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Embaixada da Etiópia
Brasília, Brasil
Week

Aug 07,2015

News in Brief

United Nations

The United Nations member states reached agreement on Saturday (August 1) on the final version of the draft Post-2015 Development Agenda: “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” (See article)

IGAD

The three-day First Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Regional Regulatory Authority Conference was opened on Monday (August 3, 2015) in Addis Ababa. The conference aims to develop a policy framework and regulatory system for the strengthening of pharmaceuticals and medical products and quality assurance, with possible harmonization among the IGAD Member States. Organized by IGAD in close association with the Ethiopian government and other partners in the region like: NEPAD, WHO, USP/PQM and UNFPA, the conference brought together regulatory authority and health sector representatives from IGAD Member States.

Ethiopia

The opening ceremony of the Oromo Diaspora Festival celebrated at the AU Headquarters on Monday, (August 03, 2015). The festival, the first of its kind gathered many of the members of the Oromo Diaspora. The event was attended by H.E Hailemariam Dessalegne, Prime minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, H.E Abadula Gemeda, the Speaker of the House of Peoples’ Representatives, H.E Muktar Kedir, President of Oromia Regional State, Aster Mamo, Minister of the Civil Service, Ambassadors and many dignitaries. (See article)

The US Congressional delegation visited development projects in Ethiopia. The bipartisan Congressional visit underlined the possibilities in the visit with members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans seeing how US-assisted projects were developing as well as recognizing the role Americans have played and continue to play. (See article)

Ethiopia Summit’ organized by The Economist will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from October 28-29, 2015. Describing the continued growth in Ethiopia, The Economist noted “the government aspiring to reach middle income status within the next decade and real GDP growth forecast to average 7% a year in 2015 - 2019, Ethiopia offers enormous growth potential across a number of different industry sectors.”

The Economist further elucidated its view on Ethiopia’s agriculture and manufacturing sectors growth in the previous years as”Ethiopia subsequently saw agricultural exports grow by 9% in the first three quarters of 2013/2014, and a rise in the manufacturing sector by 11.4% in the same period. “

It also stated that by bringing together the country’s leading policy makers and business leaders with multinational executives, interested in expanding their investment in Ethiopia, the forum will put on the table questions like, “ What will the second GTP framework look like and what do the next 5 years hold for Ethiopia?”.

The fifth African Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) that brings together more than 500 leading international hotel investors, local operators, ministers and senior government officials and industry experts from over 40 countries to discuss all aspects of hotel investment and operation in Africa, will be held in Addis Ababa from September 30 to October 1, the organizers announced. Concerning the convenience of Ethiopia for conference tourism, the organizers noted that Ethiopia is an ideal country to host the Hotel Investment Forum, mentioning the reasons including the prospect in the development of internationally recognized Hotels in Ethiopia and the suitability of the country for investment and commerce.

South Africa’s Rand Merchant Bank issued a report this week listing South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco and Tunisia as the most attractive economies for investment in Africa. Its next five were Egypt, Ethiopia, Algeria, Rwanda and Tanzania. Rwanda and Ethiopia, it said, were emerging as strong contenders to unseat Kenya as the economic powerhouse in the Eastern African region.

Foreign Minister of Uruguay, Rodolfo Nin Novoa expressed its country’s intention to open an embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to bring Uruguay closer to the African continent. Uruguay seeks to open an embassy in Addis Ababa, headquarters of African Union (AU), in addition to the embassies it has in Angola, Egypt and South Africa.

Egypt

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn attended the inauguration a major extension of the Suez Canal on Thursday (July 6, 2015). It was also learnt that the extension project which was built at a cost of 8.2 Billion US Dollars was completed in one year’s time.

Kenya

Ambassador Maman Sidikou, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia, said on Thursday (August 4) that any withdrawal of Kenyan troops from Somalia would compromise the fight against terrorism. Kenya forces were an integral part of AMISOM, he said, and had played a major part in liberating parts of Somalia from the control of Al-Shabaab.

The US has donated 9.5 billion Kenyan shillings (US $92.4 million) to the Kenyan Defence Forces (KDF) to fund soldier training and new equipment acquisitions and sustain the counterterrorism against Somali militant group Al-Shabab.

South Sudan

South Sudan's rival forces began peace talks on Thursday, as international pressure mounts ahead of an August 17 deadline to strike a deal to end 19 months of civil war. The conflict has left tens of thousands dead and has been marked by widespread atrocities on both sides. "We have now reached a critical juncture whereby participants of this phase will make decisions that may impact the destiny of the people of South Sudan," chief mediator Seyoum Mesfin said at an opening ceremony. Delegates met in the Ethiopia capital Addis Ababa, under mediation from the regional eight-nation bloc IGAD, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development. (See article)

Barnaba Marial Benjamin, Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister of South Sudan, disclosed on Monday (August 4, 2015) that he will visit Khartoum for talks on bilateral relations and the implementation of the cooperation agreement. Barnaba Marial Benjamin confirming his visit to Khartoum to Sudan Tribune said, “I’ll be carrying a special message from our president, General Salva Kiir Mayardit to his brother, Field Marshal Omer Al-Bashir, president of the Republic of Sudan. I will be carrying a message of peace, hope and commitment of the government to implementing the cooperation agreement fully.”

