A Week in the Horn of Africa- (12/07/2013)
News in Brief
In discussions this week with Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros, UNHCR High Commissioner Antonio Guterres commended Ethiopia’s open border and protection policy for refugees. While in Ethiopia he also had discussions with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn who said Ethiopia would always welcome Somali refugees.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn received Mr. Vang Chang Hi, Speaker of the Parliament of South Korea on Thursday (July 11). During discussions, Mr. Vang underlined the interest of South Korean business to become involved in various sectors of the Ethiopian economy.
Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros, met with the French Minister Delegate for Development, Mr. Pascal Canfin, on Tuesday (July 9). (See article)
Former Minister of Transport, Ato Deriba Kuma, was elected Mayor of the City Government of Addis Ababa on Tuesday (July 9), and received the keys to the city from outgoing mayor, Kuma Demeksa.
Ambassador Birhanu Dinka, veteran Ethiopian diplomat, former UN Deputy Secretary General, and member of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission in Kenya passed away on Monday (July 8) in New York.
The Ministry of Trade announced that it expects Ethiopia’s accession to WTO to be finalized in the third quarter of 2015 in accordance with the time frame set out in Growth and Transformation Plan.
The African Union Commission has appointed a high level committee chaired by former Chairperson of the AUC, Alpha Omar Konare to help restore constitutional order and make the transition in Egypt peaceful, participatory and inclusive. The African Union suspended Egypt’s membership of the AU on Friday last week (July 5).
A Special Summit of the African Union on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria started in Abuja, Nigeria on July 12. The Summit which will conclude next week will be attended by Prime Minister Hailemariam and Dr. Tedros Adhanom.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and President Ismail Omar Guelleh launched the construction of the new Nagad Railway Station in Djibouti on Sunday (July 7), for the new Djibouti/Ethopia rail link. (See article)
Ethiopia and Djibouti have concluded a two billion dollar electric power interconnection agreement. The agreement signed on July 3 in Addis Ababa during the 12th Joint Ministerial Meeting. The agreement is the second of its kind between the two countries. (See article)
African Development Group announced support amounting to US$7.5mn for geothermal potential in Djibouti. A new project supported by the AfDB plans to exploit the geothermal potential in Djibouti’s Lake Assal region to enable access to a reliable, renewable and affordable source of energy for the people of Djibouti.
On Friday last week (July 5) President Isaias Afewerki held talks with a Turkish delegation headed by Ambassador Fazil Corman who said later that Turkey would soon open an embassy in Asmara and that Tirkish Airlines was planning to begin direct flights to Asmara.
Sixteen Eritrean students graduated from Makelle University in Ethiopia last weekend. They were among 150 attending the university, some of the 1,200 Eritrean refugees on scholarships at Ethiopian universities. Ethiopia is currently hosting some 80,000 refugees from Eritrea
UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres met Kenya’s Interior Minister Joseph ole Lenku on Thursday to discuss the situation in Somalia and Kenya’s interests in seeing Somali refugees return home. Mr. Guterres told Kenyan officials it is time to move from “care and maintenance” of Somali refugees in their country to solutions “where the return of refugees is fully voluntary, and conducted in safety and dignity.”
Kenya is the fourth most corrupt country in the world, behind Sierra Leone, Liberia and Yemen, according to Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer, released Tuesday (July 9).
Kenya’s Wildlife Service and Kenya Revenue Authority intercepted a consignment of 3.2 tonnes of ivory at Mombasa this week. It was the largest consignment of ivory seized this year, and it follows the discovery of another illegal ivory shipment at Mombasa last week.
The third round of talks between Somalia and Somaliland took place in Istanbul this week. The two sides agreed to set up a body for joint air traffic control and committed themselves to continue talks. (See article)
Following the latest round of Somali and Somaliland talks in Istanbul at the beginning of this week, the head of Somalia’s delegation, Somalia’s Minister of the Interior and National Security, Abdikarim Hussein Guleid, held talks with his Turkish counterpart, Muammar Guler on Wednesday (July 9).
On Monday (July 8) Air Uganda launched a thrice weekly service to Mogadishu joining Turkish Airlines which began twice-weekly flights last March. Several private East African airlines, as well as Somali-owned Jubba Airways and Daallo Airlines, also fly into Mogadishu.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, visited Mogadishu on Tuesday (July 9). He said the UNHCR would work with Somalia and neighboring countries to be prepared when the time comes to repatriate those who fled Somalia. He stressed that return to Somalia should be, first and foremost, voluntary.
South Sudan celebrated its second Independence Day in Juba on Tuesday (July 9). The Presidents of Uganda, Rwanda, Somalia and Botswana, former South African President Thabo Mbeki, Ms. Hilde Johnson, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General and Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Demeke Mekonnen, were among those attending. (See article)
In his independence anniversary speech, South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit reiterated that his government will no more tolerate corruption. “Now that we are a free nation, our fight against corruption shall not be confined at the national level only, but will extend to the states, counties and anywhere that there is public spending”.
