A Week in the Horn of Africa- (24/05/2013)
News in Brief:
The 21st Assembly Heads of State and Government of the African Union opened on Sunday (May 19th) under the theme of “Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance”, with the 26th Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) (May 19th -May 21st) .(See article) The 23rd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union (of Foreign Ministers) opened on Wednesday and continued through Thursday. (See article) The 21st Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government will be held on Sunday and Monday (May 26th-27th). Meeting during the week included the Meeting of the Ad Hoc Ministerial Meeting on the Scale of Assessment (May 22nd); the Meeting of the Committee of Ten on UN Reforms (May 23rd); and working breakfasts for NEPAD’s Heads of State and Government (May 25th) and the ARPM (May 26th).
The 50th Anniversary Summit of the OAU/AU is being held on Saturday (May 25th) (See article). The African Youth Congress was held Wednesday through Friday (May 23rd-25th).
Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros held a press conference on Pan Africanism, the OAU/AU and Ethiopia. (See article)
Professor Jeffery Sachs calls for Africa to have a common position on ending poverty as the first of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). (See article)
Pan African Business Seminar calls for the African Diaspora to become the sixth regional community of the African Union (See article)
Other events in Addis Ababa include: the African Rock Art Exhibition and Colloquium (May 22nd-24th); African and Diaspora Traditional and Contemporary Art and Photography (May 24-30th); Africa Trade Exhibition (May 21st-27th); Pan-African Business Conference (May 24th); a Youth Parade (May 24th); Symposiums on Women and Child Rights in Africa (May 24th, and on the 50th Anniversary and the Development of Right in Africa and the Role of the AUC in Peace Development (May 26th).
Ms. Bogaletch Gebre has won Belgium’s prestigious King Baudouin Prize for her campaign to eradicate female genital mutilation, with her Kembatti Mentti Gezzimma group lowering the incidence of FGM in 10 years from 100% to less than 3% of newborn girls in the areas where they worked, through “community conversations” in areas where illiteracy levels were high and FGM “endemic”.
The Embassy of Brazil in Addis Ababa has announced that it will be organizing a trade and investment seminar with Ethiopia, South Sudan and Djibouti in June. Ethiopian Airlines is launching direct flights between Brazil and Ethiopia from July 1, 2013.
A Spokesperson for Ethiopia’s Prime Minister has said the Ethiopian government is not involved in Jubaland affairs nor does it back any political faction in Kismayo. Getachew Reda, Minister for Communications and Media in the Prime Minister’s Office says Ethiopia supports the peace process led by the Somali Federal Government.
AMISOM spokesman Colonel Ali Aden Humad of Djibouti said this week that AMISOM’s casualties were less than 500 in total and it was up to the countries that provided the troops for AMISOM to announce precise figures.
On Wednesday, Somali Parliament Speaker, Mohamed Osman Jawari, announced that a confidence motion against Prime Minister Shirdon’s government had been withdrawn.
A report from the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) said over a million people in Somalia still remained food insecure though this marked a significant drop from the 3.7 million in mid-2011. The ‘deyr’ rains (October-November, 2012) and the current ‘gu’ rains (March-to-June) had been good.
The IGAD fact-finding delegation on Jubaland met Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon in Mogadishu last week before travelling to Kismayo at the weekend to talk to the Presidential claimants, elders, and other stakeholders. The IGAD Summit on Friday (May 24th) will be discussing the situation in Jubaland.
President Ahmed Silanyo of Somaliland has been invited to hold official talks in France by the new French Ambassador to Kenya and Somalia who visited Hargeisa this week. A day earlier, the European Union’s Special Representative to Somalia, Ambassador Michele Cervone d’Urso, held talks with Somaliland Foreign Minister Dr. Mohamed Abdulahi Omar on continuing cooperation between Somaliland and the EU.
Australia’s High Commissioner to Kenya, Ambassador Geoff Tooth, visited the Puntland State of Somalia, earlier this week (May 20th – 21st) and held talks with the President of Puntland, Abdirahman Mohamed Mohamud (Farole) on foreign aid, investment, and the political and security situation in Puntland, and in Somalia.
