A Week in the Horn of Africa- (26/04/2013)
News in Brief:
Prime Minister Hailemariam presented the Government’s eight month performance report to the House of People’s Representatives. (See article)
In discussions with French President Francois Hollande, Prime Minister Hailemariam, as Chairperson of the African Union, described French involvement in Mali as ‘timely’. (See article).
Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros briefed the UN Security Council on Wednesday during the Council’s consideration of the Report of the Technical Assessment Mission for a new UN Mission in Somalia (See article)
Dr. Tedros held talks with Sir Mark Lyall-Grant, the UK’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations on Wednesday with discussions focusing on peace and security developments in Somalia and the future course of AMISOM.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Berhane, signed two framework agreements this week with Christian Horizon Global (CH-Global) and World Vision International for the establishment in Ethiopia of a Regional Office and a Regional Liaison Office respectively.
Ambassador Berhane, assured the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Ambassador Mahiga that Ethiopia would continue its support to Somalia to consolidate the political and military gains made so far.
The State Minister for Foreign Affairs held talks with the non-resident Ambassador of Singapore to Ethiopia this week. (See article)
The Ethiopian government announced it is proposing to establish two institutes to strengthen and regulate various industries.
General David M. Rodriguez, the new commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) visited Camp Lemonier in Djibouti last week as part of his first trip to Africa less than 2 weeks after taking command on April 5th.
A delegation of the Communist Party of China arrived in Djibouti this week. The five person delegation was headed by Ai Ping, deputy head of the International Department of the Central Committee of the party. The Chinese delegation visited the Arta regional hospital funded by China, Doraleh Port and the site for the future Ghoubet port whose construction will be funded by China Import/Export Bank.
Eritrea The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea, is planning to carry out an official visit to Ethiopia and Djibouti at the end of this month to collect information from Eritrean refugees on the human rights situation in Eritrea. A military pilot sent by the Government of Eritrea to Saudi Arabia to reclaim the presidential jet taken by two fellow officers when they flew to seek asylum has herself defected, according to the Saudi media. Kenya
President Kenyatta held talks with Prime Minister Hailemariam, Chairperson of the African Union, in Nairobi on Wednesday to discuss bilateral and regional issues, including the Lamu Port-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport project (LAPSSET), the peace process in Somalia, “efforts to contribute to sustainable peace reconstruction and development in Somalia” and IGAD’s role in regional peace and development.
President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday named the first four ministers of his Cabinet, Ambassador Amina Mohamed was named as Secretary for Foreign Affairs. If her appointment is approved by Parliament, she will be Kenya’s first ever female Foreign Minister, and the third such appointment in the region, joining Somalia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Fauzia Yusuf Adam, and Rwanda’s Foreign Minister since 2009, Louise Mushikiwabo.
President Kenyatta ordered a top level investigation into the situation in Garissa in northeast Kenya after ten people were killed in an attack on a hotel last week. Security units were sent to the town in a crackdown that led to the arrest of dozens of people and the removal of a number of local police officers
Somali Prime Minister Shirdon welcomed British Foreign Secretary William Hague to Mogadishu on his second visit on Thursday (April 25th). Mr. Hague came to open a new British embassy in Mogadishu, for the first time since 1991. Somalia has also just appointed its first Ambassador to the UK for many years.
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud held talks on Thursday with a delegation from the United Arab Emirates headed by Minister of State for the Office of the President Dr. Sultan Al Jaber.
The Somali Federal Government has started a five year USAID funded project to rebuild municipal centers in Galgadud region in partnership with the pro-government Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a (ASWJ) which forms the regional administration under an agreement signed last year. ASWJ forces are also being integrated into the Somali National Army militia
Unidentified gunmen shot and killed a Somali journalist working with the state-run radio Mogadishu last weekend. Mohamed Ibrahim Raage was the fourth journalist to be killed in Somalia this year.
