A Week in the Horn 12.10.2018
News in brief
President Dr. Mulatu Teshome opens the new session of Parliament
The second Africa-Turkey Economic and Business Forum
Italian Prime Minister Mr. Giuseppe Conte visits Ethiopia
“Next Steps on the Path to Peace in South Sudan” and an UN/AU delegation in Juba
UK’s Minister for Africa visits Somalia, Uganda and Ethiopia
An Ethio-Tunisian Economic Forum held in Addis Ababa
News in Brief
Africa and the African Union
The second Africa-Turkey Economic and Business Forum was held on Wednesday and Thursday this week (October 10-11) in Istanbul. Jointly organized by the African Union Commission and the Turkish Ministry of Commerce, it was held under the theme: “Building a Sustainable Future Together through investments and joint ventures” in Istanbul, and focused on infrastructure, construction, manufacturing, and tourism and fashion. The Ethiopian delegation was led by President Dr. Mulatu Teshome and included State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Professor Afework Kassu as well as other officials and business leaders. (See article)
Mrs. Harriet Baldwin, UK Minister of State for Africa at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Minister of State for International Development visited Uganda, Ethiopia and Somalia last week (October 4-7). (See article)
Both the EU and US are planning to boost trade and investment in Africa. Last month, the EU Commission Chair proposed a new Africa-EU alliance for “Sustainable investment and Jobs”, including suggestions for consolidating the multiple EU-African trade agreements into a single agreement. The US Senate passed the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development Act, the BUILD Act last week, and earlier in another effort to promote U.S. interests in Africa, Congress reauthorized the Global Food Security Act.
Sub-Saharan African economies are still recovering from the slowdown in 2015-16, but growth is slower than expected, according to the October 2018 issue of Africa’s Pulse, the bi-annual analysis of the state of African Economies by the World Bank. The average growth rate in the region is estimated at 2.7% for 2018, a slight increase from the 2.3% registered in 2017. Albert Zeufack, World Bank Chief Economist for Africa said: “To accelerate and sustain an inclusive growth momentum, policy makers must continue to focus on investments that foster human capital, reduce resource misallocation and boost productivity. Policymakers in the region must equip themselves to manage new risks arising from changes in the composition of capital flows and debt.” The lead author of the report, Cesar Calderon, said reforms were needed to strengthen resilience to risks and raise medium- term potential growth; these should include policies which encourage investments in non-resource sectors, generate jobs and improve the efficiency of firms and workers.
President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Dr. Mulatu Teshome, officially opened the new parliamentary year, addressing a joint session of the House of People’s Representatives and the House of Federation on Monday, (October 8). The President outlined the socio-economic and political reforms the government would be implementing to strengthen the nationwide changes and ensure sustainable economic growth. (See article)
President Dr. Mulatu Teshome received the credentials of the Ambassadors of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Kingdom of Belgium, the State of Qatar and the Royal Kingdom of Denmark, Ambassadors Nguyen Kim Doanh, Francois Dumont, Hamed Mohammed Abdullah Al-Doussari and Mrs. Karin Poulsen respectively, on Tuesday (October 9). President Dr. Mulatu warmly welcomed the Ambassadors and expressed his hopes that they would further enhance ties and cooperation with Ethiopia. He took note of the long-standing diplomatic relations Ethiopia enjoyed with their countries and stressed the need to elevate these relations to the higher level. The President called on the ambassadors to do their best to expand economic and development cooperation and urged them to work for increased of diplomatic and people-to-people ties between their respective countries and Ethiopia.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte arrived in Ethiopia for an official visit on Thursday (October 11). He held talks on bilateral affairs with Prime Minister Dr. Abiy. Prime Minister Conte has expressed his intention of providing support to the peace deal signed between Ethiopia and Eritrea last July. And after his visit to Ethiopia, Prime Minister Conte is going to Eritrea where he will be holding talks with President Isaias. (See article)
Sudan President Omar Hassan Ahmed Al-Bashir congratulated Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed on his re-election as chairman of the EPRDF in a phone conversation at the weekend. They also exchanged views on bilateral relations and ways of further strengthening ties between Sudan and Ethiopia. They agreed to hold a Joint High-level Committee meeting to consider implementation of the outcome of previous meetings and the way forward.
State Minister of Foreign Affairs Mrs. Hirut Zemene bade farewell to the outgoing Ambassador of Sierra Leone to Ethiopia, Ambassador Osman Keh Kamara and Ambassador of Namibia to Ethiopia, Ambassador Monica Ndiliawike Nashandi on Thursday (October 11). Mrs. Hirut thanked the Ambassadors for their efforts to strengthen the bilateral relationship between Ethiopia and their respective countries. The State Minister also underlined the importance of strengthening the bilateral cooperation between Ethiopia and these two countries.
State Minister Hirut received copies of the credentials of the newly appointed Ambassador of the State of Kuwait to Ethiopia, Ambassador Shamlan Al-Roomi on Friday (October 5). They discussed ways of strengthening the bilateral relationship between the two countries. The State Minister noted Ethiopia and Kuwait cooperated strongly in a number of areas including infrastructure, and Ambassador Al-Roomi expressed his country’s commitment to support and further strengthen their historic and economic cooperation.