Sudan On Wednesday, the UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, on a visit to Darfur, said UN bodies were ready to cooperate with the Sudan government to provide support to those affected by the recent fighting in Darfur. The UN says 60,000 people have been displaced in East Darfur since April’s clashes between the Sudanese army and rebels.
A coalition of more than 120 civil society organisations from across Africa and the Middle East on Wednesday called on the African Union to “make history” by supporting “a new, bolder and comprehensive approach to Sudan’s conflicts”.
Sudanese President, Omar Hassan Al-Bashir told Somalia’s Defense Minister Abdihakin Hajji Mohamud Fiqi that Sudan would continue to support Somalia’s Federal Government.
On Wednesday (May 22nd) South Sudan’s Oil Minister, Stephen Dhieu Dau, said it had resumed oil production and the flow of oil to the international markets through Sudan after technical problems at a pumping station led to a temporary blockage at the weekend.
Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto called on the African Union to increase its military presence in Somalia in order to ensure regional stability. He said a stable Somalia would also enable the large number of Somali refugees to return home. The Kenyan government has reopened registration of asylum seekers, most coming from Somalia. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said the Department of Refugee Affairs reopened registration of asylum seekers on May 8. This will allow the 4,000 persons who have arrived at Dadaab since the closure of the latest two-week registration window on November 30, 2012 to be registered and get access to services. Uganda
Uganda has been hosting Operation “Mashariki Salam” – “Peaceful Eastern Africa”, an Eastern Africa Standby Forces Exercise in which Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda are participating since May 13th.
Eritrea A Canadian newspaper claims the Canadian government is investigating allegations that Eritrea’s diplomatic mission in Toronto is imposing a fee of up to $500 on Eritrean-Canadians, demanding payment for Eritrea’s “national defence against Ethiopian invasion.”
The 50th Anniversary of the OAU/AU and the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government …
The theme of the Summit – “Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance” – will be at the center of discussions during the 21st Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union at the end of this week at the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa. The Summit officially opened on Sunday May 19th with the 26th Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC). This three day meeting was followed later in the week with the 23rd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council (May 22nd – 24th). The 21st Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government is being held on Sunday and Monday (May 26th-27th). Other related meetings during the week include the Meeting of the Ad Hoc Ministerial Meeting on the Scale of Assessment (May 22nd); the Meeting of the Committee of Ten on UN Reforms (May23rd); and working breakfasts for NEPAD’s Heads of State and Government (May 25th) and the ARPM (May 26th). IGAD Heads of State and Government will also be holding a Summit today (May 24th).
This is also, of course, a special week because it celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) now the African Union (AU). The 50th Golden Anniversary Summit will be held on Saturday May 25th. The goals of the 50th Anniversary Commemorations will among other concepts, seek to promote “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in global arena”. The Anniversary is celebrating African narratives of past, present and future that will enthuse and energize the peoples of Africa. It uses their energy to accelerate a forward looking agenda of Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance in the 21st century. The activities of this week of celebration culminate at the Millennium Hall anniversary celebrations in the afternoon of Saturday (May 25th), following the 50th OAU/AU Anniversary Summit earlier in the day, and the African Youth Forum over the previous three days, Wednesday to Friday (May 22nd -24th). In addition to the Heads of State and Government from Africa numerous world leaders are expected in Addis Ababa for the celebrations, including top level delegations from Brazil, China, Cuba, France, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, New Zealand, Russia, Sweden and the US. Invited guests include UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the heads of UNDP, the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the EU Commission. Two former UN Secretaries-General, Boutros Boutros Ghali, and Kofi Annan and former Deputy Secretary-General, Asha-Rose Migiro, are expected to attend as well as former OAU Secretaries-General and AU Commission Chairpersons. There will be representatives of the African Regional Economic Communities, the South African Development Community, IGAD, EAC/COMESA, CENSAD/ECCAS, ECOWAS and AMU. The list of invitees focuses on personalities who contributed to Pan-Africanism, the African Renaissance and to Africa’s Liberation Struggle.