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud attended the Lake Tana High Level Forum on Security in Bahr Dar, the capital of the Amhara Regional State of Ethiopia at the weekend. The theme of the meeting was organized crime and President Mohamud spoke of the dangers of terrorism in East Africa and the need for regional unity. (See article)
The head of Somalia’s state-owned Somalia Petroleum Corporation has said that the country plans to sign 30 oil and gas production-sharing contracts this year. Three international companies that operated in Somalia in the 1980s (Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA), Eni SpA (ENI), and ConocoPhillips (C)) are reported to have said they are ready to operate again in Somalia
South Sudan President, Salva Kiir, has said it was the responsibility of the United Nations Interim Security Forces for Abyei (UNISFA) to ensure any infringements along the border were correctly reported. Under agreements signed last year, UNISFA will expand its mandate from Abyei to monitor the whole demilitarized buffer zone along the 2,000km border.
Following a meeting of the Sudan and South Sudan Joint Peace and Security Mechanism (JPSM) in Addis Ababa, the two states have agreed to establish ten crossing points, eight of which are to be opened immediately, as well as a Joint Security Committee to deal with rebel claims and other complaints against their agreement on non-aggression and cooperation. (See article)
Talks opened this week under the auspices of the African Union’s High Level Implementation Panel, chaired by former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) on the situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. (See article)
The sixth African Union Health Ministers’ Conference begins today (Tuesday, April 23rd) in the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa. The theme is “The Impact of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) on Development in Africa”.
Officials of the African Union and the European Union held their sixth commission-to-commission meeting in Addis Ababa this week to identify priority issues for discussion at the fourth Africa-EU Summit scheduled for April 2014 in Brussels.
Prime Minister Hailemariam presents Government’s performance report to Parliament
Prime Minister Hailemariam presented the Government’s eight month performance report to the House of People’s Representatives on Tuesday this week (April 23rd) as well as considered how well it was achieving the aims of the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) which has just reached the half-way stage after two and a half years. The Prime Minister noted that the economy had achieved an average 10.5% growth over the first two and half years of the GTP. This was a little under the baseline target of 11%, but it was double the Sub-Saharan average and significantly better than the 7% growth required to meet all the Millennium Development Goals’ targets. He noted the decline in the growth of the agriculture sector, falling from last year from 8.5% to 4.9%. This had mainly been due to the difficulties of smallholder farmers in coping with, and adapting to, newly introduced farming techniques, but other challenges had included leadership problems, poor credit facilities, a lack of input supplies and difficulty in reaching out to all farmers and encouraging them to use technologies and best practices. The Prime Minister noted that the medium and large scale industry sectors reached GTP targets overall, growing by an average of over 18%. Small and micro-enterprises didn’t however meet expectations due to limitation on their ability to become responsible and productive segments of the economy and a lack of financial support, supplies of material and availability of land.
The Prime Minister noted that performance of the country’s major projectswere on schedule with 19% of the Grand Renaissance Dam complete and 70% of the Gilgel Gibe III Dam. Over fifty percent of the country had now been electrified – the GTP aim is 75% by the end of the plan in 2015 – and 2,620 kms of transmission line have been constructed. This year over 7000 kms of road construction and renovation of roads has been undertaken with 94% of targets met. The 800 km Addis Ababa to Djibouti railway project is progressing as scheduled, and the Addis Ababa light railway was now 28% finished. Delays in some of the railway projects had nothing to do with financial issues. Development partners including China were willing to finance the project, but there had been caused by a lack of implementation capacity relating to the presentation of feasibility studies, design works and related problems. The Government now planned to continue with capacity-building programs for local consultants and professionals in road construction to ensure better performance for the remainder of the GTP.
In education, there were now 32 state universities with an intake capacity of 320,000. Some 75% of the students are assigned in natural science. The government aimed to have three quarters of the 23,000 university instructors at postgraduate level by the end of the GTP and the remaining 25 percent with PhDs. It expects to achieve this. The Government’s implementation of a General Education Quality Improvement Package program has already helped to almost achieve the MDGs target of ensuring universal education. The country’s national health extension service coverage now reaches 98% of the country with as 34,382 female health extension workers deployed in almost 15,000 rural Kebeles, and another 3,916 urban health extension workers. This year alone, the Prime Minister noted, the Ministry of Health had provided some 850 ambulances to help improve figures for child and maternal health. Infant and under-five mortality rates have declined by 60%, and malarial deaths by a similar figure. There was every expectation of achieving the MDGs by the end of 2014/15.
