A Week in the Horn of Africa- (31/05/2013)
The 21st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union
The two day 21st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union opened on Sunday (May 26th) with the singing of the AU’s Anthem; and the Assembly then heard statements from the Chairman of the African Union, Prime Minister Hailemariam of Ethiopia and from Dr. Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission. It was also addressed by the newly elected President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya who told the Assembly he was honored that his first AU Summit should be a defining Assembly seeking to set the stage for the re-birth of Africa, as laid down by the theme of the Summit: Pan Africanism and African Renaissance. He recalled that five years earlier his predecessor, President Kibaki, had asked for African support for national reconciliation in Kenya. Africa had heeded the request and in the last five years, he said, Kenya had reformed its entire society: with a new constitution, reforms in the judiciary, new electoral machinery, a devolved system of governance, a reformed Public Service and security sector, and other changes. In short, President Kenyatta said Pan-Africanism had sparked a Kenyan renaissance, adding that the 50th Anniversary of the OAU/AU was also, of course, the jubilee of Kenya’s own independence.
The Assembly considered and adopted the Commission’s budget for the 2014 financial year and the Commission’s Strategic Plan 2014-17. Prime Minister Hailemariam said this was designed to sustain Africa’s growth trajectory in the short and medium term with a view to achieving its vision of “an integrated, prosperous, people-centered and peaceful continent.” He called on the African Union Commission, the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), member States and all other stakeholders to do their part in its implementation.
The Assembly heard the report of Nigeria’s former President Obasanjo on Alternative Sources of Funding for the African Union and endorsed it in principle. It requested the Conference of Ministers of Finance and Economic Planning to give it urgent consideration and asked the ministers to bring concrete proposals to the Assembly in January 2014. Overall, the Assembly agreed that the African Union should be provided with adequate and predictable resources to fund its programs and reduce its dependency on external resources. Prime Minister Hailemariam said former President Obasanjo was absolutely right to say that “if we want to have full ownership of our Pan-Africanist strategies, then we should be prepared to make sacrifices”.
The Assembly considered the Reports of President Macky Sall of Senegal, Chairperson of the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee (HSGOC), the Report of Prime Minister Hailemariam of Ethiopia and Chairperson of the Heads of State and Government Action Committee on AIDS Watch Africa (AWA), the Report of President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone and Chairperson of the Committee of Ten on the UN Reforms, and the Report of the Commission on the Post 2015 Development Agenda: 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 was briefed by South African President Zuma on the outcomes of the BRICS Leaders Africa Dialogue Forum held in South Africa in March. It agreed the appointment of four members of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) – Cameroon, Kenya, Mali, and Mauritius -, and the four members of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) – Burundi, Egypt, Niger and Togo. It also considered various items proposed by member states, including the Establishment of a Technical Committee of Experts for the Implementation of the African Diaspora Legacy Projects (South Africa), Strengthening African Leadership in the Process of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (Burkina Faso) and Support to Film Production towards increasing its Contribution to Africa’s Development (Burkina Faso).
The Assembly heard the Report of the Peace and Security Commission on its activities and the state of peace and security in Africa. It subsequently decided on the creation of a new force, the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC).This force, proposed by South African President Zuma, will be a military rapid reaction force to deal with regional coups, rebellions and wars. South Africa, Uganda and Ethiopia pledged to contribute troops for the ACIRC and other countries volunteered support. The AU Assembly decided that the rapid response force would be formed from voluntary contributions of troops, funds and equipment by member states. It would be a stop-gap measure pending the formation of the fully-fledged African Standby Force, planned to be operational by 2015. The size of the ARIRC will depend upon the contributions. According to AU Peace and Security Commissioner, Ambassador Ramtane Lamamra, “constitutional crises”, or coups, or “massive violations of human rights” are the kind of emergencies the new force will be expected to tackle. Commissioner Lamamra said the individual countries supplying troops and equipment would be responsible for paying for their deployment: The ARIRC is not going to be funded from the AU budget, nor apparently is the AU going to ask its partners to fund its operations.
The Assembly concluded by adopting the Decisions and Recommendations of the 23rd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council, and the Decisions and Declarations of the 21st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union. It agreed the 22nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union would be held in Addis Ababa in January 2014. It then launched and signed the Proclamation on the 50th Anniversary of the OAU/AU.
