A Week in the Horn 2.11.2018

News in Brief

Prime Minister Abiy in Europe: meeting President Macron in Paris…

Visas on Arrival in Ethiopia for all African citizens

The 2nd Italy-Africa Ministerial Conference held in Rome, Italy

Peace Celebration Day in South Sudan

The World Bank approves US1.2 billion for Ethiopia

UNESCO project in Eritrea improves capacity to safeguard Intangible Cultural Heritage Boosting Ethio-China trade and investment

News in Brief

Africa and the African Union The two-day founding Congress of the Horn of Africa Confederation of Trade Unions (HACTU) was held in Addis Ababa at the end of last week (October 26-27). The Confederation brings together the trade unions of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. It aims to promote free movement of people in the region, and actively work for a better life of workers and the people, report indicates. Tekeste Baire, Secretary-General of the National Confederation of Eritrean Workers was elected as President of HACTU, and Kassahun Follo, President of Ethiopia’s Trade Unions Confederation, as Secretary-General. The Confederation will be headquartered in Addis Ababa. Ethiopia President Sahle-Work, on her first external presidential visit, congratulated South Sudan parties for inking the revitalized peace agreement. She said the diminution of fighting, the National Pre-Transitional Committee’s commencement of work and the start of the Transitional Government of National Unity’s and the opposition parties’ working together were early indications that the peace agreement would function. She reminded the parties on the need to nurture trust between them to fully implement the revitalized peace agreement. She also emphasized the need for South Sudan parties to stay committed to the implementation of the terms of the peace process during the pre-transitional period. (See article) Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed returned to Addis Ababa on Thursday (November 1) after a three-day visit to Paris, Berlin and Frankfurt. He held meetings with French President Macron and German Chancellor Angela merkel, as well as attending the G20-Compact with Africa (CwA) Summit hosted by the German government and made the case of G20 investment in Ethiopia. He addressed a cross-section of the Ethiopian Diaspora in Frankfurt. (See articles) The House of People’s Representative (HPR) on Thursday (November 01) appointed Meaza Ashenafi as President of the Federal Supreme Court. The House approved also the appointment of Solomon Areda as Vice President. Newly elected chiefs of the Court have sworn in before the House to serve at the Court. The Speaker of the House of Federation, Keria Ibrahim, said the celebration of the 13th Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Day would take place on December 8th, 2018. It would, she told a press conference be celebrated with special emphasis on Ethiopian unity and help to further strengthen people-to-people relations. She said plans were under way to create awareness on the balancing of ethnicity and Ethiopian identity. The Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Day would also concentrate on encouraging an attitudinal change to the occasion which acknowledges and celebrates Ethiopian diversity as well as unity under the Constitution. Speaking at the 2nd Italy-Africa Ministerial Conference held at the end of last week, Foreign Minister, Dr. Workneh, underlined that Ethiopia and Eritrea had embarked on their “incredible journey of peace without the help of others, showing that Africans can contribute alone to peace in Africa”. He also emphasized the will to contribute to stability in Somalia and thanked the Italian Foreign Minister for his attention to the situation in the Horn of Africa. Dr. Workneh took the opportunity to congratulate Ambassador Sahlework Zewde on her election as President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The Minister mentioned that this has been “historic” given that Ambassador Sahlework is now the first female president of the republic; and his remarks received applause from the gathering of over 50 African foreign ministers. (See article) The Government of Ethiopia officially launched the issuance of visa on arrival for all African citizens, on Thursday (November 1). State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Hirut Zemene said the Government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed, had decided to offer Visa on arrival services to all African citizens with the view to realizing the vision of “our founding fathers, to see a peaceful and integrated Africa, where minds are open to ideas and markets are open to trade.” She noted the issuance of Visa on Arrival for all Africans clearly demonstrated “Ethiopia’s resolute commitment to the ideals and objectives of the African Union and its determination to continue to play its rightful roles towards free movement of people and the realization of our integration agenda.” (See article). State Minister Hirut received copies of the credentials of the newly appointed Ambassador of Sierra Leone to Ethiopia on Tuesday (October 30). The State Minister welcomed the Ambassador and wished him a productive diplomatic tenure in Ethiopia. She underlined the importance of strengthening the bilateral cooperation between Ethiopia and Sierra Leone, particularly in areas of trade and investment. State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Aklilu Hailemichael met with Mrs. Brita Wagener, Ambassador of Germany to Ethiopia on Monday (October 29). The two sides discussed the bilateral economic relations between Ethiopia and Germany. They also have exchanged views regarding the ongoing reforms in the country including the recent restructuring of executive bodies of the government. Eritrea Sudan Presidential Assistant Musa Mohamed Ahmed, the leader of the Beja Congress, was in Asmara at the weekend to discuss the normalization of bilateral relations between Sudan and Eritrea and prepare the way for a visit by President al-Bashir to Asmara. The move follows Ethiopia’s reconciliation with Eritrea in July and Prime Minister Abiy’s effort to bridge the gaps between Eritrea and Sudan as he did with Eritrea and Somalia. Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta discussed how to strengthen security and economic cooperation between Kenya and Somalia in a telephone conversation on Saturday night (October 27). They agreed to strengthen bilateral diplomatic relations and considered ways to fully implement the agreements reached during the official visit of the Somali President to Nairobi early last year. Their conversation covered easing restrictions for the movement of goods and people and a free market to encourage trade. President Abdullahi thanked President Kenyatta for the role his government had so far played in the fight against terrorism, the improvement of regional security and good diplomatic relations based on mutual respect and cooperation. President Mohamed Abdullahi on Sunday met with Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Sultan bin Saad Al Muraikhi on the sidelines of the. OIC Ministerial Conference on Sunday (October 28). The Minister conveyed greetings from the Amir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, to the President and people of Somalia. The President thanked Qatar for its efforts to support the government and people of Somalia. The two sides discussed bilateral relations and ways to boost trade relations. President Mohamed Abdullahi toured offices of the High Court, Appeals