During a meeting with M. Hichem Ben Amed, State Minister of External Trade of the Republic of Tunisia, on Thursday (October 11), State Minister Foreign Affairs, Dr. Aklilu Hailemichael said, “Ethiopia is keen to strengthen its economic relation with Tunisia.” The two sides discussed on ways of strengthening economic ties between the two countries. Dr. Aklilu added that Ethiopia and Tunisia enjoy long standing diplomatic relations since 1956, adding: “We need to expand this relationship to economic interconnection” He further stressed that Ethiopia wants to draw lessons from Tunisia in the areas of industry, trade, and education.
Dr. Aklilu received copies of the credentials of newly appointed Austrian Ambassador to Ethiopia, Ambassador Roland Hauser on Friday (October 12). Dr. Aklilu took note of the longstanding diplomatic relations between the two Countries, adding that Austria has been supporting Ethiopia’s development endeavors in the areas of health, energy and agriculture. Mentioning the huge investment opportunities in Ethiopia, the State Minister stressed the need to work more ahead to enhance economic relations.
State Minister of Foreign Affairs Professor Afework Kassu attended the ministerial-level Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development (TICAD) held in Tokyo on Saturday last week (October 6) under the theme “Ensure Africa’s Economic Transformation.” The State Minister said the TICAD program aligns with Ethiopia’s development package and noted that beyond bilateral cooperation, Ethiopia and Japan also work closely on Kaizan philosophy, private sector development, human resource training, and technology transfer as well as other areas. The State Minister briefed Japanese officials on the current political, economic, and social, justice and reform developments in the country and the wind of peace blowing through the Horn of Africa.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change launched its 10-year national forest development program on Monday this week (October 8) in partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the governments of Sweden and Norway. Minister Gemedo Dalle said deforestation and land degradation must be reversed if Ethiopia is to meet its development goals. The program will help Ethiopia increase its forest coverage and contribute to national “green growth”. It will also help create 600,000 new jobs through business development, investment, conservation approaches and sustainable participatory forest management.
An Ethio-Tunisian Economic Forum, aimed to expand trade and investment ties between the two countries opened in Addis Ababa, at the Sheraton Hotel on Tuesday (October 9). The Forum, co-organized by the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations (ECCSA) and the Union Tunisienne de l’Industrie, du Commerce et de l’Artisanat (the Tunisian Union of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA), brought together 36 Tunisian companies and over 40 Ethiopian business firms.(See article)
Ambassador Shamebo Fitamo, Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Djibouti, spoke at the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) Universalisation Workshop for IGAD Member States held in Djibouti last week. Organized by the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, the EU and IGAD, the workshop aimed to create awareness about the BWC; its contribution to international peace and security; and the prevention of the misuse of microbial organisms and the life sciences for hostile purposes. Ambassador Shamebo said IGAD states could and should play a vital role in minimizing security threats from illegal use of Weapon of Mass Destruction. Ethiopia, he said, as a signing and ratifying state party, was firmly committed to reduce and possibly eliminate the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and promote their application for peaceful and developmental purposes.
A delegation from the Embassy in Seoul, led by led by Charge d’Affaires, Bekuma Merdassa, had made a working visit to the Philippines where they had discussions with the Ethiopian community on Sunday (October 7). Discussion focused on the current situation in Ethiopia and on community problems over passport renewal and document authentication. They also exchanged on how to improve consular services for Ethiopian diaspora members residing in the Philippines.
Minister of Budget, Bodeh Ahmed Robleh, met Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Djibouti, Ambassador Shamebo Fitamo, this week to discuss facilitating the preliminary conditions necessary for the building of an Ethiopian Community School in Djibouti as well as the allocation of a dedicated permanent parking lot for Ethiopian oil trucks. They agreed to address those matters as urgently as possible.
Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre met the Saudi Arabian Foreign Affairs Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir in Riyadh on Wednesday (October 10). The Prime Minister arrived in Riyadh on Tuesday. The talks, attended by the Minister of State of the Foreign Ministry for African Countries’ Affairs, and the Saudi Ambassador to Kenya and Somalia, covered bilateral relations and means to promote cooperation between both countries.
Germany has announced that it will spend $100 million USD in Somalia to bolster policing programs. Speaking at a ceremony to mark the Day of German Unity held at EU headquarters in Mogadishu, the German Ambassador to Somalia hailed the Somali government’s reforms in economic and security areas and said Germany was going to strengthen its diplomatic ties and presence in Somalia.
The Speaker of the Upper House, Abdi Hashi Abdullahi met the newly appointed Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Somalia, Nicholas Haysom, in his office in Mogadishu on Wednesday (October 10). The meeting focused on security, and the strengthening of relations between the Senate and the UN. The discussions were also attended by the first Deputy Speaker of the Senate, and other leaders and lawmakers from thye Upper House.
