A Week in the Horn
- News in Brief
- Prime Minister Hailemariam on a state visit to Rwanda
- The 6th Tana High-level Forum on Security in Africa
- Ethiopia launches a Pan-African university at Adwa
- “Much more than ‘land of origins'” says WTO Secretary-General
- Ethio-Japan Business Forum opens up prospects for a network of cooperation
- South Sudan’s political processes “not dead” but need “resuscitation”
- The returning threat of Somali piracy….
- ….and Somalia to propose a debt relief process to the London conference in May
- President Kagame and AU Commission Chair call for urgency over AU reforms
- The UN Food and Agricultural Organization Council meeting in Rome
News in Brief
Africa and the African Union
Finance ministers of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), chaired by Ethiopia, at a meeting in Washington on Sunday (April 23) called on the G20 to finally set a date, preferably 2020, to phase out fossil fuel subsidies. The G20 heads of state will meet in Hamburg in July. The CVF communiqué also warned: “Pulling resources from climate protection will create economic instability; investing in climate action is necessary and critical to inclusive development and economic growth”. The meeting welcomed Colombia, Lebanon, the Gambia, Palestine and Samoa as new members; the Marshall Islands will take over as chair from Ethiopia in 2018.
The Tripartite National Committee of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan held a four-day meeting in Cairo this week (April 23-26) to discuss the schedule for the French consultancy firms assessing the possible impact of the dam on downstream countries. The studies, expected to be finalized in August, cover managing water and hydroelectric resources as well as assessing the cross-border environmental, social, and economic impact of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
Urgent action is needed to save the lives of 20 million people facing famine in north-eastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, FAO Directory-General, José Graziano da Silva said at the opening of the UN FAO Council meeting on Monday (April, 24): “If nothing is done, they could starve to death in the next six months,” he said. The Council considered FAO’s Program of Work and Budget for 2018-2019, and the areas where FAO could deliver the greatest impact to help members achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. (See article)
Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Alpha Conde of Guinea, and Idriss Deby of Chad, and African Union Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, meeting in Conakry on Monday (April 24) called for urgent implementation of the African Union reforms adopted in January this year. President Kagame was given the mandate to lead the reform process at the African Union Summit held in Kigali last July. (See article)
The 2017 World Hydropower Congress will take place in Addis Ababa, May 9-11, under the theme “How to do ‘better hydro’ in a changing world.” The Congress, held for the first time in Africa, will examine how government, business, finance, civil society and academia initiatives can advance sustainable development. The International Hydropower Association says the Congress will bring together leaders and specialists to set the course for hydropower’s contribution to future energy and water systems.
More than 400 international delegates from 47 governments, including 12 ministers of justice and eight Attorneys General will meet in Nairobi next week for the five-day 56th Annual Session of the Asian African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO) (May 1-5). The conference will focus on Violent Extremism and Terrorism, and the Status and Treatment of Refugees. It will also discuss environmental concerns, the emerging issue of International law in cyberspace and the Immunity of State Officials from Foreign Criminal Jurisdiction under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic and Consular Relations.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn and First Lady Roman Tesfaye made a state visit to Rwanda this week (April 27-29) at the invitation of President Kagame. During his visit the Prime Minister formally inaugurated the Ethiopian Embassy in Kigali. (See article)
Prime Minister Hailemariam opened the 6th Tana High-level Forum on Security in Africa in Bahir Dar on Saturday (April 22). The Forum was held under the theme, ‘Natural Resource Governance in Africa’. Among those attending were President Yoweri Museveni and the acting executive secretary of the UNECA, Dr Abdalla Hamdok. (See article)
Prime Minister Hailemariam laid the corner-stone for the construction of the Adwa Pan-African University (PAU) at Adwa, a place of great historic significance for Pan Africanism and for all Africans. (See article)
Dr Taleb D. Rifai, Secretary General of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) attending a meeting of the UN World Tourism Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa last week, described Ethiopia, with its various different tangible and intangible heritage sites and its historic and cultural tourist destinations, as much more than merely “the land of origins”. (See article)
Foreign Minister Dr Workneh Gebeyehu met with Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister, in Addis Ababa on Tuesday (April 25). They discussed how the sustainable and sound relationship between Ethiopia and Luxembourg could be nurtured further.
State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs Hirut Zemene met with Mrs Amanda J. Dory, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African affairs, in Addis Ababa on Wednesday (April 26). They discussed bilateral and regional issues of common concern, with particular reference to the positive political developments in Somalia and the peace process in South Sudan.
State Minister Mrs Hirut met with Danish Minister for Immigration and Integration, Ms Inger Stojberg, on Thursday last week (April 20). Discussions covered ways of cooperation on migration and refugee management. Ms Stojberg, who visited a refugee camp and a reception center in Tigray, appreciated Ethiopia’s role in dealing with migration and its hospitality to refugees.
State Minister Mrs Hirut met with Latvia’s State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Andrejs Pildegovičs, on Monday (April 24). Both sides expressed an interest to further collaborate in trade and investment as well as boost political cooperation. Mr Pildegovičs told journalists that ICT, forestry and food processing as well as education, tourism and aviation sectors were investment areas of interest to Latvian businesspersons. Latvia and Ethiopia have agreed to open missions in their respective countries to boost diplomatic relations.
State Minister Mrs Hirut met the Swiss Secretary of State for Migration Mario Gattiker on Monday (April 24). Mr Gattiker described the meeting as very constructive and noted that migration is a priority and a common concern for both countries. He welcomed Ethiopia’s support for Somali, Eritrean and South Sudanese refugees. He said Switzerland and Ethiopia had decided to cooperate even more closely over illegal migration.
State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Aklilu Hailemichael, met a European Union delegation led by Brigitte Hagelund, Migration Team Leader of the European Union delegation to Ethiopia, on Wednesday (April 26). The two sides discussed ways of deepening cooperation in areas of strategic economic development and enhancing the partnership to deal with the challenge of migration.
Ethiopia’s Deputy Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Jamaludin Omar, representing the National Drought Committee, on Thursday (April 27), delivered 9 truck and trailer loads of food aid to the Bakool region of Somalia’s South West State. Another 9 truck and trailer loads will be delivered to Belet Weyne in His-shebelle [Hiraan] State this weekend, and a further nine loads are being sent to the Gedeo region of Jubaland State.
An Ethio-Japan Business Forum, organized by the Ethiopian Embassy in Japan, in collaboration with the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), was held this week in Tokyo. Industry Minister, Ato [Mr] Ahmed Abtew, led the Ethiopian delegation to the Forum (See article)
The Ethiopian Aviation Academy, the largest aviation academy in Africa, a full ICAO TRAINAIR Plus Member and IATA Authorized Global Training Center, has graduated 452 aviation professionals including 35 pilots and 110 aviation maintenance technicians at a ceremony held on Saturday (April 22) at the academy’s Commercial and Cabin Crew Training Center. The graduates included students from Rwanda, Libya and Tanzania. Currently, the academy is training1,500 people a year and aims to raise its intake to 4,000 by 2025.
Ethiopian Airlines has been appointed as the official carrier for African States attending the ‘UNWTO, Government of Jamaica and World Bank Group Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism’ to be held in Jamaica in November. The decision was made during the recent visit of Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Mr Edmund Bartlett.
