“A Week in the Horn” is just published.

Topics include: 

  • Ethiopian Government’s effort to stem corruption stays on track
  • An AMISOM/Somali Government conference on future security responsibilities 
  • The World Bank’s Second Economic Update on Somalia
  • ADB grants to Somalia and South Sudan for drought response
  • Discussions on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Ethiopia 
  • Ethiopia is making early progress in implementing Sustainable Development Goals
  • Moody’s annual credit analysis of Ethiopia: “B1 Stable”
  • OCHA: drought makes access to safe water a critical health issue
  • Progress and development along the Ethiopia-Kenya border

News in Brief

Africa and the African Union

The new Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Ms. Vera Songwe, officially took office on Thursday (August 3). Ms. Songwe, a Cameroonian economist and banking executive is the first woman to serve in this position. She has been working as the International Finance Corporation’s regional director for Africa covering West and Central Africa since 2015 and as a non-resident Senior Fellow at the US Brookings Institute: Global Development and Africa Growth Initiative since 2011. Ms. Songwe previously worked at the World Bank and has a longstanding track record of policy advice and results-oriented implementation, coupled with a strong strategic vision for the continent.

IGAD, in partnership with the World Health Organization, inaugurated the 3rd meeting of heads of national medicine regulatory authorities in Addis Ababa on Tuesday (August 1). IGAD is developing a proposal aimed at improving access and availability of medicines through harmonization of regulatory systems, guidelines and processes in line with the Addis Ababa Call for Action of August 2015 and Khartoum Declaration of April 2016. The meeting focused on approving the IGAD Medicine Regulatory Harmonization Program Proposal for submission to potential development partners on August 3.

The African Development Bank signed tripartite grant agreements of US$ 34.8 million and US$ 43.8 million with the Republic of Somalia and the Republic of South Sudan and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) under the Bank’s “Say No To Famine – Short Term Regional Emergency Response Project”. (See article)

Ethiopia

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn met with the new Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Vera Songwe on Thursday (August 3). Discussions covered the urgent need for the continent to strengthen its domestic resource mobilization to fund its development; on-going Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) negotiations; intra-African trade; special economic zones; climate change; gender; and peace and security.

Prime Minister Hailemariam held talks with a Chinese delegation led by Mr. He Liehui, Chairman of Touch Road International Holdings Group on Thursday (August 3). The group expressed its keenness to engage in industrial parks and waste-to-energy developments as well as construction of residential units at industrial park areas.

Government Communication Minister, Dr. Negeri Lencho, has stressed the Government is determined to carry forward its anti-corruption drive to detain any officials and businesspeople or any others suspected of corruption. Nearly fifty people have been detained on corruption changes over the last week. (See article)

Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity of Ethiopia Dr. Engineer Sileshi Bekele and British Ambassador to Ethiopia, Mrs. Susanna Moorehead on Wednesday (August 2), signed an Energy Compact, part of the UK’s Energy Africa campaign, to support acceleration of the off-grid solar market in Ethiopia by creating business opportunities, more jobs and helping improve access to electricity for poor people.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mrs Hirut Zemene met on Thursday (August 03) with Ms. Songwe, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). Ms. Songwe, appreciating the existing collaboration between UNECA and Ethiopia, stressed ECA would continue to work with Ethiopia and Africa championing industrialization and agricultural transformation. State Minister Hirut said the regional integration project has positive prospects, reiterating that Ethiopia is ready to push forward its pioneering effort in areas such as light manufacturing and agro-industrial parks.

State Minister, Mrs. Hirut Zemene met with the newly appointed Polish Ambassador, Aleksander Kropiwnicki on Thursday (August 3). The State Minister underlined that Government of Ethiopia attached significant importance to its relations with the Republic of Poland and mentioned the need to boost trade and investment relations between the two countries by way of organizing business forums and trade exhibitions as well as expediting the signing of bilateral investment agreement.

The House of Peoples’ Representatives (HPR) of Ethiopia on Friday (August 4) lifted the State of Emergency declared in the country last October following the security problems that had occurred in some parts of the country.

Moody’s Investment Services this week said Ethiopia’s B1 rating and stable outlook reflects its strengths, including high growth levels and low debt-servicing costs, though it also notes challenges including high inflation, low per capita income, low foreign exchange reserves and a weak institutional framework. (See article)

The Embassy of Ethiopia to the United States organized a Forum for discussion on the promotion and protection of human rights in Ethiopia on July 20. Foreign policy advisers and staffers of members of the US Congress, State Department officials, members of rights organizations, think tanks and advocacy groups as well as members of Ethiopian Diaspora attended. (See article)

In its latest bulletin, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said this week that the high number of nonfunctional ground water points in drought-affected areas will remain a critical source of public health risk for the rest of the year. (See article)

Ethiopia’s year-on-year inflation rose to 9.4% in July from 8.8% a month earlier, due to higher food prices, the Central Statistics Office said on Thursday (August 3). Food inflation rose to 12.5% in July up from 11.2% the previous month. Non-food inflation was at 5.9%, down from 6.1% in June.

The National Council for the Coordination of Public Participation on the Construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam met on Wednesday (August 2). It said the Dam had become an engine of development, reinforcing the national consensus, and a foundation for peace by strengthening bonds of cooperation between neighbouring countries. Ethiopians at home and abroad had contributed more than 1.2 billion birr.

The United States announced more than US$169 million in humanitarian assistance to support those in Ethiopia and Kenya experiencing the effects of prolonged severe drought. This additional funding, US$137 million in Ethiopia and nearly US$33 million in Kenya, brings the total U.S. humanitarian contributions to Ethiopia and Kenya to more than US$458 million in fiscal year 2016-17.

A USAID-funded Leadership, Management and Governance project focused on capacity building of public sector health care providers and civil society organizations in Amhara, Oromia, Tigray, and SNNP Regional State as well as in Dire Dawa and Harar, successfully completed this week.  It had provided training to more than 4,000 health professionals, to improve availability and quality of health services, organizational sustainability, financial management, human resources management, and business planning for health.