The cabinet endorsed a bill at the end of last week calling for the relocation of international agencies operating in Somalia from Nairobi to Somalia. It warned organizations that refused to comply with the deadline of January 1, 2019 that they would have their operation licenses revoked with immediate effect. The government believes relocating offices of agencies working in Somalia would improve coordination. Most of the international organizations and NGOs working in Somalia are still based in Nairobi `and government officials complain this avoids monitoring and accountability by the government.
A Comprehensive Approach to Security meeting was held in Mogadishu on Wednesday this week (October 10). Co-chaired by the Federal Minister of Defence Hassan Ali Mohamed, and the AU Special Representative for Somalia Ambassador Madeira, it included representatives of AMISOM, the Government, the UN and other key stakeholders. The meeting assessed progress made in the implementation of the Comprehensive Approach to Security, a component of the Security Pact, signed in London in May 2017. Defence Minister Hassan Ali Mohamed said, “Technical work has been going on and we are happy to hold this meeting, to update you on the progress made and discuss the implementation of the tasks before us.” He noted that disruption operations in the Lower Shabelle, Middle Shabelle and Hiiraan regions, planned with the support of AMISOM to keep the Al-Shabaab off balance, were currently on-going.
A joint United Nations and African Union delegation arrived in Juba on Sunday (October 7) for as four-day visit to South Sudan to support the revitalized peace deal signed last month. The delegation was led by Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Ambassador Smail Chergui, the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, and the head of the UN’s gender equality agency, UN Women, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka. (See article)
First Vice-President President Taban Deng Gai met with several high-level officials in Washington last week and discussed the issues of peace implementation and US support for his government with Cyril E. Sartor, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council. The First Vice President reiterated the commitment of his government to fully implement the revitalized peace deal and to work with the peace partners and the regional and international community to end the war and bring stability in the country. He emphasized that President Kiir has given orders and discussed the ceasefire enforcement with South Sudanese military officials. He also stressed that lifting the U.S. and UN sanctions would help the implementation of the peace process.
President Dr. Mulatu Teshome opens the new session of Parliament
The President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Dr. Mulatu Teshome officially opened the new parliamentary year addressing a joint session of the House of People’s Representatives and the House of Federation on Monday, (October 8). Parliament has been in recess for the previous three months.
President Mulatu, who emphasized that the government would be implementing the necessary socio-economic and political reforms to strengthen the nationwide changes and ensure sustainable economic growth, started his speech by highlighting the major features of the previous parliamentary year. He noted it had been a year during which “Ethiopia entered into massive changes”. He mentioned grand socio-economic projects had been planned even though there had been limitations to achievement because of various instabilities and economic problems. He said the 2017/18 budget year had also been characterized by difficulties, prompted by anti-democratic trends, a limited consensus between the government and other stakeholders, failures to widen the political platform and in establishing independent and capable democratic institutions, restrictions in respecting human and democratic rights and other shortcomings. In this new budget year, the President emphasized, “We will work hard to address these failures.”
President Mulatu commended the reform measures that Prime Minister Abiye’s government was taking. He welcomed the “deep reform evaluation that the governing party (EPRDF) had made last year, helping the party get new leaders and providing new hope for the country by promoting love, forgiveness and togetherness. Examples of the measures taken to widen the democratic space were the release of thousands of prisoners and the negotiations the government made with dissidents based in foreign countries.” However, the President said, despite these great achievements, there was still some confusion regarding democracy, freedom, and the rule of law. He called on competing parties to pursue a peaceful path and be responsible for their political activities. He said: “You have to work for the supremacy of ideas and it is time to leave old counter-productive political practices”. He called on the media to play a vital role in the democratization process in a spirit of accountability. He said measures would be taken to ensure democratization, the rule of law and well-being of the public. He said the government would now no longer tolerate violent activities and hooliganism, and emphasized that the absence of the rule of law posed a risk to the stability of the nation. He stressed the government would take the necessary measures to ensure rule of law and contain contraband trade in boarder areas.
The President said the challenges that had appeared during the last three years required the government to make structural changes. “Many public institutions were not functional, civic rights were limited, and press freedom stifled,” he said. Now Ethiopia”, he said, “will consolidate its on-going democratic reforms in order to further widen the political space”. This would include amendments being considered to the CSO proclamation, and to media and press freedom laws. The President strongly underlined that building a genuine democracy and widening the political environment for all stakeholders was the top priority of the government this Ethiopian year. Furthermore, he added, the government would be giving priority to consolidation of unity and coexistence among Ethiopians. He noted that a restructuring of the cabinet could be expected shortly.
President Mulatu also detailed recent critical diplomatic successes. The “rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea is very important, not only for the two brotherly countries, but also for the Horn” he said. Dr. Mulatu extended, in this regard, special thanks to Prime Minister Dr. Abiy and to President Isaias of Eritrea for their contribution to normalization of relations and the ending of the two-decade long “No peace No war” between Ethiopia and Eritrea. He stressed that their renewed relationship had encouraged other East African countries to move from confrontation to cooperation, mentioning Ethiopia’s successful encouragement of mediation between Eritrea and Djibouti. He also noted Ethiopia had played an extraordinary leadership role in chairing the peace process of South Sudan. He underlined that Ethiopia would strengthen its approach of building strong collaboration and encouraging economic integration based on mutual trust with neighboring and other countries. On the basis of the principle of “African solutions to African Problems”, it would continue to participate actively in continental agendas such as the detail of negotiating implementation of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).