The National Drought Policy Commission’s Public Relations Director told Walta [news agency] on Monday (April 24) that the number of people affected by the drought had risen to 7.6 million during April. The numbers rose by over 2 million during April because of the delayed rainfall during the current belg season. The Commission said food aid was ready for distribution from the contingency food reserve. The Commission was also making integrated efforts to supply potable water and distribute animal fodder in the pastoral areas.
The government of China on Thursday (April 27) provided nutrition assistance worth 8 million U.S. dollars to support the United Nations World Food Program’s response to drought in Ethiopia. This will enable WFP to provide specialized treatment for more than 277,000 moderately malnourished women and children.
The government has deployed over 1,200 health professionals, including nurses and doctors, and set up 100 centers to treat people, to help control an outbreak of acute watery diarrhea affecting Doolo zone, in the Somali Regional State. Officially declared on April 7, the outbreak has affected more than 16,000 people with about 3,500 new cases a month.
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis visited Camp Lemonnier, the only US base in Africa, on Sunday (April 23) before holding talks with President Ismail Omar Guelleh and Defense Minister Ali Hasan Bahdon. Camp Lemonnier is important for US military operations in the Middle East as well as the Horn of Africa, with the Bab al-Mandeb strait the only separation between Djibouti and Yemen.
Defense Minister Ali Hasan Bahdon signed a military and defense agreement with Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense, Mohammed bin Salman, on Wednesday (April) in Riyadh. Minister Bahdon said Djibouti was cooperating with Saudi Arabia to monitor any military intervention or weapons smuggling from Iran to Yemen.
The National Super Alliance, an alliance of the main opposition parties, announced at a rally in Nairobi on Thursday (April 27), that former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga will run for the presidency in the August elections, with former Vice-President. Kalonzo Musyoka, as his running mate.
A joint Jordanian-Kenyan trade committee meeting highlighted the need to increase bilateral trade, agreed to establish a joint business council and recommended the exchange of visits and trade missions. The two countries signed a trade and economic cooperation agreement on the side-lines of the Jordanian Week in Nairobi last December.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery ordered the police on Monday (April 24) to put a stop to the violence that characterized nominations for the parties in preparation for the August elections last week. He directed police to arrest those involved in electoral violence. Political parties have until May 1 to conclude the nominations ahead of the General Election on August 8.
President Mohamed Abdullahi made a three-day state visit to Turkey at the invitation of President Erdoğan this week, leading a delegation which included Foreign Minister Yusuf Garad and other officials. Bilateral relations, humanitarian aid, security and trade were on the agenda. Several bilateral agreements covering economic and cultural cooperation were signed. Somalia is the largest recipient of Turkish aid which has been supporting humanitarian, security and development projects over the past 5 years.
President Mohamed Abdullahi made his first visit to Baidoa on Sunday (April 23) where he was received by Southwest President Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden. The President together with the Federal Defense and Humanitarian Affairs Ministers held talks on the drought crisis and security. They also discussed the planned integration of national army program endorsed during last week’s National Leadership Forum.
The government has indicated it will propose accelerating the country’s debt relief process at the upcoming London conference (May 10-11) to enable the country to access much needed credit from the international markets. (See article)
On Saturday, last week (April 22) there was an attack by pirates on a vessel just off the coast of Somalia. It was the sixth attack in two months, leading to growing concern that Somalia piracy, which reached its height in 2011, is resurfacing. (See article)
AMISOM says it is planning to open and secure main supply routes to help facilitate delivery of humanitarian aid in conjunction with Somali National Army forces. Sector Four Commander, Colonel Mohamed Elmi Habane of Djibouti, said opening and securing main supply routes was crucial for channeling the humanitarian assistance needed.
More than 200 Jubaland Police recruits graduated on Monday (April 24) after completing a three-month training program run by AMISOM. The 201 recruits were the third batch of recruits to graduate in Jubaland. 600 have now been trained in line with the New Policing Model, which calls for the establishment of both state and federal police forces. Speaking at the ceremony, Ambassador Madeira, head of AMISOM congratulated the 180 men and 21 women.
The UK has announced it will provide an additional £21 million of funding for improved security in Somalia. UK support includes training by British military personnel of Somali National Army and African Union forces, police mentoring, and work on stabilization and Countering Violent Extremism. This follows last week’s agreement at the National Leadership Forum to integrate regional and federal forces into a coherent National Security Architecture.
A ship with more than 4,000 tonnes of food, water and other supplies from the Emirates Red Crescent is en route to Berbera from the UAE. The shipment will be delivered to Berbera Port to support people who have been displaced and affected by the country’s third famine in 25 years. The Red Crescent announced the UAE’s “For You, Somalia” aid campaign this month.
Almost 30,000 young Somali children are being vaccinated against measles this week in a UN-backed emergency campaign in Baidoa by the Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization and several NGOs. More than 100,000 people have come to Baidoa in search of assistance, 70,000 in March alone.
David Shearer, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) briefed the United Nations Security Council on South Sudan on Tuesday (April 25). He said the political process in South Sudan was not dead, but required “significant resuscitation”. (See article)
President Kiir reconstituted the membership of his National Dialogue Committee on Tuesday this week (April 25). It will now be co-chaired by Abel Alier and Angelo Beda, with Francis Mading Deng acting as rapporteur. Prominent members of different communities across South Sudan are appointed to the steering committee. Among foreign nationals on the Steering Committee are Bethwel Kiplagat, General Lazaro Sumbeiywo, the chief mediator of the 2005 peace agreement and the Reverend Samuel Kobia representing Kenya. All neighboring countries will have a representative on the steering committee.
South Sudan and Uganda agreed on a blueprint to guide redrawing of their boundary. A joint technical committee on Friday last week (April 20) concluded a three-day meeting in Addis Ababa for the “delimitation and demarcation” of the border under the auspices of the African Union. AU Border Program experts provided technical expertise as the two sides discussed the technical, logistical and security requirements needed for delineation of the 470km boundary.
The Chair of IGAD Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission for South Sudan, former Botswana President Festus Mogae, briefed a plenary session of the Commission this week, attended by representatives of the South Sudan Transitional Government of National Unity, South Sudanese Stakeholders, IGAD member states, the UN, the Troika of the US, UK and Norway, China, the EU, the International Partners Forum and Friends of South Sudan.
The government has secured funds of $106 million from the World Bank and the African Development Bank to pay for food imports, Finance Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau said in Washington. Mr Dau and his delegation briefed the IMF, the WBG and US State Department representatives on the current state of South Sudan’s economy, including its reform and revitalization agenda, currently a top priority for the Transitional Government of National Unity, as well as the humanitarian situation and the urgent need to reactivate development projects.
In a statement released on Tuesday (April 25), the International Organization for Migration and partners said there had been an influx of more than 22,000 displaced persons in and around Wau since the upsurge of violence on 10 April. There were now over 41,700 sheltering at the UN protection of civilians site next to the UNMISS base. The most recent UN figures say more than 7.5 million people in South Sudan are in need of humanitarian assistance, 4.9 million face severe food insecurity due to displacement, conflict and economic decline.
