A Week in the Horn 9.11.2018

News in Brief

Farewell ceremony to honour former President Dr. Mulatu Teshome

The President of Ethiopia’s Supreme Court; further Women’s empowerment

The 11th AU Extraordinary Summit begins

The first Africa Investment Forum held this week in South Africa

AMISOM’s Concept of Operations 2018 meeting in Nairobi

Ethio-Djibouti links are consistently expanding

News in Brief

Africa and the African Union

The AU Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC), officially opening the 11th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, started on Monday (November 5) at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa. The meeting of the Permanent Representatives’ Committee will be followed by the Executive Council, of Foreign Ministers on Wednesday and Thursday next week (November 14–15); and by the 11th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government on November 17 and 18. The main agenda will be the AU institutional reform process including reform of the AU Commission, the mandate of the AU Development Agency (AUDA) and financing the AU. (See article)

The first meeting of the Africa Investment Forum took place in Johannesburg South Africa this week, Wednesday through Friday (November 7–9). The Forum, launched by the African Development Bank and designed to enhance private-sector cooperation and drive investment in sectors of strategic interest within Africa, was attended by regional, continental and global investors, representatives of multilateral financial organizations, and prominent government officials. President Sahle-Work led the Ethiopian delegation. (See article)

Raila Odinga, who was appointed as the High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa by the African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat last month, has announced plans to construct 6,000 km of road linking Mombasa to Lagos, as part of a bid to link Africa through modern highways and railways. The projects will include an 8,000 kilometer highway linking Cairo to Dakar and another from Cairo to Cape Town. Mr. Odinga said rail and land transport was an integral part of the continent’s economic growth, adding that “reliable road infrastructure and railways linking all corners of Africa will open up the continent and make it a gateway to the 21st century.”

Ethiopia

President Sahle-Work Zewde opened the Ethiopian Women’s Peace Conference at the national level and the social movement program “Jegnit” (heroine) on Monday (November 5), calling women to play a leading role for the success of the country’s ongoing reforms. She said women should uphold Ethiopia’s rich tradition of conflict resolution mechanisms, adding, “We should all stand together and safeguard peace as it is the foundation for all things.” The Minister of Peace, Mrs. Muferiat Kamil, stressed the sacrifice of women and their efforts to support the current encouraging initiatives for the empowerment of women in the country. She added that the peace conference would provide women with the opportunity to play their key role in peacekeeping, teaching the importance of peace and shaping the generation.

Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed awarded the country’s highest national award to former president Dr. Mulatu Teshome in a ceremony attended by President Sahle-Work Zewde and two past presidents and other officials at the National Palace. (See article)

Prime Minister Dr. Abiy welcomed President Isaias of Eritrea and Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi on Friday (November 9). President Isaias and President Mohamed Abdullahi are on a visit to the historic city of Gondar and Bahir Dar, the capital of the Amhara National Regional State.

Prime Minister Dr Abiy met with Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission on Tuesday (November 6) to discuss the ongoing African Union (AU) reforms and the 11th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union.

Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed received a call from the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday (November 5). Mr. Trudeau commended the role that Ethiopia was playing in the region and welcomed the country’s ongoing reforms, particularly the increase of women’s leadership in key government positions. He confirmed his commitment to support the reforms, and expressed interest to visit Ethiopia.

In a further step for women’s empowerment, Dr. Abiy’s nomination of Mrs. Meaza Ashenafi as President of the Supreme Court was unanimously endorsed by the House of People’s Representatives on Thursday, last week (November 1). (See article)

Prime Minister Dr. Abiy held discussions with high ranking military commanders on Thursday (November 7). According to the office of the Prime Minister, the discussion comes following the series of deliberations that have been taking place at different levels within the Ministry of Defense. The discussions covered a range of issues including military leadership, and enhancement of capacity, constitutional responsibilities, gaining legitimacy and obedience to the law as well as putting public wellbeing front and center.

Foreign Minister Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu received copies of credentials of the Ambassador of the State of Eritrea to Ethiopia, Ambassador Semere Russom on Thursday (November 8).
 Dr. Workneh underlined that efforts are well underway to elevate the bilateral relationship into new horizons and hoped that the Ambassador would work towards the strengthening of the ties between the two countries. The Minister said the existing border trade and people-to-people ties should be strengthened further ahead. Noting that the all rounded efforts to lift the sanctions on Eritrea is moving in the right direction, Dr. Workneh said Ethiopia would redouble its efforts in such score.

