This Weeks edition includes topics:
- Prime Minister Hailemariam attends China’s Belt and Road Forum….
- ….and meets China’s President and Prime Minister and business leaders
- The UN Security Council debates Somalia after the London Conference
- UN Security Council extends the mandate of UNISFA for another six months
- A Tripartite National Committee meeting on GERD held in Addis Ababa
- Undocumented Ethiopians returning from Saudi Arabia
- An Ethiopian-Brazilian Business Forum in Sao Paulo
- The 2017 Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development in Addis Ababa
News in Brief
Africa and the African Union
The UN Security Council met on Wednesday this week (May 17) to discuss Somalia following last week’s London Conference. Raisedon Zenenga, the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Somalia and Ambassador Madeira, Head of AMISOM, briefed the Council. (See article).
The UN Security Council on Monday (May 15) renewed the mandate of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) and its support for the disputed territory’s Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism for another six months. (See article)
The Africa Regional Forum, in Addis Ababa was held in Addis Ababa this week (May 17-18) to finalize the strategy for Africa and decide a list of priorities ahead of the UN’s High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in September. (See article)
The Executive Secretary of IGAD and the Ambassador of Switzerland to Ethiopia, on Wednesday (May 17) co-chaired the 3rd Steering Committee of IGAD-Switzerland Cooperation. Among the projects being implemented under this are the Management of Flood Disaster and Rational Utilization of Dauwa River; Building River Dialogue and Governance in Africa; the IGAD-FAO Partnership Program on Building Resilience for Pastoralists; improving land governance in the IGAD region; and building capacities for improved migration governance in the IGAD Region. IGAD and Switzerland have been in partnership in food security, migration, peace and security since 2014. The Steering Committee meets annually.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn attended the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on May 14-15 last week. During his visit to China, he also had meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, as well as a number of business discussions and visited Shandong andFujian Provinces.President Xi Jinping calls for a comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation between China and Ethiopia. (See articles)
Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn sent a congratulatory message to Emmanuel Macron, the newly elected President of France, who was sworn in on Sunday (May 14), wishing him a fruitful term in office, and expressing the wish that French-Ethiopian relations would be further consolidated.
Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonen met with World Bank Managing Director, Kristalina on Wednesday (May 17) to discuss ways of further enhancing partnership toward eradicating poverty. Ms. Georgieva told journalists later that the World Bank would be providing US$4.9 billion for land, watershed restoration and women entrepreneurship projects as well as the Productive Safety Net program over the next three years. She said Ethiopia had made huge progress in reducing the number of people living under poverty and the results these programs are incredibly positive”.
Foreign Minister Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday (May 12) for talks. The two sides agreed to enhance coordination in bilateral and international affairs, support each other in issues concerning core interests, and safeguard the common interests of themselves and other developing countries.
State Minister Mrs. Hirut Zemene told Atul Khare, Under Secretary General for the UN Department of Field Support on Tuesday (May 16) that Ethiopia wanted to see increased awareness of the importance of supporting peace keeping missions. She said it was determined to contribute more to global peace keeping operation. Mr. Khare said his Department was working on finance, logistics and in other areas to help missions promote peace and security.
State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Hirut Zemene met the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Ethiopia on Tuesday (May 16) to underline the need for closer strategic engagement with the government of Saudi Arabia to ensure safe repatriation of undocumented Ethiopian citizens returning from Saudi Arabia. An average of 400 undocumented Ethiopians are arriving at Bole international airport on a daily basis. (See article)
In a meeting on Tuesday (May 16) with State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Aklilu Hailemikael, Mr. Ender Hidirogln, Advisor to the Chairman of the Turkish company, Calik Holding, expressed the company’s keenness to invest in Ethiopia. Calik operates in energy, construction and real estate, textile, mining, finance and the telecom sectors.
The Tripartite National Committee (TNC) for implementation of the recommendations of the International Panel of Experts (IPoE) on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) held its 14th meeting this week in Addis Ababa, May 12-14. (See article)
In its situation report for May, the FAO says it urgently needed US$8.4 million to address the needs of drought-affected pastoralists in southern and south-eastern Ethiopia. It noted humanitarian needs were increasing in these areas with below-average and erratic March/May rains.
An Ethio-Brazilian Business and Investment Forum was held last week in Sao Paulo, Brazil, bringing together representatives of more than 130 companies, businesses and government officials from both countries. (See article)
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) formally accepted Ethiopia as a member of the Bank on Saturday (May 13). AIIB President Jin Liqun said the Bank was very happy that Ethiopia had decided to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and delighted that the Bank had ratified it. Ethiopia submitted its application to join the Asian Infrastructure Bank in 2015.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said it has only 20% of the funds needed to meet the needs of more than 843,000 refugees registered in Ethiopia as of April 30. In a report on Monday (May 12) the UNHCR said it needed US$307.5 million for the refugees as well as environmental protection for the camps and surrounding areas. South Sudan refugees in Ethiopia number 357,755; 249,000 are from Somalia and 169,655 from Eritrea as well as smaller groups from Sudan and Yemen.
Ethiopia and Sudan are in talks to implement a multimodal transport system through Port Sudan. Port Sudan is expected to handle up to 15% of Ethiopia’s import-export trade. The Ethiopian Maritime Affairs Authority said it was planning to open an office at Port Sudan and establish a dry port in south Gondar zone.
The Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy announced on Thursday (May 18) China’s Dongfang Electric Corporation will build a 120-megawatt wind farm in the Somali Regional State. Taking 18 months, it will cost about US$257 million dollars to construct with 85% funding coming from China’s Export-Import Bank and the rest from the Ethiopian government
A 15 person delegation from Sudan’s Gedaref State on three-day visit to Gondar held talks on Monday (May 15) with the leadership of North Gondar Zone in Amhara Regional State. North Gondar Zone’s Chief Administrator said the visit would consolidate the relationship of the people living along the border and strengthen ties in trade, investment, tourism and culture.