Finance Minister Badr al-Din Mahmoud met with senior officials of the IMF and World Bank and the US Department of the Treasury last week on the side-lines of the IMF and WB spring meeting to discuss “issues that would enable Sudan to integrate into the global economy and improve foreign relations besides the early preparation for the phase that will follow the lift of sanctions”. He said there had been a positive spirit during the meetings and that Arab countries had supported calls for relief of Sudan’s external debt, standing at US$51 billion in 2016.
The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) on Monday (April 24) announced they had agreed with the African Union chief mediator Thabo Mbeki to postpone peace talks to July. It called on AUHIP to meet the opposition alliance, Sudan Call, before presenting its report to the African Union Peace and Security Council. The SPLM-N after a separate meeting in Addis Ababa with U.S. officials also called on the US to delay the permanent lifting of sanctions on Sudan for another six-months and to link this with humanitarian issues, end of war, end of human rights violations, restoration of freedoms and democratic transformation, and release of political prisoners.”
Defense Minister Awad Ibn Ouf and visiting Nigerian Defense Minister, Mansur Mohammed Dan-Ali, on Monday (April 24) agreed to promote cooperation and coordination between their two countries in all fields particularly ways to combat terrorism. Minister Ibn Ouf underlined Nigeria’s participation in UNAMID in Darfur, and underlined the importance of cooperation to maintain and preserve security in Africa.
Prime Minister Hailemariam on a state visit to Rwanda
President Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame welcomed Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn and First Lady Roman Tesfaye to Rwanda on Thursday at the start of a three-day state visit to Rwanda. On arrival at Kigali International Airport, the Prime Minister, accompanied by a high-level delegation of ministers and officials including State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mrs Hirut Zemene, was given a red-carpet welcome and inspected a guard of honor mounted by the Rwandan Defence Forces. After a state banquet hosted by president Kagame on Thursday, the Prime Minister and President Kagame held bilateral talks on Friday to discuss ways to further strengthen and deepen relations between the two countries. The talks also focused on regional cooperation, trade and investment ties, and on ways the two nations could learn from each other’s experience in peace and security.
Following the bilateral discussions, a number of agreements which had been earmarked at the 2nd Joint Ministerial Commission meeting were signed. The Commission’s meeting earlier in the week was held at the technical level involving experts from both countries. During the meeting, the two sides discussed cooperation in the fields of education, tourism and mutual legal assistance. The Permanent Secretary at Rwanda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Claude Nikobisanzwe, said “During the meeting new areas of partnerships were agreed notably in: education, tourism, mutual legal assistance and a framework to monitor implementation of these areas was also put in place”. He said: “Cooperation between Rwanda and Ethiopia remains strong and significant results have been achieved in the areas of defense, aviation and Capacity building among others, which continues to benefit the people of our two countries”.
Last year, Ethiopia and Rwanda signed an agreement to open their airspace, allowing their national carriers to operate without restriction. In 2012, they signed three bilateral agreements, one setting up the Joint Permanent Commission to strengthen bilateral cooperation, a general cooperation agreement to shape and expand cooperation in the political, economic, trade and investment, education, health and other fields; and a third on strategic partnership for issues of defense and security. Under the general cooperation agreement, the two sides committed themselves to the objectives and principles of the African Union, and undertook to further strengthen bilateral relations, agreeing to expand their cooperation in the political, economic, trade and investment, scientific, educational, health technical and other fields on the basis of sovereign equality of states. Under their strategic partnership they agreed to cooperate in diplomacy, defense, and security affairs, and in economic and social affairs such as investment and education. It was agreed to collaborate in trade and investment through business reform and customs cooperation, and trade and investment information sharing. On defense and military cooperation, they agreed to share peacekeeping experiences and build peace support operation capabilities.
During his visit, Prime Minister Hailemariam formally inaugurated the newly opened Ethiopian Embassy in Kigali on Friday (April 28). He also visited the Ntebe Integrated Model Village in Rwamagana District, Eastern Province where he commended Rwanda’s move to promote modern settlements in rural areas to improve citizens’ welfare with a focus on poor families. The model villages provide for the settlement of poor families in rural settings. Development of Ntebe village began in 2008 and it currently hosts 772 beneficiaries in 204 households. The model villages aim at providing dignified housing, access to social amenities and government services, while ensuring inhabitants can engage in economic activities. The governor of the Eastern Province explained that the model brings together communities into one village, where they can work together in sectors such as agriculture and share yields and profits. They have access to social and education amenities such as schools, health centers, infrastructure, water and sanitation. The government partnered with local communities to provide land and materials, while the citizens take on the construction of the villages under the guidance of technical experts. The government aims to settle 70% of the rural population using the model by 2020. Rwanda’s Minister for Local Government, Francis Kaboneka, said that the visit was part of efforts for the two countries to learn from each other and share skills.
The 6th Tana High-level Forum on Security in Africa
The 6th Tana High-level Forum on Security in Africa held last weekend (April 22 and 23) in Bahir Dar, the capital of the Amhara Regional State Government, under the theme: “Natural Resource Governance in Africa”. Every year, it brings together African leaders and stakeholders to engage and explore African-led security solutions. It complements formal meetings of African heads of state and government by assembling them in an informal, collaborative environment. In the spirit of traditional gatherings taking place under ‘the Baobab tree’, it offers room and space for panel discussions, interaction with the floor and bilateral talks to share views and experiences in an open manner, on the basis that “frank, relevant and candid dialogue is fundamental to resolving conflict and transforming societies.” The Forum, therefore, promotes African-led solutions by holding discussions on the strategic and pro-active management of African peace and security issues driven by the interest to contribute to stronger ownership of these issues.
Opening the forum, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn underlined that as Africa was endowed with a wide range of natural resources and their management mattered, this theme, ‘Natural Resource Governance in Africa‘ is particularly fitting. Natural resource management and governance was important because mismanagement so easily resulted in conflict and contention. The Prime Minister stressed that the Tana Forum, as an interactive and open platform for debate and discussions involving a range of stakeholders, offered a real opportunity for African leaders and policy makers to discuss high-level continental issues. He emphasized the need for proper management and governance of natural resources, noting that there was a very direct relationship between governance of natural resources and sustainable economic development. He underscored the importance of fighting against rent-seeking behavior for protection and governance of sustainable natural resources.
The Prime Minister said proper governance of natural resources would help Africa to maximize the developmental benefits that should accrue from exploiting the continent’s rich natural resources. Calling for specific national policies to ally with effective and proper management, he said natural resource governance should be governed by the right orientation, developmental orientation, for it to bear the required results, make it sustainable, and allow it to serve as the necessary source of economic transformation and ‘leapfrogging’. He called on African leaders, statesmen and policy makers to focus on transforming the political economy of the African continent as the basis for a long-lasting solution to African economic and political economic problems.
In the pursuit of transforming the continent’s agrarian economies into emerging industrial economies, the Prime Minister underlined the need to attach full weight to agriculture, and particularly to small-holder farming. At the same time, encouraging leaders to work towards economic leapfrogging, Prime Minister Hailemariam noted the importance of transforming Africa’s economy from rent-seeking political ventures to an effective developmental political economy.
