowered at all levels to demand their rights and expose individuals involved in such activity.

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The Prime Minister gives details of the Government response to El Niño-induced drought…

During the debate and discussions in the House of Peoples Representatives on the Second Growth and Transformation Plan on Friday (December 25), Prime Minister Hailemariam also answered questions raised by Members of Parliament on various other current issues including how the government was handling the drought caused by the failed spring and summer rains and worsened by the El Niño phenomenon.

In his responses, the Prime Minister emphasized that the Government was continuing with every effort to mitigate the effects of the El Niño phenomenon and underlined that it would continue to do everything possible to protect people from the effects of this environment-related crisis. He said the severely affected areas had been identified and continuous efforts were being carried out to assist people in these areas. The Prime Minister said that so far close to 14 billion Biir had been allocated to avert the effects of the crisis and that even though El Niño conditions had brought Ethiopia a great challenge, the Government and the Regional States’ administrations, together with   Ethiopia’s partners in the international community, were ready to meet the needs of the people. He emphasized the government would continue to allocate resources to meet the needs of the Ethiopian people, and a system of continuous monitoring was in place operating through local administrations to identify additional areas that needed assistance.

The Horn of Africa is suffering its worst drought in more than a decade, a condition aggravated by El Niño, the water-warming phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean that has affected weather patterns and reduced rainfall levels across Africa. The El Niño phenomenon disrupts the powerful Pacific trade winds that flow from east to west and feed moisture to the tropical islands of Indonesia. This makes the archipelago cooler and drier than usual and in turn disrupts normal seasonal wind and current patterns in the Indian Ocean, and indeed more widely. Since May, the impact of the El Niño climatic event has manifested itself primarily in persistent drought conditions, most acutely in parts of Ethiopia and Sudan, and in parts of Eritrea, Greater Upper Nile region of South Sudan, parts of northern Uganda and parts of Somaliland and Puntland, in Somalia. Currently it’s estimated that close to 18.5 million people are food insecure as of December 2015. The effects are also being felt in Southern Africa where millions more are also affected by drought this year.

The Prime Minister, who has visited some of the worst-hit areas, noted that the most affected parts of the country include southern Tigray, eastern Amhara and Afar Regional States, the Siti zone of the Somali Regional State, the eastern areas of the Southern Nations Regional State, and East and West Hararge, Arsi and West Arsi, and the lower Bale zones of Oromia Regional State. The latest joint assessment by partners and the Government of the impact and effect of the drought, made last month, showed that 10.2 million people were in need of food aid. The number can be expected to rise, and the Prime Minister said the problem would persist over the next few months. He said the Government would continue to work with and collaborate with people to prevent the drought from causing serious damage to human and animal life.

The country has also called for international assistance to help feed the 10.2 million people affected after the failure of the rains had a considerable impact on crop yields. Humanitarian organizations and the Government have been reaching out to donors, several of which have already made significant contributions to help avert the impact of the crisis. One recent example has been the Joint Appeal by the Government and more than 65 humanitarian organizations, launched on December 11. This calls for US1.4 billion dollars to help scale up assistance and support as well as help find sustainable solutions to the challenge of recurring drought.

The Prime Minister underlined that the Government of Ethiopia has been working intensively and would continue to do so to ensure that no lives are lost because of the drought. It is also continuing to expand and enhance its efforts to develop underground water resources and develop irrigation mechanisms to minimize the impact of drought in the future, so people will no longer be so dependent upon the vagaries of the weather in the future. If necessary, the Prime Minister said, the Government would, of course, be prepared to shift funds from other projects to provide food assistance and fund other support.

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Oromia and Amhara Regional States in a state of normalcy as discussions are well underway

A series of peaceful protests and demonstrations in different parts of Oromia and in Amhara Regional States in the past couple of weeks, expressing legitimate concerns over different issues, were deliberately stirred up, manipulated and exacerbated by false propaganda. The efforts of opposition parties and destabilizing agents from abroad encouraged people to switch their legitimate efforts to express concern towards violence, leading to clashes with security forces and, most regrettably, loss of life as well as destruction of property as a number of demonstrations turned violent in the past few weeks. The situation has already returned to normalcy with investigations into what happened and discussions on the way the problems were manipulated by outside interests. A series of public discussion and awareness fora have been launched to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Everyone would extend their condolences to the families and friends of the deceased and emphasize that working within the framework of the Constitution all stakeholders need to open and continue a dialogue and refrain from recourse to violence and inflammatory statements.