The Session of the Assembly was closed with a speech from the Chairperson of the African Union, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, who described it as a resounding success. The Prime Minister recalled that the main mission of the Organization of African Unity had been the political independence of Africa and the final dismantlement of Apartheid. They had been achieved with great success in the true spirit of Pan-Africanism, but not without sacrifice, bitter struggle, and blood. The Prime Minister paid special tribute to the generations of Pan-Africanists and the Founders of the OAU who strove to promote unity, solidarity, cohesion and cooperation among the peoples of Africa and African States. He noted that as the Assembly reflected on Africa’s past achievements and challenges, “we have resolved to rededicate ourselves to be guided by the same ideals of Pan-Africanism—African solidarity and unity-in-diversity”. With the spirit of African Renaissance, he said, Africans have strongly recommitted themselves to consolidate the gains in the maintenance of peace, stability, good governance, popular participation and economic development in the continent.
The Prime Minister said a major outcome of the summit was the adoption of the Declaration of the OAU/AU 50th anniversary, in which the leaders committed themselves to achieve the AU goals of an integrated and prosperous Africa, at peace with itself and with the world; an Africa whose development is driven by its own citizens; a significant player on the world stage. The leaders have also pledged to translate the provisions of the declaration into action in their different countries, said the Prime Minister. It was a clear “testament to our resolve to make the 21stcentury an African century” he declared.
On the issue of Peace and Security, the Prime Minister said that over the last decade the continent had managed to overcome and deal with many conflicts. African leadership was a key factor in reconciling complex peace and security challenges. He said “the African Union Peace and Security Architecture with its continental Early Warning System, the Panel of the Wise and the African Stand-by Force, with the Peace and Security Council at the helm, has fundamentally overhauled Africa’s capacity to contribute to peace and stability in the continent.” There were encouraging results to be seen in Somalia and he commended Sudan and South Sudan for the important progress they had made in implementing the African Union Road map and United Nations Security Council resolution 2046 (2012); assistance should continue for both to achieve the objective of creating two viable states living side by side in peace and harmony. The situation in Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo had improved but much still remained to be done. In Madagascar, Central African Republic, Guinea Bissau and Niger, the Prime Minister noted the challenges posed by unconstitutional attempts to change government. It was important to look for political solutions; Africa remained firm over non-acceptance of unconstitutional changes of government as laid out in the Lomé Declaration and the Constitutive Act.
The Prime Minister called the formulation of an African Common Position on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, as a milestone in international development cooperation. He cautioned that although progress had been registered in achieving some of the targets of the Millennium Development Goals, much still remained to be done. A thorough assessment of the MDGs should be done in the process of formulation for new international development goals. The Assembly had asked Member States to provide inputs and contributions towards the elaboration of the Post-2015 Development Agenda and called upon all Member States and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to support and build alliances for the African Common Position to enable Africa to speak with one voice during the discussions at the UN General Assembly aimed at defining the Post-2015 Development Agenda. A High Level Committee composed of African Heads of State and Government, under the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia has been established to lead Africa’s development priorities in the context of the post-2015development agenda.
In conclusion, Prime Minister Hailemariam said “Africa’s current trend is indeed positive” and emphasized the responsibility of ensuring the maintenance of this positive trend. He hoped this new spirit of renewal and rejuvenation would give the continent the energy and enthusiasm to mobilize all sections of the society towards the realization of the African Renaissance, and quoted the late Prime Minister Meles: “Africa is rising indeed. The African Renaissance has begun and it is within our means to create a new pole of global growth in Africa, to fully stabilize our continent and to make sure that it takes its rightful place in the global scheme of things.”
“Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance”: the Golden Jubilee of the OAU ….
The Heads of State and Government convened on Saturday (May 25th) for the Special Anniversary Summit, on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of the foundation of the OAU, and holding a debate on the theme of “Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance”. The debate, on a concept paper prepared by the African Union Commission, allowed a candid exchange of views on Africa’s past, present and future, the aim of defining Africa’s continental agenda for the next fifty years. The debate also provided further enrichment to the draft Declaration which was finally adopted and signed during the 21st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union. The Executive Secretary of UN Economic Commission for Africa, Dr. Carlos Lopes, moderated the debate and the presentation of members of the High-level Panel.
In his opening remarks, the Chairperson of the African Union, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia said the Declaration intended to send a far-reaching message on Africa’s aspirations for the future as encapsulated in Vision 2063, which was being elaborated by the AU Commission and other relevant stakeholders. The Special Summit and the 50th anniversary of OAU/AU, he said, had codified a great leap forward in the Pan-Africanist quest for freedom, independence and unity. It was also the beginning of the collective endeavor for the realization of Africa’s socio-economic emancipation. Prime Minister Hailemariam said Africa should use this historic occasion to pay special tribute to the generations of Pan-Africanists who articulated the ideals of Pan-Africanism based on the conviction that Africans in the continent and peoples of African descent in the Diaspora shared a common history and a common destiny. The occasion, he said, should also be used “as an opportunity to honor the Founders of our continental organization who came together under one roof in May 1963, with a resolve to pursue the quest for African Unity in earnest and decided to establish the Organization of African Unity inspired by the ideals of Pan-Africanism.”