Foreign Minister Dr. Workneh welcomed Former Ethiopian Foreign Minister, Goshu Wolde who returned home after 32 years of exile in the United States. Goshu Wolde said he had returned home to support the ongoing reforms in the country.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia has appointed five Permanent Secretaries in the Ministry to help implement the organization’s continuous institutional reform. The Permanent Secretaries will be responsible to follow up and decide on the day-to-day activities of the Ministry. Ambassador Woynshet Tadesse is appointed Permanent Secretary for African and Middle East Countries’ Affairs; Ambassador Mahlet Hailu, Permanent Secretary for Europe, America, Asia and Multilateral Affairs; Ambassador Dr. Bogale Tolossa, Permanent Secretary of Diaspora and Consular Affairs; Ambassador Nega Tsegaye, Permanent Secretary for Human Resource Management and Services; and Ambassador Dewano Kedir, as Permanent Secretary of Economic Diplomacy. As part of the ongoing institutional reforms, the ministry has also appointed 31 Director-Generals.

An eleven-day post-conflict recovery course, jointly organized by the governments of Ethiopia and Japan, started at the Peace Support Training Center in Addis Ababa on Monday (November 5). The course, the Center’s ninth, attended by high ranking military officials from Ethiopia, Burundi, Kenya, Mali, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, focuses gender and child protection, armed conflict analysis, international humanitarian law, disarmament and demobilization, and governance and development.

Djibouti

Ethiopia and Djibouti continue to commit themselves towards achieving full-economic integration, in a progress serving as a model for other African countries. The considerable reforms now being carried out by the Government of Ethiopia have underlined Ethiopia’s robust commitment to scale up collective efforts towards closer links with Djibouti. (See article)

Eritrea

President Isaias, in the first part of an interview broadcast on Eri-TV on Saturday (November 3), said Eritrea and Ethiopia had built trust since signing a peace deal in July, but needed to iron out further elements of their ties to make their cooperation sustainable. He said: “The priority now is to create an environment for this new reality to flourish; we need to consolidate. One by one, we have to clearly state our issues and solidify them on a concrete basis. The reality is new, but it has to be sustainable.” He stressed that the people and Government of Eritrea would give utmost priority “for the consolidation of the new era of peace and friendship now prevailing.” He said the new reality would provide its own contribution to the shared visions of cultivation of solid cooperation in the wider Horn of Africa, the Nile Basin and the Arabian Gulf.

The US State Department issued a statement this week saying that the United States welcomed continued efforts from the State of Eritrea to pursue peace, prosperity, and reform. It said: “We will continue to support efforts throughout the region towards peace, integration, and cooperation on shared objectives and challenges.”

Somalia

A high level delegation led by Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Armed Forces Chief Yassar Guler, visited Mogadishu this week on Wednesday (November 7). The delegation, which was met at the airport by Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre, held talks with President Mohamed Abdullahi. Minister Akar said the Turkish government would continue its commitment to provide support in rebuilding Somali National Army. A few weeks ago over sixty military officials flew to Turkey for further training, part of the commitment by President Erdogan’s government to improve the capacity of the Somali armed forces.

AMISOM held a five-day Concept of Operations (CONOPS) 2018 meeting in Nairobi last week. It developed an effective framework for the gradual transition of security responsibilities from AMISOM to Somalia’s security institutions. This will guide AMISOM’s activities and operations for the 2018–2021 period, marking the final phase of AMISOM’s transition and eventual exit from Somalia. (See article)

The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Ambassador Nicholas Haysom and the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and head of AMISOM, Ambassador Francisco Madeira, concluded a series of meetings with regional state leaders on Monday (November 5).

In a press statement released on Wednesday (November 7), UNSOM called on all parties and stakeholders to work together to ensure that the Somali-owned presidential electoral process in South West state proceeds in accordance with the established rules and avoids any behavior which might lead to conflict or undermine the integrity of the electoral process. Mr. Haysom said there was a real need to set the precedent for credible and peaceful electoral processes, and he was “confident that, in keeping with their tradition, Somali leaders will find a solution, through dialogue, to the issues surrounding this electoral process.”