Sudan

Sudan’s First Vice-President, Bakri Hassan Salih, pledged on Monday (August 4, 2015) that the Government will render the necessary guarantees to ensure the participation of the rebel umbrella, Sudan Revolutionary Forces (SRF) leaders in the national dialogue inside Sudan. Bakri Hassan Salih speaking at a press conference in Khartoum said that President Omer al-Bashir has extended religious and moral commitment to ensure the safety of the SRF leaders to come to Khartoum to participate in the national dialogue.

Sudan’s President Omer Hassan al-Bashir, holding bilateral talks with the African Union chief mediator, Thabo Mbeki, on the recent developments of the peace process, national dialogue as well as the relations between Sudan and South Sudan, underlined on Monday(August 3, 2015)  that Sudan is keen “to bring the war in the Two Areas [South Kordofan and Blue Nile] to a definitive end by achieving a comprehensive cease fire and discussing other issues through negotiations,” according to Sudan’s presidential assistant, Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid.

Somalia

Over a hundred Al-Shabaab fighters surrendered to Somali Government and AMISOM forces in Bakol region on Wednesday (August 5) as attacks on Al-Shabaab liberated 15 villages around in Hudur according to Somali military officials. 50 Al-Shabaab fighters were also killed in helicopter attacks on an Al-Shabaab meeting in the Dalandol area.

A national consultative workshop to assess Somalia’s human rights record opened in Mogadishu on Monday (August 3). This is part of the preparation for Somalia’s next Universal Periodic Review by the UN Human Rights Council due in February 2016. Somalia’s first review was in 2011. The workshop was organized by the Ministry of Women and Human Rights and brought together officials from central and regional government and civil society.

The United Nations, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the European Union (EU), the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom welcoming the outcome of the High-Level Partnership Forum held in Mogadishu last week commended on Monday the commitments made at the forum to “deliver a transparent and inclusive electoral process in 2016, to strengthen security and to accelerate the delivery of concrete results to the people of Somalia.” (See article)

Somalia should focus on strengthening the key building blocks for stability and growth as it recovers from more than two decades of civil war, the IMF says in its first review of the nation’s economy in a generation. (See Article)

Somalia’s Defense Minister General Abdulkadir Sheikh Ali Dini spoke last week highly of the importance of rebuilding the country’s national army, noting that the “rebuilding of our national army” allows the country to thrive for a better progress. The Defense Minister attending the High-Level Partnership Forum held in Mogadishu last week emphasized that the rebuilding of the national army will have a milestone of significance for the development of the country.

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The Diaspora: national development and building bridges

Ethiopia has a very long history of being a leading host to migrants from various parts of the world, Arab countries, Israel, Armenia, Greece and many others, including more recently, South Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia.  Equally, driven by various political, economic and social factors at different times, many Ethiopians have left their country; and a large number of Ethiopians, for example, were forced to leave their country and reside abroad during the period of the Derg’s military rule, due to the widespread political instability, conflict and insecurity. Migration and movement of people from one place to another still continues, of course, and it is often related to the desire for better living and working conditions, further education and reasons related to globalization. One of the recent developments has been the way a number of countries have realized that their Diaspora can provide an important, indeed, an indispensible human asset that can provide the home country with capital, knowledge and skills, business and investment advantages. They have been working to engage their Diaspora, their people abroad, to use their acquired skills and advantages in domestic development and democratization efforts in the home country.  

Ethiopia, well aware of the value and importance of Diaspora involvement in the ongoing socio-economic and political transformation of the country, has been making strenuous efforts to engage the members of the Ethiopian Diaspora across the world in the overall national development processes for around two decades. The Ethiopian Diaspora is estimated to number around three million people world-wide, and alongside the tangible progress in Ethiopia itself, recorded year after year, Ethiopia has recently been engaged in a wide range of undertakings to encourage and enable the Diaspora to become active participants in the ongoing development of their country and benefit from the very real progress being made.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, charged with the responsibility and duty of protecting the rights and interests of the Diaspora, along with other stakeholders and partners, has been carrying out the activities to engage greater Diaspora participation. It has achieved considerable. Considering how the Diaspora could benefit the country, providing capital inflows, technology, knowledge and skills transfers, business and trade facilitation, an inflow of remittances and the creation of job opportunities, the Ministry has regularly been organizing forums and discussion panels at home and abroad to underline the possibilities. There is no doubt that a properly engaged Diaspora can also be of immense benefit in assisting the building up of the country’s image, strengthening people-to-people relations, and building stronger relations and cooperation between their home and host countries. Taking all this into consideration, Ethiopia has moved a major step forward drawing up relevant policy documents and establishing various Diaspora Affairs’ offices at regional and federal level. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has, in fact, been engaged in a wide range of activities that includes, but is not limited to, preserving the rights and interests of the Diaspora, establishing an organized data base, and involving the Diaspora in the sale of bonds for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The Ministry has also been substantially engaged in the provision of support to the Diaspora and optimizing their active participation in national development. The success of these activities and other efforts can be gauged by the fact that there are now over 3000 Diaspora investment projects in different sectors operating in the country. According to the Government Communications Agency Office, these projects have so far added more than 22.3 billion Ethiopian birr to the economy. In addition, more than US$2.2 billion were legally remitted in the previous fiscal year (2013-2014).

It hasn’t been so long since the Diaspora started to revisit their country on a substantial scale, to resettle and establish businesses and invest in their homeland. It is already clear, however, that the numbers returning and becoming actively engaged in various investment activities including agriculture, agro-processing, manufacturing and service sectors, should not be underestimated. In order to acknowledge and encourage this, and keep up the momentum, the first National Diaspora Day is going to be celebrated next week, from August 12-16. Preparations are well under way.