Court and Banadir Regional Court and reaffirmed his government’s commitment to fast-track creation of the country’s judicial institutions on Sunday (October 28). He said the government still lacked the Judicial Service Commission and the Constitutional Court. However, it would soon table the bill for the Judicial Service Commission to Parliament for approval. Meeting judges, he urged them to provide fair judicial services and safeguard their heavy responsibility. He said: “You are supposed to avoid corruption…You should be the manufacturers of the country’s governance and not be among those who contribute to its downfall. You are expected to serve the people fairly and without favor.” The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Ambassador Haysom and the Ambassador Madeira on Thursday (November 1) in Baidoa met the candidates for the Southwest Presidential election, scheduled for November 17. Seven presidential aspirants, including former Al-Shabaab deputy leader Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, attended the meeting. The two officials also met with Southwest President, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan, the chair of the Council of Inter-state Cooperation. The presidents of Galmudug, Puntland, and Jubaland States are all also facing re-election over the next nine months – Puntland in early January, followed by Galmudug in July and Jubaland in August 2019. Foreign ministers from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation have reiterated their support to Somali government at the OIC’s first conference in Mogadishu on Saturday (October 27). The ministerial-level meeting brought together representatives from sixteen Member States to explore ways and means to further advance national reconciliation, political stability, durable peace and economic development in Somalia. Opening the conference, Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire said the government had made a substantial progress in strengthening statehood through new reforms, among them security improvements, inclusive politics and improving public services delivery in the last 18 months; and the meeting symbolized the return of the international community’s engagement. A communiqué at the end of the meeting, called on OIC members states to expand their support to Somalia. The Federal Government and the World Bank on Wednesday (October 31) signed an US$80 million grant agreement in Mogadishu. $60m is for the Recurrent Cost and Reform Financing Project and $20m for the Domestic Revenue and public financial management Capacity Strengthening Project. Speaking after the signing of the agreement, World Bank regional director, Bella Bird said the World Bank was ready to support the government in it is efforts to increase revenue collection across the country to ensure that systems are place to utilize and monitor government expenditures. South Sudan Peace Celebrations Day was held in Juba on Wednesday (October 31) to demonstrate to the people of South Sudan that war was over and to contribute to creating a suitable atmosphere for the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement. IGAD and the international community have encouraged the leaders of all the political groups to make public statements and meetings together to send a positive message across the country underlining their commitments to the signed agreement. Sudan President Omer al-Bashir made a two-day visit to Turkey at the beginning of the week heading a senior ministerial delegation from the presidency and the foreign ministry. He held a summit meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss bilateral relations and the latest regional developments. President Erdogan visited Sudan last December when the two sides signed 12 cooperation agreements and agreed to launch a strategic partnership covering agriculture, industry, minerals and health. They also approved the establishment of a higher political committee headed by the two presidents to meet annually, alternately in Khartoum and Ankara. Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Muataz Musa speaking to Parliament on Wednesday last week (October 24) announced plans for a 15-month economic austerity program. He said the 2019 budget would include policies aiming to curb inflation, stabilize the exchange rate, resolve the liquidity problem and combat corruption. He said the measures would limit government expenditure on various items including allocations for ministers, and official delegations travelling abroad. These would include a stop to government donations and the free meals provided for official meetings and workshops as well as cancelling all government festivals. Army’s Chief of General Staff Lt. General Kamal Abdel-Marouf and Russia’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Admiral Igor Osipov, met in Khartoum on Sunday (October 28) to discuss military cooperation between the two countries. Also present was the Chief of Staff of Naval Forces, Major-General Abdallah al-Matari al-Faradi. Admiral Osipov said his visit allowed him to identify areas for joint cooperation and expressed keenness to promote bilateral relations and bring it to wider horizons. In July President Oal-Bashir met President Putin and they agreed to promote military cooperation in the near future. State Foreign Minister Osama Faisal meeting Italy’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Emanuela Del Rein Rome last week on the sidelines of the second Italy-Africa Ministerial Conference, discussed ways to promote bilateral relations including trade, economic, development, cultural and technical cooperation as well as issues of common concern and latest political developments in the region. Mr. Faisal briefed the Italian minister on recent developments in Sudan including the national dialogue and the 2020 presidential elections as well as recent economic reform policies. The 3rd Sudanese-Italian economic and investment forum and the 4th Sudanese-Italian political consultations committee were both held last year. Ms. Del Re praised Sudan’s efforts to resolve regional issues under the auspices of IGAD. ***************** Prime Minister Abiy in Europe: meeting President Macron in Paris… Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed made a working visit to France on Monday this week (October 29) at the invitation of Emanuel Macron, President of the French Republic. In their talks the two leaders agreed to deepen bilateral relations between France and Ethiopia and to cooperate on international peace and security. At a joint press-conference, President Macron promised that France would stand with Ethiopia during the transition phase the country is going through. He offered “all my support and that of France” in reforming Ethiopia and “in calming domestic tensions”. He told reporters he knew how much Prime Minister Dr. Abiy had risked to see the reforms through and how much the reforms were fraught with difficulties, but also how much Prime Minister Abiy had chosen a courageous path. He indicated that he would consider budgetary support to Ethiopia to supplement existing multilateral initiatives; and Dr. Abiy’s Chief of Staff of the Office the Prime Minister, Fitsum Arega who described the talks as “productive” said France had agreed to provide support to protect and preserve the Lalibela Rock hewn Churches. In a Joint Declaration issued after the meeting, France officially welcomed the bold reforms launched to deepen democracy and the rule of law in Ethiopia. Prime Minister Dr. Abiy and President