There had been considerable growth in investment and domestic savings, the result of the attractive investment climate, the application incentive schemes, the one-stop-shop services and other improvements including land delivery. The government’s capital spending on public infrastructural projects had also greatly contributed to increased investment in areas not covered by private investors, local or foreign. The savings rate had risen to 16.4% of GDP during the last two years, growing by about 40% in the last 8 months. Savings had provided less than 5% of GDP at the beginning of the plan period in 2011. The total revenue collected over the past eight months showed an increase of 14 percent of the previous period as a result of improved implementation of a base money nominal anchor and important tax administration reforms. Increasing public participation in matters of good governance and democratization were relevant to these developments.
Overall, the Prime Minister noted that these developments were very encouraging considering the global financial and economic crisis. It had, he said, been made possible due to the implementation of the right mix of development policies and strategies coupled with effective implementation of prudent macro-economic policies and measures. Other factors included Government efforts, public enthusiasm and the commitment to make the benefits of broad based growth shared fairly and equitably. There was also the strong and effective macro-economic framework, and the appropriate measures of monetary and fiscal policies, and the management of inflation. This had hit over 40% at one point in the earlier part of the GTP and the Government had had to take serious measures including cash control mechanisms on expenditure and managing the money supply. This had had the desired effect, and inflation had now declined to 7.6%, from 12.9 % just over two months ago. This had all contributed positively to the creation of employment opportunities, to poverty reduction and to improvements in the standards of living. In the first half of the GTP some two million new job opportunities had been created in cities and urban areas. Chronically food-insecure rural areas had been successfully supported by the productive safety net programs which contributed significantly to achieving better food security. As the result, the absolute poverty percentage index has declined from 38.7% to less than 29% last year and the food shortage percentage index had fallen from 38% to 30%.
The Prime Minister also referred to regional issues, calling on Somalia and AMISOM to speed up the replacement of Ethiopian forces helping to maintain peace and stability in Somalia’s liberated areas. Answering questions from MPs, he said Ethiopia was anxious to pull its forces out of Somalia as soon as possible but not before Somalia forces and AMISOM took over from Ethiopian forces. However, he expressed concern over the pace of AMISOM efforts at replacement, emphasising that the main issue for Ethiopia was “to accelerate our complete withdrawal towards our border.” He pointed out that Ethiopia was itself paying for its activities in Somalia. At the same time the Prime Minister also emphasized Ethiopia’s determination to continue to support Somalia and fighting Al-Shabaab. Elsewhere he noted the Eritrean regime’s continued refusal to open any dialogue on peace as demonstrated by its continuation of support for efforts to destabilize Ethiopia. He reiterated Ethiopia’s determination to continue to take calculated and proportional measures for any action by the Eritrean regime and its surrogates.
For the future the Government was committed to fight rent-seeking and corruption as well as the high inflation rate and maladministration. The Prime Minister noted that there were still major challenges over the lack of commitment, and of capital, in problems relating to allocation of plots of land for small and micro enterprises and over proper following up and support and in encouraging youth to develop a supportive attitude toward poverty reduction. It was also a challenge to make small and micro enterprises the basis for industrialization and urbanization. The Prime Minister expressed the Government’s determination to get much broader public participation to ensure accountability and transparency, to combat corruption and ensure active participation in overall socio-economic developments. It planned to establish a trade enterprise to undertake market intelligence and address limitations related to trading with partners. Its responsibilities would include identifying better market opportunities for Ethiopia’s exports and discovering alternative markets to the purchase of imports at reasonable price without compromising quality. This would help to keep imported inflation under control and minimize foreign currency expenditure.