Another celebration, underlining the same interest in the Diaspora and what it has to offer and participate, started last week when the first ever Oromo Diaspora Festival was officially opened on Sunday (August 2). Members of Oromo Diaspora communities from around the world and high-level government officials attended the festival in Addis Ababa. Foreign Minister, Dr Tedros Adhanom, applauded the role played by the members of the Oromo Diaspora communities and praised their contributions, placing the country’s development efforts at the center of their activities. Dr. Tedros noted the Government’s emphasis on encouraging the Diaspora to be more involved in the course of Ethiopia’s economic growth. He said it was highly symbolic marking this festival at a time when Ethiopia had joined the elite club of the world’s fastest growing economies. He also stressed that it is high time to join hands to fast track these efforts to enable Ethiopia to join the list of Middle Income Countries by 2025. Dr Tedros briefed the members of Diaspora communities about Ethiopia’s impressive growth and its future trajectory, the proposed development paths as well as its recent stellar performance in achieving most of the Millennium Development Goals. He underlined massive infrastructure developments now making a major element in Ethiopia’s impressive economic growth.

A welcoming ceremony for the Oromo Diaspora Festival was also held at the AU headquarters on Monday, August 3. Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn who addressed the occasion expressed his gratitude to the members of Oromo Diaspora for their presence and for their keen interest to participate in this event and their efforts to bring about a holistic change in the development processes of the country. The Prime Minster in his message said the first national celebration of the Diaspora Festival aimed to bring together the Diaspora communities from across the world to participate in the overall development processes of the country. Active engagement by the Diaspora would, he said, have an immense benefit for the goal of the renaissance of Ethiopia. He told members of the Diaspora that Ethiopia had achieved the highest rates of growth for the last twelve years and this had been most effectively backed by the Diaspora contribution in terms of knowledge, skill and leadership. Referring specifically to the Oromo Diaspora, he again stresses that the Diaspora could and should play a pivotal role in various investment sectors, for example floriculture, livestock and fishery sectors, taking into consideration the favorable conditions in the Oromia region for modern agriculture. The Prime Minister also noted that the booming manufacturing and construction sector provided excellent opportunities for investment. He called on the Diaspora to take part in research and development efforts in the country’s universities and to promote Oromo culture and history. Overall, he wanted to see the members of the Oromo Diaspora have strongly pro-active participation in the development efforts of the country and contribute towards Ethiopia’s measurable growth and achievements.

Following the ceremonies at the weekend and the beginning of the week, the members of the Oromo Diaspora began the series of visits to see developments now underway in the Oromia region and more widely elsewhere in the country. They started their visit to the historic and holy city of Harar, also visiting regions of Arsi, Jimma and Wollega, looking at historic sites as well seeing the infrastructure projects and social developments taking place in the region. Their visits also enable them to see the available investment and business opportunities that will allow them to participate in the general socio-economic developments taking place in the country.

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The US Congress visit re-invigorates goodwill

President Obama’s visit to Ethiopia, accompanied by a substantial bi-partisan Congressional group, is a significant milestone in strengthening US relations with an African country, one of the earliest with which the US had diplomatic relations. It was the first-ever visit by a sitting US President to Ethiopia and it both underlined the century-old diplomatic ties between the two countries which has been built on Ethiopia’s contributions to the Pan-African movement for Africa’s independence, paving the way for establishing the African Union as well as forging the first bilateral trade agreement between an African country and the United States. Ethiopia has also played a unique role in the efforts to achieve peace and stability in the Horn of Africa.

The visit of the President and of the members of Congress has charted the way forward to restructure the existing close cooperative partnership into a meaningful approach to deal with the challenges of the fight against poverty, food insecurity, terrorism and other future threats. Indeed, this historic visit opens a new chapter for forging sustainable peace, development and democratization in the region, thus putting the long-standing ties between the US and Ethiopia on a firm and concrete foundation. This, in turn, will ensure progress in areas ranging from combating climate change, to fighting insecurity, conflicts and terrorism and allow for opportunities to take lessons from the US’s development path in science, technology and education, encourage the expansion of people-to-people ties and the working together on capacity building for greater progress. It will also encourage trade and investment links. During their visit, the Members of Congress held discussions on the many opportunities Ethiopia offers to members of the American Business Community. The growing trade and business dialogue is a sign of the commitment to expand trade and business collaboration between the United States and Ethiopia.

The bipartisan Congressional visit underlined the possibilities in the visit with members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans seeing how US-assisted projects were developing as well as recognizing the role Americans have played and continue to play. The Members of Congress, indeed, began their visit on Monday (July 27) by paying their respects at the Memorial to Mickey Leland, laying a wreath and holding a moment of silence at the Memorial. Congressman Leyland, an African-American anti-poverty activist and Congressman who worked relentlessly to design programs to lessen famine in Ethiopia in the 1980, lost his life in a plane crash during a mission to Fugnido, in Gambella Regional State in 1989.

During their visit, the Congressional delegation was able to look at a number of areas in which US aid and assistance has been of major importance. One of its visits was to the Yirgacheffe Coffee Cooperative Union and Processing Plant, part of the Feed the Future Agribusiness Market Development Project launched thirteen years ago with the assistance of USAID. The Members of Congress were able to observe the export processes for the coffee from the cleaning to the bagging stage. They also had a demonstration of cupping, the process which determines the quality ratings.