Ethiopian Airlines said on Thursday (May 18) flights to Chengdu, the capital of China’s southwest Sichuan province, will start next week on May 22. This will be Ethiopian Airlines’ fifth destination in addition to Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province.
US Deputy Head of Mission to Ethiopia, Ms. Lucy Abbott and Addis Ababa University President, Professor Admasu Tsegaye opened a major photo exhibition at the John F. Kennedy memorial Library at the University on Sunday (May 14). It was part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the establishment of the Library and of the 100th anniversary of the birth of President Kennedy who created the Peace Corps, over 4,000 of whom have served in Ethiopia.
Hagos Gebrehiwet, Head of Economic Affairs for the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) attended the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on May 14.
An Egyptian medical convoy including four doctors and a medical equipment engineer in ophthalmology worked in Eritrea April 28 to May 7. Minister of Health Amina Nour expressed her great appreciation for Egypt’s contributions to develop and support Eritrea’s health sector.
The World Food Program on Tuesday (May 16) welcomed China’s five-million U.S. dollar contribution to support 420,000 refugees living in the Dadaab and Kakuma camps in Kenya. Along with contributions from Canada, Germany, Japan, Sweden and the UK, it said this would allow WFP to provide full food rations to refugees from April to July.
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud invited President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed to attend Arab-Islamic-US summit to be hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre on Monday (May 15) held talks with Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende in Doha. They discussed a range of issues including bilateral relations between the two countries and Norway’s role in stabilizing Somalia. Prime Minister Khayre, who holds Norwegian citizenship, briefed Mr. Brende on the current situation in Somalia and recent achievements in good governance, peace-building and fighting terrorism.
A Royal Australian Navy frigate, operating with the anti-piracy and anti-terrorist Combined Task Force 150 in the north west Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, has seized more than 250kg of heroin. Established in 2002, CTF 150 has seized and destroyed billions of dollars of drugs and captured thousands of weapons.
China has signed an agreement with the UN IOM for US$1 million of multi-sector assistance to support efforts to help internally displaced persons, vulnerable communities and returnees in Somalia. IOM said the project, which will reach over 15,000 people, will support the UN and Somalia-backed 2017 Somalia Humanitarian Response Plan.
Puntland President, Abdiwali Mohamed Ali “Gaas” arrived in Norway on Tuesday (May 16) at the start of a visit to Norway, Finland and Sweden to meet members of the Puntland Diaspora in Europe. He is accompanied by the Puntland Minister of Planning, Shire Haji Farah and other officials.
President Salva Kiir told the National Dialogue Organizing Committee on Thursday (May 18) that the national dialogue process would start next week. He said: “Those who are available will be sworn in on Monday, May 22. Those who are not around will be sworn in as and when they come because the process cannot be postponed.”
President Kiir on Monday (May 15) issued orders restructuring the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) setting up three commands: Ground forces, Air Force and Air Defense, and the Riverine Force each under a Commander.
Norway’s Special Representative to South Sudan, Erling Skojonsberg announced last week that the South Sudan government and members of the country’s opposition parties have been invited to a reconciliation conference next month. He said “The Norwegian government has promised to help South Sudan to implement the peace agreement [of 2015] in order to have a peaceful resolution to the conflict.” He also met with President Kiir and discussed the implementation of a permanent ceasefire.
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for South Sudan, and head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), David Shearer, warned on Friday (May 12) that deteriorating security in parts of South Sudan, coupled with increased displacement, could worsen the humanitarian suffering in the country through outbreaks of diseases such as diarrhea and even cholera.
President Omer al-Bashir Sunday said on Sunday (May 14) that Sudan was now hosting about two million refugees and asylum seekers. He was addressing the opening session of the 17th Doha Forum being held under the theme of “Development, Stability and the Refugee Crisis”. He called for the international community to play a full humanitarian role in helping refugees and tackling the roots causes of migration.
An African Union Peace and Security Council delegation started a visit to Darfur state on Tuesday (May 16). It met with the governor of North Darfur state and the security committee to discuss recent developments. The delegation welcomed the improvement of the situation in the region and the cooperation between North Darfur government and UNAMID.
The European Union held a two-day workshop in Khartoum under the title “Combating Terrorism and Money Laundering” this week (May 17-18). The workshop aimed to examine terrorism financing and its impact on national security as well as organized crime and the role of the private sector as well as the support from regional and international organizations and enhance the efficiency of the regular forces, judicial organs and central banks.
The head of the National Counterterrorism Authority and chairman of the Technical Committee for Combating Terrorism Financing, Brigadier-General Muawiya Madani, said on Wednesday that Sudan had frozen the assets of persons suspected of having links to terrorist activities and included them in the UN Security Council Sanctions List.
Prime Minister Hailemariam attends China’s Belt and Road Forum….
The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was held in Beijing at the beginning of the week (May 14-15) under the theme “Strengthening international cooperation and co-building the ‘Belt and Road’ for win-win development”. It was attended by 29 Heads of State and Government and representatives from more than 130 countries and 70 international organizations. The Belt and Road Initiative takes its inspiration from the ancient Silk Road trading route and began in 2013 when President Xi Jinping proposed respectively the building of the New Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. The aim, he said, was to connect more than 60 countries which account 60 percent of the world’s population and 30 percent of global economic output with physical, commercial, cultural, and other links. In fact, so far, 68 countries and international organizations have signed multilateral agreements with China on cooperation in building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road and China has agreements with the governments of 30 countries, including Ethiopia and Kenya to expand industrial investment and enhance trade connectivity. The Export-Import Bank of China has also signed loan agreements on industrial park projects, projects for power transmission and distribution, wind power, water, dams, satellite and hydraulic factory projects with a number of countries including Ethiopia and Kenya.