While noting the enormous sacrifices previous generations had paid to liberate the African continent from all forms of subjugation and restore the freedom and dignity of the African people, Prime Minister Hailemariam underlined that the major responsibility of current and future generations of Africans should be the creation of a continent free from poverty and conflict and an Africa whose citizens should enjoy middle-income status. He expressed his belief that the new spirit of Pan-Africanism would inspire current and future generations to fulfill the dreams of the Founders for a peaceful, prosperous and united Africa. He said Africa’s Renaissance could not be realized without bringing about a paradigm shift in the political and socio-economic governance of the Union’s member states. He pointed out that Africa must do more than “getting the prices right”. It must play a proactive role in pushing forward Africa’s common transformation agenda taking due cognizance of the nature of member states respective potential in political economy and development.
Prime Minister Hailemariam therefore recommended five important measures that Africa should take in the next years and decades. These included the need to invest in development of the agricultural sector as a means to transform economies and lift millions of people from abject poverty. This, he said, was the lesson Africa could draw from other societies who have successfully transformed themselves. His second recommendation was the need to build up human and technological capability. This was critical in accelerating growth and development in an era of globalization demanding the assimilation of technology developed elsewhere. It could be achieved through the realization of a comprehensive system of technical and vocational training and tertiary education adapted to the respective needs of member countries.
The third measure was to build infrastructure and broaden national and regional networks of roads, railway, telecommunication, electricity and other links to accelerate shared growth and unleash Africa’s economic potentials and expedite regional integration. The neglect of this in the past had arrested the growth and transformation of African economies. Prime Minister Hailemariam noted that some African friends and partners had given priority to infrastructural development in their strategic partnership with the continent. He expressed deepest appreciation to China for investing billions in Africa’s infrastructure sector to assist the continent’s development. The fourth recommendation emphasized the need to ensuring that the proactive role of the state should not stifle the private sector, pointing out the importance of getting rid of the political economy of rent seeking and creating a dynamic and vibrant private sector. Finally, Prime Minister Hailemariam emphasized the need to nurture democratic governance and popular participation to create favorable conditions for the realization of Africa’s shared vision: neither peace nor development can occur in the absence of democracy, popular participation and inclusive growth.
Prime Minister Hailemariam also emphasized that Africa needed continued support and the solidarity of friends and partners for its development endeavors. First and foremost, he said, African nations seek the understanding of partners on the need for Africans to have the policy space to design and implement their own development strategies based on their own objective realities while drawing valuable lessons from other successful development experiences. This, he stressed, meant no more than fulfilling commitments already made in various international fora. He added that Africans also need a favorable global environment, particularly a fair trading regime, as this is a critical factor for boosting economic growth.
Overall, the Special Summit discussed four major themes: on how best to use the continent’s economic opportunities, the development of the right strategies, addressing the challenges of governance, and the need to change the African discourse on the issues of inclusive growth. It agreed on the future direction that these themes should take. It also agreed on the need to listen to the voice of women and youth and their demands to take charge of their own destiny and become part of decision-making processes today.
…and the 50th Anniversary celebration of the OAU/AU at Millennium Hall
The celebration and commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) now the African Union (AU) under the theme of “Pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance” continued on Saturday (May 25th) at the Millennium Hall. Heads of State and Government from Africa and numerous world leaders including top level delegations from Brazil, China, Cuba, France, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, New Zealand, Russia, Sweden and the US attended the colorful celebration. Other attending guests include UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the heads of UNDP, the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the EU Commission, and representatives from African Regional Economic Communities, the South African Development Community (SADC), IGAD, EAC/COMESA, CENSAD/ECCAS, ECOWAS and AMU.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, as Chairperson of the African Union, paid tribute to the African brothers and sisters and other partners who had come to celebrate the 50th Golden Jubilee of the OAU/AU; and the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Dr. Dlamini Zuma, also paid tribute to the pioneers of Pan-Africanism, to the co-founders of OAU and for all who have been and are committed to the cause of Africa. The 50th anniversary marked a time that Africans would unite their efforts “to become masters of our fate” and “to march together for a prosperous continent”. Chairpersons of the Regional Economic Communities of Africa and representatives of Pan African Youth Union, Pan African Women’s Organization and other invited institutions and guests gave statements and messages of solidarity.