In the Oromia Regional State, the issue that initially led to protests was the absence of clarity over the status of the draft Joint “Integrated Master Plan” of Addis Ababa and the Oromia Special Zone. The public consultations on the draft plan proceeded slowly and there were of course delays. The public demanded clarity on the status of the draft and it became apparent that there was a need for further clarification. The Government, both at Federal and Regional levels, welcomed the requests for further clarification of the details and the aims of the draft. Both federal and regional authorities said on several occasions that there should be no difficulties in raising any questions on the Draft Plan. They underlined that there were no problems if people wanted to organize demonstrations and lawful protests about the Master Plan for Addis Ababa, or indeed on any other subject. The Federal Government also made it repeatedly clear, in a number of different ways and on different occasions, that the Master Plan would only be implemented after participatory discussions and after consensus had been reached, as is the case with other development projects. Indeed, all such development projects are subject to discussion and enquiries to ensure all necessary precautions.

In this case, the delays unfortunately allowed some elements, both in Ethiopia and outside, to seize the opportunity to take control of peoples’ legitimate concerns. The result was public confusion, leading regrettably to loss of life and the destruction of property. In the Amhara Regional State, the outbreak of violence appeared to have a number of different causes but there was considerable similarity in the way outside forces manipulated and exacerbated local problems that led to violence. In fact, the request of the Qemant community of North Gonder for self-administration was on the table for quite a long time. In accordance with the Constitution, the process went before the House of Federation for consideration in 2013/14, and the House of Federation agreed to the request. Following this decision, the Amhara National Regional State Council accepted the Qemant community`s constitutional right of self-administration and set about implementation. This part of the process led to some disagreements on the way to carry out the decision of the House of Federation, and this allowed opposition and dissident elements to try and take advantage to encourage violence and the unrest that broke out in the area over the past few weeks. The Regional Government, with Federal Government encouragement, moved quickly to damp down violence, organizing a series of consecutive peace and development conferences, public fora and public discussions and briefings in different places. These have brought all the relevant issues to the fore and allowed for concerns at all levels to be addressed over the past couple of weeks.

Members of Parliament raised the issue of the protests and the causes of the clashes in both Amhara and Oromia Regional States when Parliament discussed and endorsed the Growth and Development Plan II, and the Prime Minister answered a series of the questions from MPs on what had been happening and why. The Prime Minister told MPs that the unrest had been largely instigated by a few individuals and said the Government would take tough measures against these people and their collaborators. They would be held accountable for loss of human lives and property damage, he said.

Overall, the Prime Minister said there were two aspects to the issue and the problem could be handled in two ways. With regard to the Draft Addis Ababa “Integrated Master Plan”, formulated to integrate the development of Addis Ababa and the surrounding region, many people raised concerns because they had been misinformed by others about the aims and objectives of the plan and wanted further clarification. That, said the Prime Minister, was very right and proper. As is the case whenever the government plans some developments, people can raise questions and demand explanations. This is fully in accord with the Constitution and it remains the right for anybody and it will continue as it has been in the past. Prime Minister Hailemariam said though the case has been on the agenda and discussed in various ways in 2006, the current protests showed the Government should have provided further explanations and given further clarification.

The Prime Minister pointed out that acceptance of this failure should now be followed by a substantial response involving the organization of public fora and awareness-creation conferences to provide full explanation of the Plan’s aims and objectives. This should be the Government’s immediate focus. Secondly, he stressed, it had become clear that many of the youth were discontented with the levels of job creation and capacity building work available. This must be expanded and improved in order to allow youth to participate and to benefit from the growth of the country. The Prime Minister said it was no surprise that rural people had concerns or that they demanded improvement of the guidance provided by the Government.