The Prime Minister noted that recent reports of oil discoveries in Ethiopia were misleading. Drilling work, he said, was in its early stages and any claims of oil discovery were based on unfounded information. He noted that there were some signs indicating the possibility of oil in the South Omo block, but this didn’t necessarily mean it would be economically feasible to develop. It needed more drilling and a lot more additional analysis to reach any final determination of the possibilities.
The Prime Minister stressed that the Government would continue to do everything possible to make improvements in the performance of the agriculture sector. These would include capacity building for Government agriculture experts and mobilization of the majority of smallholder farmers to adapt and use improved technology. He underlined the Government’s determination to improve the lives of smallholder farmers and pastoralist communities in various ways including the process of voluntary resettlement, a program carried out only with full consultation and discussion with those involved. The Government would also continue to encourage large scale agricultural investment as well. The government would also continue to encourage more Foreign Direct Investment inflow and promote investment, whether local or foreign, in value added manufacturing sectors such as garment and leather manufacturing. He underlined the importance of ensuring synergy within and among different institutions, and in broadening public and partners’ participation, suggesting that the creation of an effective and strong developmental ‘army’ would benefit all areas.
UN Security Council is briefed on proposed new UN mission for Somalia
The UN Security Council yesterday (April 25th) considered the Report of the Technical Assessment Mission for Somalia. It was briefed by Jeffrey Feltman, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs on the proposed new UN mission for Somalia, as well as hearing from Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanon and the Somali ambassador, Elmi Ahmed Duale The UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs told the Security Council that the United Nations should support the Somali Government through 2016, citing the Secretary-General’s vision for a new United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia, based on real needs and a well-thought out analysis of the reality. The new Mission would represent a fresh start for the United Nations in Somalia and a renewed commitment by the Council to support Somali-owned peace building, he said. The core role of the mission, to be known as UNAMSOM, would be to act as an enabler, helping to create the political and strategic environment in which stabilization and peace building could proceed. He said the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) was reaching its operational limit in terms of holding and expanding areas under its control. Now, innovative thinking and additional resources, including enablers and force multipliers, must be provided if the momentum of the past year was to be maintained. The anticipated withdrawal of Ethiopian Forces, he said, would add further strain.
All this meant a better funded and coordinated strategic approach was required which recognized that well trained and equipped Somali forces were the ultimate exit strategy for international military operations in Somalia. Building Somali capacity and supporting Somali leadership would be central to the new Mission’s efforts. Its priorities would be to support reconciliation and assist in the mediation of politically sensitive challenges associated with the constitutional review and the question of federalism. It was also designed to help build national capacity to protect and promote human rights, and it would seek to enhance the Government’s lead in coordinating international assistance through the “New Deal” Framework, as well as work with the UN country team on such urgent issues as the stabilization of newly recovered areas, maritime and economic triggers of violence, and capacity building. It also required a concept of support, and a range of security options, to enable the United Nations to work alongside Somalis, including in Villa Somalia. It would also require strong international commitment to allow the Federal Government to develop its plans and build its capacities. He noted the Federal Government of Somalia had continued implementing its six pillar policy for stabilization and peace building; and he described the agreement between President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and the Somaliland administration to continue dialogue and increase cooperation, signed earlier this month, was a welcome step forward, as was Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon’s “listening tour”, to build trust and consensus. Under Secretary Feltman noted that the Government’s approach to building new regional administrations was not accepted by everybody. The interim draft charter to establish a Jubaland state, although it envisaged a Jubaland state as part of the federal system, was regarded by the Federal Government as unconstitutional. Efforts to find a compromise had reached an impasse. More work was therefore needed to tackle the inevitable challenges that will arise in the development of a federal system. Results would not be achieved overnight, and the Council must be prepared to let Somalis set the timelines, as well as the priorities, and to keep expectations realistic. Somalia’s Ambassador, Elmi Ahmed Duale, said the briefing had made clear what was now necessary. He AMISOM and the Governments and countries that had helped