Detailing the government’s priorities for economic reform, President Mulatu noted it would be implementing the necessary economic policy reforms to ensure sustainable economic growth. Reform measures would include improving finance and public investment administration and enhancing governmental revenues through modernizing taxation procedures. The government intended to implement a comprehensive free market economy, and bringing about a positive balance of payments was another key priority. It would prioritize to stabilize macro-economic activities and stimulate the macro-economy by employing financial and fiscal tools. In general, the planned economic reforms would target attracting more foreign direct investment and enhancing participation of youth and the private sector through creating conducive environment for fair competition. One major item on the agenda would be to exert greater emphasis on creating jobs for the youth, the largest percentage of the population.
Various measures would be taken to provide conducive environment for the private sector, Dr. Mulatu said, pointing out that the government would be making every effort to work in partnership with the private sector, in a bid to identify and resolve problems that had caused bottlenecks and other problems in the past. He explained that an improved Commercial Code of Ethiopia would be submitted to the House and a new investment law would be put in place during the year. A one-stop-shop service using electronic means would also be introduced. Another change would be “on arrival visa arrangements” for visitors from all African countries: This would promote tourism and help attract more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
The President also emphasized that reforms would continue in trade registration and licensing, supporting the service with technological change to make the process simple and mobilize resources. Another major package that would be implemented to sustain the pace of the economic development in the country was implementing a policy of economic rehabilitation. Building an effective free market and stabilizing the macro-economy were among the major activities that would be under-taken.
The President noted that the government was working to speed up the process of accession to the WTO, where Ethiopia has observer status, to boost its global market competitiveness. Overall, the government would extensively exert efforts to ensure sustainability of economic growth by minimizing its own role in the market and scaling-up the involvement of the private sector by fully or partially privatizing major state-owned enterprises. He underlined that the government would be prioritizing the enhancement of agricultural productivity and commercializing the sector. In addition, the Government’s industrial parks strategy will continue to expand with the focus on agro- processing.
The second Africa-Turkey Economic and Business Forum
The second Africa-Turkey Economic and Business Forum held on Wednesday and Thursday this week (October 10-11) in Istanbul was jointly organized by the African Union Commission and the Turkish Ministry of Commerce. It was held under the theme: “Building a Sustainable Future Together through investments and joint ventures” in Istanbul, and focused on infrastructure, construction, manufacturing, and tourism and fashion. The overall aims were to promote investment through analyzing trade and economic relations between Africa and Turkey; evaluate Turkey’s approach to investment in Africa; facilitate interaction between the two business communities and initiate dialogue between Turkish investors, the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities. It also highlighted the expectations engendered by Agenda 2063 as the basis for a program for social, economic and political transformation to make Africa a prosperous, united and economically independent continent.
The Ethiopian delegation was led by President Dr. Mulatu Teshome and included State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Professor Afework Kassu as well as other officials and business leaders. President Dr. Mulatu met with high-level Turkish officials to discuss trade, investment and other bilateral issues on the sidelines of the Forum. Dr. Mulatu made an official visit to Turkey in February last year when he agreed with President Erdogan on the importance of further expanding Turkish investment in Ethiopia, infrastructure development, the fight against terrorism and the need to further up-grade the already existing excellent strategic partnership. President Mulatu discussed how to take new action to further enhance Turkish investment in Ethiopia in much needed areas of infrastructure, manufacturing and energy, appealing to Turkish investors to come and invest in Ethiopia as there were vast opportunities available. The two countries committed themselves to double the value of their trade to $1 billion.
Addressing the Forum on Wednesday (October 10), President Dr. Mulatu praised Turkey’s opening policy towards Africa as it has helped both sides to find mutual business opportunities. He said: “Turkey’s strategic engagement with African countries to enhance trade and investment converges with Africa’s need to attract foreign direct investment.” Dr. Mulatu said the Forum would take Turkey and Africa’s existing economic and political relations to the highest level, fostering strategic economic alliances as well as discussing, finding and providing solutions to the challenges in trade and investment relations. He said it would have great influence on promoting the economic development of both Turkey and African countries. Turkey, he added, was now one of the leading sources of foreign direct investment (FDI) to Ethiopia and the two countries now needed to enhance their efforts to promote their products in each other’s markets.