The prime focus of the Government was on development programs for rural areas, a central part of the ‘war on poverty’ but it was imperative that the Government made sure these developments were properly explained and presented effectively. At the same time, the Prime Minister firmly underlined that questions and concerns must be presented in a peaceful and democratic way, within the framework of the Constitution.

The Prime Minister also emphasized that the Government always implemented development projects through consensus and with the willing support of the people involved. He said there at no time whatever were development plans enforced on people and they never would be. In any case, the Constitution protects people from that sort of behavior. He said the stories that up to 150 Kms of land would be taken away from people were far from the truth. The Prime Minister said these allegations on social and other media were spread by elements trying to destabilize the country. He said people deliberately fanning unrest and working with terrorist organizations including some supported by the Eritrean Government were propagating these allegations.

The Speaker of the House, Abadula Gemeda, also noted that after a short period of absence some destabilizing elements have reappeared. The Speaker said they had woken from the political slumber that had enmeshed them for a while and leapt back into their usual business, this time using the opportunity of the Draft “Integrated Master Plan”. They had, unfortunately, encouraged certain interests to misinform and instigate innocent people on several issues. They had mainly focused on students who, the Speaker said, “often become involved in something they lack the experience to handle properly.” He said these interests also try to take advantage of disoriented individuals who lack sufficient understanding of their insidious political motives. Equally, the Speaker acknowledged that the Government had failed to organize sufficient public meetings or fora to explain the details and allow people to get clarifications of their concerns about the Draft before the issue was twisted and used for propaganda by other opposition elements. Similarly, in the Amhara Regional State, some ‘anti-peace’ elements had been able to work to stir up disagreements and create discord between the Qemant communities and Amhara community members living close by. The result was violent clashes, leading to some loss of life and destruction of property. The Amhara Regional State authorities and the Regional President were quick to deplore the violence and take steps to prevent it. The President, who firmly stressed that the Qemant community’s demands for implementation of the decision of the House of Federation was legitimate, also stressed that the regional authorities were ready for an open dialogue on any and all of the issues in dispute. As a result the situation has returned to normalcy and discussions at different levels are well underway.

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Ethiopia committed to the implementation of the Declaration of Principles

The Ministers of Water, Irrigation and Electricity and Foreign Affairs of Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia reached at a consensus on Tuesday (December 29) regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. They reached a consensus and signed a minute at finalizing the two firms tasked with carrying out studies on the potential impact of GERD, setting the period of time for the companies to carry out their studies, and agreed to hold a new round of talks in the first week of February to complete confidence building between the three countries. In a joint press conference with Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Foreign Minister of Ethiopia and Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, the Foreign Minister of Sudan, Ibrahim Ghandour, said that the ministers had chosen the French firm Artelia to carry out the agreed further technical studies on the Dam, together with the previously agreed BRL group. The three countries had decided that Artelia, a consultancy firm known for its work in engineering and project management, should take over from the previously selected Dutch company, Deltares, which had withdrawn from the process a few months ago.

The Ministers, in their meeting, also agreed over a number of other steps including regular meetings to enhance cooperation among the three countries to underline the ability of the Tripartite Agreement on the GERD to provide maximum benefit from the dam. Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros, reiterated Ethiopia’s commitment to work with both Sudan and Egypt and stressed the importance of promoting partnership and building trust. Dr. Tedros said “We see the decision over these companies as progress and look forward to actualizing the interests of the three countries. We believe the dam will be useful to the three countries.” He extended invitations to the Water and Foreign Ministers of Sudan and Egypt to visit the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Sudan’s Foreign Minister, Ibrahim Ghandour, said the countries’ decision to select the French company to finalize the GERD’s technical studies shows their solid commitment to the Declaration of Principles signed by the countries’ leaders. Sudan’s Water Resources, Irrigation, and Electricity Minister, Moataz Mousa, said the technical studies would start in February, when the six ministers are due to meet again, and would take between six and 15 months. Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, expressed his belief in the importance of the meeting saying, “it reflects the three countries’ shared willingness to overcome all barriers.” He said after the meeting: “We are satisfied with the results of this meeting and look forward to achieving a strategic partnership.”