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni urged fellow African leaders to stop what he described as “ideological meandering”. He said the biggest mistakes came from “policies manifested in terms of fragmented vision, fragmented policy, and fragmented development.” These could not be a solution to Africa’s problems. President Museveni said policy mistakes by both technocrats and political leaders had led to various problems in Africa. One mistake was to assume that “if you educate your people, everything will be okay? This was part of mistakes in 1960.” He said, “If you educate people but you don’t have infrastructure including electricity, where will they work? How will they work”? Leaders, he said, should thoroughly discuss and distill positions, which could help their people transform and develop using their natural resources. The focus should be on home-based solutions and self-reliance. He suggested the new US President’s “America First” policies might jolt Africans into the reality of their situation. President Museveni spoke passionately about the importance of processing Africa’s minerals in Africa to create jobs and get more value from the continent’s resources. He urged the Forum to focus on who owned the natural resources on the continent and emphasized the importance of locally-based value addition for countries to fully exploit their natural resources for the benefit of their people. He said Uganda intended to use its own oil in its own refineries and its own iron ore in Uganda. President Museveni also underlined the importance of spreading good ideas. He said: “you may have good ideas in Ethiopia but they are localized and do not apply to the whole of Africa. This forum can help ideas spread by osmosis.
Other speakers included former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, co-author of “Making Africa Work: A hand Book for Economic Success,” with Greg Mills, the Director of South Africa’s Brenthurst Foundation, who described Ethiopia as one of the few African countries doing things in the right direction. He called on other countries to follow suit. He also encouraged Ethiopia to offer technical support to fellow African nations. Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, senior advisor, Africa Economic Development Policy Initiative, Nigeria, said that Ethiopia’s policy stability, clarity, continuity and political commitment was the secret to Ethiopia’s economic success, particularly in attracting foreign direct investment. With highly-admired policy autonomy, Ethiopia attested the importance of proper management of resources in Africa through prudent policies. Salil Shetty, Secretary-General, Amnesty International, UK welcomed the way Ethiopia linked security with human security, and welcomed Prime Minister Hailemariam’s clear message about the strong link between natural resource management and human resource management.
In a summary of the discussions, Dr Mehari Taddele Maru, said people had noted the importance for Africa of the rise of populism and extreme nationalism of the ‘America First’ kind around the world, but underlined that nationalist populist movements are not what was wanted in Africa. Populist political discourse “stirs the blood, feeds politics of hate, politics of resentment, the politics of fear’, it operates on emotions not on rational discourse. It deflects meager resources and energy from the delivery of basic services and democratic ideals, focusing on ‘us’ versus ‘them’.
Dr Mehari summed up the key message of the discussions as the necessity to deliver on promises and implement policies. This, of course, was the responsibility of African states. It was clear governance needed an institutional framework, collaborative platforms and financial capability. Self-serving elites and a rent-seeking political economy could turn natural resources into a curse by restricting the developmental benefits of natural resource management and governance. Primary responsibility for good governance resided in the state. Failure meant a leadership deficit, and a need for frank and open dialogue and the freedom to be critical while being respectful and civil.
Discussions also underlined the need to revive agriculture in regions where it had been neglected and particularly to ensure it would not be neglected in countries heading toward industrialization and the establishment of a manufacturing economy. Integrity in governance was important and could be achieved through education, civic education in particular, and reliance on foreign know-how derived from the world’s successful democracies, though quality of education mattered, particularly in terms of the values and skill sets needed.
Migration was driven by the gap between ideals or aspirations and actual living conditions, and street protests could be seen as a revived form of expressing powerlessness and frustration. Empowerment of democratic citizenry, not only as passive victims but as key actors in the quest for solutions, underlined the fact that mega cities required good governance and efficient service delivery. Climate change and the security nexus demanded a special focus on water, food and energy security, and even with good regulatory and enforcement mechanisms, an empowered democratic citizenry was necessary to resolve the fundamental problems. Natural resource governance needed further discussion as did human resources and the capabilities of people. The focus must be on delivery and the implementation of established norms. Decentralization required the power and capability to deliver required essential services.
Dr Mehari also noted some points that needed further discussion. These included: solar, wind and geothermal energy as the most important, cost-effective and renewable resources in Africa; the narrative about victimization, loss, conflict, corruption and hopelessness where resource extraction had gone wrong; transboundary natural resources and border governance and the possibilities of transforming trans-boundary resources into integrative opportunities; and the need for predictive, preventive, responsive, adaptive approaches to climate change and the fate of natural resources in order to produce the necessary state capabilities.
In concluding remarks on Sunday (April 23), Prime Minister Hailemariam described the Forum as a platform to articulate African common interests. Recollecting Ethiopia’s long- standing contribution to Pan Africanism and its ideals, he emphasized that the Tana High Level Forum was only one aspect of Ethiopia’s commitment to African causes, to Pan Africanism and its ideals. Olusegun Obasanjo, Chairperson of the Tana Forum, appreciating the all-round support Ethiopia had given to the Forum, underlined the importance of the way the Forum provided an informal setting allowing Africans from a wide variety of interests with the freedom to put forward African Solutions to African Problems particularly in the field of security. Because of its inclusivity, the platform helped to produce diverse opinions but to do away with the “we/they” dichotomy in policy making and implementation, he said, adding: “we have done well but not enough, we would do better.”
Ethiopia launches a Pan-African university at Adwa
Adwa is a small market town in Tigray Regional State with a major claim to fame as the site of the Battle of Adwa, fought on March 1, 1896. This was the battle between Italian colonial forces and an army of Ethiopia gathered from across the country to defend the nation’s sovereignty. The Ethiopian army won a decisive victory over the Italian invaders.
Adwa was a decisive battle. It brought an end to the Italian effort to colonize Ethiopia and in successfully defending its independence, Ethiopia denied the widespread assumption that all Africans would fall under the rule of Europeans. It opened the door for Africa’s long and painful struggle for freedom from colonial rule. At the time, the victory of Ethiopia over the Italian invasion stirred reactions ranging from shock to outrage. It was the first time that an African army had inflicted a major defeat on a European army and the victory was seen as a threat to the European colonial powers. It offered inspiration to other Africans to struggle for their freedom. It later became a living inspiration for the emergence of the pan-African movement that triggered the unity of Africans in the post-colonial period. The political and historical significance of Adwa was never limited to Ethiopia but was a symbol of pride for all Africans and black people all over the world.
Ethiopia celebrates the victory of Adwa in colorful ceremonies all across the country every year; and this year, the 121st anniversary of victory of the Battle of Adwa, was commemorated as usual. This year, however, in order to underline the significance and importance of the victory, Ethiopia has decided to set up a Pan-African University in Adwa and a coordinating committee has been established to follow up and coordinate the establishment of the university. The victory of Ethiopia at Adwa launched the dream of resistance and liberation for the Black and African political order, inaugurating the beginning of a Pan-African movement in 1897 and liberation movements in Africa, including the African National Congress in South Africa. Ethiopia, as an anti-colonial symbol, remained highly relevant, today, as it was yesterday and will in the future. Ethiopia is the seat of the African Union, and seizing the restoration of African-ness through Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance, continues its historic responsibility in the march towards African liberation, self-worth, wellbeing, confidence, humanity, development and renaissance. The Pan African University will continue to provide self-expression, definition and organization to the concept of the African Renaissance through the creation of key enabling conditions for African peoples to learn about Pan-Africanism. It will provide a people-driven development agenda, and encourage cultural and student exchanges and people-to-people contacts to help close the chapter of African indignity and humiliation during colonialism and neo-colonialism.
