A Week in the Horn of Africa- (07/06/2013)
News in Brief:
Ethiopia An Ethiopian delegation led by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn which included the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, the Minister of Industry, Mekonnen Manyazewal, and the Minister of Mines, Sinkinesh Ejigu, amongst others, participated in the fifth annual TICAD Summit in Yokohama, Japan. (See article)
A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Spokesperson this week underlined that Ethiopia has been consistent in its policy of promoting a foreign policy based on mutual respect and mutual benefit with all its neighbors over the past two decades.
In a statement on Sunday (June 2nd) Ethiopia’s Minister of Water and Energy quoted the report of the International Panel of Experts on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), presented to the Governments of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan on June 1st, as saying the project design was consistent with international standards, that the dam would not cause any significant harm to the lower riparian states and that it would offer immense benefits to all three countries. (See article)
Egyptian Opposition politicians meeting with Egypt’s President Morsi on Monday (June 3rd) proposed various hostile acts against Ethiopia, including backing rebels and carrying out sabotage, to stop the building of the dam on the Nile. President Morsi did not react to the suggestions, but noted that Egypt respected Ethiopia and its people and would not engage in any aggressive acts against it. (See article)
A two day Brazil-Ethiopia-Djibouti-South Sudan Trade and Investment Seminar was held in Addis Ababa (June 6th-7th) to provide an opportunity for business and investment networking between governments, private and public companies. (See article)
The Finish Embassy in Addis Ababa organized an Ethio-Finnish Aid for Trade and Business Forum, under the theme of “inclusive partnership for sustainable growth” on Wednesday (June 5th).
The Ethiopian Permanent Mission in Geneva and the Committee for the Coordination of Support for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in Switzerland held a gala that raised over one hundred thousand francs.
The 36th anniversary of the Djibouti national armed forces was marked in central Somalia this week by the Djibouti troops based in Belet Weyne, in a ceremony attended by the Hiiraan region administration officials, Ethiopian security officials and the local population.
The Djiboutian government’s Centre for the Purchase of Medicines and Essential Materials donated 650 cartons of streptomycin sulphate and 150 of vitamin B complex on Tuesday (June 4th) to help Somaliland fight tuberculosis
The United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva held an interactive dialogue on the Report of the UN Special Rapporteur for Eritrea’s Human Rights (See article)
More than ten human rights activist groups held a meeting in Geneva on Wednesday (June 5th) to discuss the human rights situation in Eritrea, following the presentation of the Report of the UN Special Rapporteur for Eritrea’s Human Rights. (See article)
Eritrean Embassy in the UK organizes the 5th Annual Eri-UK Friendship Forum in London in connection with the 22nd anniversary of Eritrea’s independence.
Kenya President Kenyatta said after meeting Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in Kenya on Wednesday (June 5th) that the two countries would direct their respective security forces to work closely in eliminating al Shabaab threats, and called for the support of IGAD, UNHCR and the international community. The two presidents said the planned conference on refugees, to be held in August in Nairobi will work out on modalities for early repatriation and resettlement of refugees in their country. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was briefed by top security officials Tuesday (June 4th) at his first National Security Council (NSC) meeting in Nairobi.
Britain has offered to pay £14 million in compensation to over 5,000 Kenyan victims of torture and brutality carried out during the Mau Mau anti-colonial uprising in the 1950s.
Somalia The new United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) formally set up in Mogadishu on Monday (June 3rd) under the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Nicholas Kay. It will incorporate the work of the UN Support Office for AMISOM, and will be headquartered in Mogadishu with offices in Hargeisa and Garowe. At a meeting to discuss Somalia on Thursday (June 6th), the UN Security Council welcomed recent progress but underlined that gains in security and other sectors ‘remain fragile’; the UNSC urged the international community to continue to support the efforts of the Somali Government to tackle outstanding issues vital for the country’s long-term stability. Puntland President Abdirahman Sheikh Mohamed ‘Farole’ met with Somali President Mohamud in Nairobi this week. Discussion covered the federal structure, politics and Jubaland. A delegation from the Egyptian Ministry of Defense arrived in Mogadishu on Tuesday (June 4th) to study ways to rehabilitate Somali National Army facilities and aid the rebuilding of the army headquarters and military hospitals.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir has told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that it was time for the international community “to take action” to resolve conflict over the disputed region of Abyei.