…Dr. Tedros Adhanom launches the 50th Anniversary celebration
At a press conference for the local media on Tuesday, launching the celebrations of the 50th Anniversary of the Organization of African Unity/ African Union, Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom, detailed the origins and ideology of Pan Africanism and Ethiopia’s role in the struggle for restoring the freedom and dignity of the peoples of Africa. He explained the critical importance of Pan Africanism in creating an ideology for the alignment of the common objectives of peoples of African descendent in achieving political, economic, social and cultural advancement. On this foundation, successive generations of Africans have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the struggle against all forms of injustice and subjugation
Pan Africanism, he said, grew out Africa’s difficult history associated with slavery, colonial subjugation and racial discrimination. Early attempts of resistance were expressed in the form of anti-slavery revolts and anti colonial struggle, becoming more organized with the active involvement of the African intelligentsia in the Diaspora which raised the consciousness of black people around the world and underscored the need for unity. The Pan African movement and ideology, the Minister emphasized, was a product of this situation, and it accentuated the need for the formation of an African Continental Organization, though there were serious differences of just how this should be achieved.
It was at this stage Ethiopia played a critical role in reconciling the differences between the Casablanca Group and the Monrovia Group at the OAU Summit in 1963. As Emperor Haile Selassie said at that Summit: We stand today on the stage of world affairs, before the audience of world opinion. We have come together to assert our role in the direction of world affairs and to discharge our duty to the great continent whose two hundred fifty million people we lead. Africa is today at mid- course, in transition from the Africa of yesterday to the Africa of tomorrow. Even as we stand here we move from the past into the future. The task, on which we have embarked, the making of Africa, will not wait. We must act, to shape and mould the future and leave our imprint on events as they pass into history.
Dr. Tedros noted how Ethiopia’s success in defeating Italian invaders at Adowa in 1896 had become a symbol of African pride and dignity and later a source of great inspiration for the liberation struggle throughout the continent, a beacon of hope and freedom for other African brothers and sisters and all t hose fighting to liberate themselves from the yoke of subjugation or other forms of oppression. Ethiopia subsequently learned the hard way it was extremely difficult to stand alone against European colonial ambitions. The failure of the League of Nations to protect Ethiopia from Italian fascist aggression made it quite clear that the emancipation of black people around the world was an absolute necessity for the continued survival of people of African descent. Ethiopia has, therefore, always been at the forefront of supporting the total liberation of Africa, demonstrating this by its moral, material and diplomatic support to liberation movements across the continent, and in the cases of South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe, military training as well.
The liberation of most African states from colonial rule and the subsequent establishment of the Organization of African Unity in Addis Ababa 50 years ago was, said Dr. Tedros, a defining movement in the history of Africa. It generated euphoria and high expectation across the continent, and Ethiopia wholeheartedly supported the OAU’s immediate agenda of the total decolonization of the Continent. Dr. Tedros also detailed Ethiopia’s contribution to conflict resolution and peacekeeping in Africa which began with the sending of peace keeping troops under the banner of the United Nations to Congo in the 1960’s. Since then it has contributed forces to peacekeeping in Rwanda, Burundi, and Liberia, as well as to current missions in Darfur and Abyei. It has also been working closely with AMISOM and the countries of IGAD to defeat terrorist organizations and bring about peace and stability in Somalia.
In other areas, Ethiopia has been actively involved in the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) to promote Africa’s economic agenda. It has been an active participant in the African Peer Review Mechanism. It has been working with other countries in the Horn and in East Africa to strengthen organizations like COMESA and IGAD to promote regional integration. It fully realizes the need to develop regional infrastructure to promote trade and investment, foster economic development and create jobs for young people. It has taken practical steps in terms of creating links with neighbors by road, rail and air transport as well as through power and telecommunication interconnections. These regional infrastructure linkages will contribute significantly to the development of the East Africa region, and to Ethiopia.