Ethiopian Airlines made its first flight to Mogadishu in over 40 years on Friday (November 9). It was the first commercial flight between Addis Ababa and Mogadishu since 1977 and Ethiopian Airlines is now expected to operate daily flights between the two capitals. The move provides another sign of the improved relations between the two countries. Prime Minister Abiy paid a visit to Mogadishu in June, when he and Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed agreed to strengthen relations.

South Sudan

President Kiir has invited all Sudanese armed opposition groups, in Darfur or in the two states of the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states, to participate in peace talks with the Sudan government in Juba. Presidential Adviser Tut Kew Gatluak said all the Sudanese groups welcomed the mediation of President Kiir and delegations from the government and opposition groups would arrive in Juba next week.

The head of the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM), Major General Ibrahim Abduljelill, opening the 4th meeting of the CTSAMVM Technical Committee on Wednesday (November 7) deplored the increasing number of allegations from the parties including reports of fighting, recruitment, displacement, and Gender Based Violence. He urged parties to clearly and forcefully communicate orders to field commanders at all levels and make their commitments “credible and deliverable.” Reports suggest ongoing fighting “in the Wau area and continued reports of conflict in the Yei area.

The National Constitutional Amendment Committee (NCAC) this week started its work to establish the legal framework for the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement and to incorporate it into the constitution. The NCAC, which includes representatives of all the signatory of the peace agreement, is scheduled to meet continuously in Juba for the next three weeks. In a statement on Tuesday, it welcomed the participation of SPLM-IO and SSOA representatives who arrived to attend the meeting. The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Committee described this as “a welcome indicator of trust-building.”

Officials from the army, SSPDF, and the main opposition army, SPLA-IO, agreed at a meeting on Sunday (November 4) to allow humanitarian access and free movement of people around Juba. The peace agreement provides that 15 days after the signing of the deal the parties have to implement all the ceasefire arrangements including disengagement and separation of forces in close proximity; withdrawal of allied troops; and the opening of humanitarian corridors.

An IGAD military assessment mission headed by a Sudanese general arrived in Juba on Monday (November 5) to study the status of the Regional Protection Force. The IGAD chiefs of staff decided on the formation of the mission last month and agreed that it should submit its report to the next meeting of the chiefs of staff on November 19 in Addis Ababa.

Sudan

President Omer al-Bashir visited Egypt on Tuesday (November 6) at the invitation of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to participate in the World Youth Forum being hosted at Sharm al-Sheikh. The two presidents also discussed the outcome of the Egyptian-Sudanese Higher Committee as well as ways to strengthen bilateral relations.

Sudan has welcomed on Thursday (November 8) the agreement reached Tuesday with the U.S. administration over the lift of its names from the list of state sponsors of terrorism with the launch of the “Phase II” framework for the normalization of bilateral relations. The State Department on Wednesday announced that the two countries agreed on a six-point plan that if Sudan implements successfully would lead to “initiate the process of rescinding Sudan’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism”.

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Farewell ceremony to honour former President Dr. Mulatu Teshome

The former president of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Dr Mulatu Teshome was given the country’s highest award, the National Medal of Honour, at a farewell ceremony held at the National Palace on Sunday (November 4). The ceremony was attended by President Sahle-Work Zewde, former Presidents Girma Woldegiorgis and Dr. Negasso Gidada, Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed and his predecessor Hailemariam Dessalegn, senior government officials, leaders and members of contesting political parties and of the diplomatic corps.

Speaking on the occasion Prime Minister Dr Abiy said that this sort of occasion bestowed recognition for the remarkable achievement of a past leader. Becoming a former leader was inevitable, he noted, and he said the ceremony was an encouragement for current leaders to serve their country effectively and well. The Prime Minister said Dr Mulatu deserved the award for his outstanding achievements. He added that the way he left his tenure gracefully made it clear that the ongoing reforms were“on the right track”. The Prime Minister emphasized that Dr. Mulatu had prioritized the interests of the people over his own concerns.

Speaking on the occasion, ex-president Dr Mulatu said that the farewell ceremony was what the country has been waiting for as it demonstrated that the country was on the track of reform and democratization. The occasion removed any concerns about the safety of those who left office, he said. The former president promised to serve his country in the future, to continue to prioritize the nation’s interest, and called on the people of Ethiopia to stand together to ensure the continuity of reform and to tackle poverty.