to “save” the country, and agreed that it was time to ensure that the national security forces, would in due course be able to assume their responsibilities. He hoped the plans outlined would be realized with the Council’s full support — “the sooner the better”. The proposals were in line with those of Somalia’s President, he said. Dr. Tedros said that the findings of the Technical Assessment Mission on the overall political and security environment, and the humanitarian situation in Somalia, were comprehensive and valid. The political environment was “extremely complex but that there are also impressive capacities for peace and dialogue”, with the Somali leadership demonstrating strong political will to rebuild. He agreed that government legitimacy and credibility must be enhanced by the ability to provide basic services. He noted that while the struggle against Al-Shabaab had turned a corner, it was “far from over”. The momentum must be maintained and accelerated, particularly in the area of security. AMISOM, whose support would be critical for the security of the new UN Assistance Mission, would be unable to provide the necessary services within the existing troop ceiling. In March in its resolution renewing AMISOM’s authorization, the Council agreed with the Secretary-General that conditions in Somalia were not yet appropriate for the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation. Dr. Tedros reminded the Council of the Secretary General’s earlier recommended options of deploying a United Nations or a joint African Union-United Nations peacekeeping operation. He suggested there was no reason why this proposal should not now be considered immediately, with a view to accelerating implementation of one of the two options. Dr. Tedros also said it was crucial to ensure that everything was done to support the Somali National Security Forces. That could be done if support was provided by Member States on the basis of an “integrated approach” and not in a fragmented manner. Support must ensure that the security forces were “up and running”, in the context of providing security for the new United Nations mission. There should be no resorting to the use of international private security companies. Dr. Tedros took the opportunity to clarify references to the supposed “announced withdrawal” of Ethiopian National Defence Forces from Hudur and “their anticipated withdrawal from Baidoa”. He said that the question of a lack of consultation or absence of prior notification by Ethiopia was groundless. Those who needed to know had been informed months prior to the withdrawal. What happened did not in any way signify a shirking of responsibility on Ethiopia’s part. More important, he said, was the issue of whether Ethiopian forces were deployed in a way that added value in terms of addressing the major threat to the momentum that had been created in Somalia. Ethiopia’s conclusion was that they were not, but that was in no way related to any diminished commitment on Ethiopia’s determination to continue being a factor for peace and stability in Somalia.
AUHIP mediating more rounds of Sudan/South Sudan talks
The last week has seen two rounds of talks between the Government of the Sudan and the Government of the South Sudan, as well as between the Government of Sudan and the SPLM-N over South Kordofan and Blue Nile, in Addis Ababa. The Lead Negotiating Panel (LNP) of the Government of the Republic of the Sudan and the Government of the Republic of South Sudan met between April 18th and April 23rd under the auspices of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP). The meeting was co-chaired by Minister Idriss Abdelgadir of the Sudan and Minister Deng Alor Kuol of the Republic of South Sudan. The two sides have now agreed to adopt the Mechanisms for Implementation, Monitoring, Evaluation and Dispute Resolution relating to the Cooperation Agreement signed in Addis Ababa on September 27th last year, and of the Implementation Matrix signed last month on March 21st also in Addis Ababa. The mechanisms are made up of a Heads of States Summit, a High Level Committee, Ministerial Committees, and Technical and other committees.
The Heads of States Summit, for the two heads of government, is identified as the viable and sustainable mechanism for overseeing the bilateral relationships between the two states. It will decide on any matters referred to it by the High Level Committee (HLC) including implementation of the cooperation agreements. The High Level Committee (HLC) which will be co-chaired by the Vice-Presidents of each state, is to consist of four ministers and will be responsible for overseeing, coordinating and evaluating implementation of the cooperation agreements, as well as overseeing and directing the Joint Implementation Committee (JTC), one of the ministerial level committees. According to the agreement, the High Level Committee will review the implementation mechanism after 12 months and report back to the two Presidents. All Ministerial Committees will report to the High Level Committee (HLC) through the Joint Implementation Committee (JTC), co-chaired by the two Ministers of Foreign Affairs.
The Joint Implementation Committee has the responsibility for monitoring and evaluation, collecting information on the implementation of the cooperation agreements. It will discuss its findings and make recommendations to the High Level Committee (HLC). The two parties have also agreed to establish other mechanisms of implementation and to review these regularly as well as the methods and frequency of reporting and the resolution of any disputes that occur during implementation of the cooperation agreements.