He pointed out the total amount of investments by Turkish firms in Ethiopia was around $2.5 billion and as of the end of last year, the number of Turkish firms active in Ethiopia reached 150 and the employment opportunities created by these firms was approximately 30,000. Turkish firms employed the highest number of people in private sector from Ethiopia, he said. Dr. Mulatu said Ethiopia expected trade volume between the two countries to increase. Turkey’s exports to Ethiopia were currently over US$440 million while imports from Ethiopia were worth $36 million in 2016. He stressed: “Ethiopia has many business potential and market opportunities to offer to the private sector. Come and invest in Ethiopia.” In fact, according to Turkey’s Minister of the Economy, Nihat Zeybekci, Ethiopia is the largest investment destination for Turkey in Africa and has attracted nearly half of the more than US$6 billion of Turkish Foreign Direct Investment in Africa. It intends, he said two years ago, “to enhance Ethiopia’s production capacity and advance the country’s market share globally.”
This week’s Forum provided a platform for some 3,000 participants, government representatives, investors, private sector representatives and financial institutions from Turkey and from across Africa. It enabled the Turkish and African businesses to make contact and network and offered the opportunity to encourage and facilitate private sector investment and business opportunities for both sides. It allowed for discussion and solutions for investment challenges between Turkey and African countries. It raised awareness of Africa’s Continental Free Trade Agreement and the advantages this offers to both the public and private sectors. Panels at the Forum covered: “Investment Opportunities in Textile Sector in Africa and Fashion”; “Collaboration between Turkey and Africa on Construction, Infrastructure and Energy”; “Integration Efforts in Africa and Opportunities for Turkish Business People”; “Financing of Trade and Investment in Africa”; and “Tourism and Hotel Investment in Africa”. There were also numerous Business-to-Business as well as Government-to-Business meetings to allow for informal discussion and provide a platform for African countries to present concrete projects to the business people to help find partners, financing, and contractors. Speeches were made by the President of Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEİK); the President of the Pan-African Chambers of Commerce and Industry; the AU Commissioner for Economic Affairs; the Turkish Minister of Trade; the Chairman of the African Union Commission; President Kagame of Rwanda, the Chairman of the African Union; and the President of the Republic of Turkey.
Following the development of Turkey’s “Strategy for the Development of Commercial and Economic Relations with African Countries” in 2003, to promote trade and direct investment, providing technical assistance, transfer of technology and knowledge-sharing, Turkey declared 2005 as the “Year of Africa”. In 2008, at the AU Summit in 2008, Turkey was declared a strategic partner of Africa and the first Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit was held in Istanbul. This adopted the “The Istanbul Declaration on Turkey-Africa Partnership: Cooperation and Solidarity for a Common Future” and “Cooperation Framework for Turkey-Africa Partnership”. The second Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit was held under the theme of “A New Model of Partnership for the Strengthening of Sustainable Development and Integration” in 2014 in Malabo”. This has led to a partnership strategy aiming to integrate Turkish and African markets and create a business environment conducive to development.
The first Turkey-Africa Economic and Business Forum held in Istanbul, in November 2016 was a major element in this integration strategy as was the 2nd Ministerial Review Conference of the Africa Union-Turkey Partnership was held in Istanbul in February this year. Co-organized by the Turkish Foreign Ministry and the African Union Commission, the Conference re-emphasized the centrality of the AU Agenda 2063, the AU’s First Ten Year Implementation Plan and the UN’s 2030 Agenda as guiding frameworks for the partnership, and also underlined the importance of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development. The meeting also reviewed the Joint Implementation Plan of African Union-Turkey Partnership 2015-2019, and the Matrix of Key Priority Projects adopted at the Second African Union-Turkey Cooperation Summit. The Third Africa Union-Turkey Summit is due to be held next year.
The trade volume between Turkey and Africa reached $18.8 billion in 2017, an increase of 12% from the previous year. The Turkish EXIM Bank loans to Africa now stand at over $800 million with Turkish contractors undertaking 1,150 projects in Africa, worth $65 billion. According to 2016 figures, Foreign Direct Investment from Turkey to Africa reached $6.2 billion. Turkey has increased the number of its embassies in Africa to 41with a growing number of commercial counsellors, now over 25. Turkish Airlines flies to 51 destinations in 33 countries in Africa. The Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey has established business councils with 35 African countries. The first Turkey-Africa Agriculture Ministers Meeting was held in Antalya, Turkey, in April 2017; the Turkish Ministry of National Education hosted the first Turkey-Africa Education Ministers Conference in Istanbul in October 2017; the Turkish Military Training Center in Mogadishu became fully operational at the end of September last year.
Italian Prime Minister Mr. Giuseppe Conte visits Ethiopia
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte arrived in Ethiopia for an official visit on Thursday (October 11). He held talks on bilateral and regional affairs with Prime Minister Dr. Abiy before attending a State Dinner hosted by the Prime Minister. Before his visit, Prime Minister Conte expressed his intention of providing support to the peace deal signed between Ethiopia and Eritrea in July, and on Friday, Prime Minister Conte left for Eritrea where he will be holding talks with President Isaias.