At the beginning of this week, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, in the presence of several present and former African leaders including President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda; Botswana Vice-President, Mokgweetsi Masisi; former Burundi President, Pierre Buyoya; former Malawi President, Joyce Hilda Band; former South African President, Thabo Mbeki; former Nigeria President, Olugesun Obasanjo and other delegates, laid the corner-stone for the construction of the Adwa Pan-African University (PAU) at Adwa, a place of great historic significance for all Africans. The university is expected to become a center for research and studies about the significance of the victory of Adwa for the new African generation and its importance for pan-Africanism and African unity, the history of Africans’ struggle for freedom and independence, in Africa and elsewhere. The university will include some of the areas over which the battle was fought and will include a war museum.
Prime Minister Hailemariam said the university would teach not only Ethiopia’s history but also the struggle of all black people for freedom, and would strengthen the bonds of brotherhood between Africans. The Prime Minister emphasized that the defeat of the Italian forces by Ethiopian patriots at the Battle of Adwa was not only part of the heroic history of Ethiopia; rather it was a victory of all black people across the world. “We Ethiopians”, he said, “the owners of this history have not done anything that surpassed celebrating the event every year when black people around the world have been busy conducting research on the history of Adwa.” He said the establishment of the university would create a great opportunity for the coming generation to study and research the history of their ancestors. The Prime Minister said, “It is my strong conviction that a generation that remembers the history of its forefathers can also make its own history. In order to pass this history on to the next generation we have to build a war museum and a Pan African University and make Adwa a tourist destination.” He added that the government would provide all necessary support for the realization of the university.
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni thanked the people of Ethiopia for putting up such a spirited resistance to colonialism. He said, “I am honored along with my colleagues to be in Ethiopia. I am honored to be invited here at Adwa. I would have removed my shoes because this is a holy place; it is the holy land of Africa. Adwa removed the shame from Africa. African Chiefs should be ashamed of their ancestors who looked on as Africa was being invaded and colonized by the foreigners.” President Museveni said the colonization of Africa was an indictment of African leaders. “Here in Ethiopia,” he said, “your ancestors redeemed the honor of Africa and that is why we are here. Adwa is a remarkable inspiration in Africa”. He noted the university would redeem Africa with a combined action of carriage, knowledge and new technology to benefit all Africans for development.
Mr Abay Woldu, the President of the Tigray Regional State, said the university would be expected to correct distorted stories about the history of Adwa and the struggle of Africans for freedom. It would also work for the return of the many heritages of Africa stolen over the centuries. He said the university would specialize in studies and research focusing on human rights in Africa.
“Much more than ‘land of origins'” says WTO Secretary-General
The fifty-ninth meeting of the UN World Tourism Commission for Africa and the High-level Meeting on Chinese Outbound Tourism to Africa were held in Addis Ababa last week (April 18-21). Attending were 37 African Ministers of Tourism and high-level delegations from World Tourism Commission member states, as well as representatives of the tourism and media industries and Dr Taleb D. Rifai, Secretary General of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). During their visit, conference delegates visited the city of Gondar in the Amhara Regional State, the capital of Ethiopia during the mid-17th to 19th centuries, the residence of the Emperor Fasilidas (1632-1659) and his successors. They visited the palaces and castles in Gondar, as well as Debre Berhan Selassie church with its notable 17th century paintings and planted trees as a demonstration of commitment to environmental protection and climate change resilience.
The palace complex in Gondar itself includes the Castles of the Emperors Fasilidas, Iyasu I and Dawit, the Library and Chancellery of Yohannis I, and the Banqueting Hall of Bakaffa as well as other buildings. Gondar is also home to famous monasteries and churches including Debre Berhane Selassie, the Bath of Fasilidas and other remains in the immediate area, among them the 18th century Palace of the Empress Mentuab and the church at Qusqam; and a little further away, the Castle of Guzara and the House of the Catholic Patriarch, dating to the early 17th century.
In a subsequent interview, Dr Rifai, Secretary General of the UNWTO, said he was impressed by the enormous variety of tourist destinations that characterized Ethiopia, and particularly, the different styles of the castles he had seen in Gondar. Ethiopia, he said, with its various different tangible and intangible heritage sites and its historic and cultural tourist destinations, was much more than merely the “the land of origins”. He said in Gondar there were the same kinds of stone and building techniques, but “the styles are completely different. That is what really fascinates me.” Dr Rifai said: “I know you can come up with the tag line ‘the land of origins’, but Ethiopia is far more than this. It is a land that can accommodate its essence and souls that are beyond the world’s description.” He added: “The branding exercise has not yet been finished.”
Describing Ethiopia as not only the land of origin and diversity, but also a land of unity, where all aspects of life were unified under one umbrella, the Secretary-General said: “I think this visit completes my dictionary and my vocabulary on the cultural aspects of Ethiopia. The beauty of it is in the diversity within a unity. There is a remarkable spirit that unifies the whole place.” It was his third visit to Ethiopia, and Dr Rifai said he was impressed with the commitment and political will that the Government was devoting to the effect of ensuring proper utilization of the country’s tourism potential. He said, “The most important and impressive development I saw is the maturity of the political will and the belief in tourism today.” He noted that Ethiopia had invested largely in infrastructure development, and this, coupled with the thriving hotel service industry, had the potential to generate more than ten times the current tourist numbers.
At the same time, however, the UNWTO Secretary-General said there is still a real need for collaboration and enhanced synergy between the private sector and government to provide better growth for the tourist industry, and to further attract the world to the unique sites Ethiopia had to offer. He said he would like to see much more effort, resources and capacity dedicated to the areas of promotion and marketing strategies. He promised that UNWTO would help Ethiopia in further positioning itself on the international tourist stage.
Ethiopia has an amazing variety of rich cultural, historic, religious and natural attractions currently including nine UNESCO tangible World Heritage Sites. These are the obelisks
at Axum in Tigray Regional State (1980), the Fasil Ghibi (Compound) in Gondar Zone of Amhara Regional State (1979), the Fortified historic city of Harar Jegol (2006), the
Konso cultural landscape in the SNNP Regional State (2011), the Lower valley of the Awash (1980) and the Omo prehistoric sites (1980), the Rock Hewn Churches of Lalibela in Wello zone of Amhara Regional State (1978), the Simien Mountains National Park in Gondar Zone (1978) and the Tiya monuments in Oromia Regional State (1980).
There are also three items listed on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list:
The commemoration of the Finding of the True Cross (the Meskal festival), the Gada system, and Fiche Chamballa, the New Year of the Sidama people. UNESCO only began to list intangible heritage in 2013, and there are a number of other festivals and celebrations around the country which are being considered as possible intangible heritage listing, among them the celebration of Ethiopian Timkat (Epiphany) and the traditional festival of Shadey/ Ashenda, both of which have already been submitted to UNESCO. This has given major encouragement to consideration of other possible entries for the Cultural Heritage of Humanity list. Indeed, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism aims to get another dozen or so inscribed on the UNESCO list during the current GTP. Alongside the global recognition this will bring, the plan underlines the importance of ensuring saving and transferring the nation’s ancient values and heritages to future generations.