The celebration observes the singing of AU’s Anthem followed by a Minute of Meditation, Prayer and reflection as well as opening Choreography where by regions showcasing diversity of choreography, music and storytelling of Africa with the theme of Pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance. It also observes a video clip on Meles Zenawi and a Documentary Clip on the beginning of OAU, Poetry Recital/Readings, Music Performances and Messages of Solidarity.
The 50th Anniversary Commemorations were part of an integrated effort for prosperous and peaceful Africa “driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in global arena”. As the Secretariat of the celebration said, this occasion is not just a momentous milestone but also a clear manifestation and a testimony of Africa’s desire and commitment for integration and working in unity. It creates an opportunity to reinvigorate Pan- Africanism, to usher in Africa’s current state of renaissance and also provide additional impetus in shaping the collective path into Africa’s future, accelerating a forward looking agenda of Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance in the 21st century.
The Summit of the IGAD Heads of State and Government
The 22nd Extraordinary Session of the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government was held Friday evening (May 24th). The summit was attended by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, Chair of IGAD, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, President Omar Hassan Ahmed El Bashir of Sudan, President Ismael Omar Guelleh of Djibouti, President Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan, President Hassan Sheikh Mahmud of Somalia, and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya. The Summit, called to hear the report of the 48th extraordinary session of the IGAD Council held earlier in the day and the recent IGAD fact finding and confidence building mission to Mogadishu and Kismayo, was briefed by Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister and IGAD’s Executive Secretary, Ambassador Mahboub Maalim who led the mission to Somalia. The summit also heard from President Hassan Sheikh Mahmud.
Earlier, IGAD’s 48th Extraordinary Ministerial Meeting had heard the report of IGAD’s confidence-building mission to Mogadishu and to Kismayo which noted there was a difference in interpretation of the provisional constitution between the Federal government and various stakeholders in Kismayo. It said all agreed that the government needed to take leadership of the process and all accepted the role of IGAD. It described the inclusivity of the Kismayo process as contestable, especially among minority clans, and said the last stage of the Juba regions process had ended with an election that had resulted in political tension in Kismayo. The mission recommended that IGAD should expedite support to the federal government in the formation of regional administration, and provide the federal government with experience and technical assistance on federalism, devolution and decentralization as and when requested by the federal government. AMISOM should also be provided with a political support unit to facilitate cooperation and coordination between the Juba regions and the federal government.
In discussion, the IGAD leaders unanimously called for a commitment by all stakeholders to stress the need for dialogue to address the current impasse between the Federal Government and the political forces in Kismayo, and support the ongoing political process led by the Somalia Federal Government, stressing that priority should be given to build democratic institutions and the building of the capacity of the Federal government in governance, economic development, and in the security sector. They agreed on the urgency of dialogue among all stakeholders led by the Federal government and supported by IGAD to support the establishment of regional administration, expressing their concern over the situation in Kismayo and the need for calm, restraint and amicable means by all stakeholders. Ambassador Renzo Mario Rosso of Italy to Ethiopia, Co-Chair of the IGAD Partners Forum, and other speakers, including Nicholas Westcott, the EU Director General for Africa, also underscored the need for dialogue and IGAD’s crucial role in the peace and security of Somalia and the region, emphasizing the importance of closer cooperation and of making the Somali political process inclusive.
In his presentation to the Summit, President Hassan Sheikh expressed his gratitude and appreciation to IGAD member States for their efforts, dedication and sacrifice, and reiterated his government’s support for the May 3rd IGAD communiqué and its five agreed principles. These were: agreement on the leadership of the Somalia Federal Government; respect for the provisional constitution of Somalia; an all inclusive consultative process with the peoples of Somalia; the supportive role of IGAD based on the priorities of the Somali government; and the primary focus of the Somali government, AMISOM, and regional and international partners being the fight against Al-Shabaab.
President Hassan said the government was ready and committed to hold a genuine reconciliation conference for key stakeholders in the Juba regions to devise programs to establish interim administrations that can lead to the formation of Federal States in accordance with the provisional constitution. He referred to the commitments of the international community and of IGAD in helping establish representative and all-inclusive federal institutions. He stressed his government was committed to implementing the mandated priorities in the constitution and implementation of the federal system. The Federal Government, he said, remained open to dialogue and leadership of a broad-based transparent process, inclusive of all local stakeholders.