Speaking at the State Dinner in honor of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte at the National palace on Thursday, Prime Minister Dr. Abiy said “Ethiopia and Italy enjoy longstanding and historical relation anchored on mutual respect and understanding.” This, he said, was a partnership defined by a deep-rooted people-to-people, government-to-government and business relations. The Prime Minister noted that Ethiopia was keen to further boost its bilateral ties with Italy. The Prime Minister said: “We had fruitful discussions on ways of expanding our cooperation in areas of investment, trade and infrastructure,” underlining the need to explore finance for infrastructural development Ethiopia is undertaking. The Prime Minister said Ethiopia and Italy had been working together to restore peace and stability in the Horn of Africa, and he emphasized that peace could be achieved through economic integration of the region. In connection, he said, “We wish to encourage our international partners to seize the momentum and support our regional integration initiative which is the ultimate guarantee for sustainable peace. In this regard, Italy due to its historical links to our region is uniquely placed to play crucial role in supporting this process, including by galvanizing support through the EU and other multilateral platforms.”
Italian Prime Minister Conte thanked the people and government of Ethiopia for the warm welcome accorded to himself and his delegation. He described Ethiopia as “the pillar of peace and stability in Africa.” He thanked Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed for delivering the rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea and the resulting peace dividend for the region. He also commended the government of Ethiopia for the massive socio-economic and political reforms it was carrying out. Italy, he said, “would like to support and encourage these reforms.” He also underscored that Italy would provide support to Ethiopia’s agro-processing industry.
Prime Minister Conte noted Italy was the first country which had officially commenced diplomatic relations with Ethiopia and he underlined the Italian community residing in Ethiopia had been contributing to the ongoing socio-economic development of the country. He emphasized the need to further strengthen Italy’s bilateral ties with Ethiopia through mutual cooperation. Prime Minister Conte also extended an invitation to Prime Minister Dr. Abiy to visit Italy next year.
Ethiopia and Italy’s long-standing relationship has been consolidated by various cooperation agreements over many years. These have included an accord for a series of regular political consultations between the two Foreign Ministries marking the opening of a new chapter in bilateral cooperation. Relations have been gradually expanding, covering economic cooperation, regional peace and security and global issues of common interests. There has been a whole series of high level visits including the then Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in July 2015 and by Foreign Minister Paulo Gentiloni the same year. Italy has also provided assistance for drought resilience and sustainable livelihood, women’s economic empowerment and social integration and for the development of the health system in Oromia and Tigray Region States. The current Ethio-Italian Development Cooperation agreement for the years 2017-2019 was signed in 2017.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella visited Ethiopia in 2016 and held talks with President Dr. Mulatu and the then Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn as well as His Holiness Abune Mathias, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Discussions focused on a range of issues, including Italy’s African engagement, migration, and the fight against terrorism as well as peace and security concerns in the region during that meeting. President Mulatu said relations between Ethiopia and Italy were flourishing in all fronts, and called for Italian companies to explore business and investment opportunities in Ethiopia. President Mattarella emphasized that Italy was keen to expand bilateral cooperation in trade, investment, tourism and capacity building among others. He said Italy appreciated Ethiopia’s role in promoting regional and international peace and security, and in combating terrorism as well as hosting and rehabilitating great numbers of refugees. It is to be recalled that President Dr. Mulatu Teshome paid a state visit to the Republic of Italy in October 2016.
“Next Steps on the Path to Peace in South Sudan” and an UN/AU delegation in Juba
A joint United Nations and African Union delegation arrived in Juba on Sunday (October 7) for a four-day visit to South Sudan to support the revitalized peace deal signed last month. The delegation was led by Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Ambassador Smail Chergui, the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, and the head of the UN’s gender equality agency, UN Women, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka.
“We are currently at a time where the emphasis has to be put on the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement,” said Jean-Pierre Lacroix. “We are ready to help, we are ready to support and at the same time ready to say that it is very important to take time…for the implementation to be inclusive.” He noted that that women being heard represented “the process of bringing peace to South Sudan,” adding, “There is a glimmer of hope now with the peace agreement, but we know much more needs to be done, and we are here to see how we can help that…The only way to bring durable peace is to build an inclusive peace.” Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka said: “The purpose of our visit is to focus on women, peace and security because of the impact of the conflict on women… We want to be sure that all negotiations going forward must include women in a substantive way. Women need to be supported and protected.” She added that the visit was “in solidarity with women and to look at how we can address, in a stronger manner, the challenges that are facing women and girls, especially violence against women.”
The delegation, which commended South Sudanese stakeholders for signing the peace agreement, also encouraged them to implement the agreement properly and faithfully. They met with senior government officials including President Salva Kiir as well as travelling to Bentui, meeting with women leaders and organizations, including those living in the Protection of Civilians’ site, as well as with the leadership and personnel of the UN system. The visit focused on tangible actions and re-emphasized the significance of elevating, safeguarding and ensuring women’s meaningful participation and leadership in the implementation of the Agreement. The delegation subsequently travelled to Addis Ababa where the members briefed the African Union Peace and Security Council.
Just over two weeks ago in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the US Under Secretary of State David Hale and US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Ambassador Tibor Nagy, chaired a meeting: “Next Steps on the Path to Peace in South Sudan”, attended by representatives of IGAD member countries, IGAD-Plus members, the Troika, the United Nations and the EU. There was general welcome and support for the IGAD Revitalized Agreement, and the Sudanese parties were congratulated for coming to an agreement. Participants also stressed the importance of continued US and international support.