Newly elected President Sahle-Work Zewde said former president Dr. Mulatu had served his country compassionately and well, and she hoped that she would have similar farewell ceremony when the time came. A Joint Session of House of the People’s Representative and the House of Federation accepted the resignation of Dr. Mulatu Teshome, and elected Ambassador Sahle-Work Zewde as the first female president of Ethiopia on October 25.

Dr Mulatu Teshome served his country for five years as President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Dr. Mulatu joined the Foreign Ministry as a counsellor in 1991, and was appointed as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Japan from 1992–1994, as well as being non-resident Ambassador to Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Australia and the Philippines. He also served as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the People’s Republic of China from 1994–1995, before being appointed as Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Cooperation (1995–2001). During this time, he was in charge of international economic cooperation for bilateral and multilateral affairs and was responsible for numerous bilateral and multilateral negotiations with Ethiopia’s development partners.

Dr. Mulatu Teshome also served his country as Minister of Agriculture from 2001–2002 and as Chairman of the National Rural Travel and Transport Program. He was elected as Speaker of the House of Federation in October 2002 and held this position for three years until being appointed as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Turkey. He was elected as President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in October 2013.

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The President of Ethiopia’s Supreme Court; further Women’s empowerment

Mrs. Meaza Ashenafi has been appointed by the House of People’s Representatives as President of the Supreme Court of Ethiopia on Thursday, last week (November 1). Her nomination was approved unanimously by the House.

Naming her as his choice to head the Supreme Court, Prime Minister Dr. Abiy told members of the House of Representatives that the judicial system needed improved capacities to successfully implement the demands made on justice, democracy and reform in the country. He said Mrs. Meaza, praised by many as “the Strong Lady” would “improve the courts’ ability to implement reforms in the country and the demands of justice and democracy.” Dr. Abiy said, “I have made this nomination with the firm belief that she has the capacity required, with her vast international experience in mind”.

Born in Assosa, in the western part of the country, Mrs. Meaza has had a spectacular career, an inspiration not only for Ethiopian women but for women around the world. She took her first Degree in Law from Addis Ababa University and received her Master’s Degree in International Relations from the University of Kent in the UK. Well-known as a strong advocate of human rights, Mrs. Meaza served as a judge in the Ethiopian High Court from 1989 to 1992 and was appointed to the Ethiopian Constitution Commission as a legal advisor. She also worked for the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa as an advisor on the rights of African women and children.

In her extensive career as a lawyer, judge, legal advocate and business leader, Mrs. Meaza has focused on women’s rights and economic empowerment. She founded the Ethiopian Women Lawyer’s Association (EWLA), a group that defends the rights of women. She has provided free legal services to suppressed women. One of the cases she represented before the court had been made into the movie ‘Difret’. Mrs. Meaza also founded and led Ethiopia’s first women’s bank, ‘Enat Bank’, with 64% of its shares owned by women. It was set up with the specific objective of empowering women economically through providing loans to disadvantaged communities including women and young people.

Mrs. Meaza’s appointment as President of the Supreme Court, a fundamental and substantive position, not only underlines the government’s dedication to gender parity but is also a witness to Ethiopia’s commitment to build an independent and reliable judiciary system within which ethics of justice will prevail regardless of the politics. Prime Minister Dr. Abiy underlined that Mrs. Meaza’s knowledge and immense potential would help to improve the capability and service of the courts. He noted her appointment would help to reform the courts and produce a system which citizens could trust fully.

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In an interview after her swearing-in ceremony, Mrs. Meaza promised to build a legal system that treated citizens equally, putting the principle of the rule of law as its primary value. She said she would do her level best to restore respect for the legal system in the eyes of Ethiopians who sometimes view the courts as biased or slow to respond. She said: “The people of Ethiopia love the law, and they respect the law. However, because justice is hard to come by for the people, they have lost trust in the law.” She reaffirmed there was a need to put all laws into effect without infringement or hesitations. “It is not enough for the law to remain on paper,” she said. “What makes the law purposeful is the court in the end. If one person is killed by a government body or is killed by another person, the court is where the solution can be found. Therefore, if the court cannot afford the person speedy justice free of political pressure and corruption, the law loses meaning.” Reiterating her strong support for an independent and capable judiciary system, Mrs Meaza stressed she would work diligently to advance this agenda. She also affirmed she would cooperate with all stakeholders to achieve this. She said: “Dr. Abiy wants the court to be independent of political influence. she added, “This is a common vision we share to build the court. If there is an agreement on this level, what comes next is, even though it is not an easy task, I believe can be done.”