A number of other projects, besides the Yirgacheffe Coffee Cooperative Union, launched with the assistance of the USAID also displayed their work and progress to the delegation.  Among these were the use of salt-water treatment plants, mostly used in poor soil areas like the Afar region, techniques used to assist farmers in the processing of dairy products and Groundwater Electronic Navigation Systems (GENS) which offer a major labor, cost and time-saving process for development of groundwater exploration and development.

The members of Congress appreciated the productive participation of US aid and impressed by the way these projects and the assistance reached down to the grassroots. It underlines the value of the aid and strengthens the support for continuing and expanding cooperation in the future. Impressively and encouragingly, the Feed the Future Agribusiness Market Development Project now involves more than 43,000 smallholder farmers and is proving very valuable in the struggle against poverty.   

The members of Congress also met with the Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines on Monday (July 27), and visited the Ethiopian Aviation Academy. During their visit, an important training agreement with the US was signed. This will enhance Ethiopian Airlines’ training capability and will be a major step forward in assisting Ethiopian Airline’s Vision 2025 under which the airline aims at becoming the leading airline in Africa. The delegation visited other Ethiopian Airlines facilities, including its GE engine testing facility, Ethiopian Airlines model maintenance hanger and its Boeing Flight Simulators including one for the 787 Dreamliner simulator. Ethiopian Airlines, the largest and most successful in Africa today, currently operates 13 B787 Dreamliners with a number more on order. It has other strong links with Boeing and has received two Gold Level Boeing Performance Excellence Awards for its Wire Kits Harness Manufacturing Plant that supplies different types of wiring to Boeing.

During their visit to the Airline, the Members of Congress participated in a short memorial ceremony in honor of Colonel Robinson, often referred to as the “Father of Ethiopian Airlines”. Colonel Robinson, an African-American nicknamed the “Brown Condor” in Ethiopia, is honored and remembered in Ethiopia for someone who came to stand alongside Ethiopia at the time of the Fascist Italian invasion in 1935. After the Italian defeat in 1941 Colonel Robinson returned to Ethiopia to play a leading role establishing both the Imperial Ethiopian Airforce and Ethiopian Airlines, bringing pilots and technicians from the US.

These visits by the Members of Congress underlined the attachment many African Americans have had with Ethiopia and in many cases the time and energy they have invested in helping Ethiopia. It is a very real testimony to the fact that the diplomatic ties between the United States and Ethiopia are more than merely “historic”. The presence on the delegation of Congresswoman Karen Ruth Bass, well known for her prominent efforts to support Africa’s development, clearly emphasized this.  The Congressional delegation will now have a role in the future and growing links between Pan-Africanism in the United States and in Ethiopia and the increasing socio-political and cultural links.

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UN member states agree to end poverty in all its forms by 2030

The United Nations member states reached agreement on Saturday (August 1) on the final version of the draft Post-2015 Development Agenda: “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” World leaders at the Sustainable Development Summit in New York next month, September 25-27, will adopt the outcome document that will constitute the new sustainable development agenda.

In the outcome document, all UN member states “recognize that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.” They have expressed their commitment “to achieving sustainable development in its three dimensions – economic, social and environmental – in a balanced and integrated manner.”

After more than two years of negotiation with unprecedented participation of civil society organizations, academia, and the private sector, and the poor and the vulnerable, the new Post-2015 Development Agenda contains 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and 169 targets which are integrated and indivisible.  The ultimate objective of the sustainable development goals is clear: to end poverty, promote prosperity and people’s well-being while protecting the environment.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the agreement, saying it “encompasses a universal, transformative and integrated agenda that heralds an historic turning point for our world.”  The Secretary-General said the September Summit “will chart a new era of Sustainable Development in which poverty will be eradicated, prosperity shared and the core drivers of climate change tackled.” He added that the UN System stands ready to support the implementation of the new agenda that builds on the successful outcome of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development that was held Addis Ababa last month, July 13-16.

The new development agenda is a follow up on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and seeks to eradicate poverty in all its forms and dimensions and achieve sustainable development by 2030.The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) galvanized the support of the global community in the effort to reduce poverty and enhance the access and quality of social services such as education and health. Though the MDGs remain unfinished, they have provided an important framework for development. Significant progress has been made in a number of areas.

The 2030 Agenda builds on the success of the MDGs. It aims to address the root causes of poverty by eradicating all forms of poverty, leaving no one behind. It is ambitious and universal. The outcome document states “the Post-2015 Development Agenda is a supremely ambitious and transformational vision resolved to free the human race within this generation from the tyranny of poverty and want to heal and secure our planet for the present and for future generations.” The new Agenda is both global in nature and universally applicable to all countries while taking into account different national realities and contexts of development and respecting national policies and priorities.

The outcome document underscores poverty eradication as the overarching goal of the new development agenda by integrating the three pillars of sustainable development: economic growth, social services and environmental protection. The document calls for a revitalized and effective Global Partnership for Sustainable Development embracing all countries and stakeholders: “The Global Partnership will mobilize the means required for implementation of the Agenda, acting in a spirit of strengthened global solidarity and supporting, in particular, the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable by focusing on a people-centered approach to development.” All member states pledge that as they embark on this collective journey, no one will be left behind. It says that the ‘five Ps’, outlined in the preamble of the outcome document - people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership - demonstrate the broad scope and the ultimate objectives of the Agenda.