In its final communiqué the Summit underlined the increased engagement, convergence of ideas and solidarity among IGAD member states in support of Somalia, as demonstrated by the meetings between President Kenyatta and President Mohamud, and by the efforts of Prime Minister Hailemariam and others. It assured the Federal Government of IGAD`S unwavering commitment to help create all-inclusive and legitimate regional administration, calling on the leaders to set aside differences that could stand on the way of progress towards an all-inclusive political process.
The Summit took note of the findings of the mission and of the recommendations made and endorsed its report. It noted the agreement of all stakeholders, including the main political actors in Kismayo and the Federal Government of Somalia, “to respect the provisional constitution, to accept the Government’s leadership, to conduct the process in an inclusive manner, the need for IGAD’S supportive role, and conduct the process in a way that helps the fight against Al-Shabaab.” It also urged the Federal Government of Somalia to convene a reconciliation conference with the support of IGAD while consulting key stakeholders in Juba Regions. This, it said, should chart out a road map for the establishment of an interim administration and the formation of a permanent regional administration in accordance with the constitution, with IGAD playing a supportive role.
The Summit appealed for calm in Kismayo and called on all parties to respect the five principles laid out by the IGAD Summit of May 3rd. It reiterated IGAD’s call for the Federal Government to integrate various militia forces into a unified national command and stressed the need for enhanced engagement by the international community and the AU to improve the operational capacity and coordination of AMISOM and Somali National Forces. It reaffirmed IGAD’S Commitment to support peace building and reconstruction in Somalia.
The Summit called on the international community to support the initiative of the Governments of Somalia and Kenya and the UNHCR to convene an international conference on the repatriation of Somali refugees. It directed the Chairperson of the Council of Ministers to make arrangements to ensure continuous dialogue and consultation over Somalia. The Summit also expressed its appreciation of partners and organizations for their help to Somalia, underscoring the efforts made by Prime Minister Hailemariam, as IGAD Chair, in facilitating efforts for regional peace and security.
Djibouti’s Finance and Investment Conference in London
On May 8th, President Omar Ismail Guelleh at the head of a delegation of about a hundred officials and other delegates from politics and business, including the Ministers of the Economy and Finance and of Foreign Affairs and the Governor of the Central Bank, was in London to participate in the first UK- organized Finance and Investment Conference for Djibouti. President Ismail told the conference that “Our vision for the future of Djibouti is one of a diversified economy with a robust private sector as an engine of growth which then brings about the necessary socio-economic transformation that would make our country a prosperous emerging market.”
Delegates heard the UK’s Minister for Africa, Mark Simmonds say that Britain must not miss the opportunity to invest early in what he called a rapidly growing market, said it was his ambition to tie the UK and Djibouti together by creating significant economic and trade links. This “would not just drive economic development, economic growth, and sustainable job creation in Djibouti, but help UK companies grow, expand, and deliver financial returns to assist with the UK economic recovery as well.” The Djibouti government is seeking to attract foreign investment in a number of areas, including renewable energy sources such as geothermal, wind, and solar power. It is also attempting to lure financial services companies to take advantage of its lack of currency controls and free currency exchange. It allows free repatriation of profits and treats domestic and foreign businesses as equals. As a trade and investment agenda was a top priority for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ilyas Dawaleh, Minister of the Economy and Finance, noted that Djibouti was engaged in a continuous process of change and reform and was committed, under the President’s leadership and that of the country’s younger generation, to boost the country to a new level of development. It was aiming to become a middle-level economy by 2035. The Djibouti Minister for the Economy and Finance said he believed Djibouti, with its strategic geo-political positions, offered a number of opportunities for the UK. He added that corruption was being tackled to help improve the climate for investors and the country was now chasing up corruption “all over the world.” He also noted that Djibouti was now starting to build a new justice model based on common law practises in the UK.
Djibouti has substantial plans to develop rail links, ports, and oil and gas pipelines. It is in talks with several countries including China, India, Russia and Brazil as well as Arab investors to finance infrastructure projects worth nearly $6 billion. The projects include doubling capacity at the Doraleh container port to 3 million containers a year by 2015 making it Africa’s largest such facility. The plans call for the creation of six ports to handle commodity exports including an $80 million facility at Tadjourah, with the first phase being funded by the Saudi Fund for Development and the Arab League’s Kuwait- based Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development. A second phase of development will begin in 2015 and cost $90 million. This will handle potash exports from Ethiopia. Construction has already begun on another port at Ghoubet for the export of salt and gypsum deposits from Lake Assal which is said to be the world’s largest undeveloped salt reserve. The government says $64 million of funding has been agreed with China. Talks are also underway to build a $600 million oil refinery to allow for import of crude oil from South Sudan by pipeline from South Sudan, across Ethiopia to Djibouti. The government is also drawing up plans for a $2.6 billion liquefied natural gas terminal with a liquefaction plant and a pipeline to bring gas from Ethiopia. This would be able to deliver an annual export of 10 million cubic meters of gas from Ethiopia after 2016. Djibouti officials say Brazil and Russia have shown interest in financing the oil pipeline from South Sudan and a gas pipeline and rail links with Ethiopia, and the Djibouti government has started negotiations for concessional low interest loans to be repaid over 25 years.