Dr. Tedros said Ethiopia was proud of its contributions to the Organization of African Unity and to the African Union, as well as the impact it had on African unity and solidarity. It is equally grateful for the benefits and advantages that it had obtained through the presence of the OAU and AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa. It was in this light it set up a National Committee and a National Secretariat to coordinate the different activities for the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the OAU/AU, including exhibitions, musical performances, children’s show, documentary films, panel discussions, workshops and symposia, sports activities.
The 21st Assembly of the African Union: Session of the Permanent Representatives Committee …..
The Session of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) was opened by Dr. Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission who outlined the Commission’s activities to the Committee. She also took the opportunity to congratulate Ethiopia’s Ambassador Konjit Sinegiorgis, Chairperson of the PRC, on her fifty years of service to Ethiopian diplomacy and to the cause of Pan Africanism. On Friday last week, Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros, also presented Ambassador Konjit with an award in recognition of her work as the longest serving diplomat in the history of the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, expressing his profound admiration for Ambassador Konjit’s commitment and her significant contribution both to the Ministry’s diplomatic engagements and to Ethiopia.
Dr. Dlamini Zuma told the PRC that there was general acceptance of the rise of Africa in the last decade in terms of economic growth, public investment in infrastructure development and regional integration efforts, as well as improvements in democracy, governance, peace and stability and in some human development indicators. There is an emerging consensus that Africa’s endowments and future trends present huge opportunities with its human resources and demographic trends, rates of urbanization, arable lands and other natural resources, the potential for energy generation, its mineral deposits and its coastlines. All this was also present when the founders formed the OAU in 1963 though they had to confront the scourge of colonialism and continue the fight, in the spirit of Pan Africanism, for self-determination, while simultaneously embarking on the tasks of nation and state formation, fighting poverty, ignorance and disease in their countries, and taking forward the vision of African unity, development and integration.
After a decade of the African Union, and in the 50 years since the founding of the OAU, it was an opportune moment, she said, to reflect on the long-term vision of African unity; the paths towards shared prosperity and human security for all African citizens, regions and countries; speeding up the integration agenda; achieving gender equality; tackling the root causes of conflict; celebrating unity in diversity and building inclusive political and human rights cultures. Dr. Zuma said this led to some questions: – What will it take for Africa to be integrated, people-centred, prosperous and at peace with itself over the next five decades? Are the milestones we are setting for human development, infrastructure, agriculture, women’s empowerment, health and industrialization, and political unity and integration sufficiently bold to achieve our vision? What paradigms and actions in terms of leadership, people’s participation, resource mobilisation and strategies are required to ensure implementation? Are the institutional architectures sufficiently aligned to rapid integration, development and industrialization, and how can their impact, efficiency and effectiveness be improved?
Chairperson Zuma said the Commission had successfully adopted the Anniversary Project document and Budget, and finalized the Third Strategic Plan of the African Union Commission (2014-2017). She said that the Commission had not yet started its formal review of strategic partnerships but the broad outline of a different approach had begun to emerge. There had been the Africa -South America Summit, the TICAD Ministerial meeting, the AU and EU college-to-college meeting and the Commission had also engaged with the BRICS on continental priorities as well as started preparations for a number of important initiatives later this year including the TICAD Summit, the Africa-Arab Summit, the India-Africa Ministerial meeting and the preparations for the Africa-Europe Summit next year. She said a key lesson from these engagements was that when the African Union was clear about its priorities and its positions, it was more likely to have effective partnerships and be able to move forward on the continental agenda.
She noted that the Commission had sent a number of observer missions to member states, and stressed the message that there can be no peace without development, and no development without peace, adding that “through implementation of the peace and security, and the good governance architecture, Africa continues to register increasing levels of peace and security.” Conflict resolution efforts, she said, were yielding some encouraging results as shown in Somalia, in the agreements reached between Sudan and South Sudan and the ongoing initiatives to promote cooperation in the Great Lakes region. Continuing conflicts and recent crises in Mali and Central African Republic and the ongoing situation in Western Sahara suggest there is no room for complacency.