The Institute for Peace and Security Studies at Addis Ababa University is celebrating its tenth anniversary this month under the theme: The Role of Academic Institutions in Tackling the Intellectual Challenge Posed by Africa’s Peace and Security Dynamics.” The Institute, a leading actor in conflict analysis, prevention, management and resolution, now has five academic programmes, and an extensive array of research projects as well as a variety of outreach activities and is regarded as one of the top 50 think tanks in Africa.

The Administration to Handle Refugees and Returnees (ARRA) has announced plans to include more than 34,000 refugee children in Ethiopian primary schools in the next school year, beginning in September. The construction of 300 classrooms is underway in 27 refugee camps, in addition to providing the required teaching materials to these schools. Currently, about 116,500 refugee pupils are enrolled in 56 primary schools. The ARRA aims to increase the number to 151,000 in the next school year.

To mark World Humanitarian Day on August 19, the United Nations Association of Australia’s Peace Program has announced it is awarding Dr. Catherine Hamblin a ‘UNAA Lifework Award 2017′, “honouring an exemplary Australian” and formally recognising Dr. Hamblin’s nearly 60 years of “dedicating her life and work to restoring the health and dignity of more than 50,000 Ethiopian women who have survived a horrendous and preventable childbirth injury – obstetric fistula. Together, with her husband, Dr Hamblin has dramatically transformed the maternal healthcare landscape for the women of Ethiopia.” 

Ethiopian Airlines Group, a Star Alliance member, has marked the 20th anniversary of Star Alliance, the largest global airline network, this week on Tuesday (August 1); Ethiopian Group CEO, Mr. Tewolde Gebremariam and Star Alliance CEO, Mr. Jeffrey Goh have graced the event; discussing on-going developments and the Alliance’s strategy for the next decade with Ethiopian employees.

The Ministry of Foreign affairs of Ethiopia has extended its deepest condolences over the passing of Ambassador Mengste Desta, who, in a long and distinguished diplomatic career, served as a Special Envoy and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ethiopia to the Republic of Uganda, Kenya, and Sudan, and as Vice-Minister and Head of the African-Mid East department at the foreign ministry.

Djibouti

China opened its first military base, officially described as a logistics facility, in Djibouti on August 1. The Deputy Chinese naval commander, Tian Zhong, and Djibouti’s Defense Minister, Ali Hasan Bahdon attended the ceremonyThe facility will be used to resupply navy ships taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia, in particular.

Eritrea

The inauguration of the first phase of the Eritrea Institute of Technology – College of Science’s new building at Mai Nefhi was held last Thursday (July 27), in the presence of PFDJ higher officials, the Minister of Education, Semere Russom, the Ambassador of China to Eritrea, Ambassador Yang Zigang, representatives of the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation members of the National Commission of Higher Education, students and others. The 25 million dollar project started in December 2014 and the new college will be capable of hosting 6,000 students.

Kenya

On Tuesday next week, August 8, Kenya is holding elections with over 14,000 candidates competing for 1,882 elected posts:  president, governors, senators, women representatives, members of parliament, and members of county assemblies. There are 19 candidates for the presidency including the incumbent President Kenyatta and the main opposition figure, Raila Odinga, and 11,000 candidates for the 1,498 elected positions in the 47 counties set up under the 2013 devolution.

Somalia

President Mohamed Abdullahi appointed former Mogadishu Mayor Mohamud Ahmed Nur “Tarzan” as a senior advisor on political affairs on Wednesday (August 2).  “Tarzan” was Mayor of Mogadishu for several years and a presidential candidate in this year’s federal presidential election.

Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre attended the re-opening of the School of Journalism at the National University in Mogadishu on Tuesday (August 1) after 26 years. He hoped prospective students would provide “healthy reporting” about Somalia.

Attorney General Osman Elmi Guled this week endorsed the Supreme Court decision to nullify the election of eight disputed federal parliament seats nullified and order new elections.  The Court cancelled the eligibility of the eight MPs who have been attending parliamentary sessions, in a letter dates July 27, the Attorney General told the Federal Indirect Electoral Implementation Team to prepare re-run elections for the eight parliamentary seats and called all candidates to participate in the process again.

A five-day joint meeting of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Federal Government of Somalia has ended in Mogadishu on Saturday (July 29). Held under the theme of “Transitioning Security Responsibilities from AMISOM to the Somali National Security Forces”, the meeting ended with a renewed call for “adequate and predictable” funding to AMISOM. (See article)

General David J. Furness, Commander of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) visited Kismayo on Thursday (August 3) and met Jubaland President Ahmed Mohamed Islam (Madobe). Discussions focused on up-coming counter terror operations in Middle Juba and parts of Lower Juba regions. The U.S Special Forces and their Somali counterpart ‘Danab’ have recently been carrying out numerous covert operations against Al-Shabaab bases in southern regions.

The World Bank launched its Second Economic Update on Somalia in Mogadishu on Tuesday this week (August 1), under the title “Mobilizing Domestic Revenue to Rebuild” to assess the prospects for domestic revenue mobilization to support public services and expand economic opportunities. (See article)

AMISOM has awarded medals and certificates this week to the Ugandan contingent of the Formed Police Unit who have completed one year of service in Somalia. AMISOM Force Commander, Lt. General Osman Noor Soubagleh, AMISOM Police Commissioner, Anand Pillay and Uganda’s Deputy Ambassador to Somalia and other officers attended the ceremony in Mogadishu.

UN OCHA said on Tuesday (August 1) that the humanitarian situation continued to deteriorate in most regions of Somalia. While humanitarian assistance had helped reduce gaps for household food consumption and contributed to stabilization of food prices, the risk of famine still remains high. It said a combination of food consumption gaps, acute malnutrition, disease and reliance on humanitarian aid contributed to vulnerability.

The 1st Conference on Engineering, Science, and Technology was held at SIMAD University in Mogadishu last week (July 25-27), attended by more than 250 local scholars, researchers and practitioners to discuss interdisciplinary research and practice in Engineering and Technology.