The UN Security Council discussed a report of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on Monday. The report said the Mission had a crisis of engineering capacity and mobility that severely affected its ability to carry out its mandate to protect civilians and strengthen state authority. Head of Mission, Hilde Johnson urged the Security Council to take the necessary measures to remedy the situation.
Sudan’s former Director of National Intelligence and Security Services, Salah Gosh, was suddenly released from jail on Wednesday (July 10) with his aide Major General Abdalla. They were arrested last November accused of involvement in a coup attempt. Twice in recent months, President Al-Bashir issued decrees pardoning and commuting sentences for those involved.
Mohamed Ibn Chambas, head of the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), has reiterated UNAMID’s commitment to implement its mandate and to support the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), after a meeting Sudanese vice-president Al-Haj Adam on Wednesday (July 10).
The 12th Ethiopia-Djibouti Joint Ministerial Commission Meeting
On Thursday last week (July 4), the 12th Ethiopia-Djibouti Joint Ministerial Commission Meeting was held in Addis Ababa, with the delegations led respectively by Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Ethiopia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and by Mr. Mahmoud Ali Yousuf, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Djibouti.
Dr. Tedros who extended a warm welcome to the Djiboutian Delegation expressed Ethiopia’s satisfaction at the unique level of relations between the two countries which included cooperation on joint mega-projects. He cited railway and road developments, construction of new ports and joint power and water projects, yielding immense benefit for both countries and working towards ensuring regional peace and security as well as further strengthening and cementing the bilateral relationship by diversifying and widening the scope of cooperation. Mr. Mahmoud Ali Yousuf also emphasized the special relationship and expressed Djibouti’s desire to strengthen the existing relationship and raise it to a higher level. He highlighted the common interest of the two countries to realize strong regional economic ties and increased economic integration between the two countries. He noted the need to demonstrate wise and effective leadership to carry out these demanding projects in infrastructural development, and expressed the satisfaction of his Government at the level of cooperation between the two countries on issues of regional peace and stability.
Both Ministers expressed their hope that the Joint Ministerial Commission Meeting’s focus on strategic issues that could help to speed up joint projects. There was agreement on the long term common strategic vision for the development and integration of the two countries as initiated at the 11th Joint Experts meeting in Addis Ababa. The Ministers appreciated the existing close co-operation and consultation between the two countries on bilateral and regional matters within the IGAD framework and agreed to further strengthen their ties through continuous consultation on matters of common interest. Djibouti presented a Strategic Integration Plan in the context of global and regional strategy, and recommended preparing the detailed document of this strategic vision jointly as soon as possible. It emphasized that this global strategic plan aimed to facilitate the realization of economic integration of the region and between the two countries to set-up a model of regional integration. Ethiopia appreciated the initiative and accepted the proposal.
The Ministers agreed to conduct a seminar on the implementation of the agreements in Judicial Cooperation and resolve any impediments to the agreements in the Justice Sector and prepare a joint action plan, to be initiated by Ethiopia, to cover judicial assistance, exchange of sentenced prisoners and extradition of offenders. The meeting also underlined the seriousness of illegal migration and human trafficking and agreed to work to eliminate traffickers. A joint technical committee is to build capacity to deal with this and follow up implementation of the agreement.
Issues covered included education and health. Djibouti requested that Djiboutian students should be treated as Ethiopians for entry into higher educational institutions in Ethiopia. The ongoing relationship between Addis Ababa University and the University of Djibouti was welcomed. Ethiopia raised the idea of building an Ethiopian community school in Djibouti and requested land for the project. The Ministers welcomed existing co-operation in health, particularly joint efforts to eradicate polio in border areas. They agreed to exchange information on cross border transmitted diseases. Djibouti’s Minister of Health expressed his interest to strengthen the partnership with Ethiopia in training and capacity building.
The meeting discussed the importance of co-operation in communication, information and media. It discussed the status of the implementation of an earlier Memorandum of Understanding on manpower exchanges and agreed to formulate a joint action plan for implementation. The Ministers agreed on cooperation between Youth Associations, the Djiboutian Youth Council and the Ethiopia Youth Federation, and to establish a Joint Technical Committee to provide mechanisms to resolve issues on tourism, including movements of money and payments, and encourage tour operators to cooperate. Both sides agreed to make efforts to provide a lasting solution to all pending financial issues. They agreed the Technical Committee should meet soon to submit recommendations to the Ministers.
The Joint Ministerial Commission also discussed trade issues including a border trade protocol, investment and financial matters, and the forthcoming agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation. They discussed Ethiopia’s livestock exports and agreed to form a joint technical committee to investigate any problems related to exports and related issues. To ensure the normal flow of production at the farm at Serofta, both parties agreed the customs of both countries should ensure the facilitation of traffic.