It was in March 2015 that the Heads of State and Government of Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia signed a Declaration of Principles on the dam project, recognizing Ethiopia’s right to construct the dam and calling for further technical studies on its effect on the three riparian states. The Principles endorsed in the Declaration were: the Principle of Cooperation; the Principle of Development, Regional Integration and Sustainability; the Principle of Equitable and Reasonable Utilization; the Principle of Not to Cause Significant Harm; the Principle to Cooperate on the First Filling and Operation of the Dam; the Principle of Confidence Building; the Principle of Exchange of Information and Date; the Principle of Dam Safety; the Principle of Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity; and the Principle of Peaceful Settlement of Disputes. The three countries also agreed to cooperate on applying the recommendations of the international technical experts committee and the results of the final report of the Tripartite National Technical Committee during the different stages of the project.

Egypt’s President, Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, said on Wednesday that Egyptians should not worry about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. “Matters are fine” in that regard, he said, adding “I totally understand the concern of Egyptians as water is a matter of life or death.” The President who was speaking at Farafra oasis during the inauguration of the first phase of a national project to expand the country’s farmland said: “We already agree with our brothers [the Ethiopians] that they want to live as we want to live”, stressing that the Egyptian and Ethiopian peoples should achieve their common interests. The President said: “I have not led you astray before and I will not lead you astray now,” telling the Egyptian people not to lose confidence in him in this matter.

Ethiopia has made a number of efforts to reassure Sudan and Egypt that the construction of the dam follows the results of studies on an objectively and scientifically studied environmental impact assessment and dam security. Prior to the signing of Declaration of Principles Ethiopia had already agreed with Egypt and Sudan to carry out further studies regarding the dam; one on the effect of the dam on the water quota of Sudan and Egypt, and the second one to examine the ecological, economic and social impact of the dam on Sudan and Egypt. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn stressed at the signing ceremony that GERD would not cause significant harm to the downstream countries, Sudan and Egypt. He underlined that Ethiopia was committed to cooperate with all the Nile Basin countries, emphasizing that Sudan and Egypt would also benefit significantly from GERD.

The Ethiopian Government started the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam almost 5 years ago. Some 50% of the construction of the dam has so far been completed. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is a national symbol and as the Government has repeatedly underlined it is also indispensable to the national development plan. Ethiopia has been experiencing severe shortages of power and energy and needs a significant boost to its energy output to cope with huge demand needed for a rapidly growing economy. The Renaissance Dam is one of the major projects devoted to addressing this problem. At the same time, the construction of GERD serves a workable platform for regional economic integration. As the Government has repeatedly underlined, GERD will be used to produce electricity and will not significantly affect the flow of water. Rather, it will have a major impact in regulating the flow of water, decreasing siltation and flooding as well as providing a number of other benefits to downstream countries.

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UNCTAD high-level policy dialogue on leveraging Ethiopia’s Diaspora resources

The role of migration in economic development has been receiving greater attention from international institutions as they have come to realize the impact of human and labor mobility on economic and social change. Increasingly, policy practitioners and development experts have begun to consider how to incorporate economic migration into development plans. There has been growing understanding of the need for well-managed Diaspora engagement in home-country development covering a broad range of areas – poverty reduction, economic growth, investment and trade. The concept is gaining heightened importance in national, regional and global discourse on socio-economic development. Indeed, the evidence from both developing and emerging economies show that remittances and direct investments by Diaspora members in their country of origin can play an important and prominent role in poverty alleviation, economic growth and overall development. Equally, the contributions of the Diaspora do not need to be confined to financial flows alone. They can also incorporate such areas as knowledge transfer, entrepreneurship and serving as important agents of trade between the country of origin and the country of destination.

As a result, governments and international organizations are now looking for ways and means to enhance the participation of the Diaspora in socio- economic advancement of home countries, especially developing countries. This calls for consistent efforts not only for mobilization of and collaboration with Diaspora communities in order to maximize their potential impact but also the need to perfect pro-Diaspora policies and to create institutional and legal frameworks that can facilitate and encourage the contribution of the Diaspora to their home countries.