The Chairperson of the Commission reminded the PRC that there were other areas that still needed consideration, among them including the strengthening of the AU Commission and its organs, including the relationship between Commission and the PRC, the implementation of the decisions of the AUC and RECs retreat held in April. The Commission would be taking action quickly on such issues as the follow-up on the High Level Panel Audit of the AU review, the issue of the proliferation of AU institutions and agencies, the review on the mandate of the Pan African Parliament and the strengthening of capacity to implement decisions of policy organs.
Dr. Zuma concluded by noting that this year, besides the celebratory aspects of the 50th Anniversary, also had the task to map out a vision and milestones for the next fifty years. The Proclamation of the Anniversary Summit, she said, must provide the framework and set the tone. It must be bold and inclusive; and not shy away from confronting those issues that made it difficult to achieve integration, peace and prosperity. She recalled the words of the founders that Africa must unite or perish, adding that on 25 May 2013, “we must unite behind the mission to rid Africa of poverty, disease and hunger”
Besides considering the report of the Commissioner it also considered various administrative matters, approved an amendment proposed by the Advisory sub-committee on Administrative, Budgetary, Financial Matters and Finance as well as considering the reports of the African Commission of International Law and the African Human and People’s Rights Commission. The PRC also drafted the agenda for the meeting of the Executive Council.
….The 23rd Session of the Executive Council opened on Wednesday…….
The 23rd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union opened on Wednesday at the African Union Conference Hall. The meeting was attended by Foreign Ministers and heads of delegations of member states as well as the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Dr Dlamini Zuma, the head of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, Dr Carlos Lopez, representatives of African Union organs, AU partners and institutions and other high level dignitaries.
Dr Tedros, Ethiopian Foreign Minister and Chairperson of the Executive Council, said that over the next two days the Executive Council would be talking under the umbrella of Pan Africanism. It was, he said, with the greatest pride African states could meet to celebrate this 50th anniversary after the removal of the continent’s shackles. We can, he added draw deep satisfaction from the history and the foundations of African Unity through the vehicle of the OAU.
He noted, however, that it had not been an easy fifty years, and soul-searching questions needed to be asked as to where things had gone wrong. “Why had the dreams of 1963 failed?” We need, he said, to have frank discussions to discover what internal issues contributed to our failures. Equally, he emphasized, a lot has been achieved: the ARPM has helped, conflicts have subsided, and many countries have striven to attain democratic transformations, extended their peace and security and deepened their good governance.
Dr. Tedros proposed a ministerial retreat, at the city of Bahr Dar in Ethiopia, to consider the draft proclamation to provide a message for posterity. He thanked those institutions which had played a role in the formation of the post-2015 development agenda, and noted the need to consider the modalities for the committee proposed by the AU Chairperson, Hailemariam Desalegn.
Commission Chairperson Zuma congratulated the Executive Council on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the OAU/AU, emphasizing that it was time for Africa to reclaim the debates about Pan Africanism throughout Africa and the Diaspora in the context of the peace and security of the continent, the search for self reliance, gender equality and socio-economic development. She noted that people saw Pan Africanism as a lodestar, a guide to action and the foundations for Africa’s Renaissance.
Reflecting on the trajectory of Africa over the past fifty years, Dr. Zuma said “thirty tears ago China was poorer than Malawi”; now in 2013, African countries constitute the majority of the ten fastest growing economies in the world, and “we are growing at 5% on average over the past decade.” This positive trajectory must now be translated in to industrialization with equitable economic growth and gender equality to provide for human development. Dr. Zuma noted that Africa had arable land, long coastlines and positive demographics to bring prosperity.