Another meeting this week was the extraordinary meeting of the Joint Political and Security Mechanism (JPSM) of the Sudan and South Sudan. Held in Addis Ababa (April 22nd – April 23rd) under AUHIP auspices, it was co-chaired by the Minister of Defense of the Sudan, First Lieutenant-General Abdul-Rahim Mohammed Hussein, and the Minister of Irrigation and Water Affairs of the Republic of South Sudan, Mr. Paul Mayom Akech.
This meeting provided another element in the continued improvement of relations. The JPSM agreed to establish a Joint Security Committee (JSC) to oversee the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding on Non-Aggression and Cooperation, signed on 10th Feb.2012. The JSC is mandated to deal with any concerns and complaints that may arise from violation of the Non-Aggression and Cooperation memorandum, and from the Cooperation Agreement of September 27th last year. Its remit includes issues that might arise from claims of either side harboring or supporting rebel movements or negative forces of the other states. The JPSM also detailed the roles and responsibilities of the JSC, its decision making processes, scheduled meetings and other details.
The Joint Political and Security Mechanism also welcomed the progress made on the redeployment of forces outside the border zone, and in the activation of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM) in line with the updated reports of the Commander of the UN’s Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). Following UNISFA recommendations, the JPSM have now tasked the Ad-Hoc Committee to begin its first meetings within seven days under the auspices of UNISFA. The JPSM also directed the two chiefs of Military Intelligence to come up immediately with clear recommendations on how to deal with and resolve concerns and complaints raised by either party.
The Joint Political and Security Mechanism also adopted Terms of References presented by the two chiefs of Military Intelligence, for the formation of the Joint Security Committee (JSC). It also adopted the report and recommendations of the Joint Technical Border Corridor Committee for the immediate opening of eight border crossing corridors between the Sudan and South Sudan, with two more to follow in a second phase. The Joint Technical Border Corridor agreed the crossing points should be along the zero line and assessed all crossing points could be opened immediately on the ground where the terrain was suitable and the infrastructure was in place. The Border Corridor Committee was one of the border mechanisms set up under the cooperation agreements to harmonize and coordinate activities in management of the border areas.
The Joint Political and Security Mechanism meetings and the beginnings of implementation of the security arrangements in line with the Implementation Matrixes demonstrate the commitment of both sides to the realization of the “Parties in establishing two mutually viable states living together in peace and prosperity”. On the economic front, the resumption of the flow of the oil through the Sudan pipelines, the Joint Bank Committee meetings, the opening of joint boards of trade and other steps affirm the assurances of both states that they intend to implement the cooperation agreements. President Al-Bashir’s successful visit to Juba last weekend underlines the point. Equally, implementation of the signed matrixes in all fields and maintenance of the positive sprit recently prevailing on both sides will make up an essential contribution towards finalization of the remaining outstanding issues, a conclusion which will have a significant impact on the prevalence of peace and stability in the sub-region.
Also this week, talks started in Addis Ababa under the auspices of AUHIP between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement- North (SPLM-N) on the situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. Yasir Arman, SPLM-N Secretary General said the SPLM-N was “ready and prepared” to hold direct talks with Khartoum to resolve the humanitarian crisis and reach a framework agreement on an inclusive process on the country’s new constitution. The government of Sudan officially announced on Wednesday that it had agreed to negotiate directly with the SPLM-North on condition that negotiations would be based on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in 2005.
The Second Tana Forum discusses “Security and Organized Crime in Africa”
The 2nd Tana High-level Security Forum was held last weekend in the capital of Amhara National Regional State, Bahr Dar. It was attended by Prime Minister Hailemariam of Ethiopia; President, Omar Hussein Al-Bashir of the Republic of Sudan; President Paul Kagame of Rwanda; President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud of Somalia; Thabo Mbeki, former President of South Africa; Chief Olesegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria; Dr. Jean Ping, former chairperson of the African Union Commission, and more than hundred participants from international organizations, academia and civil society. The theme of the Forum was “Security and Organized Crime in Africa” and participants discussed the challenges posed by the growing threat of organized crime in narcotics, arms trafficking, terrorism, illegal migration and the associated organ harvesting that often accompanies it, piracy, illegal fishing, illegal mining, and continental security and on ways in which to tackle these problems.