Expressing her determination to make a difference in setting up an able and independent judiciary, Mrs. Meaza said that her deep understanding of Ethiopia’s culture and people would be an asset in her new position as she seeks solutions to seemingly intractable problems. “One of the big advantages I have”, she said, “is that, even when working with international organizations, I never left my country. I didn’t leave Ethiopia.” She emphasized that her close interaction with Ethiopian society, her continued association with legal experts in Ethiopia and her acquaintance with the activity of the Ethiopian legal process will be additional reasons to strengthen her effectiveness as a chief justice. “But”, she added, “I still have to learn key aspects of this position in detail and understand how we can find the solutions needed”.

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The 11th AU Extraordinary Summit begins

The meeting of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) opened this week on Monday (November 5) at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, bringing together the Permanent Representatives of the 55 African union member states based in Addis Ababa and key AU officials. The PRC meeting was held under the framework of the 11th African Union Extraordinary Summit meeting and it will be followed next week by the meeting of the AU Executive Council, of Foreign Ministers, (November 14–15), and by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government on the following Saturday and Sunday (November 17 and 18).

In his opening remarks on Monday, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said the implementation of the AU reform process has shown significant progress following the launching of the reform process in January 2017. The Chairperson added that some of the progress achieved in the course included the introduction of quotas for youth and women, the rationalization of working methods and the slow but steady progress towards financial autonomy. All this, he said, demonstrated the relevance of the vision of the African leaders when they agreed to set the institutional reforms in motion, adding: “The rationalization of our working methods has resulted in greater efficiency in the conduct of the affairs of our Union. Progress towards financial autonomy has established the conditions for greater ownership of our policies and efforts. The ongoing improvement in the representation of youths and women in the Commission will inject greater dynamism and innovation within it. At the same time, it must be recognized that much remains to be done.”

Taking note of the issues to be considered by the PRC meeting, the Chairperson noted that it is important to keep in mind the reasons for which the reform was initiated. He said, “Basically, it is about giving us, through the Union, the human, material, financial and political means to meet the strong and legitimate expectations of our States and our peoples. Agenda 2063, which serves as a compass in this new phase of the Pan-African movement, obliges us to accelerate integration, to put an end to the poverty and underdevelopment afflicting our populations; to silence the weapons and put an end to the suffering of all kinds generated by the conflicts; and to ensure that Africa speaks with one voice in the international arena to better defend its interests and work towards a more just and inclusive world order”. To realize such ambitious objectives of Agenda 2063, he added, a more functional and efficient Union was required.

The Permanent Representatives, in their two-day session, considered and deliberated on issues related to the AU Institutional Reform process, including reform of the AU Commission. The meeting also focused on the structure and portfolios of the senior leadership of the Commission, selection of the senior leadership of the Commission, as well as administrative and financial reforms. They discussed the mandate of the AU Development Agency (AUDA), previously the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). In this connection, the Chairperson noted the governance structure of AUDA was validated at the July summit, held in Nouakchott, Mauritania.

The meeting considered the financing of the African Union, the AU Peace Fund, and the division of labor between the AU, the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the continental organizations and Member States. It evaluated Africa’s strategic partnerships and considered the report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the Outcome of the Extraordinary Session of the Executive Council on the ACP post-2020. Other agenda items included the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Pan-African Parliament, as well as strengthening of the Peace and Security Council (PSC).

The meeting also finalized a draft agenda for the 11th AU Extraordinary Assembly with appropriate recommendations for consideration by the 20th Extraordinary Session of the Executive Council. The draft agenda for the Summit includes the Reform of the AU Commission, covering the structure and portfolios of the senior leadership of the Commission; selection of the senior leadership of the Commission, and administrative and financial reforms; the transformation of NEPAD to AUDA and the mandate of the AU Development Agency; strengthening the African Peer Review Mechanism; consideration of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights; the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights; the Pan-African Parliament; the strengthening of the Peace and Security Council; the financing of the Union, including the scale of assessment, sanctions for non-payment, and the AU Peace Fund; and the division of work between the AU, RECs, continental organizations and Member States; as well as consideration of the Report on the Evaluation of Africa’s Strategic Partnerships, and the Report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the Outcome of the Extraordinary Session of the Executive Council on the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group post-2020.