USAID launched a three year Project on Good Governance in the Republic of South Sudan (PROGRESS) on Monday (June 3rd) to strengthen institutions, and promote transparency and accountability, targeting the rule of law, finance and petroleum management, to develop core governmental institutions at the national and state levels.
This week, General Johnson Uliny, a militia leader fighting the South Sudanese army for two years in Upper Nile State, responded positively to the recent presidential amnesty. Last month General Bapiny Monytuil and his deputies, Karlo Kuol and Tut Gatluak with 3,000 of their forces accepted the amnesty
Sudan’s Minister of Finance and National Economy, this week, defined the country’s economic problems as a serious balance of payments deficit, a poor response to the government’s programs, high food prices, the gap between official and unofficial exchange rates, high rates of inflation and declining rates of growth.
The fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V)
The Summit of the fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) opened on Saturday (June 1st) at the Yokohama Conference Center. Dozens of African leaders and ministers from over 50 states were present at the three day meeting, including Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, President Joyce Banda of Malawi, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti, President Sheikh Hassan Mahmoud of Somalia, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, President Moncef Marzouki of Tunisia and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, as well as senior officials on international organizations, including the UN Secretary General, Ban ki-Moon and the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim.
The Summit was held under the theme: “Hand in Hand with a Dynamic Africa”, and the opening session was co-chaired by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Prime Minister Hailemariam. In his opening remarks, Prime Minister Abe, referring to the 20th Anniversary of the TICAD process and the 50th anniversary of the OAU/AU, noted that Africa has accomplished an admirable job in the past fifty years even though it had been, at times, “a bumpy road.” He underlined Japan’s role, noting that in the 1990’s when the international community had almost forgotten Africa in the distractions of the post-Cold War world, Japan alone had believed in the development of Africa, launching the TICAD process. Prime Minister Abe emphasized the importance of increasing private sector investment and of Private-Public Partnerships to further boost the economic growth and overall development witnessed in the past decade. He announced that Japan would be providing $32 billion in support of Africa’s growth through public and private initiatives means. He also announced the launch of the Abe Initiative: the African Business Education Initiative for Youth which will be offering graduate and post graduate studies to 30,000 Africans in the coming five years.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said TICAD had special meaning for Africa because of the timing of the process when others were ignoring the continent. Japan, he said, was the only country to take the initiative to mobilize the international community in support of Africa. In this context, he underlined the crucial role of international partnerships in implementing the flagship projects of the African Union, noting that Africa deserves all possible support to be able “to cast off its seemingly perennial role as net exporter of primary commodities and net importer of industrial products.” He also underlined the need for the development of the private sector and of small and medium-scale industries. “
Discussion in a plenary session on the anniversaries of TICAD and the OAU/AU let leaders reflect on the historic problems of development. President Museveni listed major bottlenecks that had hindered Africa’s development: human resource development, the absence of well developed infrastructure, weak regional integration, value addition to exports, land fragmentation, lack of supply of agricultural inputs and failure in industrialization. President Marzouki attributed Africa’s underdevelopment to the absence of robust democracy and governance institutions, saying no development could be sustained without democracy and functioning governance institutions. The importance of deepening the involvement of the private sector, strengthening private-public partnership programs, expanding industries to add value to African primary products, economic diversification and modernization of agriculture and regional integration were emphasized as the key policy matters that needed to be addressed to realize Africa’s renaissance. There was emphasis on the “blue economy”, the untapped potential of fisheries and maritime businesses, to reduce the vulnerability of costal states. The vital role that Japan’s technological assistance could play in Africa’s development was underlined; and Japanese officials raised the inclusion of NEPAD projects into the TICAD process as a demonstration of Japan’s commitment to partnership, respecting Africa’s ownership of its development agenda.
The Summit discussed five thematic issues in different panels: the Private Sector, Trade and Investments as Engines of Development; Strengthening Sectoral Bases for Growth; Towards the post-2015 Development Agenda, Driving African Development through Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment; and Enhancement of Peace Building.