Macron reaffirmed their shared commitment to work towards the strengthening of international peace and security and their intent to deepen bilateral relationships in the areas of political advancement and democratization, as well as economic, trade and development partnerships, defense and security cooperation and technical and cultural cooperation. On political dialogue, the Joint Declaration underlined the agreement to deepen collaboration on international agendas in order to find common positions, matching shared interests, within the context of the historic rapprochement among the countries of the Horn of Africa initiated by Dr. Abiy. France warmly welcomed he rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Commending this new development, France said the rapprochement opened up promising prospects for the whole region and underlined the need to implement an inclusive process that takes into account the interests of all parties in the region. They acknowledged the significance of stability and security in the Horn of Africa and stressed that the international community needed to pay special attention. They agreed Ethiopia and France would continue their efforts to promote peace and prosperity in the region, through their contributions to AMISOM and the strengthening of the capacities of Somalia’s forces, as well as the stabilization of South Sudan following the revitalized peace agreement signed on September 12 in Addis Ababa. France also restated its support to Ethiopia’s engagement within IGAD and to Ethiopia’s commitments within the African Union. In the areas of economics, trade and development, France promised to mobilize the international community, within the framework of the French presidency of the G7 in 2019 as well as international financial institutions, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, to support the reforms of the Ethiopian government. They expressed their commitment to increase and diversify trade and investment opportunities, and ensure a mutually beneficial business environment. France promised to work to implement a program that supported the economic reforms initiated by Dr. Abiy and to consider specific ways of implementing the French Development Agency (ADF’s) support programs, to take into account the constraints Ethiopia is facing regarding balance of payments and access to foreign currency. According to the Declaration, France will promote opportunities for French private sector investment and development of economic activities in Ethiopia, while Ethiopia will work to create an enabling environment for French companies and to promote a conducive environment for the development of the private sector in Ethiopia. They will work to develop their bilateral cooperation on economic and financial matters; encourage dialogue between their business communities, including through the development of the French-Ethiopian Business Forum; encourage investments through a conducive business environment and enable companies willing to invest to receive adequate advice and services; and work towards solving issues regarding enforcement of tax regulations, in accordance with the applicable legislation. They welcomed expansion of the French Development Agency’s activities in Ethiopia, pointing out the two countries have signed two declarations of intent regarding support for Ethiopian Airlines’ investment program and support to strengthening sustainable urban development strategies for Addis Abeba and Dire Dawa within the framework of their respective decentralized cooperation strategies. According to the Joint Declaration, Ethiopia and France agree to strengthen inter-university and research partnerships and educational cooperation including vocational education and training as well as linguistic cooperation. They agreed to facilitate the operation of the Lycée Français Guébré-Mariam in Addis Ababa; and to support an increase in the number of Ethiopian students in France, and foster the training of teachers through co-financing of MA and PhD scholarships to support the development of scientific research, together with the French Center for Ethiopian Studies and its partners. They will continue to promote the teaching of the French language in the Ethiopian educational system. France and Ethiopia also agreed to restate their commitment to support linguistic and cultural diversity. France will foster mobilization of young Ethiopian artists and Ethiopia’s civil society within the framework of the Season of African Cultures 2020. They will continue cooperation regarding conservation and valorisation of heritage, museums and archives, as well as scholarly and vocational training for heritage-related professions. France expressed its willingness to share its expertise in these fields. In terms of defence and security cooperation, France welcomed Ethiopia’s very positive role within UN and African peacekeeping operations, especially in AMISOM. They agreed to support co-financing by the AU and the UN, on a case by case basis, of African peace operations authorized by the AU Peace and Security Council and by the UN Security Council. …meeting Chancellor Merkel in Berlin and attending the Compact with Africa Summit… The Prime Minister, who headed a high-level Ethiopian delegation including Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, met with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. The talks with Chancellor Merkel centered on support for the reform process underway in Ethiopia through Reform Partnership Program which envisages to earmark 100 million Euros, and “Cooperation on the reintegration of former combatants, agricultural mechanization, financial and technical cooperation,” according to Chief of Staff of the Office the Prime Minister, Fitsum Arega. The two leaders agreed to strengthen cooperation on both bilateral and multilateral platforms. Chancellor Merkel commended the ongoing comprehensive reforms in Ethiopia. Their discussion also covered the ongoing reforms in Ethiopia and potential investment opportunities for German companies in Ethiopia as well as the peace efforts in the Horn of Africa region and in particular the Ethiopia-Eritrea peace deal. The Prime Minister also attended the 2nd Summit of the G20 Compact with Africa (CwA) which was initiated last year under the German G20 Presidency to promote private investment in Africa, including in infrastructure. The Compact’s primary objective is to increase attractiveness of private investment through substantial improvements in macro business and financing frameworks. It aims to bring together reform-minded African countries, international organizations and bilateral partners from the G20 and beyond to coordinate country-specific reform agendas, support respective policy measures and advertise investment opportunities to private investors. It intends to increase sustainable private sector investment, improve infrastructure and tackling unemployment. Another aim of the Compact with Africa project is to curb migration to Europe by offering young Africans jobs in their own countries. In order to achieve this, African countries are partnering with the G20, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank to negotiate specific action plans for each state. The countries will commit to implementing reforms to increase their investment potential while international partners will assist with economic issues, offer technical expertise and help encourage investors to the country. The initiative is demand-driven and it is open to all African countries. Launched