The Hargeisa International Book Fair celebrated its tenth anniversary last week (July 22-July 27) under the theme of “connectivity”, hosting authors from Djibouti, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Ghana and guests from North America, Europe and the Middle East.

South Sudan

A command council conference of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) held under the theme, “Restructuring for Effective Transformation”, passed several resolutions and recommendations, including changing the SPLA’s name to South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF). It also called for adoption of strategic plan procedures for logistics and procurement and a clear policy for motivation and promotion in the army as well as technological capacity building, pension provision and a Defense Intelligence Institute.  President Kiir said he wanted the recommendations implemented without delay.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, head of United Nations Peacekeeping and David Shearer, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) completed a three-day visit to South Sudan this week. In a press conference, Mr. Lacroix, underlined the importance of the IGAD initiative to revitalize the peace process. He said the UN looked forward to that process moving forward. He promised the UN would follow the national dialogue process closely to ensure that it is conducted in an inclusive and transparent manner. He called for cooperation with South Sudan government to expedite deployment of the 4,000-strong Regional Protection Force.

Sudan

The Joint Sudanese-Russian High-level Committee for Political Consultation met in Moscow on Thursday (August 3). The meeting discussed ways to enhance political, economic, cultural and scientific relations as well as promoting the strategic partnership between the two countries. Sudan’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Atta Al-Manan Bakhit al-Haj, headed the Sudanese delegation. In December 2015, Sudan and Russia signed 14 cooperation agreements covering oil, minerals and banks and other areas. President Omer al-Bashir is due to visit Moscow in the second half of the month at the invitation of President Putin.
Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry co-chaired a meeting of the Joint Sudanese-Egyptian Political Consultation Committee in Khartoum on Wednesday (August 2). They discussed consular work, border crossings, coordination in regional and international forums and the recent developments in the region and followed up on implementation of the outcome of the Joint Presidential Committee in Cairo in October 2016. Last month, the two Foreign Ministers agreed to control hostile media campaigns and to curb activities of opposition groups in their each other’s territory.

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement -North led by Abdel Aziz al-Hilu has declared a six-month unilateral cessation of hostilities. Malik Agar leads the other faction of the SPLM-N, which split into two this year. Earlier, President Omer al-Bashir issued a decree to extend the unilateral cessation of hostilities in war zones until October.

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Ethiopian Government’s effort to stem corruption stays on track

As part of the current political reform agenda, the Government of Ethiopia is continuing its comprehensive anti-corruption drive, taking concrete measures and steps to root out officials involved in corruption and abuse of power at different levels of leadership throughout the administration. In addition to the arrest of government officials, the latest anti-corruption measures have targeted businesses and brokers involved in corruption. The latest steps in the anti-corruption drive have involved the arrest of a total of 48 government officials, business people and brokers suspected of corruption during the last week. The campaign headed by the newly established Federal Police Investigation Office, operating under the Federal Police Commission, has spearheaded and expedited the anti-corruption drive to hold government officials involved in corruption accountable. Overall, the campaign has so far meant the arrest and prosecution of hundreds of officials since January 2017.

The Federal Police Investigation Office is specifically tasked with the responsibility of investigating special corruption cases, and is mandated to investigate individuals and organizations suspected of engaging in corruption. To carry out its investigation, the Office has deployed information technology mechanisms to allow participation of the public generally through whistle blowing where appropriate or through the provision of information to tip-off investigators about possible corruption. The Office has the considerable objective of reining in corruption as well as encouraging and deepening transparency throughout the government bureaucracy while conducting public business.

According to Government Communication Minister, Dr. Negeri Lencho, the Government is determined to carry forward its anti-corruption drive to detain any officials and businesspeople or any others suspected of corruption. The Minister, speaking to journalists last week, noted that the battle against corruption and rent-seeking behavior was a central part of the government’s reform agenda. It has the objective of fostering a culture of transparency and accountability at all levels of leadership. Dr. Negeri, recalling that abuse of government position and power through theft and corruption, was a central element at the heart of the Government’s “deep reform” program that started in January, noted that the reform had successfully encouraged active public participation. And in order to accelerate this anti-corruption drive, the Minister urged the public to provide information on corrupt officials to the Democratic Centers that have been set up.

Getachew Ambaye, the Attorney-General, also speaking to journalists last week, detailed that 42 of the suspects had been arrested on suspicion of alleged embezzlement of 1.358 billion birr from the Federal Roads Authority; 1.21 billion birr from the Ethiopian Sugar Corporation; 1.1 billion birr from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation; and over 41 million birr from the Addis Ababa housing development project office. Additional suspects were from the Tendaho Sugar Factory and the Ethiopian Roads Construction Corporation. The Attorney-General revealed that the government took these measures based on the basis of reports from the offices of the Federal and the Addis Ababa City Auditor-Generals, from tips collected from employees and from the public. A study undertaken by the Government had also provided further evidence for the measures taken, he said.

These arrests are a part of the Government’s wide-ranging anti-corruption effort to build a clean government responsive to the needs and aspirations of the people as well as provide good governance and control corruption and other mal-administrative practices. The campaign is also aimed to add further momentum to the continued growth of the country’s economy by addressing the misconduct of government officials who have pursued their own benefit by taking personal advantage from pro-poor Government programs. The campaign to deal with problems of corruption and inefficient governance will improve the country’s economic and social prospects by putting social justice, economic development, democratization and harmony at the center of its future trajectory

The strengthening of the anti-corruption drive along with other governmental steps for reform gives voice to the demands and questions raised by the public following the protests, disturbances and unrest witnessed last year in some parts of the country, and it also provides answers. The measures calling for good governance provide the opportunity to shape people-centric values in the government leadership structures and place a democratic culture at the center of administration and government. It also demonstrates that the loud calls for political reform made at the beginning of this fiscal year are now being given practical expression with the demands of the people at the forefront. The most recent development underlines the fresh impetus being given to replace bad governance, leadership inefficiency and official misconduct with real development-oriented action, efficient performance and an effective results-oriented public service.