President Jinping said the most important objective of the Forum was to review progress and demonstrate early outcomes of the initiative, to discuss a synergy of major cooperation and development strategies, deepen partnership, interconnectedness and cooperation for win-win outcomes. The Forum was a platform for working out action plans for implementation of the initiative in the areas of infrastructure, energy and resources, environmental protection, production capacity, trade, investment and identification of major projects. It included high level meetings including a plenary session and six parallel panel discussions. A round table summit on the second day was chaired by President Jinping with the participation of all attending heads of state and government and the heads of the UN, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund. Participants at the Leaders’ Roundtable adopted a joint communiqué. The forum produced a list of deliverables, including 76 items comprising more than 270 concrete results in five key areas, namely policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity.
Among those present were Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Erdogan, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, President Kenyatta of Kenya and Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn of Ethiopia, as well as the prime ministers of Spain, Italy, Greece and Hungary, the President of the International Monetary Fund, the President of the World Bank, and United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres. The UN Secretary General described the Belt and Road initiative as truly a shared vision for global development, adding, “Indeed China is at the centre of multilateralism.” President Putin said the world needed fresh ideas to demonstrate the example of building partnership and cooperation. He said, “The ideas of openness and free trade are increasingly often being rejected by those who until very recently expounded them.”
In his keynote speech at the opening of the Forum, President Jinping said the benefits of cooperation would be by all participating countries, adding it would require the efforts of all nations. He described the summit as a ‘gathering of great minds’ and outlined the enormous benefits the initiative can bring through cooperation. He said: “In pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative, we should focus on the fundamental issue of development, release the growth potential of various countries and achieve economic integration and interconnected development and deliver benefits to all.” Highlighting the key principles of the initiative, he promised China’s cooperation for peace, prosperity, globalization and innovation. He said: “We should foster a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation; and we should forge partnerships of dialogue with no confrontation and of friendship rather than alliance.” He emphasized the significance of trade, describing it as an engine driving growth and encouraged countries to uphold the “multilateral trading regime, advance the building of free trade areas and promote liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment”.
President Jinping asserted the initiative would see China embracing the outside world with a noble mind by empowering society and protecting the environment. He told the world leaders attending the forum: “We should establish a stable and sustainable financial safeguard system that keeps risks under control, create new models of investment and financing, encourage greater cooperation between government and private capital and build a diversified financing system and a multi-tiered capital market.” Earlier, he noted that the more than 2,000 year history of the cultural, social and economic benefits of the ancient Silk Road utilized by traders and explorers had helped build peace and cooperation and improve religious and cultural exchanges. President Jinping made it clear a new drive with more balance and an inclusive approach was needed to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor and allow the world to recover from its prevailing economic turbulence. He announced a US$14.5 billion contribution to the Silk Road Fund, to support infrastructure projects, and an additional US$8.7 billion in assistance to developing countries. He stressed the initiative would be based on “fair, reasonable and transparent global trade and investment rules”, adding “What we hope to create is a big family of harmonious co-existence.” He said: “We have no interest to impose our will and will avoid geopolitical manoeuvring. China is willing to share its development experience with all countries. We will not interfere in other countries’ internal affairs.”
At the opening plenary session, President Xi Jinping pledged US$8.7 billion of assistance for developing countries and international organizations under the Belt and Road Initiative. He also pledged an additional US$14.5 billion USD to the Silk Road Fund set up in 2014 to finance infrastructural projects for countries along the belt and road. China will also establish up to 50 joint laboratories in countries along the belt to enhance cooperation on innovation. He said the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation sent a positive message to the Western world that developing countries could work together with a shared vision to build a future for mankind. The Belt and Road Initiative calls for people-to-people exchange, win-win cooperation, and shared benefits amongst participating nations. Among the infrastructure projects that are part of the initiative are the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway that connects Addis Ababa with the port of Djibouti, the Jakarta-Bandung, China-Laos and Hungary-Serbia railway lines and the upgrading of Gwadar and Piraeus ports. More projects to improve network links, land-sea-air transportation routes and information and communications systems are in the pipeline.
Tegegnework Gettu, UN Under-Secretary-General and Associate Administrator of UNDP, noted that the Belt and Road funds will be invaluable in building infrastructure, pushing forward industrialization, spurring economic development, and bringing mutual benefits to China and regions along the Belt and Road. The initiative has already yielded impressive results, including the construction of railways, roads and hydropower stations in various countries. He described the initiative as a “creative platform” that promoted openness and allows cultural and economic differences, while respecting national diversity. He said: “The most impressive thing is China’s commitment to such a tremendous initiative and being inclusive to a large number of countries.” In Ethiopia, it has built the modern, high-speed standard gauge Addis Ababa to Djibouti railway. In Kenya, the China Road and Bridge Corporation, is building a similar rail link between Mombasa and Nairobi. This will have a major impact on Kenya and neighboring countries, particularly after it is extended to Kampala and then to Kigali in Rwanda. Other lines are expected to branch off to Juba in South Sudan and to Addis Ababa.