last year, the Compact has so far attracted eleven Africa countries: Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo and Tunisia. Chancellor Merkel opened the G20 Compact with Africa meeting emphasizing that it was critical “not only to talk about Africa but to talk with Africa” about development needs and goals. She said the project put African countries and the West on an “equal footing,” and it was already having an impact. She told the Summit that “The point isn’t just talking about Africa, but with it,” adding that, “The Compact with Africa follows a different, a new approach – it is about an equal footing type of partnership, aiming to be long-lasting and benefit all equally.” She said: “Apart from strengthening Africa as a location for investment, it is also important to establish fair trade relations between Europe and Africa.” The Chancellor said, “This conference here expresses the fact we want to live and breathe partnership and cooperation.” Prime Minister Dr. Abiy told the Summit that the Government of Ethiopia highly appreciated Germany’s leadership in supporting the Compact with Africa (CwA) initiative. Ethiopia, he said, attached high importance to the Compact initiative as it provides a much needed framework to enhance investment and infrastructure in the country. He said, “As you all know Ethiopia is a country at a historic moment of economic, social and political transformation that has put an inclusive and sustainable agenda front and center. We have now officially embarked on privatization of state enterprises in areas such as energy, telecom and aviation sectors”. This represented a most important opening up of the Ethiopian economy, he added. Dr. Abiy underlined that the Government of Ethiopia, as part of its economic transformation agenda, was placing strong focus on leveraging Foreign Direct Investment, fostering industrialization, export diversification and most importantly job creation. He said, “Creating jobs for the growing youth is an urgent priority for the government and we are fully convinced that much of the employment opportunity must come from the private sector”. Key priorities in this context, he said, included the need for high-quality Foreign Direct Investment, investment in productive infrastructure, skills development for enterprises, and competitiveness. He encouraged potential investors to partner with the government in key areas, and underlined Ethiopia’s competitive investment opportunities, adding “I’d like to reassure you of my government’s commitment and seriousness to take all the necessary measures required to attract investment in Ethiopia” and stressing the many initiatives underway to create a conducive investment climate. He said: “Ethiopia offers a competitive investment opportunity. I would like to take this opportunity and mention the strategic engagement we just started ….as a concrete example of what the compact initiative can deliver when focused on targeted investment, recruitment and facilitation.” He added: “We would like to see similar, more investment from G20 countries and hope this platform will continue to play a driving and catalytical role.” The Prime Minister also emphasized the need to establish fair trade relations between Europe and Africa and a sharing of a common vision towards transforming the two continents. The message of Tuesday’s Summit re-emphasized that of last year’s meeting: Africa and Europe should work together more closely on economic issues. This will make Africa more prosperous, curb the number of migrants for the benefit of both African states and Germany. Germany and other partners are supporting the initiative with technical expertise and money. Germany’s Finance Ministry says foreign investors have committed around €243 billion ($277.61 billion) to the Compact countries, but would like to see more. When Chancellor Merkel visited Nigeria, Senegal and Ghana in August, she took a large business delegation. Among the companies setting up new projects in Africa are Bosch, with a medical packaging facility, Voith a solar power plant, and Volkswagen a manufacturing plant. Ahead of the summit opening, Germany’s Development Minister, Gerd Müller, indicated the main areas of German investment interest would be in health care, agriculture and education in Africa. During his visit to Berlin, Prime Minister Abiy also held talks with Sebastian Kurz, Chancellor of Austria on the sidelines of the Compact Summit. Discussions covered bilateral relations between the two countries, and the two leaders exchanged invitations to pay official visits to each other’s countries to further strengthen bilateral ties. The Prime Minister also held talks with the President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim. …and addressing the Ethiopian Diaspora in Europe in Frankfurt The Prime Minister, as part of his Diaspora outreach program under the theme of “Stand Together, Build the Future!”, addressed an estimated 15,000 members of the Ethiopian Diaspora gathered from all over Europe in Frankfurt. It was the last stop in his three-city tour. Dr. Abiy told the gathering that it was the responsibility of all to build a better Ethiopia, the responsibility of all Ethiopians to strive tirelessly to build civilized and democratic Ethiopia. He called on Ethiopians abroad to stand together to build their country. He said, “We Ethiopians need to draw a lesson from Europe on the ways to defeat poverty, regardless of our ethnic differences.” He urged his listeners to play their part in building and modernizing their mother country. Dr. Abiy also spoke of the reforms his government was carrying out, produce independent and capable institutions in the justice system, in security and in the national electoral board and the electoral system and other areas. He promised that his government would work to meet the demands of the people to end conflicts, advance democratization, create more employment, strengthen economic reforms and create a conducive environment to attract and encourage the members of the Diaspora to engage actively in their homeland. ***************** Visas on Arrival in Ethiopia for all African citizens Ethiopia has officially launched the issuance of Visas on Arrival for all African citizens as of Tuesday October 30, 2018. This was celebrated this week on Thursday at the Headquarters of the African Union Commission. The event, organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ethiopian Immigration, Nationality and Vital Events Registration Agency and Ethiopian Airlines, was attended by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Hirut Zemene, the State Minister of Peace, Zeynu Jemal, the CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, Tewolde Gebremariam, and the Director-General of Immigration, Nationality and Vital Events Registration Agency Gebre-Yohannes Teklu, as well as Ambassadors accredited to the African Union and UNECA. State Minister Mrs. Hirut said the Government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed, had decided to offer Visa on Arrival services to all African citizens with the view to realizing the vision of “our founding fathers, to see a peaceful and integrated Africa, where minds are open to ideas and markets are open to trade.” She noted the issuance of Visa on Arrival for all Africans clearly demonstrated “Ethiopia’s resolute commitment to the ideals and objectives of the African Union and its determination to continue to play its rightful roles towards free movement of people and the realization of our integration agenda.” Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said that Ethiopia in making this decision had once again demonstrated its commitment to the ideals of the African Union and to the principles which informed Pan-Africanism. He said the move would greatly enhance the status of Addis Ababa as the political capital of the continent. Issuing Visas on Arrival for all citizens of African Union member states is in line with realizing Africa’s vision of prosperous and integrated Africa, and facilitating the free movement of all African Citizens as envisaged in the AU Agenda 2063 and its flagship project of an African Passport and free movement of people. Any person with a valid passport from any AU member state will now be eligible to get a visa on arrival without any preconditions. The government has set up two ways to secure the visa. Anyone with a valid African passport can travel directly to Ethiopia and get a visa on arrival by filling a simple form and paying the required fee. In addition, Ethiopian Airlines ticket offices worldwide are now authorized to process the Visa on Arrival application forms. The offices will collect completed forms and visa fees from the applicant and the visa will be granted immediately on arrival in Ethiopia. All citizens of African Union member states with a valid passport will also be allowed to obtain an Ethiopian entry visa through the E-Visa service, which has been available for almost all countries since June this year. The granting of Visas on Arrival as well as E-Visa for Ethiopia, apart from facilitating the integration of Africa by encouraging free movement of people, offers other benefits, in terms of saving time and money, avoiding bureaucracy, boosting business and investment flows, and promoting conference tourism as well as bolstering economic cooperation among Africans. Ethiopia is once again paving the way in the journey towards successfully implementing “Agenda 2063”. It is an exemplary action by Ethiopia and will help to would accelerate successful implementation of other flagship projects of Agenda 2063 such as the Single African Air Transport Market and the African Continental Free Trade Area. ***************** The 2nd Italy-Africa Ministerial Conference held in Rome, Italy The 2nd Italy-Africa Ministerial Conference brought together ministers and other representatives from 46 African Countries and 13 International Organizations, including the African Union, a total of 350 delegates. A high-level Ethiopian delegation, headed by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, attended the meeting, held in Rome on Thursday last week (October 25). The bi-annual conference represented a framework at the highest level for renewed and strengthened cooperation between Italy and Africa. It aimed to find shared solutions to the challenges in the areas of peace, freedom, democracy and security, as well as single out common approaches towards growth, especially by involving qualified Italian players from the world of industry and business, academia and non-governmental organizations. Italian President Sergio Mattarella addressed the opening ceremony while the plenary session was opened by Minister of Foreign Affairs Enzo Moavero and by the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Kwesi Quartey. President Mattarella emphasized that the meeting confirmed Italy’s interest in ongoing developments on the African continent and its determination to strengthen partnership with African countries. He said no geographical area was affected by such profound changes as those under way in Africa. It had the highest rate of population growth and the highest percentage of young people, and this demanded the need for benefits from a high and lasting growth, to support the development and strengthening of social networks that should “prevent the emergence of inequalities, a real obstacle to the harmonious progress of every society “. “Italy”, he said, “stands by Africa and is ready to hold hands with you across the Mediterranean”. Italian Prime Minister Conte told the conference that Italy was ready to “relaunch with energy and determination” its strategic role in Africa’s development, going beyond the traditional donor-beneficiary model and forging new partnerships based on shared responsibilities and rewards. He said: “Now more than ever is the moment for Italy to play a strategic role and in Africa and to confirm our priorities in our bilateral relations, in the European and the multilateral context, building stronger ties with the African Union”. He noted that several innovative economic cooperation projects would get off the ground next year in the agro industry sector;’ and underlined that the conference had shown Italy’s strategic commitment to Africa. Many challenges might remain, he said, “but we are ready to re-launch this commitment with energy and determination.” Foreign Minister Moavero, said, the conference represented the biggest opportunity for a structured dialogue between Italy and African States, which were witnessing very steep population and economic growth. He emphasized it represented “a valuable and unique opportunity to get to know each other better, talk to each other and listen to each other’s point of view and real needs on the issues that link us now and might connect us in the future. This was precisely why Italy considered it essential that “the European Union guarantee a greater and more effective provision of financial resources to the next EU Multiannual Financial Framework.” He said Italy was “thoroughly motivated to act in this sense at the negotiations in Brussels and support the introduction of new and genuinely autonomous sources of revenue for the Union’s budget.” Mr. Moavero said: “We are all on the same side, Europeans and Africans. Compared to the past today, the path can be different: we embark on paths of peace, cohabitation, respect and mutual enrichment”. He emphasized that the conference represented “a significant indicator of a common wish on the part of both Africa and of Italy, to be leading players in the dynamic contemporary scenarios in a growingly competitive globalized world.” The conference paid special attention on the positive developments under way in the Horn of Africa following the peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Workneh, underlined that Ethiopia and Eritrea had embarked on their “incredible journey of peace without the help of others, showing that Africans can contribute alone to peace in Africa”. He also emphasized the will to contribute to stability in Somalia and thanked the Italian Foreign Minister for his attention to the situation in the Horn of Africa. Dr. Workneh took the opportunity to congratulate Ambassador Sahlework Zewde on her election as President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The Minister mentioned that this has been “historic” given that Ambassador Sahlework is now the first female president of the republic; and his remarks received applause from the gathering of over 50 African foreign ministers. Eritrea’s Foreign Minister Osman Saleh, also stressed that Eritrea and Ethiopia had made “a gift of peace and friendship to Africa and the world”. He noted some aspects of the new “partnership”. Eritrea and Ethiopia had not just made peace; they had embarked on a partnership of complementarity and synergy, determined to make up for the lost time and opportunities. They were prioritizing joint interests, and investing in joint programs and projects. They had opened their common borders for the free movement of people and goods. They had also “embarked on jointly fostering a regional partnership”. Already, he said, “Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia have signed an Agreement on Comprehensive Cooperation in a tripartite summit in Asmara. They are determined to make it inclusive of the whole region. They need and welcome the contribution of all external partners, including, of course, Italy.” Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Administrative Secretary, Ababu Namwamba, urged the Italian government to open up markets for African produce and support peace programs as part of a long-term solution to the problem of illegal migration. He told the conference the Italian government could work with African countries to address the root causes forcing migrants into dangerous travel across the Mediterranean. He said Italy should “open her markets to Kenyan and African products and support African growth as the most sustainable approach to stemming the stream of [illegal] immigrants”. Only shared prosperity, he said, could guarantee global stability. Italy should support African programs like the AU’s vision of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), as well as stabilization programs including the peace deal between Eritrea and Ethiopia as well as the agreement in South Sudan. The conference offered an excellent opportunity for the exchange of views between Foreign Affairs ministers, high level representatives of major international organizations and Italian business, academia and civil society. It created a framework for high level dialogue and partnership and represented the continuation of renewed and strengthened cooperation between Italy and Africa, a cooperation launched during the first Italy-Africa Conference held in May 2016. It also aimed to make an in-depth analysis of the economic cooperation and investment perspectives and to identify and expand areas of cooperation with counterpart African institutions in the field of training and education. On the sidelines of the conference, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Italy also held a tripartite meeting among their respective Ministers of Foreign Affairs. This was their second meeting, following one two weeks ago at the UN General Assembly. Mr. Moavero reiterated Italy’s desire to support economic growth and sustainable development in both Eritrea and Ethiopia, with a structured strategy to encompass numerous sectors and initiatives. This should include cooperation in the field of industrial development and investment, with targeted projects in particular on infrastructure to benefit links between the two countries, as well as energy from sustainable and renewable sources including geothermal, strengthening commercial links in anticipation of creating an area of “free trade” involving the whole Horn of Africa. The benefits for other regional actors, Djibouti and Somalia, would be simply immense. Another area for development would be cultural collaboration, and Italy would offer training to encourage the major productive sectors of agriculture, industry and services, giving them further possibilities in terms of growth and competitiveness. This would provide new and important opportunities for the younger generation and greater opportunities for personal and professional growth in their own countries and lead to “a symmetrical reduction of the migratory phenomenon.” In support of this, the three ministers also focused on the necessity of removing the sanctions that still weighed on Eritrea. ****************** Peace Celebration Day in South Sudan South Sudan celebrated its Peace Celebration Day in Freedom Square in Juba on Wednesday (October 31) under the theme, “Celebrating the Dawn of Peace, Appreciating Friends, Cherishing Reconciliation and Unity.” Thousands of jubilant South Sudanese took part in the celebrations in Juba to welcome the signing of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan ending years of bloodshed and suffering. The presence of President Salva Kiir and opposition leader, Dr. Riek Machar, sent a message that the parties were determined to implement the peace process. President Salva Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar vowed to work hard for peace implementation and stability in the country. Both stressed their commitment to the signed peace agreement and told the South Sudanese that they would not fight against each other again. President Kiir started his speech by apologizing to the South Sudanese on behalf of the parties to the peace agreement for the suffering that the five-year war had caused. He said: “As your president, I want to apologize on behalf of all the parties for what we have caused you, our people … I deeply regret the physical and psychological wounds you have had … Today marks the end of the war in the Republic of South Sudan.” He said that the thing that convinced him to strike a peace deal with the armed groups was the suffering that people were experiencing in the country. He said, “When I went to Khartoum (last June), I told my negotiating team I want peace. I’m coming from Juba and people are in a bad shape. So in your discussions with the opposition whatever they want let’s give it to them.” He told the people that, “This agreement is yours and you have to protect it from spoilers who should not sabotage it again.” President Kiir said the war had tainted the reputation of South Sudan and announced that one of the main duties of the transitional government would be to carry out aggressive diplomacy to correct the image of the country. Riek Machar affirmed his commitment to the South Sudan peace agreement, calling on all the South Sudanese parties to stick to peace. He said, he had come to show that he is a peace lover, and he and others had signed the peace agreement for the sake of bringing about cessation of war and ending the people’s suffering. He called for the strengthening of the government system, emphasizing that a federal government system was the best for the country, as stipulated in the peace agreement. He also called for the release of political detainees, abolishing the emergency act and guaranteeing the freedom of expression for returning refugees and displaced people. Among those attending the celebration were Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde, heading a delegation that included Mrs. Hirut Zemene, State Minister of Foreign Affairs. Presidents of IGAD member countries. as well as representatives of the UN and AU, dignitaries and diplomats in Juba and IGAD officials also attended. The presence of the IGAD leaders underlined that they were united and fully ready to support the Peace Agreement in South Sudan. They called on the peace partners to work together to achieve development and prosperity of South Sudan and reiterated their continued support for the implementation of the peace process. In his address, Sudan President al-Bashir, who was awarded an honorary doctorate in peace diplomacy by the University of Juba, called for uniting efforts in the coming stage for implementing the peace agreement on the ground, removing the impact of war and realizing reconciliation and unity for ensuring stability and security. He called for a guarantee of freedom of movement in South Sudan and acknowledgment that all people were equal in duties and responsibilities and the rule of law. He reiterated Sudan’s keenness to stand alongside South Sudan until the full achievement of peace and stability, indicating that all Sudan’s experience and expertise