Mr. Hale noted no further delays should be allowed in implementing the agreement. Parties to the agreement should be held accountable and there should be an end to violations without consequences. He stressed the AU and IGAD were critical bodies for consistent implementation of the agreement and underlined that the transitional arrangements were key steps for the sustainability of the Revitalized Agreement. Mr. Hale also reaffirmed United States commitment to peace in South Sudan and thanked regional countries for their continued commitment to peace.
Sudanese Foreign Minister al-Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmed stressed the reason for the success of the latest round of talks had been because Dr. Machar had been included in the process. He also underlined the importance of the Regional Protection Force.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Mrs. Hirut Zemene, speaking as Chair of the IGAD, emphasized the importance of IGAD in bringing together the various South Sudanese groups and reducing the number of negotiating groups to five. This had been a critical step in moving the peace process forward. They were now all engaged in dialogue. She agreed that bringing Machar into the process was a turning point, adding that Prime Minister Dr. Abiy had brought the two leaders to meet in Addis Ababa for the first time. Mrs. Hirut also underlined that the winds of change in the Horn of Africa, brought about by Prime Minister Dr. Abiy, had set the proper context for peace in the region. She emphasized the need to focus on the often neglected and vulnerable groups of women and children in the rehabilitation of South Sudan. She called on the US to participate through the Troika to strengthen the structures of the JMEC, CTSAMM and the RPF. She also noted that not only Uganda, Sudan but also Djibouti and Somalia are interested to join the RPF.
Monica Juma, Foreign Minister of Kenya, pointed out that implementation of the agreement should not be left alone to the Sudanese parties. She called for all-out support in the implementation phase and stressed the need for a regular review mechanism to pick up elements that might fall out during the implementation. The Foreign Minister of Algeria Abdelkadern Messahel highlighted the immense need for humanitarian assistance to the people of South Sudan and praised the Ethiopia -Eritrea reconciliation as helping produce the good conditions for peace in the Horn of Africa.
Chad’s Foreign Minister, Mahmat Zene Cherif referred to the recent Ethio-Eritrea exchange of visits as creating an enabling condition in the region and called for the international community to provide political and material support for the full implementation of the agreement. Geoffrey Onyeama, Foreign Minister of Nigeria, underlined the importance of the process of cantonment of the army and the building of a national army. He also called for a rigorous collaboration in the implementation of the peace deal.
Ms. Marie Soreide, Foreign Minister of Norway, said that Norway is fully committed to the IGAD process, providing financial and political support. She outlined implementation phase criteria as stopping fighting, violators to be held accountable, full humanitarian access and transparent management of oil resources, adding that IGAD should remain in the driver’s seat to steer the implementation process. Mrs. Harriet Baldwin, UK Minister of State for Africa and International Development called for a significant shift from all parties to silence the guns, respect the UN arms embargo and humanitarian access, and release all political prisoners. She also noted the importance of transparency of funds and for an end to impunity.
A representative of Federica Moghereni, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs, emphasized that the US had an indispensable role to play in realizing the peace deal, and said the EU wanted to support monitoring the ceasefire. The UN representative agreed with State Minister Hirut on the need to strengthen the work of CTSAMM. He noted the importance of security sector reform and the need for clear crafting of the role of the RPF, whether its role was protection of key installations in Juba or protection of parties coming back to Juba. He said the UN was committed to do its utmost for the full implementation of the peace deal.
UK’s Minister for Africa visits Somalia, Uganda and Ethiopia
Mrs. Harriet Baldwin, UK Minister of State for Africa at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Minister of State for International Development visited Uganda, Ethiopia and Somalia last week (October 4-7).
In Uganda, Mrs. Baldwin met with President Yoweri Museveni and Prime Minister Rugunda. She announced funding of up to £210 million to help Uganda support half a million refugees, who have fled from conflicts in the DRC and South Sudan. This will provide adequate nutrition for 350,000 children and their mothers, vaccination of 200,000 children, and support for 100,000 children to go to school. Mrs. Baldwin visited the Medical Research Council/Uganda Virus Research Institute and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Research Unit on Friday last week (October 5) She also committed £5.1 million for Ebola preparedness efforts to support surveillance in high-risk districts at the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); risk reduction communication amongst communities; infection prevention and control measures as well as provide for improved case management.
In Ethiopia, Mrs. Baldwin signed two grant agreements with Admasu Nebebe, Ethiopia’s State Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation amounting to £176 million. One, for £110 is to provide finance the Ethiopian general education quality improvement program for equity (GEQIP-E).This will offer support to the government of Ethiopia to improve the quality of education children and young people receive using a result-based approach to drive performance. The program is targeting disadvantaged learners, including children with disability, in pre-primary, primary, and secondary education, particularly in the Somali, Afar and Benishangul-Gumuz regional states. It will support training for 125,000 teachers and performance improvements in 9,000 underperforming schools. The other £66 million grant is to support the Ethiopian Investment Advisory Facility (EIAF) Phase II project, aimed to enhance the effectiveness of public investment management and improve the enabling environment for exporters in Ethiopia to promote outward orientated and manufacturing-led inclusive growth in Ethiopia. Mrs. Baldwin said: “The UK and Ethiopia are working together to tackle shared challenges and to make the most of the opportunities East Africa offers, on everything from development and education, to creating jobs and attracting investment. We will continue to support the ambitions of our partners, like Ethiopia, to build a stronger, more prosperous and more peaceful region”.