The Ethiopian Diaspora, an extensive mix of native and foreign-born Ethiopians living outside the country, is an excellent example of the potential importance of migration for economic development. It is estimated that there are between 2.5 and 3 million members of the Ethiopian Diaspora living and working abroad, many of whom send money, consume home-country goods, participate in philanthropic activities, invest, and support and enjoy the cultural values of their homeland. Such a community has emerged as a significant player in development with its activities contributing to building up assets and improving productivity in the local economy.

Ethiopia has had the potential for setting out norms for relations with the Diaspora at the national level since its institutionalization of the Diaspora Engagement Affairs Directorate-General in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2002. A major step forward came in 2013 when the Government formalized its engagement with the Diaspora with the issue of a ‘Diaspora policy.’ This was set up within the context of a growing understanding of the Diaspora’s capacity to contribute to Ethiopia’s development and the desire by both the Government and the Diaspora to use this to leverage Ethiopia’s development.

Engaging Diaspora at the national level allows the authorities to determine the relative importance and/or the ability of the Diaspora to contribute to development in specific sectors. At the same time, the Diaspora is also able to articulate the type of engagement in each sector that is most attuned to Diaspora interests and capacity. As a result, in terms of enabling policy for maximizing Diaspora capital investment and wealth generation, Ethiopia now has a number of clear, well-founded priorities including the registration of the Diaspora and of Diaspora businesses to allow for the most effective level of input.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) held a high-level policy dialogue on December 23. The aim was to improve the leveraging for Diaspora resources to assist the growth and structural transformation of the Ethiopian economy. Government officials, members of UNCTAD and representatives of the Diaspora Coordination Offices from Ethiopia’s regional states, attended.

Ambassador Mulie Tarekegn, Chief of the Cabinet of the Ministry, on behalf of Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros, extended his warm appreciation of UNCTAD research on the topic of “Leveraging Diaspora Resources for Growth and Structural Transformation of the Ethiopian Economy.” He noted that the organization had the objective of supporting developing countries assist them to integrate beneficially into the global economic environment and system. Ambassador Mulie welcomed participants and underlined that the Ethiopian Diaspora has the potential to contribute to nation-building in general and socio-economic development in particular by engaging in various developmental sectors. He stressed the Government’s actions giving due attention to enhance the Diaspora participation in various development endeavors and noted its efforts towards engagement of the Diaspora in the transformation of the country that had started in 2000 when the first structural arrangements were setup and legal frameworks were put in place. Ambassador Mulie said the Government had the mandate to protect the rights and interests of its Diaspora living abroad, and it had established the Ethiopian Expatiates-Affairs Directorate-General, known as the Diaspora Engagement-Affairs Directorate-General, in the Foreign Ministry in 2002. This directorate was charged with expanding and organizing Diaspora engagement and related activities, focusing on mobilization and organization of the Ethiopian community abroad for sustained and organized development and other things.

During the dialogue, a study by UNCTAD on leveraging Diaspora resources for growth and for the structural transformation of the Ethiopian economy recommended 3 major components: norms, enabling environments, and best practice operations for the Diaspora policy compass. These are distinct components but the study suggested all three were necessary and would have the impact of mutually reinforcing each other in maximizing Diaspora engagement in the home country’s development. Together, they also constituted a basis for Government accountability to the Diaspora.   The study underlined that the best elements to scale up the benefits of the country from the Diaspora were an enabling environment with strong institutions, increasing the trust of the Diaspora, facilitating the formal flow of remittances, coordinating and institutionalizing the transfer of Diaspora knowledge and effective and efficient operational policies. The UNCTAD study stated that the pathway to accelerated and sustained growth and development was through productive capacity building and movement up the value, technology and productivity ladder through structural transformation. These were all areas in which the UNCTAD could play a critical role through remittances and the Diaspora knowledge-transfer network.