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The first Africa Investment Forum held this week in South Africa

The African Development Bank (ADB) formally launched the Africa Investment Forum in May this year, championing it as a platform to actively engage the private sector and facilitate projects that have the capacity to transform the continent. It was designed to enhance private-sector cooperation and drive investment in sectors of strategic interest within Africa. Bank President Akinwumi Adesina promised it would “not be a talking shop.” There would, he said, be no political speeches. The Forum would provide an open platform to organize efforts among multilateral institutions, governments and private sector to improve a pipeline of projects capable of transforming the continent.

The first meeting of the Forum has been taking place this week at the Sandton Conference Center in Johannesburg, Wednesday through Friday (November 7–9), attended by regional, continental and global investors, representatives of multilateral financial organizations, and prominent government officials. The Ethiopian delegation was led by President Sahle-Work Zewde and included Minister for Water, Irrigation and Electricity, Dr. Seleshi Bekele. The Forum brought together project sponsors, pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, private investors, policy makers, private equity firms, and heads of government to raise capital to advance Africa’s economic transformation agenda. The focus is on structuring deals, screening and enhancing projects, attracting co-investors, and facilitating transactions to unlock Africa’s multi-billion-dollar investment opportunities.Discussions have been focusing on specific projects, sectors, investors, and themes, or on country or regions. Co-financing and collaborations between investors are a key focus area. The Forum featured a session on Championing Investments− an investment conversation with African Heads of State to highlight concrete and transformative actions for a new business landscape across the continent, including collective efforts to facilitate private investments.

At the opening, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina made a strong call for investors to join the partnership platform offered by the Africa Investment Forum and “grab the chance to fast track the continent’s investment and development agenda”. Addressing the opening plenary session entitled “Delivering As One for Africa,” on the first day of the Forum, he said: “We must fast track Agenda 2063. We must deliver as one. We are impatient to get there.” The opening plenary featured heads of leading Development Finance Institutions and Forum partners, the Presidents and CEOs of the Development Bank of Southern Africa, the Africa Export-Import Bank, the Islamic Development Bank; the Trade and Development Bank, Africa 50, and the Africa Finance Corporation, as well as numerous other multilateral and national organizations.

The Africa Investment Forum is the first transaction-based Forum and President Adesina stressed it was “not an event but a platform where governments, private sector, investors, and project promoters come together.” He emphasized: “We develop quality bankable projects, de-risk them and actually make sure it happens.” He said: “We are committed to fast track development. We know countries do not develop from aid but by the discipline of investment. We require broad-based partnerships and collective effort with the private sector and institutional investors.” Panel members shared their vision and perspectives on investments in Africa and stressed the urgent need to move to a new way of working together, to involve scaling up, speeding up and synergizing. Panelists acknowledged the critical role of African leaders who can set the tone in terms of policy and creating conducive environments for businesses to thrive.

The Forum is part of the drive by the African Development Bank to tap into the vast pool of global capital to fund the ambitious plans to transform Africa. The Bank’s African Economic Outlook 2018 estimated the continent needs between US$130 billion and US$170 billion a year to fund its critical development needs. Due to tightening budgets, traditional funding sources such as national governments and development institutions like the African Development Bank alone are unable to meet Africa’s capital needs. Mr. Adesina has noted that global institutional investors and asset owners control US$ 131 trillion of Assets Under Management, of which he points out just 1% would be sufficient to close the infrastructure financing gap for Africa which the Bank estimates at between US$68-US$108 billion.

President Adesina said a total of 61 deals with an estimated value of more than $40billion were being featured in “Boardroom Sessions,” while another $28 billion were being showcased to investors in the “Gallery Walk” marketplace. These deals had been curated from a total of 230 projects worth over $208 billion, spanning sectors such as energy, infrastructure, transport and utilities, industry, agriculture, information and communications technology, telecoms, water and sanitation, financial services, health, education, hospitality and tourism, housing, and aviation. Mr. Adesina said the African Development Bank was tackling the perception of risk, so long a major impediment to attracting foreign direct investment to Africa. By bringing together multilateral financial institutions, pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, and private investors, it aimed to create a mechanism to reduce market, political, and financial risks, and in the process improve the ease of doing business. The Forum includes a co-guarantee platform that will develop and deploy innovative instruments to de-risk private sector investments at scale, thus boosting investor confidence. As part of its effort, the Forum prioritizes public-private partnerships and private-sector deals. President Adesina said: “The message we aim to deliver is simple: Africa is open for business.”