Focusing on implementation, the new Agenda “recognizes that each country has primary responsibility for its own economic and social development.” Equally, it adds that the international community will work with determination and commitment to provide the means required for implementation of the Goals and targets. In this regard, the document welcomes the outcome document of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, and it also “recognizes the important inter-linkages between the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the realization of the SDGs and targets.” Indeed, according to paragraphs 42 and 60, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda is an integral part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The UN member states also recognize that the full implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda is critical for the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals and targets. Indeed, the successful outcome of the Addis Conference provided significant political momentum to the negotiation process of the post-2015 development agenda.

Effective follow-up and review mechanisms are also a core element of the new development Agenda. The High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, set up after the Rio+20 Conference, will serve as the most important forum for follow up and review. In addition, the UN General Assembly, the UN Economic and Social Council and its specialized agencies will also be engaged in reviewing progress in specific areas. The 2013 Agenda expects all member states to develop ambitious and practicable national responses to the overall implementation of the Agenda as soon as possible. The outcome document makes it clear it expects follow-up and review at the regional and sub-regional levels will provide useful opportunities as appropriate for peer review and learning, sharing of best practices and discussion on shared targets.

More than 150 world leaders are expected to attend the Sustainable Development Summit in New York, to be held September 25-27 to formally adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Agenda. The new Goals and targets will come into effect on 1 January 2016.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are: Goal 1 - End poverty in all its forms everywhere; Goal 2 - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture; Goal 3 - Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages; Goal 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all;  Goal 5 - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls;  Goal 6 - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all;  Goal 7 - Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all; Goal 8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all; Goal 9 - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation;  Goal 10 - Reduce inequality within and among countries; Goal 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable;  Goal 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns; Goal 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts (acknowledging the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as the primary for negotiating the global response to climate change); Goal 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development;  Goal 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss; Goal 16 - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels; Goal 17 - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

Outcome document describes the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a “call for action to change our world.”It says: “We resolve to build a better future for all people, including the millions who have been denied the chance to lead decent, dignified and rewarding lives and to achieve their full human potential. We can be the first generation to succeed in ending poverty; just as we may be the last to have a chance of saving the planet. The world will be a better place in 2030 if we succeed in our objectives.

It says this Agenda for global action for the next fifteen years, a charter for people and planet in the twenty-first century. “The journey on which “we the peoples” are now embarking will involve Governments as well as Parliaments, the UN system and other international institutions, local authorities, indigenous peoples, civil society, business and the private sector, the scientific and academic community – and all people. Millions have already engaged with, and will own, this Agenda. It is an Agenda of the people, by the people, and for the people – and this, we believe, will ensure its success. “It stresses: “The future of humanity and of our planet lies in our hands. It lies also in the hands of today’s younger generation who will pass the torch to future generations. We have mapped the road to sustainable development; it will be for all of us to ensure that the journey is successful and its gains irreversible.”

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First IMF Consultations with Somalia for 26 years

At the beginning of last week on Monday (July 27), the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund concluded an Article IV Consultation with Somalia. It was the first time for 26 years: Somalia only resumed relations with the IMF in April 2013, and its last IMF Article IV Consultation was in 1989. The Mission was able to provide a general overall picture of the country’s economy, compiling and analyzing core data, to conduct a ‘health check’ of the Somali economy. The Article IV Consultation is written in encouraging language, but, not surprisingly, it also calls attention to a long list of things to fix, and it concludes that “considerable donor assistance” remains necessary for Somalia to meet what it calls “daunting challenges”. In other words the IMF’s assessment is “a tough reality check for Somalia’s government and a sobering one for potential investors.”

In a press release the IMF said that although the political and security situation remained challenging, Somalia had made tremendous progress since resuming relations with the IMF. Economic activity was estimated to have expanded by 3.7% in 2014, driven by growth in agriculture, construction, and telecommunications. Consumer price inflation was 1.3%. For 2015, real growth is projected at 2.7 and inflation should remain at about 4%. The export sector has been showing signs of activity with livestock and fisheries’ export to countries of the Gulf. Trade consists mostly of exports of livestock to Gulf Cooperation Council countries and imports of foodstuffs from neighboring countries and India.

There is a large current account deficit amounting to 11% of the $5.7 billion GDP and the trade deficit of $2.63 billion in 2014 was more than ten times the size of the 2015 budget. This, and income deficits, were partially covered by remittances of US$1.3 billion and other transfers. The deficit was also covered by foreign direct investment of US$434 million, largely in electricity, telecommunications and hotels, and donor capital transfers of US$150 million. With modest progress in security, and an absence of drought, the IMF expects medium-term annual growth should be about 5%. However, this it says remains insufficient to deal with poverty and gender disparities. All the country’s poverty reduction plans are in the hands of donors.

Despite any progress, the IMF noted Somalia remains ineligible for new loans pending the clearance of its longstanding IMF arrears, amounting to $328 million. Total external debts amount to $5.3 billion. The IMF says debts must be cleared or rearranged before further loans are possible, and said clearing debts would be an important part of Somalia’s normalization of relations with the international community and establishing debt sustainability. On the basis of its preliminary assessment, the IMF says Somalia lacks the ability to service its debt in the medium term.

The IMF notes that budget preparation and implementation is difficult because of problems with revenue collection and expenditure pressures that exceed available resources. The formal financial sector with the Central Bank and six banks with provisional licenses compare with nine licensed money transfer firms, and another 13 have applied for licenses. Overall, the IMF wants to see an effective mechanism for licensing and supervising money transfer firms set up; and statistical capacity improved with technical assistance from the Fund and development partners. It says remittances are likely to fall sharply this year as international banks and others have been cutting back their involvement in money transfer accounts to reduce risks of being involved in money laundering and terrorist financing.