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An AMISOM/Somali Government conference on future security responsibilities

A five-day joint meeting of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Federal Government of Somalia has ended in Mogadishu on Saturday (July 29). Held under the theme of “Transitioning Security Responsibilities from AMISOM to the Somali National Security Forces”, the meeting ended with a renewed call for “adequate and predictable” funding to AMISOM, to enable the Mission to capacitate the Somali National Security Forces, to make the SNSF ready for the transition of security responsibilities. The Conference was hosted by the head of AMISOM and Special representative of the AU Commission Chairperson, Ambassador Francisco Madeira and opened by Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Mohamed Guled. Those attended included the Minister of Defence, Rashid Abdullahi Mohamed; Deputy Minister of Internal Security, Abdinassir Mohamed Ali; the Governor of Benadir and Mayor of Mogadishu, Thanit Abdi Mohamed, as well as other senior officers and Somali National Army regional commanders.  AMISOM’s Force Commander, Lt. General Osman Soubagleh; Police Commissioner, Brigadier Annad Pillay; AMISOM Sector Commanders and other senior staff attended. Also present were representatives of international partners including UNSOS, the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, the EU Training Mission, OCHA and UNSOM.

The conference was intended to provide a platform for AMISOM and the SNAF to discuss the implications of the adoption of the National Security Architecture in April 2017, the decisions reached at the London Conference on Somalia on May11 and the recommendations of the AU/UN Joint Review of AMISOM as well as consider the necessities and problems of the proposed security transition.

In its post-conference communiqué, the conference remembered the findings of the AU-UN Joint Review and in particular the decision that AMISOM should handover primary security responsibilities to the SNAF in a “gradual, conditions-based approach”, in order to ensure that the gains that had been made against Al-Shabaab should not be reversed. The conference also recalled the adoption, on July 12 by the AU Peace and Security Council at its 700th meeting, of the Report of the AU Commission Chairperson on the AU-UN Joint Review, and the renewal of AMISOM’s mandate. The communiqué also noted highlights and implementation progress of the National Security Architecture provided by the Ministries of Defense and National Security, the Police and the National Intelligence and Security Agency. It considered the role of the Benadir administration in the transition, the national stabilization strategy and the problems of establishing local administrations. In this context, the conference commended the government’s efforts towards the stabilization of Mogadishu and the strengthened security on the regional states.

The conference also considered some of the key tasks during the transition period as AMISOM hands over to the Federal Government and its security forces. These included the suggested AMISOM/SNSF forward operating bases; handover and takeover tasks; and the planned Federal Government operational readiness assessment.

The conference reiterated the commitment that the transition of security responsibilities from AMISOM to the Somali National Security Forces was real and must happen. Equally, it will be “gradual and conditions-based and will seek to ensure that the gains made so far against Al-Shabaab are not reversed.” In this context, the final communiqué stressed “the need for adequate and predicable funding for AMISOM as well as force enablers and force multipliers”. These were needed to further enhance the effectiveness of both AMISOM and SNSF operations.

It described as “critical and urgent the need for continued joint operations in all sectors of the country” to continue disruption and degrading of Al-Shabaab. SNA sector commanders briefed the meeting on their immediate objectives and planned operations in this respect. The conference agreed that AMISOM and SNSF commanders should hold a planning meeting later this month to consider further future joint co-ordinated operations “to disrupt, degrade and defeat Al-Shabaab and other armed groups, protect population centers, and open and secure main supply routes.” It also agreed that AMISOM would assist in the development of a counter-insurgency plan as laid out in the Draft National Defense Strategy document.

In conclusion, the conference also emphasized the need to empower the Somali National Security Forces with “training, mentorship, infrastructure, equipment, sustainment and mobility, in order to gradually but effectively fully takeover the security responsibilities of the country.” Ambassador Madeira was quoted as saying at the end of the meeting: “We brainstormed, we tried to see how best we can move forward in terms of strategizing on the best way to implement these decisions and have a more stressed, affirmed impact on the battlefield against Al-Shabaab.”

Meanwhile on Monday (July 31) President Mohamed Abdullahi held a meeting with the heads of Somalia’s different security organizations. The meeting discussed key security-related issues including improvement of the quality of the country’s security forces, the war against Al-Shabaab, strengthening cooperation between the different branches of the security forces and developing mechanisms to allow for the Somali National Armed Forces to take-over of the country’s overall security responsibility before AMISOM concludes. The President instructed security chiefs to form a commission tasked with the preparation of a unified plan for strengthening of cooperation among various branches of the army and security forces. He assured them that his administration would take every necessary step to ensure the improvement of the quality of the armed forces and security organizations. After the meeting, Deputy Police Commissioner, Brigadier-General Bashir Abdi Mohamed, told the press that a committee of eight members, selected from the Somali National Army, and the police, intelligence and custodial corps, had been formed to work on achieving these goals.

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The World Bank’s Second Economic Update on Somalia

The World Bank launched its Second Economic Update on Somalia in Mogadishu on Tuesday this week (August 1), two years after its first edition in 2015. The Economic Update under the title “Mobilizing Domestic Revenue to Rebuild” assesses the prospects for domestic revenue mobilization to support crucial public services and expand economic opportunities in the face of the many challenges Somalia faces especially the current devastating drought. Hugh Riddell, World Bank Country Representative for Somalia emphasized: “Sustainable and reliable domestic revenue is critical for Somalia’s delivery of the National Development Plan,” adding, “The new government is already working to establish legal and technical capacities for revenue generation.”

The Update shows that Somalia’s gross domestic product growth continues to be urban-based, consumption-driven, and fuelled by remittances and donor support. Over 70% of GDP is generated in urban areas. It suggests nominal GDP is estimated to have grown by 5% in 2015 and by 6% in 2016, but data constraints make it difficult to comprehensively assess the macroeconomic situation, especially the rural sector and non-marketed output, such as water, fodder, and food grown for household consumption. The Update estimates that growth in 2017 will decelerate to 2.5% in real terms, although it is expected to pick up in subsequent years, and grow steadily over the medium-term. It suggests it will grow at a steady, nominal annual rate of 5% to 7% over the medium-term. John Randa, Senior Economist at the Bank’s Macroeconomic and Fiscal Global Practice, and Lead Author, says: “This growth is driven by aggregate demand, fuelled by the private sector, remittances, lower oil prices, and improved security.” He adds: “Reconstruction efforts are likely to continue to underpin growth as the new government consolidates peace and security.”