African economies offered tremendous opportunities, especially in energy; infrastructure such as roads, railways, and ports; and agriculture, minerals, oil, and gas, but trying to turn this potential into wealth for prosperity requires supportive government policies. Mr. Adesina said in every country the ADB was engaged with policymakers to improve the legal and regulatory environment and create a more predictable business climate. He said he was delighted multilateral financial institutions, including the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Inter-American Development Bank, were cooperating with the ADB to help de-risk investment projects at scale. Africa, he pointed out, had become the world’s second-most attractive investment destination. According to UNCTAD, inward foreign direct investment was expected to increase by about 20% this year, to $50 billion, up from $42 billion last year. He noted that Africa’s pension funds, insurance funds, and sovereign wealth funds were collectively valued at more than $1 trillion dollars. He said if Africa could leverage this wealth to attract just 1% of all the global assets under management, estimated at more than $130 trillion, Africa’s current annual financing gap of $68–108 billion could be met.

Africa, the ADB President emphasized, had a huge population to drive consumer demand, a rising middle class, a dynamic youth population, and rapidly reforming governments that are keen to attract these investments. The Africa Investment Forum would “provide what has been missing so far: a safe, stable marketplace to accelerate deals.”

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AMISOM’s Concept of Operations 2018 meeting in Nairobi

AMISOM held a Concept of Operations (CONOPS) 2018 meeting last week in Nairobi. The five-day meeting developed an effective framework for the gradual transition of security responsibilities from AMISOM to Somalia’s security institutions, and Ambassador Francisco Madeira, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia for Somalia and head of AMISOM, said in a statement that CONOPS would guide AMISOM’s activities and operations for the 2018–2021 period, marking the final phase of AMISOM’s transition and eventual exit from Somalia.

The meeting agreed a document detailing AMISOM’s plans and aspirations including the gradual transfer of the security responsibilities to Somali security forces and culminating in the scheduled 2021 one-man-one-vote elections. Ambassador Madeira described it as “a very important undertaking and said the document was a product of “hard-work and open and frank discussions.” It covered AMISOM’s collaboration with the Somali security forces to build capacity and bring stability by setting up governance structures in areas AMISOM had liberated. Ambassador Madeira said the meeting had looked at AMISOM’s military component and analysed the way it was working toward delivering a “safe” Somalia to its people. Resolving that problem, he said, required more than just the military approach: “Security is not just a matter of shooting Al-Shabaab”, he said, “it is also a matter of extending our hands to those elements of Al-Shabaab who for whatever reason had slid into violence and extremism and now are willing to abandon that path.” He called on partners, troops and police contributing countries and all Somalis to “put our hands together” to ensure that peace and security is returned to the country.

The meeting developed a three-year transition plan of action, taking into consideration the evolving political and security situation in Somalia. It identified priority areas for action, including the clearing of Main Supply Routes, the securing of population centers, creating security and access conditions, and stabilization and service delivery to populations, all within the framework of a renewed joint-offensive against Al-Shabaab. It covers the handing over of the security of key towns to Somali forces through a conditions-based transition plan, to allow Somali forces take the lead responsibility as part of AMISOM’S planned exit. It provides for strengthening operations to continue degradation of Al-Shabaab and other armed opposition groups, while supporting the implementation of the Somali Security Architecture.

In effect, CONOPS describes AMISOM’s assumptions and intents regarding plans and aspirations in the three phases of Somalia’s Transition Plan that cover the gradual transfer of security responsibilities from AMISOM to the Somali security forces over the next three years, 2018–2021. It offers a comprehensive basis for conducting operations in various areas, including the training and mentoring of the Somali Police and the national army, while at the same time creating a framework for stabilization, civil military activities, early recovery and reconstruction. It offers clear guidance to AMISOM for the next three years2021, and for the final phases of AMISOM’s transition and its eventual exit from Somalia.