Tesfachew Tafere, UNCTAD’s Director, Division of Africa, LDCs and Special Programs, presented a study on the role of Diaspora in fostering productive capacities and structural economic transformation, and on the policy implications of the Ethiopian GTPII. He noted the essential role that the Diaspora could play in the implementation of the GTP and underlined the importance of having a unified and comprehensive data of Diaspora in order to properly evaluate the potential of the Diaspora. The UNCTAD Director called on the Government to work more closely with the Diaspora to boost the level of Foreign Direct Investment, remittance and Official Development Assistance inflow into the country. He said the Government had made considerable efforts to shape its relations with the Diaspora and encourage Diaspora engagement in various developmental sectors over the last decade. There was still room for improvement, however. During the dialogue there were other presentations by participants including those from Ethiopia’s Regional States, focusing on ways to enhance participation of the Diaspora in the states as well as in the country’s overall development.

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European Commission announces a £145m aid package for Eritrea

Europe is experiencing one of the most significant influxes of migrants and refugees in its history. Pushed by dictatorship, civil war and terror and pulled by the promise of a better life, hundreds of thousands of people have fled from the Middle East and from Africa in general and from Eritrea in particular, risking their lives along the way. The scale of the crisis has put huge pressures on the destination countries. The number of illegal border-crossing detections in the EU started to grow and the most recent surge is attributed to the growing numbers of Syrian, Afghan, and Eritrean migrants and refugees. The International Office of Migration (IOM) estimates that more than 464,000 migrants crossed into Europe by sea in the first nine months of 2015. Syrians fleeing from the country’s civil war made up the largest group (39%); Afghans escaping from the war with the Taliban provided 11%; and Eritreans fleeing from forced labor and indefinite national service made up 7%.

For the European Commission and for EU members states to distinguish economic migrants from asylum seekers and refugees is not always an easy process, but it is important as these groups are entitled to different levels of assistance and protection under international law. “Migrant” is used as an umbrella term for all three groups and, of course, there is some overlap not least because economic migrants and asylum seekers travel together.

An economic migrant is a person whose major reason for leaving their home country is economic gain and is not entitled to the same levels of international protection. An asylum seeker, that is a person fleeing persecution or conflict, is entitled to seek international protection under the 1951 Refugee Convention on the Status of Refugees. A refugee, technically, is an asylum seeker whose claim has been approved but the UN considers migrants fleeing war or persecution to be refugees, even before they are officially recognized for asylum. This is particularly relevant to Syrians and Eritreans who are fleeing in such large numbers, if from rather different circumstances – violent civil war and conflict with extremists, and persecution by a particularly repressive government.

Tens of thousands of Eritreans have arrived at Europe’s shores in recent years seeking asylum. They make up a significant share of the unprecedented stream of migrants and refugees making their way to the European Union, undertaking dangerous and often fatal journeys and challenging the EU to find a collective response consistent with refugee law and international humanitarian response. In addition to migrating to Europe tens of thousands of Eritreans also now reside in neighboring Ethiopia and Sudan, bringing the country’s refugee population to well over half a million, and making the country whose population is usually estimated at around 5 million people “one of the world’s fastest-emptying nations,” according to the Wall Street Journal. In fact, the numbers of refugees may be rather higher as an Eritrean Government minister recently referred to the country’s population as between “two and a half to three million”. Certainly the tyranny of the government has encouraged the scale of the migration to increase steadily over the last few years.

Over the last few months, the EU Commission has been considering ways to try and discourage the flight of refugees from Eritrea. It has now decided to provide Eritrea with an £145m aid package after months of talks. These funds are supposed in particular to support development endeavors in the energy sector and improve governance, and Neven Mimica, the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development said the package would help to tackle the root causes of migration from Eritrea. He said this year alone the number of Eritrean asylum seekers arriving on Europe’s southern shores has exceeded 40,000, and this was without taking into account the numbers who had died attempting to cross the desert or the Mediterranean. This does not include the huge numbers arriving in Ethiopia and Sudan.

One cannot dispute the value of aid to a country as impoverished as Eritrea, but whether the conditions attached to aid for Eritrea will be kept is a question that will remain unanswered for the moment. The Eritrean Government has a long record of diversion of funds for purposes unintended by the donors as the EU has seen earlier and it is far from clear how the EU plans to ensure the aid goes to the intended usage. Any analysis of the root causes of migration in Eritrea makes it clear that the vast majority of Eritrean refugees are not economic migrants who flee the country because of poverty and unemployment, but that they are rather refugees from the persistent challenges of repeated and on-going human rights violations. The large migration of youth, and more recently even unaccompanied children, is the clearest sign of extreme domestic discontent and concern with the government of Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki and the indefinite conscription.