Prime Minister Hailemariam in his speech to the Forum hailed China for its economic growth, thanked President Xi for his vision and said China, the largest developing country and second largest economy in the world, was playing a critical role for global development and for developing nations. He said: “We in Africa continue to view China as a successful economic module and a reliable ally in the fight against poverty and in our quest for prosperity.” The developing world regarded China as a reliable ally in fighting against poverty and pursuing prosperity. He described the Belt and Road initiative as the “largest non-conflicting economic cooperation of the 21st century”. It brought to the fore a unique opportunity for enhancing regional cooperation, sustainable economic growth and development for global achievements for the 2030 agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Prime Minister said through its engagement with Africa over the past two decades, China continued to play a crucial role in promoting inter-connectivity within the continent, and between China and Africa. The Initiative would further strengthen these engagements by enhancing Africa’s cooperation with countries along the corridor, he added. He noted that Ethiopia was already benefiting from the Initiative with the railway from Addis Ababa to Djibouti. Many African countries were faced by infrastructural and resource impediments preventing them from being competitive in international market. The Initiative comes with resources and opportunities and in this regard, the Prime Minister said, it had enormous advantages for countries like Ethiopia. For Africa, the Initiative was inherently aligned to Africa’s vision for integration, industrialization and sustainable development and the African Union Agenda 2063. It was therefore in line with the continent’s much desired need for infrastructural and economic development and would enable Africa to seek alternate means of development.
The joint communiqué signed by leaders attending the summit offered a road map for the Initiative with key priority areas to provide connectivity and an economic boost for countries. It said: “We are mindful that the world economy is undergoing profound changes, presenting both opportunities and challenges. This is an era of opportunity, where countries continue to aspire for peace, development and cooperation.” It welcomed bilateral, triangular, regional and multilateral cooperation to eradicate poverty, create jobs; improve innovation, deal with international financial crisis and market-based industrial transformation and economic diversity.
It called for people-to-people exchanges, to promote peace, protect the environment, encourage gender equality, empower women, curb corruption, and several other issues of international concern.
….and meets China’s President and Prime Minister and business leaders
The Prime Minister arrived in Beijing on Friday May 12 at the head of a delegation that included Foreign Minister Dr. Workneh. He met with China’s President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang in advance of the Belt and Road Forum as well as holding a series of business meetings. After the Forum he also visited Shandong Province. During his visit, the Prime Minister was awarded an honorary professorship by the University of International Business and Economics, in Beijing.
Chinese President Xi Jinping told Prime Minister Hailemariam that China and Ethiopia needed to elevate their bilateral relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation. He said cooperation between China and Ethiopia played a leading role in China-Africa cooperation and Ethiopia was crucial to China’s collaboration with the continent at large. This underlined the need to upgrade ties to reflect the “strategic aspect and the high level of political mutual trust of the bilateral relations”. China welcomed Ethiopia’s participation in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and supported its role as a bridge between the Belt and Road Initiative and Africa’s development. President Jinping urged the two countries to promote cooperation in such areas as connectivity, production capacity, trade and economy, people-to-people exchanges, as well as aviation. Prime Minister Hailemariam, welcoming the suggestion, said Ethiopia and China had achieved significant improvements in cooperation in areas including trade and economy, investment, industrial capacity and infrastructure construction. Describing the Initiative as a farsighted initiative with global implications, which would promote connectivity and cooperation in trade and investment, he said Ethiopia would actively join in the construction of the Belt and Road.
Prime Minister Hailemariam also met with China’s Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, on Friday (May 12) who noted that upgrading the China-Ethiopia relationship would help the two countries consolidate political mutual trust, expand cooperation, and advance major China-Africa cooperation plans and production capacity cooperation. Mr. Keqiang said China supports Ethiopia’s industrialization and agricultural modernization, and was willing to offer help in areas such as human resources development and finance to assist the independent and sustainable growth of Ethiopia. Prime Minister Hailemariam said the cooperation of the two countries’ on production capacity had greatly promoted Ethiopia’s industrialization and agricultural modernization. The two prime ministers witnessed the signing of a number of bilateral cooperation agreements covering economic and technological cooperation and human resources development.
Foreign Minister Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday to discuss bilateral issues. They agreed to consolidate their existing cooperation, to enhance communication and coordination in bilateral and international affairs, and support each other in significant issues concerning their core interests, as well as safeguard their common interests and the interests of other developing countries.
The Prime Minister held several sessions of business meetings with Chinese companies engaged in textile, leather and agro-processing, pointing out: “I am here in front of you today to show my commitment to all-round support for Chinese investors coming to my country”. He stressed Ethiopia was a favourable destination for Chinese investors because of its political and macro-economic stability, peace and security as well as abundant natural resources and potential. The Vice-Governor of Henan Province, Shu Ging, said the Henan government fully supported enterprises that wished to invest in Ethiopia, describing the Ethiopian government as one that enjoyed political and social stability, adding, “So the investment environment is really sound”. The financial support for companies that invest in Belt and Road countries, combined with the country’s favourable investment atmosphere, will increase the flow of Chinese investment to Ethiopia, the Vice-Governor added.
The construction company, CGCOC Group, which already has substantial business in Ethiopia, said the country is a good place for investors with bright future. The Group President, Ji Weimin, urged other companies to invest in Ethiopia as “a dependable place.” He said: “CGCOC grew up from Ethiopia … Because Ethiopia has given us the chance.” He said Ethiopia would give investors “a wonderful future”. The Prime Minister also met with ZTE President Zhao Xianming on the sidelines of the Forum to discuss their strategic partnership for Information Communication Technology (ICT). ZTE is one of the companies engaged in the development of Ethiopian telecommunication industry.
Following the Forum in Beijing, Prime Minister Hailemariam visited Shandong Province, which has the third largest economy among China’s provinces and is home to a number of anchor companies engaged in manufacturing, chemicals, machinery, metallurgy, textiles, construction and other areas. Prime Minister Hailemariam and his delegation attended the Ethiopia-Shandong Production Capacity Cooperation Forum held in Jinan, in Shandong province. This aimed to promote Ethiopia’s potential to attract anchor companies involved in manufacturing and agro-processing industries. The Prime Minister briefed participants from the provincial government and Shandong-based companies, noting Ethiopia “was one of the fastest growing non-oil economies in Africa and in the world with an economic strategy founded on sound macro-economic policies”. He said: “Far reaching and cross-sectoral programs of economic reform over the last two decades and various development policies and strategies have delivered an economy registering rapid GDP growth averaging 10.9%for the last 13 consecutive years.” He underlined that China was one of the leading investors in Ethiopia and its largest trading and investment partner and said: “It is in this context that I can assure you Ethiopia is a hotbed of investment and production capacity relocation.”