Both the UN Secretary General and the President of the World Bank noted the transformational power of the private sector, trade and investment in terms of employment creation, especially for young people. The discussants emphasized the need to increase the role of the private sector in Africa’s economy, suggesting the need to address the problem of policy predictability, of widening African markets, reducing costs of production through infrastructure development, resolving the lack of a skilled and competitive labour force, the lack of finance, the specific challenges faced by women entrepreneurs, the lack of sufficient public-private dialogue and the failure to encourage entrepreneurship.
Discussion on the post-2015 development agenda noted TICAD’s role in galvanizing support to meet the Millennium Development Goals in 2015 over the remaining 940 days left. It also underlined that any common African post-2015 position should be in tune with the priorities of NEPAD and with Vision 2063 along with TICAD’s action plan 2013-2017. One focus of the upcoming development agenda should be on issues such as poverty, hunger, water and sanitation women and youth empowerment and health to carry forward the gains under the MDGs. Attention must also be paid to emerging challenges including the environment, sustainable energy and control of population dynamics.
In his closing remarks, Prime Minister Hailemariam said the Summit had enabled participants to reflect on the remarkable progress Africa is making and the support Japan had provided to the process, acknowledging the need for TICAD to evolve with the priorities of Africa. Welcoming Prime Minister Abe’s pledge to provide $32 billion to support infrastructure and human development, he called on Japanese investors to make their presence properly felt in Africa, and for the immediate implementation of the action plan which would help make deep inroads in fighting poverty. Prime Minister Abe repeated that Japan was committed to supporting African countries and communities as they strive to build resilience; and added that Japan wanted to provide support centering on human resource development and the independence of African counties. “The goal is a win-win relationship,” Prime Minister Abe concluded.
On the final day, TICAD adopted the Yokohama Declaration and Yokohama Action Plan 2013-2017. The Yokohama Declaration 2013 commemorates the 50th anniversary of the OAU/AU and the 20th anniversary of TICAD, noting the remarkable achievements made through the TICAD process across Africa and the challenges that remain. It acknowledges that quality growth can only be achieved through concerted action in achieving the three core themes of a “robust and sustainable economy”; an “inclusive and resilient society”; and “peace and stability”. TICAD’s role as an open and inclusive forum to raise global awareness about Africa’s development challenges and opportunities and its contributions to Africa’s development by emphasizing private investment and human security are noted. The declaration includes renewed commitment of the signatories to the twin principles of Africa’s Ownership and International Partnership. The document recognizes the gains made through the TICAD Process in sharing and adapting Asian development models to Africa and the promotion of South-South cooperation. The declaration also emphasizes the strategies of: promoting private sector led growth; accelerating infrastructure development; empowering farmers as mainstream economic actors; promoting sustainable and resilient growth; creating an inclusive society for growth; consolidating peace, stability and good governance; building a new international development framework; making the African voice heard in the post 2015 Development Agenda to achieve quality growth. Another important area of the Declaration is the commitment to support Africa’s own initiatives, including the Programme for Infrastructure Development of Africa, (PIDA), the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADAP), the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and Accelerating African Industrial Development (AIDA).
The Action Plan aims for six percent growth in the agriculture sector and a doubling of rice production by 2018 from its 2008 level. It covers the specific areas of boosting economic growth; accelerating infrastructure and capacity development; empowering farmers as mainstream economic actors; promoting sustainable and resilient growth; creating an inclusive society for growth; consolidating peace, stability, democracy and good governance; and the follow-up mechanism. These are defined as the six key strategic approaches for the direction of development in Africa in the coming five years of the Action Plan. They will operate under the three core pillars identified in the Declaration: pillars for development: “robust and sustainable economy”, “inclusive and resilient society”, and “peace and stability”. The participants at the fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V), Japan, African nations and other partners agreed to aim for the realization of these goals through joint and concerted actions.