The importance of the tourist industry, and the need to optimize attractions of the country, has also been underlined by the creation of the Tourism Transformation Council, chaired by Prime Minister Hailemariam, and by the creation last year of the new logo – “Ethiopia: Land of Origins”, replacing the “Thirteen months of Sunshine”, used for many years. “Ethiopia: Land of Origins” recalls that the country is the ‘cradle of mankind’, the origin of coffee and source of the Blue Nile, as well as having an ancient civilization, and a rich and diverse history and culture.
Ethio-Japan Business Forum opens up prospects for a network of cooperation
An Ethio-Japan Business Forum, held this week in Tokyo, is opening up new prospects for a network of cooperative partnerships between the Ethiopian and Japanese business communities. It has also given fresh vitality to the existing time-honored and fine traditions of Ethiopian-Japanese friendship and relations.
The Forum provided a space for both government officials and business people from both countries to hold a dialogue on possibilities and prospects. It allowed Ethiopia to demonstrate its strategic vision and focus on the importance of the manufacturing industry to bring about an economic structural change in the country through the development of industrial clusters and parks. The Forum, acknowledging the value of the KAIZEN network, which has been radiating out from Addis Ababa into other areas of Africa, also began to chart the way for both countries to embark on further joint technical cooperation, human resource development, technology transfer and capacity building in the development of the manufacturing sector.
The Forum, cognizant of Ethiopia’s vision of development and Japan’s capabilities and will to share expertise, underlined the need to enrich and speed up the pace of bilateral economic relations. The issue of the manufacturing industry was a constant theme cutting across all the discussions and deliberations at the forum. This reflected Ethiopia’s urgent wish to tap Japanese expertise and experience in manufacturing. Indeed, the Joint Business Forum confirmed this and underlined the spirit of mutual commitment to consolidate the existing Ethio-Japanese Industrial Dialogue for the transformation of the industrial sector and encourage more Japanese foreign direct investment in the emerging manufacturing sector.
The Forum was organized by the Ethiopian Embassy in Japan, in collaboration with the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO). It offered a glimpse of the main reasons to invest in Ethiopia’s emerging manufacturing industry. It also gave a bird’s eye view of the country’s investment and business opportunities as well as the current state of industrialization. It gave Japanese investors and businesses a general outline of the business support services provided in Ethiopia and the Ethiopia-Japan policy dialogue (phase three), as an intellectual and practical element of Ethio-Japan economic cooperation, and put forward both the opportunities and challenges of doing business in Ethiopia. The Japan International Cooperation Agency’s (JICA) activities in Ethiopia and an overview of the Ethiopian investment climate were also addressed during the Forum’s discussions.
Ethiopia’s Industry Minister, Ato [Mr] Ahmed Abtew, speaking on the occasion, pointed out that Japan was an important cooperation partner in policy dialogue, research and program development for the structural transformation of the Ethiopian economy. He stressed that Ethiopia was looking forward to transforming itself into a regional manufacturing industry hub with the development of national strategic projects within the second phase of the Growth and Transformation Plan. The Minister suggested that this strategic partnership, showcasing cooperation in policy dialogue and research, ought to be raised to new levels of practical cooperation in areas including manufacturing, with a view to helping Ethiopia draw on the wealth of experience and wisdom available in Japan. He also underlined the need to engage Japanese enterprises in Ethiopia’s trade and investment for the benefit of both sides, ensuring the success of Japanese companies in their efforts and helping make Ethiopia the leading manufacturing hub in Africa.
Ethiopia’s interest in knowledge-sharing and mutual-learning for a comprehensive approach to human development was showcased within an economic diplomacy framework. This visibly underlined the importance of drawing on Japan’s example in research, technology and capital, mediated through Ethiopia’s unique conditions into a process of industrialization and the development of industrial parks on the basis of win-win results and benefits. This will allow for the activation and re-energization of Ethiopia’s industrialization by the involvement of Japanese firms in addition to the proactive engagement of Japanese cooperation mechanisms and organizations, including JICA. It made clear the importance of sharing and mutual benefit as the driving force for Ethiopia’s industrial process in close association with the participation of Japanese development cooperation organizations and investors. It also identified the necessary areas for the development of a manufacturing industry sector including policy dialogue, infrastructure development, research center development and other necessary elements.
Certainly, central to this is also the development and expansion of the Integrated Agro-Industrial Parks. These are catalysts to fast-track the pace of the country’s transition from an agricultural-led economy to an industrial-led transformation. This focus on these development projects is also vital to help the country reach middle income status by 2025 in addition to the other aim of making the country a hub of regional light manufacturing by this date. On the side-lines of the Forum, members of both private and public sectors of both countries made presentations and held a series of business-to-business meetings.
Industry Minister, Ahmed Abtew, also met with the Executive Vice-President of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), Dr Kasumi Hirano, on Tuesday (April 25) in Tokyo. He briefed Dr Hirano on the development of the industrial parks in various regions of the country, and also emphasized that light manufacturing was now being mainstreamed by the government as one of the leading export revenue-generating sectors. He recalled the decision taken to open the JETRO office in Ethiopia, and underlined its future importance in expanding business networks. It had already begun to provide enabling conditions for trade and investment relations between the two countries. The Minister, who noted the steady development of governmental diplomacy between Ethiopia and Japan, emphasized that Ethiopia was very ready to advance mutually beneficial cooperation. He called on Japanese businesses to join in Ethiopia’s development of the infrastructure of the manufacturing industry. Their discussions also covered new developments taking place in Ethiopia, which Minister Ahmed said were laying the foundation for accelerated structural changes in the economy.
South Sudan’s political processes “not dead” but need “resuscitation”
David Shearer, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) briefed the United Nations Security Council on South Sudan on Tuesday (April 25). Noting that since his appointment he had travelled to all 10 of UNMISS’ main field offices, he pointed out that UNMISS was directly protecting over 220,000 displaced civilians in six different locations with more than 125,000 people camped at the largest site in Bentiu, making it South Sudan’s second-largest urban area. He also noted that roadblocks and denial of flight safety assurances severely restricted UNMISS’ ability to promptly reach key locations.
Mr Shearer said virtually no part of the county was immune from conflict, yet there had been no concerted effort by any party to adhere to a ceasefire. Indeed, the conflict had intensified over the past month. In early April, the killing of Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers by opposition forces had triggered retaliatory attacks by Government forces in and around Wau town. To the south in the Equatorias, opposition attacks had focused on vehicles along major supply routes. Following an ambush by suspected members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) on a Government convoy in Eastern Equatoria, Government forces had responded. He said military offensives were fracturing groups and intensifying ethnic divisions to a degree that would hinder reconciliation; once again, boys and men had been targeted along ethnic lines. He said 60,000 civilians had fled from the Equatorias into Uganda each month since the beginning of 2017.
He said UNMISS had increased the robustness of its protection activities. It had increased its integrated patrols to the most conflict-affected areas with the aim of deterring violence, monitoring and reporting on human rights and engaging politically with local parties. Nevertheless, roadblocks and the denial of flight-safety assurances severely restricted the Mission’s ability to reach key locations as quickly as it would have wished. The deployment of the Regional Protection Force would free up UNMISS resources but he also cautioned that international expectations should remain realistic.