Shandong’s Provincial Governor, Gong Zheng, said the partnership between Ethiopia and Shandong, would be heightened to a new level following the elevation of the Ethio-China cooperation to a strategic level. He said the cooperation between Shandong and Ethiopia had solid foundations. The import/export volume in 2016 reached US$280 million between the two sides. He said the province “encourages strong companies of Shandong to go global and expand their cooperation with Ethiopia. We will continue to support companies in textiles, agriculture, machinery, mineral resources, pharmaceuticals and building materials to invest and develop in Ethiopia”. The chief economist of the China Development Bank, Liu Yong, said the bank would “continue to leverage its role in investing and financing to provide more support to the cooperation between Shandong and Ethiopia”, and it pledged to support of projects, innovating business models, developing clean energy and green energy as well as integrating agriculture technologies.
During his visit, Prime Minister Hailemariam was awarded an honorary professorship for his extraordinary leadership by the University of International Business and Economics, one of China’s major universities in Beijing. The University said it had bestowed the honor because of the economic growth Ethiopia has registered, its efforts to elevate poverty and to realize the global goals to reduce poverty and improve access to basic services provided in the Millennium Development Goals. It also noted Ethiopia’s efforts in working to realize the Sustainable Development Goals by aligning these with its Second five-year Growth and Transformation Plan, as well as recognizing the contribution to the peace and stability of the region as well as the continent. In a speech to students and staff of the University, the Prime Minister outlined Ethiopia’s voyage towards peace and development, and the efforts of the government towards building a conducive atmosphere and unleashing the potential of the country for development. He said his government was in the process of “fundamentally transforming” the political economy of the country from one of pervasive rent-seeking to a conducive atmosphere for value creation on the path of the developmental state, emulating the experience of China and other Asian tigers. He said Ethiopia was adopting these models into the country’s political and social situation. This would lead Ethiopia towards development.
The UN Security Council debates Somalia after the London Conference
The UN Security Council met on Wednesday this week (May 17) to consider Somalia following the London Conference last week. The Council heard briefings from Raisedon Zenenga, the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Somalia, and from Ambassador Francisco Madeira, Special Representative for Somalia of the African Union Commission Chairperson and Head of AMISOM. The emphasis was on the continued problems of dealing with the security situation and the current humanitarian crisis as well as the need for continued development of the political process along with building state institutions, the review of the Constitution and the promotion of inclusive dialogue.
Raisedon Zenenga, on a video link from Mogadishu, emphasized that the humanitarian situation was deteriorating more rapidly than originally projected. Assessments in April had indicated critical levels of acute malnutrition among pastoral and agricultural populations and internally displaced persons in Baidoa and Mogadishu, while expected relief from the rains had not materialized. With 6.2 million people facing food insecurity and millions requiring immediate assistance to survive, food security was expected to decline. He said the need for humanitarian relief was increasing faster than the response pace, with only half of the 3 million people needing food having been reached. While $669 million had been received or pledged, there was a US$831 million gap in the revised 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan. He said Somalia would continue to lurch from one avoidable humanitarian crisis to another unless its structural problems were addressed. Describing insecurity caused by Al-Shabaab as the biggest challenge, he said fighting Al-Shabaab required a multipronged approach, combining offensive actions by both AMISOM and the Somali National Army, special counter-terrorism operations by partners in a position to do so, fostering the extension of State authority, addressing governance deficits and resolving local conflicts, while also offering incentives to elements wishing to take the President’s offer of amnesty. In the short-term, AMISOM needed predictable funding through assessed contributions, he underlined.
Ambassador Madeira said decisions made at the London Conference would be “game-changers” in the reality of Somalia’s near future due to the immense preparatory work and strategic decisions taken by the country’s leadership. These included the meeting of the National Consultative Forum in April where regional leaders and others had agreed to establish regional security councils. This was a decision that would improve the national security architecture and an “unheard of milestone”. He emphasized the need to build a strong partnership for peace between the Government of Somalia and the Somali people and all national and international partners should help to build the infrastructure that the President would need to accommodate Somalis renouncing violence and reintegrating into society. Somalia would also need well-trained and available forces to liberate its towns and cities while undertaking joint, coordinated operations to contain the Al-Shabaab militants.
In the discussion, delegates expressed deep concern over the continuing humanitarian crisis in Somalia, worrying this could derail hard-won security gains. They also underlined the importance of the creation of professional Somali security forces and the provision of support to military and law-enforcement institutions. Emphasis was also placed on the need for AMISOM’s exit strategy to go hand in hand with the strengthening of Somali forces. The joint African Union-United Nations review of AMISOM would be crucial in that respect. Speakers welcomed the formation of a Federal Government dedicated to fighting corruption, reforming the Constitution, pursuing federalism and rejuvenating the economy. They welcomed the security pact agreed in London that had laid out a path for Somali-led security institutions. They underlined the need for international coherence in implementing the Somali vision of security, and for strong political will to implement reforms. The London conference envisioned a ‘conditions-based transition with clear target dates’ for AMISOM’s replacement by Somali security forces.
Some speakers noted the forthcoming joint UN-AU review of AMISOM’s mandate after 10 years of operations would be most important in determining the future of the mission. They wanted the review of AMISOM’s mandate to enhance the effectiveness of African peacekeepers. A rapid withdrawal could cause the security situation to collapse. AMISOM’s withdrawal should not simply follow a national timetable but be linked to the security situation. AMISOM must increase its operational effectiveness with improved mission-support capacity and enhanced coordination. At London, the international community apparently wanting to wait until after the review and the proposed follow-up conference later in the year before making specific commitments.