The Update says that to support sustainable development spending and reduce Somalia’s reliance on external funding, “the government and the business community need to work together to find ways to increase domestic revenue without undermining a vibrant private sector, which has been an engine for Somalia’s development over the past two and half decades.” It identifies the priority needs for improving revenue mobilization and provides a timetable for actions and reforms. It assesses current tax laws and policies and identifies opportunities for broadening the tax base by introducing new taxes and fees and improving tax administration. Currently Somalia does not have an effective tax regime. It relies on sales tax, income tax from civil servants, license fees and income from the Mogadishu seaport and airport as major sources of domestic revenues. In the 2017 national budget, the government proposed the strengthening of tax collection mechanisms and expansion of the tax bracket to include private sector employees who are currently largely outside the taxation system. The World Bank is calling for significant investment to close the country’s huge capital and infrastructure gap, improve resilience, and improve the business environment over the medium term.

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ADB grants to Somalia and South Sudan for drought response

The African Development Bank (ADB) has signed tripartite grant agreements of US$ 34.8 million and US$ 43.8 million with the Republic of Somalia and the Republic of South Sudan respectively, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) under the Bank’s “Say No To Famine – Short Term Regional Emergency Response Project” (STRERP). IGAD will oversee the implementation of the project through an agency to be recruited in each country. These agencies will work with the governments to put in place structures, systems and facilities that will enable them take on increasing responsibility for disaster management and delivery of humanitarian assistance. The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank approved STRERP on July 21. It falls within the context of the Bank’s “Say No To Famine” framework. Under this framework, the Bank plans to invest about US$ 1.1 billion as a coordinated response to its Regional Member Countries that have been severely affected by prolonged drought periods and unstable food production.
The grants will target 804,000 individuals in Somalia and 300,000 individuals in South Sudan. STRERP’s direct food, water, fodder and medical assistance will provide relief to meet immediate hunger and malnutrition needs faced by communities affected by drought, conflicts and famine. It will also provide food for more able-bodied members of benefitting households to enable them to engage in the restoration or creation of community assets to assist targeted communities to enhance livelihoods and build resilience against future shocks.  So in addition to meeting the daily nutritional needs of vulnerable members of the population, STRERP will facilitate resilience-oriented activities. This will be accomplished through meeting communities’ nutritional needs and creating opportunities for affected communities to re-engage in agricultural production. Integral to this will be stimulating the local private sector and reducing drought and hardship-induced cross-border migration in search of scarce food, water and pasture.

The STRERP grants are aimed to provide emergency food assistance and medical aid and include activities to put in place the preliminary building blocks to strengthen links between the production, distribution and consumption hubs of the food systems in the affected regions. This will help facilitate increased system-wide efficiency and longer-term resilience, concepts aligned with the Bank’s High-5 priorities, and particularly the Feed Africa Strategy. It falls within the Bank’s Strategy for Addressing Fragility and Building Resilience in Africa (2014-2019) through its focus on strengthening the capacity of relevant government institutions to effectively plan, coordinate and implement disaster risk management and humanitarian responses.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Gabriel Negatu, Director General of the African Development Bank’s Eastern Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office said, “We are delighted that through STRERP, we will provide immediate action to increase food security, boost household incomes, promote regional trade in food products and kick start community recovery, ultimately contributing to inclusive growth and resilience in Somalia and South Sudan.” The project, he said, will strengthen the capacity of relevant ministries such as the Ministry of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Management in Somalia and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in South Sudan.
Maryan Qasim, Somalia’s Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, who signed on behalf of the Federal Government of Somalia, said; “In the name of the Federal Government of Somalia, I would like to extend my gratitude to the AfDB for their generosity and for the continued support to the drought response through this substantial grant.” She said the establishment of the Ministry of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Management was a milestone for Somalia, particularly now when it was faced with an extreme humanitarian situation. The Ministry, she said, was working “to address structural issues to prevent being in crisis mode every few years and to ensure that humanitarian investment went beyond alleviating short term suffering to enable people living in arid lands to build viable and food secure futures.”
Signing on behalf of the Government of South Sudan, the Minister of Finance and Planning, Stephen Dhieu Dau Ayik, said the South Sudan Government was grateful for the grant,  “which we will implement immediately to help save many lives threatened by the humanitarian crisis.” He said South Sudan looked forward to continue to strengthen its partnership with the Bank. IGAD’s Executive Secretary, Mahboub Maalim, welcomed the Bank’s support to deal with the humanitarian emergencies currently being experienced in Somalia and South Sudan and said IGAD was thrilled to be associated with the project and was looking forward to its implementation.

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Discussions on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Ethiopia 

The Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the United States organized a Forum for discussion on the promotion and protection of human rights in Ethiopia on July 20.  The Forum was intended to educate foreign policy advisers and staffers of members of the US Congress, State Department officials, members of rights organizations, think tanks and advocacy groups as well as members of Ethiopian Diaspora on the realities of human rights in Ethiopia.

Ambassador Girma Birru, Ambassador of Ethiopia to the United States, in his opening remarks stressed that this kind of forum and the discussions would help members of the US Congress and Administration understand the efforts being made by the government to protect human rights. This would help them to avoid relying on information from biased sources and rights organizations that always skewed the issue of human rights in Ethiopia. Ambassador Girma emphasized that Ethiopia was pursuing a rights-based approach to development. Economic and social rights were given equal consideration to civic and political rights.