The 50th anniversary proclamation and the Agenda 63, which will be approved in January 2014, should put in place a sustainable solution to a united and prosperous Africa. The proclamation, she said, will benefit from the Council’s deliberations and help us chart comprehensive African solutions for Africa. UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Lopez also underlined the important role of Pan Africanism as a key concept in promoting African unity and as a force for colonialism and apartheid. He noted that it was not a coincidence that the emphasis now placed on structural transformation had produced “an Africa that is growing more self confident and playing a greater role on the global scene.” He identified some key strategic factors that still needed to be addressed for the full renaissance of Africa including the issues of conflict, better governance, reduction of illicit money flows, the need to change perceptions and take control of the narrative as well as deal with industrialization and the environment.
After two days of debate, the Executive Council on Thursday adopted the draft proclamation submitted by the Permanent Representatives Committee as a declaration. The document incorporates sections that detail Africa’s journey over the last fifty years, the challenges faced and the choice of ways to deal with these. It covers the concept of Pan Africanism and the inspiration from this that the continent has drawn in its progress towards 2063. It acknowledges the achievements of the OAU/AU and the challenges that remain to be tackled.
In its final section, the draft proclamation identifies eight key strategic areas for intervention. These are: African identity and renaissance, the struggle for independence, the integration agenda, the agenda for socio-economic transformation, peace and security, democratic governance, self-reliance and the ensuring of Africa’s rightful place in the world.
The declaration also includes suggestions from member states covering other areas, among them the need to focus on gender equality, the importance of utilizing marine resources, the gradual removal of visas for travel in Africa, full operationalization of the African Standby Force and reference to the APRM mechanism. It also covers the fostering of democratic governance through appropriate means, fighting corruption, space exploration, universal access to health care, the need to make Africa a leading continent, recognition of the contribution of the African Diaspora, and the need to strengthen people-to-people and civic society-to-civic society relations in order to fully realise African renaissance.
The Executive Council also deliberated on the different reports of ministerial meetings organised by the AU Commission over the last six months, considered the activity report of the Commission, the recommendations of the PRC and the report of the ministerial committee on candidatures. It considered the reports of the Commission on the situation in Western Sahara and the Commission on the Implementation of the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa. It endorsed the Report of the Ministerial sub-committee on Candidatures which proposed Uganda as Africa’s candidate for the UN General Assembly’s Presidency, following the gracious withdrawal of Cameroon. The Council discussed the Reports of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) to which four members were elected (Cameroon, Kenya, Mali, and Mauritius), and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child(ACERWC) to which Burundi, Egypt, Niger and Togo were elected. The Council also deliberated on the reports of the Pan-African Parliament, the Economic, Social and Cultural Council of the Union (ECOSOCC), the Activities of the African Union Advisory Board against Corruption and the report on the Activities of the African Union Commission on International Law (AUCIL), as well as considering items proposed by Member States.
The Executive Council considered the 2014 AU draft budget put forward by the Commission and endorsed by the AU Permanent Representatives Committee. It provides for an increase of just under 10% to US$308 million, of which over US$126 would be covered by contributions of member states. Over 50% is allocated for implementation of programs identified in the Strategic Plan 2014-2017 which identified 8 priority areas including peace and security, conflict resolution, food security, integration and institutional capacity building and improved information exchange. Programs are crafted towards achieving seven specific outcomes through the implementation of 47 designed projects, clustered in five pillars. AU organs responsible for the implementation of priority programs and projects will receive additional funding including the AU Advisory Board on Corruption, NEPAD, PAP, the PSC, AFCHR and the AUC. The Executive Council commended the proposed budget for showing an encouraging shift towards having AU’s programs, projects and activities covered by member states’ contributions. This is expected to eventually pave the way for a full home-driven financing as underlined in the Strategic Plan. The Executive Council emphasized the importance to continue further strengthening the efficiency and resource-base of the AU’s institutes/bodies dealing with democracy, peace and security, and which aim to enhance infrastructure interconnectivity and integration. The budget was referred to the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government for final endorsement.