Even if it cannot provide loans, the IMF can advise on appropriate macroeconomic policies within the context of a staff-monitored program allowing it to hold a dialogue on economic policies without offering any financing. Indeed, during the last two years the IMF has been actively involved in providing technical assistance and policy advice in its key areas of expertise, largely to enhance governance in the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank.

The head of the IMF mission, Rogerio Zandamela, said the IMF was helping to improve central bank governance, central bank accounting and financial reporting as well as supervise financial institutions. It was assisting with budget preparation, formulating fiscal policy, and developing statistical systems. Others assisting included the African Development Bank and the World Bank as well as bilateral donors. Mr. Zandamela said the task was so great that no one institution could manage the process singlehandedly.

Mr. Zandamela described the major economic priorities as building sound institutions and fostering good governance to restore people’s confidence in government. This, he said, required a range of key priorities including essential training and capacity building, mobilizing government revenue and prioritizing expenditure, regulating banks and other financial institutions properly and ensuring the Central Bank provided to effective supervision of financial institutions. Growth was largely associated with the return of members of the Diaspora, he said, adding that if security continued to improve then the entrepreneurial private sector from the Diaspora would “continue to be the most dynamic contributor to economic growth,” he said

In its press statement, the IMF noted that all Somali state institutions had been severely affected by the civil war and improving governance in key state institutions was critical for progress in economic reconstruction and development. Decisive steps were needed to build up fiscal discipline and this must involve “realistic” budgeting and “effective implementation systems, including commitment controls.” It recommends an emergency revenue mobilization plan and an expenditure review and suggests remittances should be channeled through the international banking system. Top financial policy-making still revolved around clan and identity politics and this was underlined by the high turnover of senior economic figures: three ministers of finance and three governors of the central bank in less than two years.

While the federal government, working with the international community, has taken steps to improve governance based on the rule of law and the application of international good practices for fiscal and financial operations, there is still a lot to do. The IMF said critical areas included the rebuilding of infrastructure and delivering of basic social and economic services. These were crucial for the government to gain trust, advance the process of national reconciliation, and extend federal government authority. The IMF said “complex clan politics” and a high turnover among members of the country’s economic team had undermined policy-making and it described the political and security situation as ‘challenging’. So for the future, the first priority must be to continue the building of institutions and administrative capacity while undertaking key structural reforms to spur growth and reduce poverty. This required real fiscal discipline, realistic budgeting and effective implementation. The budget must be drawn up on the basis of sound fiscal principles and transparent reporting. A public expenditure review to promote the allocation of resources to investment in human capital and infrastructure was needed as were sound mechanisms to ensure effective and transparent management of natural resources; clarity over the division of authority between the federal government and the federal states; and strengthened capacity for the Central Bank of Somalia’s and governance structures.

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South Sudan peace talks resume this week

The IGAD-led South Sudan peace talks, now under the auspices of the IGAD-Plus initiative, resumed this week in Addis Ababa. The resumption of talks came after the respective leaderships of South Sudanese parties and stakeholders carried out a series of consultations with their constituencies over the Proposed Compromise Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan put forward by IGAD. This round of talks will allow the South Sudanese parties to provide IGAD-Plus with the results of their respective consultations and provide both sides with the appropriate opportunity to deliberate on the IGAD-Plus proposals to give peace a chance. The international community, the IGAD region, and friends of South Sudan expect the parties to the conflict to reach an agreement on the IGAD-Plus negotiated proposal: Proposed Compromise Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan. The deadline for agreement to end the 20-month old conflict is August 17.

Launched on June 14, this final peace proposal of the IGAD-led mediation efforts has been made against the background of an overall situation in South Sudan in which there has been a lack of trust between the warring parties and their total, deliberate and repeated failure to comply with deadlines, including the April 1 deadline for the finalization of all outstanding issues for formation of a Transitional Government of National Unity. The new peace proposal, the outcome of the negotiations conducted by the South Sudanese parties and stakeholders ever since the IGAD mediated negotiations that began in January 2014, gives the parties the opportunity to champion peace over conflict and show an interest in bringing an end the horrific suffering and distress of the people of South Sudan that the months of conflict and killing have produced.

The IGAD-Plus mediation process, initiated by the Chairperson of IGAD, Prime Minister Hailemariam of Ethiopia, has been devised to re-energize and re-invigorate the IGAD-led peace talks. The new initiative brings in the African Union, the United Nations, the European Union, and the Troika of the US, UK, Norway, as well as China and the IGAD Partners Forum. The proposals now put forward demand that the parties display leadership and statesmanship in responding to and implementing the Compromise Agreement to achieve a lasting peace in South Sudan. This new initiative has created a united international front behind IGAD and set the stage for a realistic, regionally centered strategy that mainstreams popular ownership of the peace process and of the achievement of a final peace agreement by all stakeholders. It is also mediated by the concept of inclusivity to ensure an end to the tragic conflict as well as secure sustainable peace and stability.

The IGAD-Plus initiative presents a solid foundation for the positive implementation of an “African solution” together with a high-level, wider international engagement. It presents an important opportunity for all the parties to show high complementarity and trust in the effort to build an inclusive and democratic society founded on the rule of law through the establishment of a final peace deal on August 17. The initiative requires all parties to demonstrate in real earnest their commitment to national reconciliation, accountability, healing and to a process of combating impunity as some of the highest priorities of the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) to be set up. It makes strong demands of the parties to build on the past IGAD-led peace process achievements and use this final peace deal as a way to end the current culture dependent upon the use of force as a means of settling differences and misunderstanding.