would be at the disposal of South Sudan until the realization of security and peace and the return of refugees and displaced persons. He referred to his own moral responsibility towards the people of the South as he had earlier been the president of the united Sudan and because the Comprehensive Peace Agreement had been signed and the referendum of South Sudan held during his presidency. President Sahle-Work, on her first external presidential visit, congratulated South Sudan parties for inking the revitalized peace agreement. She said the diminution of fighting, the National Pre-Transitional Committee’s commencement of work and the start of the Transitional Government of National Unity’s and the opposition parties’ working together were early indications that the peace agreement would function. She reminded the parties on the need to nurture trust between them to fully implement the revitalized peace agreement. She also emphasized the need for South Sudan parties to stay committed to the implementation of the terms of the peace process during the pre-transitional period, adding, “Implementing the pre-transitional activities is tantamount to setting the basic foundation for the transitional period.” President Sahle-Work also reminded IGAD and the wider international community of the imperative need to “work in full commitment for the success of the pre-transitional period”. She called on the parties to act responsibly and completely silence guns, and on the refugees to come back home and build South Sudan. The IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan, Ambassador Ismail Wais, recalling the efforts of the Member States to revitalize the South Sudan peace agreement, described the occasion as “a great day for the IGAD region and the African continent at large.” An IGAD Heads of State Summit in June last year had mandated the revitalization of the agreement to resolve the conflict in South Sudan; and the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) was signed on September 12 this year. The Special Envoy thanked the former President of Botswana and former head of Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, Festus Mogae, the leadership of IGAD, the Friends of South Sudan, IGAD Partners and the leaders of South Sudan. They all “did their best for peace to happen.” Ambassador Wais urged the South Sudanese “to stay the course” for the implementation of the peace agreement and called for Member States and partners to intensify their support to help the country move forward. The celebration marks the beginning of the implementation of the peace deal concluded in Khartoum and signed on September 12 in Addis Ababa. The parties to the agreement now have to convince the public, the region and international community by improving the security situation within the country through their actions ahead of the next transitional period. Observers emphasized that the celebration was a welcome move and a critical first step in building the confidence required for a realistic peace in South Sudan. There was still much to do to implement the peace process. Others emphasized that peace celebration was an occasion to reflect on the immense governance reforms called for in the agreement, the need to move urgently immediately to ensure that credible institutions were set up, or reformed and strengthened, including an anti-corruption commission, to provide for accountability. Implementation of the peace agreement will now require significant external funding for monitoring and investment, to provide incentives to different factions, militias and other groups to lay down their arms. **************** The World Bank approves US1.2 billion for Ethiopia The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a grant of $600 million and a credit of US $600 million from the International Development Association to support Ethiopian Government policies on Wednesday this week (October 31). The statement said this was designed to accelerate economic growth and assist in achieving the Government’s vision of becoming a lower-middle-income country. The Board’s statement said the Government of Ethiopia had embarked upon a path of political and economic transformation. In addition to measures to build peace with Eritrea it had recently broadened the political space to include opposition parties, actively engaged in regional diplomacy, and announced a range of economic reforms designed to revitalize the economy by expanding the role of the private sector. This included plans to gradually open up the economy and introduce competition and liberalize sectors that had previously been dominated by key state-owned enterprises). In light of these sweeping reforms, the Government had requested technical and financial support from the international community to implement its new pathway to growth. The World Bank’s new operation responds to that request. Nataliya Mylenko, World Bank Task Team Leader for the project said, “The Growth and Competitiveness operation will directly support the Government’s program and planned reforms, with a focus on three pillars: maximizing finance for development, improving the investment climate and developing the financial sector; and promoting transparency and accountability.” The operation will promote public-private partnerships (PPPs) which will not only improve efficiency in key sectors, for example in telecom, power and trade logistic, but also mobilize private financing which will enable Ethiopia to maximize the resources available for development financing. In these key sectors, the support given by the International Development Association (IDA) will help to institutionalize restructuring, introduce high quality services, reduce inefficiencies and operating costs and improve financial performance. Ultimately this will help Ethiopia to attract foreign direct investment and raise export revenues. The operation will help the Government to streamline business regulations favorable to private sector development, facilitate access to credit and establish government bond and foreign exchange markets. The operation will help the government to modernize the financial sector and make the banking system more efficient in its operation. Ultimately this should mean more credit available for the private sector. Additionally, the operation aims to enhance transparency and accountability by promoting citizen engagement social accountability; and improving the management of state-owned enterprises which play a key role in the Ethiopian economy and are critical to the delivery of key public goods and services. Carolyn Turk, Country Director for Ethiopia Sudan and South Sudan said. “The Government is taking bold steps to strengthen Ethiopia’s growth path and this operation will support the Government of Ethiopia’s efforts to improve competitiveness, boost exports, generate jobs and accelerate inclusive growth.” The operation is aligned with the World Bank Group’s twin goals of ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity, and the Country Partnership Framework for Ethiopia, as well as the Government of Ethiopia’s development strategy. ***************** UNESCO project in Eritrea improves capacity to safeguard Intangible Cultural Heritage The UNESCO project, “Strengthening national capacities for implementing the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)”, was carried out over the last four years, ending in October. It was funded by a contribution from the UNESCO 2003 Convention Fund and implemented by the Eritrean Commission for Culture