According to the reports of the United Nations Monitoring Group and the UN Human Rights Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Violations in Eritrea, the Eritrean Government’s systematic use of extrajudicial killing, torture, rape, indefinite national service and forced labor may amount to crimes against humanity and migration. The UN Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry established in June 2014 conducted over 500 interviews and found that “systemic, widespread and gross human rights violations persist” and that it is “not law that rules Eritreans but fear.” International and Eritrean human rights and NGOs have provided a wealth of evidence concurring with the Commission of Inquiry’s conclusion that there has been no improvement in Eritrea’s human rights practices.

The Commission’s report provides substantial and detailed evidence of longstanding patterns of human rights violations in Eritrea, concluding that abuses remain pervasive, systemic, and the product of deliberate government policy. The report says that arbitrary arrests are rampant, detainees are rarely charged or brought to trial, and scores of people have been victims of enforced disappearances. The commission said that prisoners are kept in “extremely harsh” conditions of confinement; some are held incommunicado indefinitely. People practicing any religion other than the four approved by the government are subject to arrest, harassment, and mistreatment in detention. Citizens are subject to constant surveillance and violations of privacy. Freedom of movement is restricted, with permits required for movement beyond the community where a person works or lives. Political parties are prohibited, there is no independent media, and Eritrea has not held an election since independence and there is no constitution developed to administer the socio, economic and political undertakings.

In addition to its persistent record of repeated human rights violations, Eritrea has also continuously attempted to destabilize the Horn of Africa region in general and Ethiopia in particular. In 2009 UN Security Council has imposed sanctions on Eritrea due to the countrie’s activity threatening international peace. The whole range of the sanctions, including an arms embargo, the freezing of assets and a travel ban on selected individuals, were imposed on Eritrea for its support to the Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist organization, Al Shabaab, and other armed groups. The UN Security Council hardened the sanctions against Eritrea in December 2011 over its alleged support for Islamist militant groups such as Somalia’s al-Shabaab. In addition, Eritrea was also sanctioned for its border dispute with Djibouti and its total rejection of all calls for negotiation over its unprovoked attack and invasion of Djibouti territory. In fact, despite this, Eritrea’s main regional destabilization activities have most consistently been aimed at Ethiopia either directly or indirectly. Eritrea has continuously attempted to support a number of Ethiopian opposition groups which have repeatedly, and publicly, underlined they are involved in armed struggle to try to overthrow the Government of Ethiopia. These groups include the Oromo Liberation Front and Ginbot 7 among others, and both of these and others are now openly based in Asmara, in recipient of arms, finance and logistical support from the Eritrean Government. It is under these circumstances that consideration of lifting sanctions becomes hardly sensible.

There can be little doubt that while the people of Eritrea need all the aid they can get, that donors should make every effort to be as vigilant as possible about the management of any aid package, since on past record most of the money might well be used to procure weapons for various Eritrean-backed armed opposition and terrorists groups which the government supports in the region. Aid, if delivered, must be given with strict obligations attached. There may be no easy solution for Eritrea’s domestic situation, but at the least the European Commission should recognize the undisputed fact that the Eritrean government is a totalitarian state the vast majority of whose migrants are real refugees are not in search of work but who are fleeing from the very real terror of over twenty years of repression and human rights violation.