Meanwhile, on May 22nd, Ilyas Moussa Dawaleh, Minister of Economy and Finance of Djibouti, the CEO of the Ethiopian Railway Corporation, Dr. Getachew Betru and Zhu Xinqiang, Vice-President of the Chinese EXIM Bank, had signed an agreement in the presence of Prime Minister Hailemariam, under which the Chinese Export and Import Bank provided a 2.3 billion dollars loan for the construction of the Ethiopia-Djibouti electrified railway project. The loan will cover 70% of the cost of the 756 kms of new line. The China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC) is undertaking the construction of the 317km segment from Sebeta to Meiso, while the China Civil Engineering Construction Cooperation (CCECC) is constructing the 339km of line from Meiso to Dawale, at the Djibouti border. The CCECC will construct the remaining 100kms to the Red Sea port of Doraleh, in Djibouti. The CCECC is also constructing the 268 km line from Mekelle to Woldiya while a Turkish company, Yapi Merkesi Construction Industry Inc. is linking Woldiya to Awash. This railway is also going to be extended east to Semera and then to the new port of Tadjourah in Djibouti for the potash exports.
Nationwide celebrations for the 22nd anniversary of Ginbot 20
Ethiopia, on Wednesday (May 28th), celebrated the 22nd anniversary of Ginbot20, marking the fall of the military dictatorship in 1991, and coming to power of a new Federal Government and the subsequent new Constitution providing human and democratic rights including the equality of nations, nationalities and peoples, based on mutual understanding and respect.
The Office of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) in a statement congratulated the people of Ethiopia on the celebration of the 22nd Ginbot 20 anniversary which it said marked the overthrow of the dictatorial and brutal military regime. The Office expressed gratitude to those who have sacrificed themselves for the creation of the current improved Ethiopia. Their sacrifices, it said, resulted in the creation of policies and strategies that continue to lift the country and its people out of poverty. This, joined with the legacies of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi encourages the people of Ethiopia to stand in unison to defend the shared benefits of development and democracy.
The EPRDF Office noted that the 22nd anniversary of Ginbot 20 also marked the renewal of the Government’s commitment to enhance the country’s agricultural productivity and pave the way for a conducive approach to an eventual transition into an industrial-dominated economy and middle income status within a decade. It underlined the renewal of commitment to encourage the creation of as many businesses and strong private-public-partnerships as possible through appropriate intervention and facilitation of healthy and competitive interactions. It also emphasized the government’s renewed determination to fight rent-seeking and other illegal activities that might try to counter the country’s efforts at ensuring rapid and sustainable economic growth and building a nation of good governance and democracy. The recent measures against some senior Government officials, individuals from the business community and some illegal agents, on account of suspected engagement in corruption and other forms of rent-seeking activity were indications of the Government’s renewed commitment to take prompt measures against any acts of manipulation of public property or any rent-seeking activity.
The statement noted these measures were associated with other structural improvements being taken to encourage stronger implementation capacity in all economic, political and social areas, signifying the Government’s resolve to spare no effort to create a responsible society that will say no to rent-seeking and stand together to participate in the shared benefits of development and democracy. It noted the Government’s resolve to realizing a better Ethiopia through the path of renaissance in which all segments of society would obtain their respective reasonable and equitable shares of the benefits of growth and from improving good governance and the practice of democratization.
The EPRDF Office said it appreciated the broad participation of all segments of Ethiopian society in the activities of development and good governance, but it also called on the public for a wider campaign and greater participation in the Government’s development and democratization efforts, in particular in support for the completion of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam now under the construction. It called for a greater role by stakeholders and more public participation to make the vision of the late Prime Minister a reality, including the maintenance of double digit growth to make Ethiopia a middle income country in the next ten years and ensure Ethiopia’s quest for its “renaissance” will be successful. It called upon members of the EPRDF party to discharge the extra-commitment expected from them for the realization of good governance and to take a leading role in the Government’s efforts to galvanize the public into more aggressive engagement in development and democracy.