Other areas where the two sides agreed to work together included the Maritime and Transit Service, the issue of work permits for Ethiopians working in Djibouti, accommodating Djiboutians looking for job opportunities in Ethiopia and looking jointly at employment practices, facilitating training of manpower and experience sharing. A number of specific issues were raised over the Port and Transport and Transport Sector Cluster and the Ministers agreed on the need to improve effectiveness and efficiency. It was agreed that the Joint Operation Committee should be more pro-active over corridor issues, and to establish a data center for logistics information and carry out a comprehensive study in order to amend the existing port utilization agreements as necessary. This would allow for proper participation in the port development process and the establishment of the Djibouti Transit Corridor Management Authority. With reference to pollution and the CCA contaminated soil disposal process, Ethiopia has signed a contract with NIRAS A/S, from Denmark for the removal and disposal of contaminated soil at Djibouti port.
With regard to the existing Ethio-Djibouti Railway, Ethiopia noted the line between Dire Dawa and Djibouti was under maintenance and would be operational in the coming weeks. Some former workers will be re-employed and a meeting of the Board of Directors will be called as soon as possible. Both sides confirmed all means will be employed to support operationalization of the standard gauge railway line within the specified time. A Joint Technical Committee has been established based on the agreement on the Road Fund issue reached at the 11th Joint Commission meeting. Ethiopia agreed in principle to increase of road fees and both sides have agreed to produce further proposals within two months.
The Ministers signed a protocol agreement submitted by the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation and Electricity of Djibouti for the construction of second interconnection line for 230 kV connecting Semera-Ethiopia to Jaban As-Djibouti. This will increase energy transfer between the two networks and the reliability of the power supply. In addition, a follow-up mechanism at experts’ level has now been set up for the implementation of signed agreements, of the decisions of the Joint Ministerial Commission and the status of draft agreements. A Joint High Level body to oversee the implementation of large scale joint infrastructural projects has also been agreed.
Enhancing Regional Integration: Ethiopia-Djibouti Power and Rail links
In a groundbreaking ceremony on Sunday (July 7) in Djibouti, Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn launched the construction of the new Nagad Railway Station. The inauguration of the station,, which will form part of the 800km Addis Ababa – Dewele – Djibouti rail route, was also attended by Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanom.
Prime Minister Hailemariam, speaking at the ceremony, said that the construction of this rail link would have a significant impact in bolstering regional economic integration. President Ismail Omar also noted that “the infrastructure will advance economic cooperation and social connections between the two sisterly countries”. Both leaders described the occasion as a historic day for the region.
Dr. Tedros noted that the $4.5 billion dollar railway construction project exemplified Ethiopia’s foreign policy which aims to fight poverty and build a prosperous nation and a prosperous region. He explained that the costs of the massive rail project will be shared by both governments and, he added, on the Ethiopian side some 20% of the construction had already been completed, Dr. Tedros expressed his satisfaction that everything was ready on the Djiboutian side, including all necessary equipment, in order to begin construction of the Nagad Railway Station. He emphasized that July 7 was a great and historic day for both countries.
Another project, agreed this week, is the second electrical power system interconnection between Ethiopia and Djibouti. The agreement for this two billion dollar link was signed by Djibouti’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Djibouti, Mohamed Ali Yousuf, and Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, during the 12th Joint Ministerial Meeting held last week. This interconnection, covering the area from Semera, in Ethiopia’s Afar Regional State, to Jaban As-Djibouti, will be a 230kV electric power transmission project, similar to the first transmission line. The line will allow Djibouti to import an additional 35Mw to 70Mw of electricity from Ethiopia.
Currently Ethiopia is exporting electric power to Sudan and a power export agreement has been signed with Kenya. With the completion of a number of different hydro power production projects in the next few years, Ethiopia plans to export electricity to more neighboring countries as a way to strengthen regional economic integration schemes, especially in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) sub-region.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development provides an institutional framework for economic integration. Among the aims and objectives of IGAD are: creating an enabling environment for foreign, cross-border and domestic trade and investment; and developing a coordinated and complementary infrastructure in the areas of transport, telecommunications and energy in the sub-region. In 2009, IGAD Member States adopted a Minimum Integration Plan with the aim of accelerating regional economic cooperation and integration. Increased cooperation and investment on key regional infrastructure projects is an important aspect of the plan; to this end the development of regional interconnectivity among the countries of the IGAD region is being actively supported by IGAD and by IGAD member states and development partners. Enhanced interconnectivity in transport, energy and water resources is expected to contribute to increase trade and contribute to alleviate poverty within the region, while the overall contribution to the peace and security is immense.
In fact, there is already significant increased volume of trade, market expansion and free movement in the IGAD sub-region. These are positive developments and they will be strengthened by a resurgence of regional mega-infrastructural projects including the recently launched railway project between Ethiopia and Djibouti, the Power Interconnection projects between Ethiopia and Djibouti, between Ethiopia and Kenya, and between