Prime Minister Hailemariam in his opening remarks underlined the importance of the Forum as a platform for discussions on Africa’s security challenges and potential African solutions to these problems. He noted that the high level of attendance was “a clear indication that the Forum has indeed taken on a momentum of its own.” Discussing the impressive and comprehensive development witnessed in Africa over the last few decades, Prime Minister Hailemariam noted that organized crime had become a formidable challenge to governments and societies, which if ignored would have serious repercussions on the overall growth of the continent. He noted that “these problems stem from deep political and economic structural problems; but they are not necessarily caused by political crises”. They do, however, need to be addressed quickly.
President Sheikh Mahmoud of Somalia shared his perspective of the immense environmental, economic and security damage Somalia had sustained from the activities of transnational organized crime since its collapse two decades ago. He cited toxic dumping, illegal fishing, piracy and human trafficking as concrete examples of the problems that had developed in the absence of a functioning government. He also emphasized that organized crime was fast becoming Africanized and therefore needed African solutions. He expressed Somalia’s readiness to join hands with other African countries in combating these problems. Chief Obasanjo said that organized crime posed a unique challenge to Africa due to its national, continental and international nature. He said, in addition to “the devastating human tragedies trans-national organized crime inflicts, it has the potential to destroy our social fabric, destabilize states and foster insecurity in our continent. The increasingly sophisticated web of criminal networks linking several states necessitates our collective energy, resources and commitment in order to combat the criminals.” Obasanjo said the Forum provided an opportunity to learn from the experiences of others while highlighting bilateral, regional and international cooperation uniquely positioned to provide African-led solutions.”
One panel discussion concentrated on the security problems of Africa, itemized under the broad categories of inter-state conflict, intra-state conflict, electoral violence, conflict over natural resources, and organized crime. There were suggestions that Africa’s failure to create a common political citizenship had been a major source of conflict and clientism. Ambassador Zachary Muburi-Muita, the UN Special Representative to the African Union suggested the colonial legacy of state formation and the resultant lack of strong institutions was the major reason setback for the failure to address organized crime. Professor Ibrahim Fall, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region and Alex de Waal of the World Peace Foundation agreed that Africa was not to blame. It was primarily an area of transit, suffering from the illegal acts of external actors and the need to find African solutions, in conjunction with the international community, was paramount. Professor Mahmood Mamdani, Executive Director of the Makarere Institute for Social Research described organized crime as a product of ideological contestation during the Cold War when many insurgents engaged in drug trading to finance their forces. Meron Estifanos, Secretary-General of the International Commission on Eritrean Refugees, spoke on the plight of Eritrean illegal immigrants in the hands of illegal traffickers in Sinai, suffering from torture, rape and the killings for ‘organ harvesting’; she pleaded for Africans to stand together to take action.
The second day’s panel was devoted to the causes of transnational organized crimes and on regional and bilateral mechanisms set up to combat the problem. Dr. Greg Mills, Director of the Benthrust Foundation discussed how state failure influence transnational organized crime; Professor Faraj Najam an advisor to the Prime Minister of Libya, explained how the collapse of the Ghaddafi regime had caused the illegal transfer of weapons into the hands of civilians and armed groups within the region; Brigadier General Ellhadi Ali Messaoud, Executive Secretary of the North African Regional Community, shared the experience of the NARC’s efforts in combating organized crime. AU Mechanisms, especially the operationalization of the African Standby Force, were discussed in the context of the crises in Mali and the measures taken there. Emphasis was laid on the adoption of holistic approaches to the problems, including closer working relations between Regional Economic Communities and the African Union based on the principle of subsidiary and greater UN-AU cooperation, as well as addressing youth unemployment and working with the international community.