The EPRDF Office noted Ethiopia’s significant and exemplary role in the realization of the Africa of today, and the reputation it had earned from its African brothers. It pointed out that the celebration of the Ginbot-20 anniversary this year, following the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the OAU/AU, marked an extra demand for a further renewal of spirit for a more significant continental role. This was welcomed by the Ethiopian Government which had always been ready for a constructive role in Africa and would continue to act to ensure the achievement of the current goal of “Pan-Africanism and Africa’s renaissance”, in establishing a strongest African brotherhood and defence of the continent’s shared benefits.
The anniversary of Ginbot 20 was celebrated under the theme “Expanding the May 28th people’s victories for the realization of Ethiopia’s Renaissance”. In the House of People’s Representatives members reiterated their renewed commitment to work tirelessly for the betterment of the Ethiopian people through the making and adoption of new laws and the ratification of useful international conventions as well as through proper follow-up of the implementation of the country’s mega-projects with a view to expediting the pace of economic and political progress.
News in Brief:
The Special Summit of the Assembly of the African Union was held on Saturday (May 25th) to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the foundation of the Organization of African Unity, and of the African Union.
The 21st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union took place at the African Union Conference Center in Addis Ababa on Sunday and Monday (May 26th-27th).
African Union Chairman, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, announced the creation of the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC) on Monday (May 27th). This will be a military rapid reaction force to deal with regional coups, rebellions and wars.
The Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Awards 2013 were presented on behalf of the African Union Assembly to Professor Nabil A. Ibrahim from Egypt, recipient of the Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation Award and to Professor Michael John Wingfield from South Africa, recipient of the Life and Earth Sciences Award.
During her visit to Addis Ababa for the OAU/AU Anniversary Summit, Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff announced that Brazil would be cancelling or restructuring almost US$900m worth of debt with Africa. Congo-Brazzaville, Tanzania and Zambia are the main beneficiaries.
President Girma Woldegiorgis congratulated the people of Ethiopia on the occasion of the 22nd anniversary of Ginbot 20 on Tuesday (May 28th), marking the fall of the military dictatorship in 1991 and the establishment of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, of nations, nationalities and peoples, based on mutual understanding and respect. The course of the Abay (Blue Nile) River was re-routed by a few meters on Tuesday (May 28th) to allow for further progress on the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). This has had no effect on the flow of the river.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi said (May 25th) that he and Prime Minister Hailemariam agreed both countries’ interests would be addressed during the building of the Renaissance Dam.
An Ethiopian delegation led by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn arrived in Yokohama on Thursday (May 30th) for the 5th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V). A pre-Ministerial meeting was held on Friday (May 31st). The Summit (June 1st-3rd) is being co-chaired by Ethiopia and Japan. In Japan, Prime Minister Hailemariam held bilateral discussions with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He met earlier with Akihiko Tanaka, President of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros, co-chair of the TICAD V pre-Ministerial meeting, had bilateral discussions with Japanese Foreign Minister, Fumio Kishida. The UNDP Regional Service Center for Africa was inaugurated on Tuesday (May 28th) in Addis Ababa by Prime Minister Hailemariam and United Nations Development Program Administrator, Helen Clark.
Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanom signed agreements with the Foreign Minister of the Union of Comoros and the Foreign Minister of Liberia, and met with Algeria’s Foreign Minister, Mourad Medelci, to discuss creation of a strategic partnership between the two countries in the future.
Finance and Economic Development State Minister Ahmed Shide and Japanese Ambassador to Ethiopia Hiroyuki Kishino signed an agreement to cooperate on low carbon growth (May 27th), to strengthen support for reducing carbon emissions and building a green economy in Ethiopia. <!–[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]–> <!–[endif]–> State Minister Ahmed Shide and Portugal’s Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Francisco Xavier signed an agreement on avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion agreement (May 25th).
Professor Taddesse Tamrat, pre-eminent historian of medieval Ethiopia, and author of “Church and State in Ethiopia: 1270-1527″, died last Thursday (May 23rd) in a hospital in Chicago
Djibouti President, Ismail Omar Guelleh, and French President, Francois Hollande, held discussions on bilateral cooperation during the African Union summit in Addis Ababa on Saturday (May 25th). Hollande said France would continue to support the social and economic development of Djibouti.
Djiboutian Minister of Energy, Ali Yacoub Mohamoud, and Japanese Ambassador to Djibouti, Atsushi Nishioka, discussed possible joint development of geothermal energy in Djibouti last week (May 22nd).