Mr Shearer noted that the humanitarian consequences of the violence had been disastrous, he said, adding: “This is a man-made disaster, unlike other countries in the region experiencing famine brought on by drought.” Three years of conflict had eroded basic livelihoods, preventing planting and harvesting, and causing cattle rustling on a grand scale. Overall, he said, despite apparent attempts by the parties for military victory, a political solution was South Sudan’s only way forward, he stressed, warning that military offensives were intensifying ethnic divisions to a degree that would hinder reconciliation. Regrettably, no party had shown interest in reviving the Peace Agreement, he noted. An independent convener was essential, as was the need to bring in all constituencies, including those outside the country. To generate the political will necessary for the parties to cease hostilities and build peace, the international community must speak with one voice, he said, underlining that the political process in South Sudan was not dead, but required “significant resuscitation”.
Mr Fode Seck, current Chair of the Security Council South Sudan Sanctions Committee, said the political arrangement between President Salva Kiir and First Vice-President Taban Deng Gai had not meaningfully included significant segments of the opposition. The current arrangement was not nationally unifying and had not arrested the security and humanitarian crisis, he said, noting that the largest military campaigns undertaken throughout 2016 and the first quarter of 2017 had been planned and executed by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) under President Kiir’s leadership. He reported the Committee’s Panel of Experts had documented widespread violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by all sides. It had also reported that at least 100,000 people were dying of starvation and a further 1 million were at near-starvation. South Sudan had become the world’s deadliest country for humanitarian workers. The Panel recommended that the Security Council impose an arms embargo on South Sudan.
Meanwhile this week, the IGAD Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission for South Sudan held a plenary session at which the Commission’s Chair, former Botswana President Festus Mogae, gave a briefing. The Commission is itself briefed by reports from the Transitional Government of National Unity and by the other bodies involved in the peace agreement processes: the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM), the Joint Military Ceasefire Commission (JMCC), Joint Integrated Police (JIP), Strategic Defense and Security Review Board (SDSRB) and the National Constitutional Amendment Committee (NCAC). Present were representatives of the South Sudan Transitional Government of National Unity, South Sudanese Stakeholders, IGAD member states, the UN, the Troika of the US, UK and Norway, China, the EU, the International Partners Forum and Friends of South Sudan. Mr Mogae said bluntly that famine could undermine peace efforts if no immediate actions were taken to arrest the situation from deteriorating further.
He said: “There can be no doubt that we now face a crisis within a crisis. Security is the foundation stone upon which we build economic and social confidence. This foundation stone no longer exists, confidence has evaporated, commerce is seizing up, prices are escalating and as a result we now face a crisis of hunger that is undermining all our efforts to make peace”. Mr Mogae went on to emphasize that: “A hungry man is an angry man. And angry men do not make peace. Food shortages and increasing hunger are now our immediate problems. Out in the country, beyond the reach of government, the situation is increasingly desperate. Instability and hunger has created a surge of survival-criminality that further exacerbates the problem through stealing, looting and the prevention of free-flowing commerce”. He said that violence was either centrally directed or locally orchestrated, but he feared that central structures of command and control appeared to have broken down. He thought violence all around the country was increasingly based on local decisions taken at local level.
Mr Mogae deplored deaths of twelve aid workers killed in South Sudan so far this year. He said it is “simply deplorable that in 2017 we must still plead with a government for the safety of those who deliver humanitarian relief,” adding: “I can only repeat that this humanitarian situation is predominantly man-made and the result of violence, conflict and the deliberate denial of access. Men, women and children are suffering and dying of starvation because the leadership at various levels is failing to prevent it.”
The returning threat of Somali piracy….
On Saturday, last week (April 22) a product tanker was attacked just six nautical miles off the coast of Somalia’s Mudug region. The attack took place just 30 nautical miles north of was Hobyo, a small port that was the base of a notorious pirate leader a few years ago. Up to ten armed men attacked the vessel, which took evasive action and called for help. After some two hours and the arrival of a Spanish Navy vessel ESPS Galicia the pirates fled. An EU NAVFOR spokesperson Commander Jacqui Sherriff said that “this attack again highlights the need for vigilance and adherence to the self-protection measures as laid down in Best Management Practices 4. It is crucial that Somali pirates are denied opportunities to attack vessels.”
In the last two months, there have been six pirate attacks, several on commercial dhows. The attacks have been relatively small-scale compared to the numbers and scale of operations during the height of the pirate activity in 2011 when there were 237 attacks and millions paid out in ransom. Last week, indeed, a hijacked tanker was released without any ransom payment, apparently under the threat of military action by the Puntland maritime police force. In remarks at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti a day after the latest incident, the head of the U.S. Africa Command General Thomas Waldhauser suggested that drought and food shortages in Somalia might be a contributing factor in this apparent increase in recent pirate attack. He said some of the vessels that had been taken would have had some food and some oil on them. One or two of the targets were very small and hardly the sort of lucrative targets previously attacked by pirates.
Nevertheless, Ocean Beyond Piracy and other maritime organizations have been quick to warn of the need to take precautions. Ocean Beyond Piracy believes that lax onshore policing and the way shipping companies have abandoned or relaxed deterrent measures such as armed guards and safe rooms, have given pirates the opportunity to strike again. Equally, the reduced presence of international naval forces in the last two or three years have made it easier for pirates to be active once more.
In fact, despite the relaxation of the international naval presence in recent years, piracy never really disappeared. Armed guards beat off eleven attacks last year, though these received little publicity. However, with this series of new attacks, maritime organizations are calling for the international naval forces of EUNAVFOR and Combined Task Force 151 to remain active and vigilant, and for commercial shipping to follow the advice of the International Maritime Organization when planning their passage past Somalia. This involves taking precautions, including armed guards and safe rooms. There is a need to update intelligence about the risks and on those possibly involved and the whereabouts of boats being used.
There was, in fact, a sizeable naval exercise last week in the Gulf of Aden, involving US, Japanese, South Korean and British forces. The exercise was focused on vessel search and inspection, naval helicopter operations and maneuvers required in anti-piracy military operations. Rear Admiral Tatsuya Fukuda from Japan, current commander of the Combined Task Force-151, was in charge of the four-nation exercise designed to help build up trust among the navies of the four countries and improve their joint operability.
There is also a need to tackle root causes on land including the provision of jobs. A survey of 66 pirate prisoners by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Oceans Beyond Piracy identified poverty as one of the main reasons for taking up piracy. It is also important to investigate and control illegal fishing, a major driver for a lot of pirate activity a few years ago. Somalia’s maritime police could be supported with more resources and equipment – and the UNODC is already providing training to link coastguard operations to naval activity and help to deter pirates.
….and Somalia to propose a debt relief process to the London conference in May
The Somali government has indicated it will propose accelerating the country’s debt relief process at the upcoming London conference (May 10-11) to enable the country to access much needed credit from the international markets. The debt burden is currently about $5.5 billion from 28 countries and institutions. It currently accounts for 93% of Somalia’s Gross Domestic Product; the country is forced to rely on donor support, Diaspora remittances and the domestic market to fund its national budget. Direct donor financing to the government stands at no more than 3%. The Federal Government is going to propose a 2-year period to give the country a completion point status under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. A statement from the President’s Office said: “Somalia’s debt stands at $5.5 billion. We are unable to secure any loans unless this debt is forgiven. Therefore, we have scheduled that Somalia must work on qualifying for debt relief and that goal can be achieved in two years.”