…and a joint Ethio-Japan Investment Forum held in Tokyo
Following the conclusion of the TICAD V summit, an Ethio-Japan Investment Forum was held in Tokyo at the headquarters of the Japan External Trade Office (JETRO). Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanom; Minister of Mines, Sinkinesh Ejigu; and State Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Abraham Tekeste, and Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Japan, Markos Tekle, were among those attending the seminar and the exhibition of Ethiopian products. The Forum, organized by JETRO, Wafa Marketing and Promotion, an Ethiopian company engaged in investment promotion, and the Ethiopian Embassy in Japan, included more than 40 Ethiopian businessmen and officials and another eighty or so Japanese businessmen.
The Chairperson of JETRO, Hiroyuki Ishige, explained the support afforded by JETRO to Japanese investors in Africa. He announced JETRO’s plan to increase the number of offices in Africa to step up its efforts to encourage investments. Ambassador Markos noted that Ethiopia and Japan were enjoying a high level of partnership which he said offered real opportunities to increase Japanese investment in Ethiopia. State Minister of Finance Abraham detailed the overall economy of Ethiopia and the encouraging investment climate. He noted Ethiopia’s political stability, sound macroeconomic policies, expanding education opportunities producing a huge skilled labor force, and the more than 85 million population with a growing middle class. It all offered growing market opportunities and unique opportunities to invest.
In his address, Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros, said Japan was a strategic partner of Ethiopia and they had a successful partnership. However, he pointed out that the trade and investment relations between the two countries could be improved. He invited Japanese investors to take part in the dynamic growth in Ethiopia where there was a dynamic economy, rising incomes, an emerging middle class, stability and attractive investment incentives, including a one-stop-shop service to ease the problems of doing business in Ethiopia.
Zemedeneh Negatu, Managing Partner of Earnest and Young Ethiopia office, also explained the investment opportunities, saying that Ethiopia was a country with some of the least business risks in Africa. He said Japanese businesses could also use Ethiopia as a hub for the much larger market of COMESA. Minister Sinkinesh also gave a presentation on the mining investment opportunities and detailed the functions of the ministry in conducting geological surveys and under-writing concessions for exploration. She also briefed the audience on the mining potential of the country and the exploration activities that are being carried out. The seminar, which was accompanied by an exhibition of Ethiopian produce, including coffee, oilseeds, gemstones and handmade textiles, was closed by Prime Minister Hailemariam.
The International Panel of Experts submits its Final Report on the GERD
Last weekend, the International Panel of Experts submitted its Final Report on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) to the three Governments of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan. The construction of the Dam began with the laying of the foundation stone of the project on April 2nd, 2011. Shortly afterwards, in order to encourage transparency, trust, cooperation and understanding in Sudan and Egypt regarding the construction of the project, Ethiopia took the initiative to establish an International Panel of Experts on the Dam.
The Panel was given the mandate “to review the design documents of the GERD, provide transparent information sharing and to solicit understanding of the benefits and costs accrued to the three countries, and impacts, if any, of the GERD on the two downstream countries so as to build trust and confidence among all parties.”
The Panel was made up of ten experts, six from the three riparian countries involved and four other internationally recognized practitioners in the field. Prior to the commencement of the Panel’s work, the Water Ministers of the three countries involved met in Addis Ababa, and after thorough discussions agreed on the terms of reference, procedures and activities of the Panel. The international experts for the panel were selected by the three riparian countries which also agreed that they would cover all associated costs.
Over the past year the Panel reviewed the design and feasibility studies of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, conducted site visits in an effort to observe the process of the construction, held six meetings in the three riparian countries, discussed all the issues that surfaced during those meetings and also held consultations with the contractors and consultants associated with the project. The Panel, following agreement on the findings of their study, signed and submitted their report to the Ministers of Water and Energy of the Governments of the three riparian countries on June 1st.
The Ministry of Water and Energy, in a press release on June 2nd , said that according to the report the project design of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam was consistent with, and fulfilled, international design standards and principles. It also noted that the report said the construction of this Dam would offer immense benefits to the three riparian countries involved; and that the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam would not cause significant harm to the two lower riparian countries along the Nile. Additionally, the Panel, in its report, identified added benefits that the Dam would provide. It also requested further study to be conducted in order to identify issues, if any, that could arise in the future.