Eritrea celebrated the 20th anniversary of its formal independence on Sunday (May 26th). President Isaias spoke of incessant external animosity, hostile plots sapping the nation-building process, criticized the US and the UN for “illegal” sanctions, human trafficking, of efforts to induce poverty, polarize society and isolate Eritrea diplomatically; and told the Eritrean people that their “60-year-long struggle” hadn’t ended.
Canada declared Eritrea’s Consul in Toronto, the only Eritrean diplomat in the country, persona non grata this week, for continuing “tax solicitation and tax collection activities” from members of the Eritrean Diaspora. Eritrea’s Foreign Ministry described the expulsion as “an unwarranted escalation of hostility to Eritrea” and “the act of a bully”.
Thousands of Afar refugees from Eritrea demonstrated this week at the Berahle refugee camp in Ethiopia’s Afar Regional State, calling for the UN and the international community to put an end to “ethnic cleansing by the brutal regime” in Asmara. There are currently 5,200 Afar refugees from Eritrea in the camp. Kenya
Kenyan security forces have been reinforced along the Somali border following the weekend attack on two police posts. Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attacks on two police posts in Garissa County.
Kenyan MPs voted themselves a pay rise on Tuesday (May 28th), overturning cuts ordered by the Government’s Salaries and Remuneration Commission, despite public criticism and appeals from President Kenyatta to exercise patience until the economy improves.
The Eastern Africa Journalists Association (EAJA) held its general meeting at the weekend (May 25-27th) with delegates from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda electing Dr Muheldin Ahmed Idriss (Sudanese Journalists Union) as president; and Alexandre Niyungeko (Union of Burundian Journalists) and Anteneh Abraham (Ethiopia’s National Journalists Union) as vice-presidents.
Somalia Special conference on Somalia on TICAD V margins, with Japanese Prime Minister Abe, Prime Minister Hailemariam of Ethiopia, President Hassan Mahamoud of Somalia, President Salva Kiir of South Sudan, President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, President Omar Guelleh of Djibouti, Deputy President Ruto of Kenya, Prime Minister Hisham Qandil of Egypt, AU Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra and others. A two day private sector Somali Reconstruction and Investment Conference took place in Nairobi on Tuesday and Wednesday (May 28–29th) bringing together policymakers and development organisations to focus on fostering business opportunities in Somalia.
The EU is expected to accept the request of the Federal Republic of Somalia to accede to the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, the “Cotonou Agreement”, at the ACP-EU Council of Ministers meeting to be held in Brussels on June 6th-7th.
The Somali Cabinet has approved draft legislation for the establishment of a Somali Disaster Management Agency, to provide urgent response to natural disasters, including famines and flooding. Puntland President, Abdirahman Mohamed Farole, met U.S. Ambassador to Somalia, James Swan, in Nairobi on Wednesday. President Farole is visiting Kenya, Ethiopia and the Middle East. South Sudan The United Nations said on Wednesday (May 29th) that nearly 20,000 people have fled fighting in the east of South Sudan and sought refuge in neighboring countries since the start of the year, with nearly 12,000 entering Ethiopia from South Sudan’s Jonglei state. There have been 4,000 new arrivals in Ethiopia since 7 May,” the UN said in a statement.
The Security Council has extended the mandate of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) until 30 November, and increased the authorized number of troops there by more than 1,100 to 5,326, as requested by the Joint Political and Security Mechanism decision of March 8th. South Sudan’s Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin says South Sudan is determined to promote strong bilateral ties with the Sudan through implementation of the Cooperation Agreement signed by the Heads of State in September 2012. South Sudan’s Ambassador in Khartoum, Mayan Dut Wol, says the technical problem that forced Juba to cut oil production last week has now been fixed and South Sudan’s oil shipments will continue to be loaded in the second half of June. He said bilateral meetings were continuing to work out details on oil, trade and border security agreements. Sudan President Omer Al-Bashir and President Salva Kiir met on Friday (May 24th) in Addis Ababa on the sidelines of the AU Summit and discussed issues related to the flow of oil, support for rebel groups and the situation in Abyei. Khartoum asked to allow its troops to pursue rebels inside South Sudan.The African Union and the AU-UN Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) signed an agreement on Saturday (May 25th) in Addis Ababa for the AU to provide nearly US$3 million for various humanitarian, development and peace-building projects in Darfur.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has reiterated the US government’s support for an African Union proposal that a referendum in the disputed region of Abyei should be held in October this year.