Somalia currently is eligible for HIPC initiative assistance but is yet to start the process. The HIPC Initiative, which also includes significant number of Paris Club creditors, was launched in 1996 seeks to ensure that no poor country faces a debt burden it cannot manage. The second step in the debt relief process, setting a completion point, qualifies the country to receive full and irrevocable reduction in debt available under the HIPC Initiative.
To achieve this, however, Somalia has first to meet step one, a decision point, involving eligibility to access the World Bank’s International Development Agency, which provides interest-free loans and grants to the world’s poorest countries. This will allow the start of clearing loans owed to the World Bank and the IMF. As of August 30, 2015, Somalia’s long standing arrears to the IMF stood at about $331.7 million, while arrears to the World Bank were $287.4 million. Arrears to the African Development Bank at the same date were $94.5 million.
In a report last week, the Financial Governance Committee advised the government to clear arrears to the International Financial Institutions as a first step to towards the HIPC debt process. “The FGC recommends that the government and its creditors “develop a milestone-based debt relief roadmap setting out how Somalia can qualify for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries debt relief process, with arrears clearance to International Financial Institutions as a first step.”
The Financial Governance Committee says the newly adopted National Development Plan needs to be strengthened to qualify as an interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). A PRSP developed through a broad-based process is a basis for debt reduction at the decision point, but its adoption and implementation for one year enables the country to move to the completion stage which translates to debt relief. The Committee also called on the government to push for increased direct donor financing to enable it support state building efforts and expand the economy to allow for debt repayments.
President Kagame and AU Commission Chair call for urgency over AU reforms
Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Alpha Conde of Guinea, and Idriss Deby of Chad, and African Union Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, on Monday (April 24) called for urgency in the implementation of the African Union reforms adopted in January this year. The three Heads of State and AU Commission chairperson were meeting in Conakry, Guinea, to discuss the institutional reform of the African Union, at the invitation of President Conde, the current Chairperson of the African Union. President Kagame was given the mandate to lead the reform process at the African Union Summit held in Kigali last July.
Speaking on the need for implementation, President Kagame said the reforms were urgent, especially at a time when the African continent ought to be united in the face of changes at the global level. He said: “The basis for the urgency of these measures is clear. The global context is changing rapidly. Standing united, with a common vision of our continent’s interests and aspirations, we can bend the trail of history in Africa’s favor.” As the next Summit approaches, President Kagame said the priorities must include implementation of the decision to finance the Union: “First, we need to accelerate the decision to finance the African Union with a levy on eligible imports. Everything else flows from this and we cannot afford to get bogged down. The second priority is to move quickly with those reforms which can be implemented right away.” he said.
President Kagame also underlined the need to have a common viewpoint when engaging with external partners: “One example is speaking with one voice when Africa as a whole engages with external partners. Nobody benefits from the confusion inherent in the current method of doing business,” he said. He also emphasized the importance of agreement “on a binding mechanism to ensure that member states are held accountable for respecting key African Union decisions, such as the ones on financing and institutional reform.” President Kagame said: “The mood for change is already there and we have a clear roadmap. Let’s capitalize on it, prioritize the next steps, and keep up the good momentum.”
Other reforms adopted last year were for the African Union to focus on key priorities with continental scope and to empower Regional Economic Communities to take the lead on regional issues, realigning AU institutions to deliver on its key priorities, connecting the African Union more to citizens for them to have a stake in its work, and managing the business of the AU more efficiently and effectively with particular focus on how summits are conducted and how personnel are selected.
Next month, officials from the AU Commission, Foreign Affairs ministers and permanent representatives of member states will convene in Kigali for an extensive briefing on progress on implementation of the proposed reforms.
The UN Food and Agricultural Organization Council meeting in Rome
Urgent action is needed to save the lives of people facing famine in north-eastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva said on Monday (April 24) at the opening of the UN FAO Council meeting in Rome this week (April 24-28). “If nothing is done, some 20 million people could starve to death in the next six months,” the Director-General said, “Famine does not just kill people, it contributes to social instability and also perpetuates a cycle of poverty and aid dependency that endures for decades.” Council members were briefed on the extent of the hunger crises, and the steps required to prevent catastrophe, during the week-long session. They also considered the FAO’s Program of Work and Budget for 2018-2019, and the areas where FAO can deliver the greatest impact to member countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, including climate change mitigation and adaptation and related areas. Food and agriculture are central to the sustainable development agenda, and FAO’s work is projected to contribute to the achievement of 40 targets across 15 of the 17 SDG goals.
The main subject for consideration at the meeting was the Program of Work and Budget 2018-2019. Consensus on the budget level would allow the FAO Conference, taking place in July, to focus on programmatic and substantive matters. The Director-General said the Program of Work and Budget, the Medium Term Plan (2018-2021) and the Reviewed Strategic Framework, had been mainly designed to align the FAO’s work with the Sustainable Development Goals further. He pointed out that FAO’s five Strategic Objectives had the same targets as many of the SDGs, especially those with which FAO is most directly involved. 53 SDG indicators would also measure the work of the Strategic Programs. This alignment was possible because of the centrality of food and agriculture to the sustainable development agenda 2030 and because, over the last five years, the FAO had adopted “an integrated, interlinked and interconnected approach”, similar to the SDGs.
Mr da Silva stressed that in order to eradicate extreme poverty and achieve Zero Hunger, the overarching SDG numbers 1 and 2, there had to be action on many fronts. He said: “We have to tackle climate change, manage natural resources in a sustainable way, and build the resilience of poor family farmers and rural communities in the face of conflicts and protracted crises.” He noted that the combination of climate change and conflicts and protracted crises was a big challenge for Zero Hunger, and he underlined: “famine is back. It has struck South Sudan. And other countries of Africa such as Somalia and northern Nigeria are on the brink of starvation. The same is happening in Yemen. If nothing is done, some 20 million people could starve to death in the next six months in those four countries.”
The Program of Work and Budget 2018-2019 provided a list of 10 priority areas for FAO to increase its technical capacity in the next two years. Among these priority areas are: Climate change mitigation and adaptation, sustainable agriculture production, poverty reduction, water scarcity management, migration and the support of conflict-affected rural livelihoods. Mr da Silva also noted FAO would be continuing the work already in progress on sustainable food systems, statistics, fisheries, forestry and Antimicrobial Resistance, following the previous request of Members. He said money had been found to reinforce each of these areas largely from efficiency savings, the re-profiling of administrative posts, and de-emphasizing some specific activities. He underlined that he was always committed to finding more savings and promoting more efficiency, as he had shown over the last five years. However, he added, “I have already cut to the bone. There is no more fat left.” If any area or activity is now to be added to the list of priorities, we will need to indicate what should be replaced, discontinued or reoriented.
Another option was to finance FAO’s work through extra budgetary funds. He wanted, therefore to highlight the importance, the vital importance of voluntary contributions. The Council this week has been discussing a new scale of assessed contributions, the annual payments made by Member countries to FAO. He said: “Many countries will pay more, and many others will pay significantly less in the next biennium. And for those who will be paying less, such as most OECD countries, I encourage them to keep their money in FAO as voluntary contributions.” Last year, 39% of the FAO budget came from assessed contributions of member countries and over 60% from voluntary contributions from members and other countries.
Made of up 49 elected countries, the FAO Council convenes between sessions of the FAO Conference to provide advice and oversight. This meeting was the 156th session of the Council.
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