The Ministry of Water and Energy said the Government would “meticulously” review the contents of the report, adding that it was “committed to facilitating a forum by which the three riparian countries can further cooperate and work together going forward.” It also extended its appreciation and thanks to the Governments of Sudan and Egypt for the successful end to the Panel’s activities. It thanked the International Panel of Experts for their efforts over the last year in cultivating trust and transparency between the three riparian countries; and affirmed that Ethiopia would continue to strengthen cooperation and friendship with all riparian states on the basis of mutual benefit over the Nile. However, some responses in Egypt were regrettably hostile. President Morsi President Morsi held discussions with a number of politicians on Monday this week on the issue. Part of the discussion was broadcast live on television, apparently accidentally, but it included a number of suggestions being made on how the dam project might be stopped, including support for Ethiopian rebels, sending intelligence and military teams to intervene in Ethiopia’s domestic affairs, spreading rumours Egypt was preparing to buy new planes and threatening military action and other similar alternatives. President Morsi himself did not react to the suggestions of the politicians, but emphasized in concluding remarks that Egypt respected Ethiopia and its people and would not engage in any aggressive acts against it. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs subsequently called in the Egyptian Ambassador in Addis Ababa to inquire further about the threats proposed by politicians at the meeting. Egyptian Ambassador to Ethiopia, Mohamed Idris, met with foreign ministry officials on Wednesday to discuss developments. Officials asked for a formal, swift clarification from the Egyptian government on the comments made at the meeting. In a subsequent statement, the Foreign Office spokesperson said recent comments of Egyptian politicians had been unhelpful. The statement reiterated Ethiopia’s commitment to establishing win-win relations with countries like Egypt. Ethiopia recognizes fully that it can benefit very much more from cooperation than hostility. The statement deplored the suggestions that the Renaissance Dam construction was a national threat to Egyptian people. It described the idea of sabotage or damage to the Dam or the country through every available avenue as irresponsible and unhelpful. Ethiopia is determined, the statement said, to establish mutual relations with Egypt that promote cooperation between the peoples of Ethiopia and Egypt.
This week, Ethiopia’s Minister for Water Resources, Alemayehu Tegenu, repeated that there was no reason for Egypt to worry about the Dam. The Minister said construction of the Dam posed no threat to Egypt or Sudan: “We do not have any plan to harm downstream countries, Sudan and Egypt. If Egypt has some issues to discuss with Ethiopia, we are very ready to discuss them.” The Minister also made clear that the decision to divert the river which started on Tuesday last week, was unrelated to the completion of the Report. He said the diversion of the river was according to the construction schedule set earlier. The Minister re-emphasized that “river diversion does not stop or impede the flow of water to the downstream countries. River diversion means the rerouting of the river flow to facilitate the construction in the riverbed, nothing else.”
The UN Human Rights Council hears details of human rights in Eritrea
The Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea was submitted to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on June 4th, 2013. The Special Rapporteur, Ms. Sheila Keetharuth, the first Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, was refused entry into Eritrea, and based her detailed report on information gathered from a variety of sources including Eritrean refugees interviewed during a field mission to neighboring countries in April and May this year. In the report, the Special Rapporteur provides an overview of the most serious human rights concerns in Eritrea, including cases of extrajudicial killing, enforced disappearances and incommunicado detention, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and inhumane prison conditions. According to the Special Rapporteur, the situation in Eritrea is also alarming with regard to mass round-ups, forced conscription and indefinite national service as well as the country-wide arming and military training of the civilian population. The report said decade-long conscription and “excessive militarization” were leaving Eritreans with little option but to risk flight, with more than 4 000 escaping every month. UNHCR has registered more than 300,000 Eritreans refugees in neighboring countries. “Even children as young as seven or eight years of age are crossing borders unaccompanied, citing dysfunctional family circumstances caused by the absence of one parent or even both as a result of conscription, detention or exile or forced military training as the reasons for flight.” The report also highlights severe curtailment of freedom of movement, of opinion, of expression, of assembly, association and the right to freedom of religion as serious concerns. The Special Rapporteur provided a number of recommendations to Eritrea and for the international community. These are aimed at improving respect for human rights in the country. She recommends that the Government of Eritrea should fully respect all obligations under the international human rights treaties to which Eritrea is a party as well as ratify and implement other international human rights instrumen