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SRSG Kay leaves Somalia after more than two years in office

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, officially left Somalia on Tuesday (December 29) bringing to an end to a two year residence in Somalia. Somali Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdusalam Hadliye Omar, who described Nicholas Kay as a true friend of the Somali people, and one whose efforts had left an indelible mark in the history of the country saw Ambassador Kay off at the airport in Mogadishu. He said: “The UN Mission in Somalia is crucial to Somalia’s future and during his tenure as a leader, Nick worked with the government of the Federal Republic of Somalia to help shape a new vision for a better Somalia and its people.” Ambassador Kay told the gathering he was leaving Somalia with fond memories and full of optimism about the future of the country: “Today is a happy and positive day as well. Happy because as Minister Abdusalam Omar said there is now in Somalia an unstoppable momentum to peace, stability prosperity and democracy. This unstoppable momentum was not here three years ago. It is here now and it is thanks to the Somalis themselves, international partners and to the UN colleagues I had the privilege to work with.” He stressed that he will forever remember the brightness of the smiles of the Somalis, the sharpness of their arguments in negotiations and their resilience to make Somalia a better country.

The President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, paid tribute to Ambassador Kay for his contribution in supporting Somalia’s stabilization and political processes. Speaking at a farewell lunch, President Hassan Sheikh said Nicholas Kay had worked closely and tirelessly with the Federal Government in rebuilding Somalia. He praised him for being instrumental in changing the perception of the international community about Somalia. He said “I salute Ambassador Nicholas Kay for his braveness in convincing the UN to shift the offices and start operating in Somalia, making them accessible to the citizens.”

In a farewell interview with Voice of America, Ambassador Kay said the country now had an “unstoppable momentum” toward being a stable and secure country. He said Somalia has managed to convert a dream of being a federal Somalia into reality with its five interim regional administrations and federal member states, bringing government and accountability closer to the people. Ambassador Kay said: “I arrived full of hope, and I’m leaving not just with hope but with a very firm conviction that Somalia is now a fragile but recovering country and no longer a failed state.” He said he had been delighted to have worked in a country where every single Somali that he met was “deeply political.”

Ambassador Kay said the country had made “reasonable progress” in fighting Al-Shabaab militants, recovering up to 14 towns and districts during his two and a half years in office. Al-Shabaab, Kay said was now territorially in a “much weaker position” and was suffering from infighting between factions that support the so-called Islamic State and those still loyal to al-Qaeda. However he added: “Clearly, it would be a concern if they were to consolidate an ISIL/Daesh presence in Somalia and it resulted in extra resources or manpower for the organization. That would be a concern.” He also said Al-Shabaab itself still posed a terrorist threat and did “terrible things” in terms of suicide bombings and targeted assassinations. But he insisted it was now an organization that no longer posed an “existential or strategic threat” to Somalia.

At the same time, he spoke of the need for a concerted effort to continue to develop Somali national security forces, both police and army. He said the number of African Union troops in the country would go down when Somali troops became capable but added: “the time scale for that is clearly impossible to fix rigidly but it will be reviewed again at the end of 2016; I think there is an expectation that AMISOM numbers will start to fall after then.”

Ambassador Kay praised the U.N. role in Somalia and the expansion of its operations outside Mogadishu. He said his greatest disappointment was the death of U.N. colleagues at the hands of terrorists in Somalia. He paid tribute to those eight colleagues who had been killed in the period in which he had been in in office. He praised the resilience of Somalis who in the face of deadly Al-Shabaab attacks managed to bounce back quickly. He said: “Watching hotels get bombed in Mogadishu and then seeing the very next day the work starting on rebuilding them, and then the next week or month reopening for business is very, very inspirational.”

In another interview with the Kenyan newspaper, the Nation, Ambassador Kay said there had been less progress on the economic recovery side , he said, “and as we go into 2016, the focus should be more on job creating opportunities.” There were, he said, 70 % of Somalis under the age of 35 years, and 80% unemployed. The high number of unemployed youth, he said, was a ticking time bomb, as this provided fertile ground for Al-Shabaab recruitment, hence the urgency to build infrastructure and create jobs. What was needed for economic growth was assurance that peace was sustained. Much of the economic activity, he said, was private sector based, such as the growth in the agricultural sector, which contributed to exports of about 5 million livestock last year. The lack of roads and of power among other infrastructure meant that a lot more had still to be done to improve the economy. For this to be achieved, Ambassador Kay said development efforts by international partners including the US, UK, the European Union and the African Union must be strengthened over the next year.

Ambassador Kay is being replaced by another British diplomat, Michael Keating, next month as the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General.