Ambassador Girma introduced Dr. Addisu Gebregziabher, Head of the Ethiopian Human Right Commission, who explained in detail the legal and institutional frameworks the government put in place to protect and promote citizens’ rights across Ethiopia. In his briefing statement, Dr Addis, explained that the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission was an independent body established by the House of Peoples’ Representatives for the sole purpose of promoting respect for and protection of human rights in Ethiopia. The Commission, he said, undertook the responsibility and duty to conduct investigations in case of abuse and violation of human rights, either in response to complaints, or acting on its own initiative.  It also carried out an extensive program of educating the public to raise awareness about human rights.

Dr. Addisu noted that the Government of Ethiopia adopted its first National Human Rights Action Plan in 2013 to improve the promotion and protection of fundamental human and democratic rights in a comprehensive and structured manner. He said the Second Action Plan was adopted in 2016. Its main objective was to develop a comprehensive and structural mechanism to advance the respect, protection and fulfillment of the human and democratic rights guaranteed by the Constitution. He said that the action plan was prepared following a review of the present human rights situation in the country, identification of potential problems, and the provision of feasible and practical solutions. Dr. Addisu said: “While successes have been registered so far in improving the human rights situation in the country, certain challenges do still remain. The primary challenge emanates from resource constraints and lack of capacity.”

Following his presentation, Dr. Addisu responded to questions raised by participants. These included queries over the objectivity of the Commission’s investigations of the alleged violations of human rights by security forces during last year protests in some part of Oromia and Amhara Regional States and concern over the level of transparency and impartiality of the Commission while discharging its responsibility of promotion and protection of human rights. Dr. Addisu, pointing out that many of the Commission’s reports were in the public domain and could be accessed on the Commission’s web site, encouraged human rights advocates to follow the Commission’s activities. He pointed out that those interested could obtain information regarding the Commission’s investigations and the legal actions to be taken against the offenders. At the conclusion of the event, Ambassador Girma stressed that the Embassy would be hosting similar events to engage further with US Congress members, administration officials and representatives of rights organizations and advocacy groups and the Ethiopian Diaspora.

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Ethiopia is making early progress in implementing Sustainable Development Goals

It’s been a year and half since the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) came to effect in January 2016. The Sustainable Development Goals, also known as the Global Goals, number 17, with a total of 169 targets, envisioning ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring that all people enjoy peace and prosperity, within the next fifteen years. Different from the previous Millennium Development Goals, the interconnected 17 SDGs also include new areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace and justice. They also take into consideration the fact that tackling one SDG also impacts on the efforts of addressing others.

Ethiopia recorded remarkable achievements in a number of the Millennium Development Goals, implementing them in an integrated manner with its first national Growth and Transformation Plan. It has acted similarly in working for the implementation of the SDGs. As noted in the United Nations Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform page, Ethiopia, informed by its earlier experience and recognizing future opportunities, has accepted and endorsed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, integrating it with its national commitments and ownership to implement the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.  Synchronizing these with the its Second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP-II), Ethiopia has been making progress in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals ever since they came into operation.

An extract of a summary report outlining the methods and processes used in Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) on the implementation of the SDGs has been published on the United Nations Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform. The executive summary report, extracted from the full report of the 2017 VNRs on Ethiopia’s implementation of the SDGs, was prepared after Ethiopia, invited by the United Nations Economic and Social Council, volunteered to participate in a 2017 Voluntary National Review.

The finding of the report indicated the Government’s fully fledged commitment to pro-poor policies and strategies, to the leadership and administration mechanisms and tangible efforts due to provide the necessary momentum for implementation of the SDGs. Ethiopia’s decentralized administration systems, well-established institutional and organizational arrangements were recognized as valid inputs for these commitments. Additionally, with reference to national ownership of the SDGs, four foci of engagement are being stressed. These are: mainstreaming the SDGs into the Growth and Transformation II; inclusive engagement and participation of all actors and stakeholders in the preparation and implementation, following up and the provision of annual progress reviews of the SDGs-Integrated GTP II; additional allocation of financial resources; and effective coordination of SDGs-integrated GTP II implementation both at the federal and regional level.  These are all concrete evidences for strong national ownership of the SDGs by Ethiopian Government.

The report also praised Ethiopia’s early performance in some of the SDGs, including the first three: End poverty in all its forms everywhere; End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture; and Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. It also noted progress in Goals No. 5: Attain gender equality, empower women and girls everywhere; No. 9: Promote sustainable industrialization; and No. 14: Attain conservation and sustainable use of marine resources, oceans and seas.

In this connection, speaking at the discussion on “Accelerating Inclusive and Sustainable Development in Landlocked Developing Countries through Structural Transformation: Pursuing Policy at the Nexus of Infrastructure and Industrialization.” at the United Nations Security Council, last week, Mrs. Hirut Zemene, State Minister of Foreign Affairs, shared Ethiopia’s experiences on economic transformation and industrialization. Among the major areas on which she briefed the council was Ethiopia’s tangible progress in the renewable energy sector. Ethiopia now aims to redouble its efforts to increase national electric power generation capacity from 4270 to 17,000 MW by 2020, in line with the country’s Green Economy Climate Resilient Strategy. Noting that inclusive and sustainable industrialization is crucial for poverty reduction, economic growth, job creation and structural transformation, the State Minister underlined that building a resilient infrastructure would also contribute to accelerate an industrialization process as well as enhancing productive capacity.

State Minister Hirut indicated while Ethiopia fully recognized that the SDGs were interlinked and indivisible, SDG 9 was among the goals to which it was giving priority. She also underlined that Ethiopia was pursuing an integrated industrial development strategy with a clear vision of becoming an African manufacturing hub by 2025. She stressed the country was fully integrating SDG 9 in the Growth and Transformation Plan II (2015-2020). Taking into consideration, the country’s comparative advantages, she noted that special attention was being given to labor-intensive and light-manufacturing sectors, such as agro-processing, leather and textiles. Speaking about the challenges to implementation of the SDGs, she noted these included both lack of funding and capacity in the development of industrialization and infrastructure. Ethiopia’s solution, she emphasized, was advocacy of public and private partnerships and expansion of Foreign Direct Investment in line with other priorities.