The proposed Compromise Agreement provides for an inclusive transitional government and covers issues of security and economic governance, justice and reconciliation and the creation of a permanent constitution for the election of a new government. The Compromise Agreement document details the disagreements over the initial proposals made by the stakeholders and the compromises reached on more than fifteen decisive issues. The problem over power sharing, for example, concerned whether power should only be shared at Central Government level or at all levels of the government. The Compromise Agreement provides for power sharing ratios in Central Government areas as well as in the conflict affected areas of the Greater Upper Nile. With reference to the Structure of the Government, it suggests the President should be the Executive Head of the State during the transition period with shared responsibilities within the top leadership, which should also include a First Vice President drawn from the SPLM-in-Opposition.

Seeking common ground and setting differences aside are key elements in providing the opportunity to launch a culture of peace and dialogue.  There is a united international front on the need for peace. If these latest discussions turn into another fiasco and the parties fail once again to meet the required deadline of August 17, it will be a betrayal of all the hopes and aspirations of the people of South Sudan. Speaking earlier this week, President Obama said firmly that if the parties to the conflict do not commit themselves to and seriously work for a final peace deal, “I think it’s our view that it’s going to be necessary for us to move forward with a different plan and recognize that those leaders are incapable of creating the peace that is required.” The President, who was speaking after a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reiterated that “Our goal now is to make sure that by August 17 there’s an agreement for the [warring parties] to stop the bloodshed and to move forward in an inclusive government.” President Obama said President Kiir and opposition leader, Riek Machar had squandered the “great progress and great hope” that South Sudan had earlier. He said that if this latest effort failed then the world might be forced to come up with a "different plan" for war-ravaged South Sudan. The President did not, however, specify what type of action he wanted to take place if the two warring parties fail to strike a final deal in two weeks though sanctions including travel bans, assets freeze and an arms embargo are among measures the UN has already designated for action. On his recent visit to Kenya and Ethiopia, President Obama also urged their leaders to consider regional sanctions that could be imposed on any party or parties seen to be blocking progress towards reaching a final peace agreement.

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The High-Level Partnership Forum in Mogadishu

The second Ministerial High-Level Partnership Forum was held in Mogadishu on Wednesday and Thursday last week (July 29-30). Co-chaired by President Hassan Sheik Mohamud, President of the Federal Government of Somalia and the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Somalia, Nicholas Kay, the Forum brought together 32 delegations, including those from the newly formed Interim South West and Galmudug Interim Administrations.  The aim of the High-Level Forum was to review progress in political and security areas and to agree on priorities for the remaining period of 2015 within the framework of the New Deal Somali Compact. Neither the Puntland State nor the Interim Jubaland Administration sent delegations.

The Forum called on all Somali leaders, Federal Parliament, member states, civil society and other stakeholders to engage in the interests of Somalia’s democratization within the framework of Vision 2016. It emphasized the need for ensuring progress in the constitutional review process, establishing a permanent Constitution for a federal and united Somalia. It also committed itself to deliver an electoral process in 2016. In all these areas, the Forum stressed the necessity of ensuring transparency through “a broadly consultative and inclusive process, accepted by all Somali stakeholders, at all levels,” adding that agreements during the consultative process shall be reached no later than August 15, 2015. Accordingly, the Forum urged “all Somali Stakeholders to seize the momentum and actively engage to achieve the much needed national consensus.”

The High-Level Partnership Forum underlined the importance of reconciliation and peace building efforts, urging all new and emerging administrations to build their much needed governance institutions rapidly. Forum participants expressed their support to the new Galmudug Interim Administration following the positive steps taken to resolve its border dispute with Puntland, and noted that they also looked forward to the successful establishment of Hiiraan and Middle Shabelle Interim Regional Administration and a decision on the status of the capital, Mogadishu, in the current year. They called for “a closer collaboration between the Federal Government and future member states, including through the National Leaders Forum.”

The Forum stressed on the importance of constitutionally-mandated Commissions making fast progress on their work and the need for these bodies to work together to support their mandates and activities, as well as enhance the participation and inclusion of women in these bodies in line with the constitution. The Commissions include the National Independent Electoral Commission, the Boundaries and Federalism Commission and the Independent Commission for the Review and Implementation of the Constitution.

It condemned Al Shabaab’s terrorist attacks in the strongest terms possible and conveyed the deepest condolences of all present to those who lost loved ones. The Forum participants, recognizing the support of the African Union and IGAD, also expressed their gratitude to the efforts of the Somali National Army and AMISOM in enhancing peace and security in Somalia and commended the ongoing integration of regional forces. It emphasized the importance of focusing on viable joint operations for enemy elimination while ensuring that operations are conducted in compliance with international humanitarian law. To encourage coordination within the security sector, the Forum urged the rapid completion of the National Security Sector architecture and medium-term security plan and full definition of the roles and responsibilities of the national security sector institutions.