Ethiopia’s representative, Dr. Tekeda Alemu, stressed the importance of coordinated effort and said the basis for such coordination had hopefully been laid at the London Conference. There had been positive momentum for peace and security and it was important to honor the pledges made by translating them into concrete support. Equally, the urgent response to humanitarian was first and foremost a matter of saving lives and preserving recent gains.
Somalia’s representative noted the President had pledged to improve security, maintain democratic institutions and spare no effort in the fight against the “three main enemies”, terrorism, corruption and poverty. He had appointed a Prime Minister and a Cabinet with six women members, the most ever, and would work with Parliament to ensure that politics were inclusive, vibrant and conducted on a level playing field. He said the national security architecture and the security pact agreed at the recent London Conference on Somalia would help the country improve its national army and police. He expressed the hope that the arms embargo would be fully lifted and that command-and-control systems would be improved. He underlined the need for early donor contributions to save lives; and stressed that support was also needed for economic reforms, critical to breaking the crisis cycle.
UN Security Council extends the mandate of UNISFA for another six months
The Security Council on May 15, 2017 decided to extend until 15 November 2017 the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force for Abyei (UNISFA) while warning the support of the mission to the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM) would be withdrawn unless Sudan and South Sudan complied fully with their obligations.
Originally, the Council by resolution 1990 (2011) established UNISFA for six months, to comprise a maximum of 4,200 military personnel, 50 police personnel and appropriate civilian support. This was in response to the violence, escalating tensions and population displacement in the Abyei region as South Sudan was preparing to formally declare its independence from the Sudan on 9 July 2011. On 29 May 2013, the Council, by resolution 2104, further decided to increase UNISFA’s military strength up to 5,326 peacekeepers, to enable UNISFA to fully support the JBVMM as requested by Sudan and South Sudan through the Joint Political and Security Mechanism.
The Interim Force was mandated to monitor and verify the redeployment of Forces from Sudan and South Sudan; facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid; take the necessary actions to protect UN personnel, facilities, installations, and equipment; use force to protect the area from incursions by unlawful element; provide assistance in the process of supporting the development of effective bilateral management mechanisms and support the JBVMM.
The Council unanimously adopting resolution 2352 (2017),on Monday May 15, 2017, decided to reduce UNISFA’s authorized troop ceiling from 5,326 to 4,791, maintaining the present interim operating capacity of the JBVMM as per the recommendation of the UN Secretary-General Further by the text, the Council urged Sudan and South Sudan governments to urgently commence the establishment of the Abyei Area Administration and Council, including resolution of the deadlock over the composition of the Council, and constitute the Abyei Police Service.
Conveying concerns about continual setbacks and stalled efforts to make the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism fully operational the Council also extended UNISFA’s mandated support of the Mechanism, while deciding that the extension would be the last unless both parties demonstrated clear commitment and steadfast guarantees of implementation.
Council members expressed appreciation for UNISFA’s work and welcomed the resolution’s unanimous adoptions as a strong signal of the Council’s unity, while stressing that both parties must redouble their efforts to break the impasse in resolving the outstanding issues.
Ethiopia’s representative, pointing out that Ethiopia was the only country contributing troops to UNISFA, stressed that both parties should demonstrate full commitment to the implementation of their border arrangements and take the necessary steps to this effect as called for in the resolution. He recalled that a meeting of the Joint Political and Security Mechanism held in Addis Ababa under African Union auspices, at the same time as the Council was adopting the resolution, had outlined a clear roadmap on steps that need to be taken over the coming weeks and months. He expressed hope that when the Council met again in six months, “we will have tangible progress”.
Ethiopia has played a significant role in making an acceptable proposal to help member states adopt the resolution unanimously.
A Tripartite National Committee meeting on GERD held in Addis Ababa
The Tripartite National Committee (TNC) on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) held its 14th meeting this week in Addis Ababa, May 12-14. This followed the decision taken at the Tripartite National Committee meeting in Cairo, Egypt at the end of April to hold a follow-up meeting in Addis Ababa to deliberate on pending issues on the Inception Report. The Inception Report covers the two studies recommended by the International Panel of Experts (IPoE) which reviewed the design and study documents of |GERD between 2012 and 2013. The Panel recommended to conduct studies on Water Resources/Hydropower Systems Simulation Modeling and Trans-boundary Socio-Economic and Environmental Impact.
The objective behind the two studies is to strengthen ties between the three countries, enhancing trust and building confidence. The areas covered by the studies were investigated by Ethiopia before the commencement of the construction of the GERD. It was after these assessments that Ethiopia was able to show its confidence that the dam would not cause significant harm to other Nile Basin countries. Nevertheless, Ethiopia fully supported the Panel’s recommendations for these studies in order to build confidence among the three countries.
Ethiopia is confident that the filling and operation of the GERD will be based on the principles of equitable and reasonable utilization of the waters of the Nile, not causing significant harm to any other country in the Basin. Indeed, Ethiopia`s studies show the benefits of the GERD will be enormous for all the Basin countries.
The Consultant under the agreement between the TNC and the lead consultant, the French consulting firm BRLi, has submitted its Inception Report in March. This was considered at the previous meeting in Cairo after reviewsd by the three countries at the national level. The countries presented their comments on the Inception Report and added some further instructions to the Consultant. These included contractual issues for the Consultant to follow and some further clarifications were also requested from the Consultant. The list of data required by the consultant firm to start studies was reviewed by the three countries.
Ethiopia remains fully committed to enhance cooperation in the Nile Basin. It regards ensuring the utilization of the Nile by all countries equitably and reasonably as of paramount importance. It is only when countries utilize the shared waters equitably and reasonably that they can avoid causing any significant harm to any other state.