It also deliberated on AU’s post-2015 development agenda which will substitute the current Millennium Development Goals, and on recommendations on the need for the AU to push forward for the lifting of the US embargo imposed on Cuba. It emphasized Cuba’s solidarity and support for Africa’s independence, sovereignty and dignity during the fight against Apartheid and strongly commended Cuba’s unparalleled contributions to Africa. It took note of the right of the people of Cuba to choose and exercise their own internal political affairs without interference. It described the call to lift the embargo as proper and appropriate, and called for an end to action that has led to lengthy, unjust and inhumane treatment and suffering for the people of Cuba.
The 23rd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union concluded on Friday (May 24th) with the adoption of resolutions to be submitted to the 21st Ordinary Session of Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union for consideration, further discussion and final adoption. The issues discussed include AU’s Strategic plan for 2014-2017, the AU’s draft budget for 2014, the situation in Western-Sahara, in Middle East and Palestine and an implementation report of the Declaration on Gender Equality.
The recommendations of the Executive Council on the implementation of previous Decisions of the Executive Council and the Assembly, the report of the Peace and Security Council and the state of peace and security in Africa, including the activities of the Panel of the Wise and other items will now be considered by the 21st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government on Sunday and Monday (May 26th and 27th). The Assembly will also consider the Reports of President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, Chairperson of the Committee of Ten on UN Reforms and of the Report of the Committee on the Post 2015 Development Agenda under the theme: Towards an African Common Position and Modalities for establishment of a Committee of Heads of State and Government on the Post 2015 Development Agenda. The Assembly will be briefed by President Zuma of South Africa on the outcome of the BRICS Africa Dialogue Forum held in Durban on March 27th.
Other meetings: Millennium Development Goals/Sustainable Development Goals….
Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Special Advisor on Millennium Development Goals to UN Secretary General, Ban ki-Moon, and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, gave a breakfast briefing this morning on the Millennium Development Goals and what should inform Africa’s position on the formulation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) and in particular the campaign to have one million community health workers operating in Africa by 2015.
He was talking to African Foreign Ministers. Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, in his opening remark praised Professor Sachs as a vocal advocate of the causes of developing countries. He said that Professor Sachs’ briefing was of significance as it focused primarily on human resource development which remained a major problem in meeting the three health goals in the MDG’s. He added that developing human resources especially for primary health care was particularly important because it was less costly, less demanding and less difficult to organize and those involved were easier to train. Dr. Tedros said further that if there was sufficient political commitment it was possible even to achieve secondary and third health service across Africa. He detailed Ethiopia’s experience with primary health care service, pointing out that “a decade ago we had four universities and now we have more than 32 universities. We used to have 300 doctors graduating every year and now we have reached 3,000 doctors a year, and these have helped, together with the more than 34,000 health workers, to achieve the health goals of the MDG’s.”
Professor Sachs gave an account of the performance of the MDG’s and on what can be done in the remaining 1000 days before 2015 to make further gains in meeting these goals. He mentioned the training of one million community health workers, targeting finances at the World Bank, increased efforts on schooling, sanitation, child birth and the replenishment of the Global Fund He personally pledged to support raising funds for providing finance to African countries which committed themselves to the One Million Community Health Workers initiative. The Campaign was launched in January 2013 at the World Economic Forum meeting at Davos and is currently running in ten Sub-Saharan countries.
In his briefing about the transition from MDGs to SDGs, Professor Sachs underlined the importance of forging a common position for Africa along the lines of the four areas identified at Rio+20, namely: ending extreme poverty by 2030; transition to a low carbon economy; ensuring socially inclusive societies in terms of gender balance, human rights observance, jobs to the youth, access to primary health and education; and public and corporate good governance. Professor Sachs particularly emphasized the importance of Africa holding a common position over the primacy of ending extreme poverty as first goal for the Sustainable Development Goals. He also explained at length why increased focus should be given to environmental issues based on the projection of climate science. He said carbon emissions were now getting to the point of threatening catastrophic draughts, terrible cyclones, famine and rising sea water, which posed existential threats to small islands states in particular. The projections show increased frequency of drought in coming years. Professor Sachs also reflected on how climate change problems might exacerbate conflicts in the dry land areas. He suggested the importance of establishing knowledge network centers at universities and technology centers to help Africa cope with climate change problems.