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Moody’s annual credit analysis of Ethiopia: “B1 Stable”

The International Credit ratings group, Moody’s Investment Services have again given a positive outlook to the Ethiopian economy but warned that gains are at risk from three risk factors, vulnerability to political risk, weather cycles and commodity price volatility. The annual report of Moody’s Investors Service says Ethiopia’s B1 rating and stable outlook reflects its strengths, including high growth levels and low debt-servicing costs, set against challenges such as high inflation, low per capita income, low foreign exchange reserves and a weak institutional framework. Aurelien Mali, Vice President, Senior Credit Officer and co-author of the report, published on Tuesday (August 1) says: “Ethiopia’s economy has grown rapidly over the last decade and we expect GDP growth of around eight per cent over the next few years, which will bolster its fiscal position.”

Moody’s assessment of Ethiopia’s fiscal strength as “moderate” reflects the country’s low debt burden, favourable debt structure and affordable interest payments. Other factors include its low government revenue ratios, sizable potential contingent liabilities from the state owned enterprises, and a high proportion of foreign-currency debt within the government’s borrowing portfolio. The report notes that the government has recorded low and stable deficits averaging -1.9% of GDP between 2008 and 2016. This has been achieved through prudent spending controls in the face of fluctuating grant financing, as well as efforts to mobilise domestic revenues alongside an increase in nominal expenditure. Moody’s expects the central government deficit to remain at around 2.5% of GDP in the coming years.

Ethiopia’s central government debt is low compared to its peers at around 27.6% of GDP in 2016. Although debt remains low, it has increased slowly to fund large capital projects and Moody’s expects this trend to continue as Ethiopia works on large-scale infrastructure projects under the Growth and Transformation Plan II. Moody’s also notes that Ethiopia faces political risks stemming from its geographical location and the domestic political environment. It is surrounded by a number of conflict zones and tensions with Eritrea remain high. The conflict in South Sudan has led to large numbers of South Sudanese refugees fleeing to Ethiopia.

The report says that while upward pressure on Ethiopia’s sovereign rating is unlikely in the short-term, export diversification, the completion of infrastructure programs and a lessening of domestic and geopolitical tension in the region would all be positive. Equally, downward pressure could stem from acceleration in external debt levels and difficulties in securing concessional external financing, which would put pressure on international reserves. It said major delays or interruptions in key infrastructure projects that hinder medium-term growth prospects and foreign exchange generation capacity would also weigh on the rating.

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OCHA: drought makes access to safe water a critical health issue

In its latest Weekly Humanitarian Bulletin for Ethiopia issued on Monday (July 31), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says the high number of non-functional ground water points in drought affected areas will remain a critical source of public health risk including Acute Watery Diarrhoea for the second half of the year.  Following the poor performance of the spring rains, the bulletin says the number of people receiving humanitarian assistance reached 7.8 million in the first quarter of the year. This is expected to increase during the rest of the year. The joint Government and humanitarian partners’ mid-year needs assessment reports have now been consolidated, and the Mid-Year-Review of the 2017 Humanitarian Requirements Document will be launched shortly. This will detail the actual humanitarian requirements for the rest of the year. It is already clear that increased funding is needed urgently, particularly to respond to for immediate requirements for food and nutrition as well as clean drinking water, much of which is being delivered over long distances by truck as regular wells have dried up.

OCHA’s bulletin underlines the importance of access to safe water remains a key challenge in the priority woredas. It points out that as a result of three consecutive failed rainy seasons in southern and eastern parts of the country, the level of ground water and overall water availability has been seriously reduced. According to the WaSH Cluster, less than 20% of the existing deep boreholes in priority 1 woredas are functional. The spring rains, although poor, did produce some water, so people have been able to access rain-fed water sources but these are mostly unprotected. As a result they remain sources of critical public health risk, particularly when coupled with poor sanitation and hygiene practices and the existing high rates of malnutrition in the affected woredas. As part of the emergency WaSH response, the Cluster has prioritized household water safety through the distribution water treatment chemicals together with hygiene promotion activities. The WaSH Cluster is also conducting targeted water trucking, prioritizing schools and health centres to minimize public health risks and is working to ensure adequate WaSH services are available in large displacement sites where access to basic services is limited.

The Government and partners are continuing to strengthen the overstretched Regional Health Bureaus to address the on-going Acute Watery Diarrhoea outbreak. OCHA noted that there had been significant success in the Somali Regional State, the center of the outbreak. The government deployed nearly 700 Government health workers from around the country, considerably strengthening the capacity of AWD treatment facilities. Surveillance and early warning systems have also been expanded and although the outbreak continues, it remains at a much-reduced rate. There have been other AWD outbreaks in Afar, Amhara, Oromia, SNNP and Tigray Regional States. In Tigray Regional State, following reports of an outbreak of AWD in late June, the Regional Health Bureau has requested support from the Federal Ministry of Health and international partners asking for medical and financial support. A rapid multi-agency assessment team has been deployed and the Health Cluster has sent a second team to support response efforts.

OCHA also noted the flooding on July 20 in the Afar Regional State. This reportedly affected 204 households and damaged a school and a health center in Megale woreda of Zone 2 in the Afar State. In response to a request for support by the Regional Disaster Prevention and Food Security Programme Coordination Office, the National Disaster Risk Management Commission dispatched emergency food and other support from its Mekele warehouse to the affected area. The Afar Regional State Flood Contingency Plan has identified over 60,000 people at risk of flooding; more than 44,000 are likely to be displaced during the current kremt July-September rains. Woreda-level Flood Task Forces are being activated in all flood-prone woredas in the Regional State. Flooding in the Afar Regional State is mainly caused by the overflow of the Awash River and by flash floods resulting from heavy rainfall in highland areas of Amhara and Tigray regions.

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Progress and development along the Ethiopia-Kenya border

Ethiopia and Kenya have enjoyed excellent and time-tested relations, but conditions along their common border have also offered challenges over natural resources or access to limited services. Both Ethiopia and Kenya are fully aware that confronting the challenges of radicalization and terrorist threats in the region calls for a focused and wide-ranging strategy on a compendium of socio-cultural, economic, political and psychological factors. Extremism and violence have traditionally been driven by exclusion and poverty, but more recent developments have underlined the need for a whole variety of interventions to encourage sustainable peace in the border areas.