The next TNC meeting is scheduled to be held in Khartoum, Sudan, and is expected to discuss other pending issues. The date of the meeting will be announced at a future time.
Undocumented Ethiopians returning from Saudi Arabia
Thousands of Ethiopians are returning home from Saudi Arabia after the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the end of March ordered undocumented immigrants to leave the Kingdom within 90 days. The government has been carrying out plans for the safe return of those who have been residing illegally in Saudi Arabia as soon as the 90 day amnesty was announced.
In 2013 Ethiopia has repatriated over a 100,000 citizens from Saudi Arabia following a previous crackdown on migrant workers, sparking violent protests between Ethiopian migrants and Saudi police. Ethiopia repatriated its citizens after the seven-month amnesty period for undocumented immigrants expired.
The Saudi Arabian government said that unless those undocumented Ethiopians returned home within the given period, the government would seize property, issue fines of up to 600,000 riyals and refuse to allow any return in the future. Punishment would also affect people who had hosted illegal workers or provided transport and shelter. The move was essentially aimed at those who had crossed borders illegally, who had no job or no working visa, and those who had absconded from work or who had remained after coming to the Kingdom for the Hajj pilgrimage.
Immediately after the announcement of the amnesty, the Ethiopian government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs started making preparations for the safe return of Ethiopian citizens. A national task force and command post was established to coordinate the safe return of nationals effectively. Widespread efforts were made to provide accurate information to Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia on ways to return, using the Embassy and consulates and mobile facilities as well as the Government Communication Affairs Office and social media, using local languages. The Minister of Communications Affairs, Dr. Negeri Lencho, also announced that the government would help those who returned home within the deadline to engage in income generating activities and there by rebuild their lives. He urged Ethiopian immigrants illegally living in Saudi Arabia and families to leave the country within the given period to avoid problems. The State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Hirut Zemene, raised the issue in a meeting the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Ethiopia on Tuesday (May 16), underlining the need for a closer strategic engagement with the government of Saudi Arabia to ensure the safe repatriation of undocumented Ethiopian citizens. She noted the substantial efforts being made by the government to safeguard the rights of citizens abroad and facilitate the repatriation of nationals with dignity and said better coordination with the Saudi Arabian government would give further impetus to these efforts. Ambassador Abdullah bin Faleh Al-Arjani promised to work closely with the government.
An average of 400 undocumented Ethiopians has been arriving at Bole international airport on a daily basis. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the command post has been working to identify returnees and discover their financial situations so that those in desperate situations can be helped first, and provided, where necessary, with immediate shelter and transportation.
An Ethiopian-Brazilian Business Forum in Sao Paulo
An Ethio-Brazilian Business and Investment Forum was held last week in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Co-organized by WAFA Marketing and Promotion Plc and World Trade Center in partnership with the Afro Brazilian Chamber of Commerce and the Ethiopian Embassy in Brazil, the Forum brought together representatives of more than 130 companies, businesses and government officials from both countries.
Eshetu Dessie, the Speaker of the Parliament of Ethiopia’s Oromia Regional State and a Board Member of WAFA Marketing and Promotion Plc. led the Ethiopian delegation which included 2 members of the Business Diplomacy Directorate General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and around 20 representatives of business organizations and institutions. In his keynote address Ato Eshetu noted that Ethiopia and Brazil had enjoyed more than half a century of relations, but he emphasized the need to translate these links on order to expand and foster all-round Ethiopian-Brazilian cooperation and enhance economic and business ties between the businesses and governments of both countries. Describing the Forum as an important platform for promoting and strengthening economic cooperation, Ato Eshetu called upon investors from Brazil to take advantage of Ethiopia’s emerging market and vast opportunities in a range of areas.
Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Brazil, Ambassador Sinknesh Ejigu, underlined the historic, political, and commercial ties that defined the long-standing bilateral relations between the two countries and went on to note that Ethiopia was deeply committed to make joint business cooperation as a driving force for the mutual development of both countries and of the overall relations between Brazil and Ethiopia. The Ambassador underlined that the official inauguration of two Ethiopian Honorary Consulates in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo on May 4 and 8, respectively, and the appointment of two experienced businessmen as the Honorary Consuls of Ethiopia would certainly deepen further the ties between the two friendly Nations. Ambassador Sinknesh said Ethiopia offered strong market opportunities to Brazilian investors and businesses. It was the second most populous country in Africa and was one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with double-digit economic growth the past thirteen years. The opportunities for Brazilian investors were correspondingly substantial. The Ambassador encouraged the Brazilian government and the different State authorities to support and collaborate with Brazilian investors to enable them to invest in Ethiopia.
Representing the Brazilian private sector, Ms. Andrea Menzes, CEO of the Standard Bank in Brazil, welcomed the Forum which, she said, underlined the growing relationship between Ethiopia and Brazil. It was a growing partnership and cooperation in development, trade and investment. She reiterated the importance of the role of trade and commerce in boosting relations between the two countries and emphasized the way trade could be an important agent of change in empowering people. She said she believed Brazilian resources, skills and expertise would be able to provide professional expertise and support needed to match Ethiopia’s ambitions. Ms. Menzes described the country, “as a nation with a huge and growing market which you should not and cannot ignore.”
The Business and Investment Forum included presentations on investment and trade potential and opportunities available in its “Africa for Business, Why Ethiopia?” session. Araya Gebregziabher, Director of Business Promotion from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs highlighted some of the excellent reasons for investing in Ethiopia. He said: “Ethiopia has everything that you need to look for in taking a decision about where to invest: a clear vision, and strategy; fast and sustainable economic growth and development; untapped natural resources; availability of an abundant and wage competitive labor force; fast growing infrastructure and very cheap green energy; a sizeable and captive market; and attractive investment incentives in a conducive business environment.” He provided strong reasons for Brazilian businesses to invest in Ethiopia. Another presentation briefed the Forum on investment opportunities in Ethiopia’s health sector. Luiz Cornacchioni, Executive Director of the Brazilian Agribusiness Association and Mr. Paulo Hegg, Managing Director of the Brazilian Agro Industrial Company BAC also briefed the Forum about their organizations and their experiences in Africa at large and Ethiopia in particular.