and Sports with support from the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa. It was launched in Asmara in 2014, and aimed to build a critical level of experience and knowledge, both in government institutions and among the nine linguistic communities of Eritrea, to equip the country with an appropriate and sustainable framework for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage and implement the 2003 Convention for Safeguarding of ICH on a long term basis. The project included a series of programs carried out as part of Eritrea’s implementation of the ICH Convention, which it ratified in 2010. An ICH Section was set up in the Eritrean Commission for Culture and Sports and a stakeholders’ workshop on Eritrean Cultural and Natural Heritage Legislation was held in Asmara in May 2015. This led to the adoption of draft legislation on Eritrea’s Cultural and Natural Heritage. It was approved by the government in September 2015 and officially launched the following January. This is now included on the UNESCO Database of National Cultural Heritage Laws. A training workshop on “Community-based inventorying of ICH” was held in Asmara in April 2017. This provided fundamental principles and practical information on community-based inventories, using UNESCO’s capacity-building material as a guide. This was followed by fieldwork among the country’s ethno-linguistic groups. As a result of this, 18 intangible cultural heritage elements were successfully inventoried and became part of Eritrea’s first national inventory of ICH. In February 2018, another workshop on “Preparation of Nomination Files and Elaboration of International Assistance Requests” was held again in collaboration with UNESCO Regional Office in Nairobi. This introduced the process of nominating elements on UNESCO’s Representative List and Urgent Safeguarding List and the Register of Best Practice. It also detailed the process for elaborating requests for International Assistance from the ICH Fund. In July 2018, a National Committee was established by the Commission for Culture and Sports to oversee the safeguarding of Eritrea’s ICH. The project also included preparation of digital archives of the inventoried ICH elements, now included in the Eritrean Research and Documentation Centre. The final activity of the project was the National Committee’s adoption of a two-year Action Plan for safeguarding the ICH, including submission of an International Assistance Request for the preparation of Eritrea’s first nomination file. This was evaluated by the UNESCO Program Specialist for Culture from the Regional Office for Eastern Africa during a mission to Eritrea last week, (October 22-26). The evaluation process included consultation with a wide range of stakeholders involved in the project over the years as well as national and international experts engaged by UNESCO to support its implementation. The mission also visited Asmara and Massawa. The evaluation concluded that the UNESCO project had made effective strides in raising capacities on a national level, and equipping a wide range of government and community stakeholders with the skills necessary to safeguard Eritrea’s ICH over the long term. It also noted that the national legislation developed through the project could serve as a model for other countries in Africa region. The high level of media attention had also ensured international coverage, including through the Eritrean Delegation to the African Union. ****************** Boosting Ethio-China trade and investment An Ethio-Chinese symposium aiming to boost trade and investment ties between the two countries opened in Addis Ababa, at the hall of Ethiopian Investment Commission on Tuesday (October 30). The symposium, co-organized by the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations (ECCSA), the Ethiopian Embassy in Beijing, the Ethiopian Investment Commission and the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and for Electronic Products (CCCME), brought together 12 Chinese companies and more than twenty-five Ethiopian business firms. Opening the symposium, the Deputy Commissioner of the Ethiopian Investment Commission, Anteneh Alemu, took note of strong business ties between Ethiopia and China and commended Chinese investors for investing in Ethiopia in a wide range of areas. Ethiopia, he said, wanted more Chinese companies to invest in the priority sectors of the country. The Government, he added, was more than ready to render any necessary support to Chinese companies. The Vice-president of the CCCME, Ms. Liu Chun, said the Chamber was founded in July 1988. She explained it is a nationwide industrial and nonprofit organization, formed jointly and voluntarily by various economic organizations engaged in manufacturing, import and export, overseas turnkey project contracts, and other related activities in the machinery and electronic industry. She noted the longstanding diplomatic relationship between Ethiopia and China and emphasized that China encouraged companies to come to Ethiopia and invest in the country’s priority areas. The Deputy Secretary-General of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations, Wube Mengistu noted that trade and investment ties between Ethiopia and China has been growing for the last decade or more, adding that Chinese companies were mainly engaged in such areas as construction including infrastructure, manufacturing, steel production, textiles and garments, building materials and installation of electric power stations. He noted Ethiopia’s fast and sustainable economic growth and the ample investment opportunities available in the country. He also noted Ethiopia’s exports of coffee, oil seeds, and leather to China, while it imported medicines, vehicles, electronics devices and tires. Ethiopia’s total exports to China in 2016/2017 were worth $240 million against imports from China of $4.8 billion. Despite the balance in favor of China, trade relations were, however, continuing to increase steadily. Ato Wube urged both ECCSA and CCCME to work together for the mutual benefit of both peoples. He said the Symposium would serve as a viable platform to expand cooperation on trade and investment through generating new business opportunities. He encouraged Chinese companies to invest in Ethiopia; he reminded participants that the six-day Ethio-Chamber International trade fair was opening in Addis Ababa on Thursday (November 1). The Director of Investment Promotion at Ethiopian Investment Commission, Aschalew Tadesse, told the symposium that the Government of Ethiopia now had around 22 industrial parks in different parts of the countries, 10 of them are owned by private companies. He noted Chinese companies were operating in the Eastern Industrial Zone in the Huijian and Dukem Industrial Parks. Foreign direct investment could help the country create job opportunities, transfer technology and increase productivity, he added. He underlined that Ethiopia had a stable economic and political environment, the availability of abundant natural resources and a wage-competitive labor force, fast growing infrastructure and cheap green energy, a transparent investment policy and offered exceptionally attractive investment incentives. The Government was also committed to providing continuous support to investors, he stressed. During the Symposium, the CCCME and the Ethiopian Investment Commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen trade and investment ties between the two countries.

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