This is what led to the establishment of the cross-border program straddling Kenya’s Marsabit County, and Ethiopia’s Borana/Dawa Zones: the “Integrated Program for Sustainable Peace and Socio-economic Transformation.” The initiative was launched in December 2015 at the town of Moyale on the border, in the presence of President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia. Prime Minister Hailemariam emphasized: “My government is committed to address historical marginalisation of this region and steer it from poverty and support cross-border programmes for sustainable peace;” President Kenyatta hoped the new initiative would help transform the region: “The programme”, he said, “will see Moyale being turned into the Dubai of Africa.” The Office of the President of Kenya said: “This initiative if properly executed may well be a game changer by turning cross border barriers into bridges of opportunity, especially among the marginalized and poor communities to expedite the achievement of a core goal of the SDGs and ending poverty by 2030”.

Both Kenya and Ethiopia have given full support to the technical teams from the United Nations country teams in Ethiopia and Kenya and IGAD looking for sustainable answers to the problems along the border. The UNDP provided technical support to encourage the development of an effective and targeted multi-year response plan. The program, implemented in partnership with IGAD and the UN Country Teams of Ethiopia and Kenya, is aimed to prevent and mitigate potential violent conflict and extremism in the borderland areas through the creation of conflict prevention mechanisms, addressing the root causes of violent extremism and focusing on humanitarian, security and development issues.

The program took another step forward in June this year when Ethiopia’s Minister of Federal Affairs Kassa Tekleberhan and Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury signed the joint program, in the presence Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ms. Amina Mohamed and the EU Ambassador to Kenya, Dr. Stefano Dejak. And earlier this month the UNDP in New York organized an event to encourage further support for the program under the title: “From barriers to bridges – the Ethiopia-Kenya Cross-Border Program.” The occasion was co-chaired by the Permanent Representative of Kenya, Ambassador Macharia Kamau, and the Permanent Representative of Ethiopia, Ambassador Tekeda Alemu, who described the program as having “a high peace and development return”.

Indeed, the program has already had a significant impact in reducing local conflicts as well as limiting the recruitment efforts of extremist groups.

There have been substantial socio-economic gains as well. The Isiolo-Merille-Marsabit-Moyale road, partially financed by the European Union is now complete and will enhance cross-border integration, connectivity and promote trade between Ethiopia and Kenya. The EU has already decided to expand its support to the program. Ambassador Dejak said, “I am seeing positive signs of change and therefore the European Union has decided to partner with the UN and IGAD, to expand the cross-border program to include the Mandera Triangle (Kenya-Ethiopia-Somalia), the Omo (Kenya-South Sudan) and Karamoja (Kenya-Uganda) clusters”. Increasing cross-border trade will have a positive effect for both countries. It is poised to generate considerable revenue, reduce risks of conflict, facilitate prevention of violent extremism efforts and improve livelihoods, especially among marginalized and poor communities in the area. It will expedite the efforts of both countries to achieve one of the core Sustainable Development Goals – ending poverty by 2030.

The UN Assistant Secretary General and UNDP Regional Director for Africa, Abdoulaye Mar Dieye noted: “If we invest in the region we can boost development and reduce insecurity. This cross border program is a regional public good. It resonates far beyond Kenya and Ethiopia and can serve the entire continent”. Others have welcomed it as offering the key to an innovative approach to operationalizing UN Secretary General Guterres’ “prevention agenda” by addressing marginalization, radicalization and preventing violent extremism using human development and economic growth to spur peace and stability. Norway’s Ambassador to Kenya, Ambassador Ronneberg, referred to the program as a “testimony of the UN’s convening role, to spur dialogue and engagement, and it reiterates the primacy of multilateralism even more in this day and age.” He said it was important that the momentum was maintained. It should not falter due to absence of resources. It was critical for the international community to strongly support the initiative.

One of the most positive signs of development has been the determination to establish peace as the basis for integration. Local peace committees, comprising of different ethnic groups, have been working to maintain peace and promoting harmonious coexistence along the border. Elders testify to the fact that the number of young people getting radicalized and tempted to join extremist or terrorist groups has significantly declined. Devolution has also empowered local authorities and communities.

The development potential on both sides of the border is great. The large numbers of livestock can be harnessed for the leather, meat and dairy industries. The cross-border trade between the border communities can generate revenue for both countries. There is also significant scope for tourism given the diverse and rich culture and historic and archaeological heritage all along the border area. There are major resources for clean and renewable energy exploitation. On the Kenyan side of the border with the recent launching of the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project, which will eventually generate over 300MW, and Ethiopia’s Gilgel Gibe Dam on the Omo River is now producing 1875MW.

On the Kenyan side the Isiolo-Merille-Marsabit-Moyale road is now complete and it is already proving transformational in Kenya as it links the region to Ethiopia and promotes cross-border trade from which Ethiopia is also benefitting largely. The UNDP is launching a ‘HeforShe’ campaign to empower women and address the problem of gender inequality, and enhance women’s participation in the development process in Marsabit County. It has also set up a Biashara Center in Marsabit County to provide a Business Development model to promote inclusive economic growth and job creation by empowering small and medium entrepreneurs, smallholder farmers, youth, women and people living with disabilities. It offers a one-stop-shop that prepares and nurtures entrepreneurs to start and grow their own businesses. It also aims to create a platform to facilitate the development of conducive policy, a legal and regulatory environment, and infrastructure as well as encourage a spirit of entrepreneurship to help provide access to capital, markets and market information. UNDP has been working with the Micro and Small Enterprise Authority, the Kenya National Chamber of commerce and the Kenya Council of Governors and other groups to achieve this.

Integration and trade along the border is still in a nascent stage, but there is good reason for optimism that the initiative will have long-term positive macroeconomic and social ramifications such as food security and income generation, particularly for populations that have suffered from social exclusion in the past.

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