At a press conference, Chief Obasanjo said the Forum had valuable discussions on the causes and effects of organized crime and the way it impinged on all aspects of life in Africa. Mr. Mbeki, who noted the Forum was a consultative body, and made no resolutions, told journalists that the issue of capital flows was currently being dealt with by the African Union through a panel set up to quantify the flow, track down the destination of illicit money and find ways to tackle the problem. Professor Andreas, the Chief Executive of the Forum, stressed it was a young institution and its main focus would remain as a Forum to provide deliberations in a context in which participants could freely exchange thoughts on problems of security in Africa. This had been the aim of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. It also intended to reach out to the wider public and its plans publications to demonstrate its reflective and deliberative nature.
The Forum also held a session in memory of the late prime Minster Meles who had personally launched the establishment of the Forum last year. Prime Minister Hailemariam noted that it was “with a mixed feeling of sadness and pride” that the 2nd Forum was held, adding that it was a matter of pride that so many had honored his name by maintaining and building on his legacy. Chief Obsanjo described Meles as a man whose “dedication and determination to see not only Ethiopia but Africa out of the plight of destitution, poverty, conflict and insecurity was exemplary for all of us who worked with him closely.” Professor Andreas Eshete described the late Prime Minister as a man who had indelibly changed the lives of all Ethiopians, radically re-defining Ethiopian political and cultural identity, institutionalized under the federal arrangement, and identifying poverty as the country’s worst enemy and declaring war on it through the formation of a developmental democratic state. President Kagame described Meles as an indefatigable son of Africa whose contributions went far beyond Ethiopia in his role as the foremost defender of Africa’s causes in international fora. He attributed his success as a statesman to his unique qualities in trying to understand and reflect on Africa’s challenges while formulating an indigenous development model for his country’s prosperity. Meles, he said, inspired Africans everywhere by clearly articulating and implementing a democratic developmental model to Ethiopia.
Singapore appoints a non-resident Ambassador to the African Union and Ethiopia
The Ambassador-designate of Singapore to Ethiopia and to the African Union, Mr. K.V. Vanu Gopala Memon paid a working visit to Addis Ababa this week. At the head of a four person delegation, Ambassador Menon met the Chairman of the African Union Commission, Dr. Dlamini Zuma and presented his credentials.
Ambassador Menon also presented a copy of his credentials to Ambassador Berhane, State Minister of Foreign Affairs, on Monday (April 22nd). In their discussions, they exchanged views on the way to strengthen the bilateral relationship between Ethiopia and Singapore, including the question of air links. An air service agreement was signed in February and Ethiopian Airlines is expected to start flights to Singapore shortly. The possibility of waiving the requirement of visas between the two countries was also raised as well as consideration of the possibility of establishing a free Ethiopia-Singapore-China Economic Zone in Dire Dawa. Ethiopia would welcome the government’s support to engage Singapore companies to help develop the Zone. The two sides also shared experiences of the multimodal transport system. Ambassador Berhane appreciated the technical assistance provided by the Government of Singapore in educational and training opportunities.
Ambassador Berhane also welcomed the recent visit of a Singapore business delegation to Ethiopia, and underlined the potential for Singapore investment in such priority areas as agriculture, and agro-processing, manufacturing, mining, hydropower and tourism. Ambassador Berhane also noted the possibilities for increased trade and emphasized the importance of encouraging Singapore’s private sector and businessmen to come and invest in Ethiopia. Ambassador MENON expressed his commitment to encourage a fertile environment to bring more investment and businessmen to Ethiopia as well as sharing the experience of Singapore’s development model.
The total volume of trade between Ethiopia and Singapore stood at US$6.5 million last year; down slightly from the US$6.7 million in 2011. Ethiopian imports, largely stationary and electronic components, rose slightly in 2012, while its exports, primarily agricultural products, fell from US$225,000 million to US$42,000 in 2012.
The discussions underlined the commitment of both sides to strengthen the bilateral relationship, to enhance economic cooperation and encourage more Singapore businessmen to invest in Ethiopia. As the headquarters of the African Union, Addis Ababa also provides Singapore with a way to sustain and expand its presence in Africa. ***************