The meeting was officially opened by Lieutenant General Robert Kibochi, Deputy Chief of the Kenya Defense Forces, who cautioned stakeholders against compromising Somalia’s security through a hurried drawdown of troops. Withdrawal of AU troops should not, he stressed, “prejudice force protection, protection of population centers and jeopardize the security situation, impacting on the desired end state.” Major-General Adan Mulata, Kenya’s Assistant Chief of Defense Forces in charge of Operations, Doctrine and Training, also warned that though AMISOM exit was inevitable, stakeholders should be cautious and take into consideration the conditions on the ground. Somalia, he said, must be left in the hands of people capable of pursuing peace and recovery.

National Security Advisor to President Mohamed Abdullahi, Abdisaid Muse Ali, told the meeting that the Federal Government had embarked on a comprehensive security sector reform to strengthen its security capabilities.He detailed the Federal Government’s plans, aimed to assume national security responsibility on AMISOM’s exit. These, he said, included “force generation, training, equipping and regularly payment for the security services, strengthening the ministries’ agencies which support these services to develop the policies and reach agreement on key issues such as command and control integration, adding that “the Federal Government of Somalia looks forward to the CONOPS review translating that political commitment and support into concrete steps to support Somalia’s priorities, agreed with our partners in the Transition Plan”.

The meeting was attended by representatives of AMISOM’s Troops-Contributing Countries (TCCs), Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, as well as Somalia, the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) and other stakeholders. The CONOP’s document will now be approved by senior defense officials of the TCCs and the African Union to become a milestone in the Mission’s exit strategy by 2021 and the achievement of a peaceful and democratic Somalia.

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Ethio-Djibouti links are consistently expanding

In today’s fast-paced and interconnected world, concerted efforts to encourage regional integration offer paramount advantages. Africa’s moves towards socio-economic and political transformation through the continental strategic framework, Agenda 2063, emphasizing interconnectivity shares these benefits. Ethiopia and Djibouti have long understood this and continue to commit themselves towards achieving full-economic integration,with their progress serving as a model for other African countries in the region. The considerable reforms now being carried out by the Government of Ethiopia have underlined its robust commitment to scale up collective endeavours to regional as well as continental integration. It was no surprise that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s first trip outside Ethiopia in April was to Djibouti, a reminder of its strategic importance.

In fostering regional economic integration, Ethiopia and Djibouti have invested much effort in expanding strategic issues. These have included economic and commercial affairs; the port and transport sector, as well as political and security issues and people-to-people ties. Their peoples are, indeed, inextricably linked by not only history and culture but by blood, making them admirable candidates for a conjoined destiny.

Nearly 90% of Ethiopia’s imports pass through the port of Djibouti, and this commercial capacity was recently sharpened by the major infrastructural development of the 756 kilometer-long Ethio-Djibouti electric railway that went operational last year. It has already galvanized the movement of both goods and people, and significantly augmented the importance of Djibouti’s port service. The 238 km power transmission line to Djibouti has also provided for electric-based projects like the Ethio-Djibouti railway and enabled Djibouti to import up to 60 mw of electricity, easing Djibouti’s reliance on fossil-fuel power plants and generators and considerably reduced its energy bill.

The regular Ethio-Djibouti Consultative Meetings of Border Administrators and Commissioners is another testimony of the two countries’ commitment to ensure mutual peace and security issues as well as enhance people-to-people ties while continuing to limit any dangers of external vulnerability. The 24th consultative meeting was held on March this year in Semera, Ethiopia. The relationship has been strengthened by public diplomacy, aimed at building a foundation for Pan-African solidarity. An Ethiopian Public Diplomacy Team for the first time visited Djibouti earlier this year, mapping out new ways of cooperation in cultural and educational activities, business and trade, and port service and inter-connectivity. These activities include twinning programs such as the one between Arta in Djibouti and Harar in Ethiopia. This is providing excellent venues to further explore and fully exploit opportunities in business, trade, investment, culture and other links.

Both countries are, of course, committed to security, peace, and stability in the Horn of Africa under the umbrella of regional mechanisms like IGAD. They work closely on fighting terrorism as well as in addressing pressing issues such as climate change, migration and illicit arms trafficking. Prime Minister Abiy’s bold initiative of reconciliation with Eritrea and the Government’s efforts to normalize ties among all the countries in the region will speed up the efforts to fully integrate the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia has repeatedly underlined its firm belief that any effort towards regional integration should benefit every country, and it makes no secret of the fact that will always be the first in line.