…A Pan-African Business Seminar in Addis Ababa
A Pan-African Business Seminar was held in Addis Ababa on Saturday last week (May 18th) under the theme of “uniting Africa and the African Diaspora”. The Seminar was jointly organized by the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus International (SRDC) Washington State Chapter, the Africa-USA International Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AfUSA) Los Angeles California, in association with Jamaica’s Bob and Rita Marley Foundation (Merita Technology Solutions).
The Seminar aimed to encourage Pan-African engagement between Africa and the African Diaspora in areas of economic development including investment and trade, transfer of knowledge, education and cultural connections. It also stressed the promotion of bilateral trade, commerce, economic development, education and cultural exchange between the people and business enterprises of the US and the nation states of Africa through the proper handling of any commercial and cultural misunderstanding, the effective recruitment of small and medium sized community development-based businesses and investments to stimulate Africa and the African Diaspora engagement in the development of Africa. Considering the potential of the African Diaspora in supporting the development of Africa, the Seminar supported the idea of making the African Diaspora the sixth regional community of the African Union, basing this concept on the provision in Article 3(q) of the AU’s 2003 Constitutive Act.
The Seminar underlined the significant contribution that the Diaspora can have in building local economies both in terms of economic and human capital and in creating additional opportunities for providing basic and infrastructural needs of communities in Africa. The opportunity is most clearly seen from the vast potential of African Diaspora living outside their areas of origin. The African-American Diaspora, for example, have a total GDP of US$1.1 trillion, almost half of Africa’s total GDP, and of which remittances to the nation states of Africa amount to some US$40 billion.
Discussions at the Seminar included detail of business and investment opportunities in Ethiopia with representatives of Government Agencies, including the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and local and international companies working in Ethiopia, making presentations. The Director General of Americas’ Affairs in the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Atskeselassie, who noted the appropriateness of the discussion on the eve of the 50th Anniversary of the African Union with its theme of “Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance”, welcomed the growing trend of US investment in Africa. He also underlined the potential for expanding this as current US investment in Africa represented no more than a small percentage of total US global investments; at the end of 2010, US direct investment in Sub-Saharan Africa was only US$54 billion, no more than 1% of the total global investment. Ambassador Taye appreciated the fact that US investment in Ethiopia was growing and that trade relations between Ethiopia and the US were improving. The US is the third largest destination for Ethiopia’s coffee and it earned US$22 million through the AGOA scheme last year.
Ambassador Taye also gave details of the potential opportunities for investment in Ethiopia in large scale agriculture, agro-processing industries, textile and garment, leather and leather products, sugar, mining, metal, pharmaceutical industries, and in the supply of agricultural machinery, irrigation equipment, fertilizer and improved seeds, as well as infrastructure , including railroads and hydropower projects. All of these are areas open for foreign businesses from the US. While emphasizing the fast growth of its economy, he also noted Ethiopia’s huge market potential with its over 80 million population and its access to COMESA’s 400 million people as well as the access to Middle East and Asian markets and the benefits of preferential market access for exports through AGOA, EBA and GSP. Ambassador Taye expressed the Government’s readiness and full commitment to encourage and assist any investment inflow into Ethiopia.
Ambassador Taye stressed his appreciation of the efforts of the SDRC-Washington Chapter, of AfUSA, Merita Technologies and of the Pan-African Diaspora Union (PADU) which has over 65 community based organizations worldwide working to stimulate more investment of African Diaspora in their homeland. He also welcomed the plan of PADU and SDRC to open a Pan-African Business and Trade Centre in Ethiopia. Ambassador Taye took the opportunity to remind participants of the preparations now underway to host the 12th AGOA Forum to be held in Addis Ababa, August 12th -13th. Over 750 US businesses are expected to attend the Forum, and Ambassador Taye also extended an invitation to all the participants of the Pan-African Business Seminar.