The Ethio-Brazilian Business and Investment Forum concluded with a panel discussion on the nature and type of business and investment opportunities currently available for Brazilian investors with an interest to do business in Ethiopia. The Forum, which also provided the opportunity for networking for Ethiopian and Brazilian business representatives and investors, not only provided an opportunity for Brazilian companies to see and learn about prospects in Ethiopia but also offered business-to-business opportunities through discussions and company visits.
The 2017 Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development in Addis Ababa
The 2017 Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD) was held this week in Addis Ababa (May 17-19) at the United Nations Conference Centre under the theme: “Ensuring inclusive and sustainable growth and prosperity for all.” The ARFSD tracks progress in the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are at the core of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as the global fight to eradicate poverty and promote prosperity continues. The Forum was part of the preparatory sessions for the 2017 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) to be held in September. It aimed to contribute to finalize the strategy for Africa and decide on a list of priorities and had the theme, “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world”, brought together representatives of the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank, the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, Regional Economic Communities, United Nations and other international agencies and other stakeholders including civil society, business and industry organizations, academia, and research institutions. The meeting was opened by Ms. Vera Songwe, the new Executive Secretary of the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa who has said one of her main concerns will be to draft policies and projects that will work for the more than 70% of Africans currently dependent on seasonal, rain-fed agriculture.
The overall objective of the 2017 Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development was to undertake regional follow-up, and review and facilitate learning including sharing experiences and lessons learned, to advance implementation of the 2030 agenda and Agenda 2063. More specifically, the Forum, with a particular focus on the selected SDGs for the 2017 HLPF and the corresponding goals of the first 10-year implementation plan of Agenda 2063, aimed to deliberate on progress and address challenges and opportunities for implementation of agendas. It also aimed to provide a platform for peer learning and experience sharing, good practices and lessons learned; as well as deliberate and agree on Africa’s priorities and recommendation in the form of providing key messages as the region’s collective input to the 2017 HLPF session.
Fatima Denton, Director for Special Initiatives Division, at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) welcomed participants and underlined that the Forum was strategically placed to link national and global discourses and serve as multi-stakeholder platform to promote the realization of the SDGs. She said it was about “creating a collaborative road map that global leaders have charted to configure a new model that will deliver on inclusive economic growth, shared prosperity and preservation of our environment. It is both the future we want and our resolve to explore the limitless possibilities of the present.” Ms Denton said the recent decline in commodity prices coupled with adverse climatic conditions had seen “growth tapering off to 1.7% in 2016; however projections pointed to a rebound in coming years. Inequality in Africa “was still rearing its ugly head [and] Africa is home to 7 out of 10 of the most unequal countries in the world.” Poverty in Africa, excluding North Africa, had declined from 56.9% in 1990 to 42.8% in 2012, but the number of people living in extreme poverty was estimated to have increased significantly, from 280 million in 1990 to more than 330 million in 2012. Africa was still characterized by an insufficient pace of job creation, ‘with skyrocketing levels of unemployment,’ especially among the youth, ‘unrelenting jobless migration’ into urban areas and a rising current of gender inequality. In addition, there was an alarming increase in the rate of urban poor while economies as a whole remained primarily agrarian. Furthermore, she said, although natural resource management remained critical for economic growth and reduction of poverty and hunger, current natural resource practices were still unsustainable. Ms. Denton mentioned the impact of climate change: “Climate change constitutes a double-edged sword as it could constitute Africa’s greatest potential to adapt to impacts and to usher in a new model of sustainable development, but, on the other hand, it could also decimate African fragile economies, compromising its ability to realize several of the SDGs.”
Ms. Denton said, “There are as many solutions as there are problems.” First, while recognizing that agriculture is one of the most vulnerable sectors to the impacts of climate change, she emphasized the need to radically reconfigure the sector away from agricultural practices that were “holding hostage many of the hard working smallholder farmers who are unable to adopt modern practices that will transform their business into viable enterprises.” She said the ECA’s green economy section was providing support to the Climate Resilient Green Economy, and supporting implementation of Ethiopia’s Second Growth and Transformation Plan. It was also entering into dialogue with Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe to assist in transition to a green economy. Equally, the ECA’s New Technologies and Innovations Section was working closely with member states to promote the use of information and technologies as a catalyst to structural transformation. Fourthly, the Africa Minerals Development Center was assisting member states to integrate mineral sectors into national, economic and social activities. Finally, investing in effective management of environmental assets was critical to reducing poverty, hunger and disease, and in this regard, programs had to focus on adopting new approaches that will offer new solutions and new methods of capacity building.
The three-day Forum covered key sessions dealing with aligning the SDGs for the 2017 HLPF, eradicating all forms of poverty in Africa; ending hunger and achieving food security, healthy lives and promoting well-being for all; gender equality and empowerment of women and girls; building resilient infrastructure and promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and innovation; conservation and sustainably use of oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. Participants of the Forum deliberated on Africa’s agreed collective input to the 2017 HLPF including policy options, in the form of key messages on the theme and subthemes of the Forum; policy papers on these; and a report of the deliberations of the Forum containing, inter-alia, salient issues, priorities and recommendations resonating on the need to frame these with regional priorities and policy options.
The 2017 Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development offered an opportunity to enhance the understanding and capacity of Member States, major groups and other stakeholders to design and implement policies and strategies to accelerate the pace of implementation and ensure effective follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda, Agenda 2063 and the 2017 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.