In Somalia, the British Minister met with Prime Minister Hassan Khayre as well as Ambassador Madeira, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia and head of AMISOM. Mrs. Baldwin commended the government on the progress of its political and economic reforms. She reiterated the UK’s commitment to supporting Somalia, and emphasised the importance of sustaining and building on achievements to date. A week earlier, Mrs. Baldwin had co-chaired a session on Somalia’s security during the UN General Assembly in New York. During her visit, she toured a UK-funded police training facility in Mogadishu, meeting AMISOM troops and Somali officers, praising them for their efforts fighting against Al Shabaab.
In meetings with international partners involved in humanitarian and resilience programming in Somalia, the Minister also reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to remain at the forefront of the humanitarian response including stepping up and focusing on providing durable solutions that take the realities of rapid urbanisation, demographic shifts and climate change into account. Mrs. May in August announced over £60 million from the UK to support vulnerable Somali communities to cope with and recover more quickly from conflict and climate extremes. She said as a long-term partner, the UK is committed to supporting reform efforts, from improving security, to delivering democratic elections, to helping build resilience and delivering the long-term economic development that is needed to improve the lives of people in Somalia.
In her meeting with Ambassador Madeira, Mrs. Baldwin praised troop-contributing countries for the work that they do within AMISOM, cautioned against premature withdrawal of African Union troops from Somalia. She said such a move could be detrimental to the stability of Somalia. She stressed instead the need for a conditions-based, gradual withdrawal of AMISOM on the basis of the strength of the Somali security forces, rather than on an artificial time table. She said Britain would continue to encourage the wider international community to provide consistent funding to AMISOM. In August, UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, announced a new package of funding to AMISOM worth £7 million pounds to fight terrorism. Ambassador Madeira expressed gratitude at the support AMISOM has received from the British government, “not only in terms of training; in terms of military support; particularly in the ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance).”
An Ethio-Tunisian Economic Forum held in Addis Ababa
An Ethio-Tunisian Economic Forum, aimed to expand trade and investment ties between the two countries opened in Addis Ababa, at the Sheraton Hotel on Tuesday (October 9). The Forum, co-organized by the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations (ECCSA) and the Union Tunisienne de l’Industrie, du Commerce et de l’Artisanat (the Tunisian Union of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA), brought together 36 Tunisian companies and over 40 Ethiopian business firms.
Opening the Forum, State Minister of Trade Dr. Mebratu Meles stressed that Ethiopia had registered double-digit growth rate annually for the last 12 years. It had identified priority sectors including light manufacturing, textile, leather industry and agro-processing for development, and had embarked on the creation of industrial parks in different parts of the country. He urged Tunisian companies to invest in these industrial parks, underlining the facilities available for investors.
The State Minister for External Trade of the Republic of Tunisia, Mr. Hichem Ben Ahmed thanked the people and Government of Ethiopia for the warm welcome given his delegation. Tunisia, he said, wanted to build mutually beneficial business ties with Ethiopia. He said the current trade links were minimal and said this could be addressed through the creation of joint venture activities between the private sectors of the two friendly countries.
The Vice-president of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations, Mr. Assefa Gebressilasie, underlined that the Forum served as a viable platform to expand the cooperation on trade and investment. He encouraged Tunisian companies to invest in Ethiopia. The Vice-president of the Tunisian Union of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts, Mr. Abdessalem Loued, also underlined the need to strengthen trade and investment between the two countries through joint-ventures. The two organizations, ECCSA and UTICA, signed a Memorandum of Understanding in a bid to strengthen their links and trade and investment ties between Ethiopia and Tunisia.
Following the Forum, the Tunisian State Minister of External Trade Mr. Hichem Ben Amed, met the State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Aklilu Hailemichael on Thursday (October 11). They discussed on ways of boosting economic relations between the two countries. State Minister Aklilu noted that Ethiopia and Tunisia had enjoyed excellent long-standing diplomatic relations since 1956, but now, he said, “We need to expand this relation to economic interconnections”. Dr. Aklilu stressed that Ethiopia wanted to learn from the experiences of Tunisia in industry, trade, and education as well as other areas. State Minister Amed commended the current relationship of the two countries but stressed the need to develop this through strengthening balanced trade exchanges. He indicated that Tunisian companies were showing interest to invest in Ethiopia especially in agro-food processing. The President of the Tunisian Chamber of Commerce and the Chair of the Union Tunisienne de l’Industrie, du Commerce et de l’Artisanatalso attended the meeting.