The Forum recalled the role of the New Deal Somali Compact in ensuring coordination of priorities and actions on security, inclusive political process and development. It commended the progress made to contain piratical activities along the Somali coast, while underlining the need to ensure that maritime security also addressed other illegal activities. Taking note of the imperative for creating the necessary conditions for stabilization of the areas recovered from Al-Shabaab, the Forum stressed the importance of stronger harmonization and coordination among the different actors, including civil society and police in line with the national stabilization strategy. It further underlined the critical need to support the building of local administrations and deliver basic services and expand economic opportunities, employment and improved livelihood effectively

The Forum welcomed the plans to strengthen the financial management systems and build up government capacity. It called for greater fiscal discipline in the revised 2015 national budget. Participants expressed their commitment to finalize the Compact monitoring framework on the basis of the principles of mutual accountability, through the establishment of a task force, under the leadership of the Ministry of Planning.  

With reference to encouraging development and ensuring a sustainable economic recovery, the Forum welcomed the efforts of the Federal Government to use the New Deal framework and processes for program development, oversight, and coordination. It acknowledged that further progress was required, and urged that the coordination mechanisms and program-governing bodies still outside the Somali Development and Reconstruction Facility should be brought within that framework. Reaffirming the importance of infrastructure for economic recovery, job creation and service delivery, participants commended the Federal Government for accelerating the activities and planning for sustainable economic recovery.

With the prospect of forging both bilateral and multilateral partnerships, the Forum welcomed the establishment of Funding Windows with the World Bank, United Nations, and the upcoming African Development Bank to implement the New Deal through improved coordination of the Somali Development and Reconstruction Facility mechanism. This was in the spirit of Somali ownership and leadership. The Forum similarly endorsed the establishment of the National Fund Stream of the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund and urged quick identification of programs for possible funding.

Participants reaffirmed their commitment to the partnership principles and emphasized the National Prerogative of setting priorities, accelerating delivery, visibility, and overseeing implementation mechanisms and monitoring of results by September 2015. They also noted their support to deal with the continuing humanitarian crisis including the problems apparent in recently liberated areas. They also expressed commitment to the formulation of a more long-term strategic approach to address the underlining causes of the humanitarian crisis and supported multi-year planning to offer sustainable solutions and resilience gains. The Forum stressed on the need for the protection and promotion of human rights as this would remain crucial for sustainable peace and state building in Somalia. The Forum concluded with a call for a constructive engagement and a commitment to implement the measures and actions agreed upon for the remainder of the year and to review overall progress of the current year of the Compact at the upcoming Ministerial-Level meeting, due in the first months of 2016.

Following the High-Level Partnership Forum, the United Nations Office in Somalia (UNSOM) and other partners issued a statement on Monday this week (August 3). This welcomed “the significant commitments” made and underlined that partners would follow progress closely and “continue to support the goal of a united, federal and democratic Somalia, at peace with itself and the rest of the world.”

The statement, by the UNSOM, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the European Union, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom, also commended the commitments made “to deliver a transparent and inclusive electoral process in 2016, to strengthen security and to accelerate the delivery of concrete results to the people of Somalia.” Underlining the provisions of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2232 (2015) on the importance of allowing no extension of the constitutionally mandated terms for the executive or legislative branches, it noted that the commitment to immediately start a national consultation to agree on an electoral process for a timely transfer of public office in 2016 was a positive step. The statement recognized that “universal ‘one person, one vote’ elections for 2016 are not possible” but stressed this “must be achieved in the next cycle”, adding that “the commitment to start immediately a national consultation to agree to an electoral process for a timely transfer of public office in 2016 is a positive step.”

It reaffirmed the importance of the ten Guiding Principles for an electoral process in 2016 which had been agreed at the Forum and said it “welcomed the commitment to finalize by 15 August a detailed action plan for the national consultations on the 2016 electoral process,” This plan, the statement said, should reflect the views of all stakeholders, in particular the Federal Parliament and the authorities in all the regional administrations: “We urge all parties to engage seriously and urgently in finalizing this work and then to play a full role in the national consultative process.” The statement, which congratulated the Federal Government of Somalia for the success of the Forum, also noted that many commitments had been made and deadlines agreed and said: “Somalia’s international partners will follow progress closely and will make decisive efforts to help Somalis meet these deadlines.”

Although the high level partnership forum is a positive development, the holding of the forum without a complete house or with the absence of required state holders does signal that the political movement ahead is going to be extremely bumpy to the extent of regressing Somalia back. There should not be an attempt to marginalize some important stake holders or to dominate the political space at the expense of others. That tendency would only widen the clan rivalry at the national level in Somalia.

Therefore, failure to reaching out to all important actors and regions or entities before final preparation to elections of 2016 might lead to unaffordable crisis that would endanger the holding of election itself.

Therefore, full and vigorous participation of the Federal member-states remains a necessity. Furthermore, member states that should be formed have to also complete the process in advance of the coming election in 2016. Somalia and its partners need to craft both modalities and practical ways of meeting the target of 2016 transition.

As we reported last week the military gains attained in Dinsoor and Bardere are big enough steps in degrading Al-shabab in terms of income and human resources. Now the major activity of the Ethiopian contingent of AMISOM is clearing the liberated districts and their surroundings, collecting weapons and ammunitions left by Al-shabab and its supporters. Nevertheless, forming district administrations in the librated areas is the critical task ahead and those administrations have to be inclusive.

Over all, the situation in terms of military achievement is extremely encouraging but in terms of politics, the age-old clan divisions are resurfacing through the continued process of the formation of Federal member states. Therefore, the Federal Government, the Puntland Administration, the Jubaland Administration, the South West State Administration and Central Somalia Regional Administration should be courageous enough to hold dialogue to resolve problems existing among themselves instead of pushing each other apart in the hope that each will get the upper hand to dominate the politics of Somalia. 

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Voltar