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Horn of Africa


EAA provides education opportunities for most vulnerable children in Somalia

Monday March 20, 2023

As a part of its Ramadan campaign, The Education Above All (EAA) Foundation is opening new opportunities of education for the most marginalised out-of-school children in Somalia.

The ‘Educate your children II’ project aims to address obstacles to educational access for out-of-school children affected by political and economic instability, refugee status and internal displacement, social exclusion and poverty in Somalia.

This project is being implemented across 17 districts within the five Somalia regional states of Galmudug, Hirshabelle, Jubaland, South West and Puntland.

The project’s primary goal is to ensure more than 80,000 out of school children affected by instability, displacement, social exclusion and poverty in Somalia have access and the opportunity to complete quality primary education.

The EAA foundation’s Ramadan campaign is slated to create a strong, unique buzz among people during the holy month of Ramadan. Its goal is to raise awareness to support and educate every boy and girl and ensure no child is left behind.

Investing 783 riyals is enough to educate a child in quality primary education for a total of three years in Somalia.

Somali leaders agree to increase troop numbers

Somali leaders agree to increase troop numbers

Source: VOA, Harun Maruf
Monday March 20, 2023

Somalia’s federal and regional leaders have agreed to increase the number of armed forces and police officers to meet security demands as African Union forces leave the country by the end of next year.

The leaders have agreed the number of national armed forces to be at least 30,000 soldiers and at least 40,000 police personnel, according to the agreement obtained by VOA Somali.

According to the agreement known as the “National Security Architecture” signed by Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre and the leaders of federal member states last week, the new number of armed forces do not include the navy, air force and special commando units trained by the United States and Turkey.

The agreement revises a 2017 deal between Somali leaders, which specified the number of military and police to be at least 18,000 and 32,000 respectively. The earliest age to register for the army will be 18 and 62 is the new retirement age.

According to the new agreement, the country’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) will continue to have special armed agents until current security conditions end. Federal member states, which currently have their own intelligence agencies and armed agents, will no longer have these agencies once the country is stabilized.

The new agreement also allows the number of custodial corps to be 5,300 — comprised of 4,500 federal and 800 prison guards.

Leaders of the Puntland semiautonomous region did not participate in the meeting held in the southwestern town of Baidoa between March 15 and 17. In January, Puntland leaders said they would govern their own affairs like an “independent government” until the federal constitution is completed.

Somali government officials said the new agreement is intended to prepare the country’s forces to take over security responsibilities from AU forces.

“The Somali government today is concentrating on transferring security responsibilities from ATMIS (African Union Transition Mission in Somalia) which have been in the country for not less than 15 years,” Kamal Dahir Hassan Gutale, national security adviser to Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre told VOA Somali.

“The target is that on December 2024 the last AU soldier will leave the country. This is important for Somalia meeting its security responsibilities.”

Gutale said paramilitary forces belonging to the regions will be used as stabilization and holding forces in areas captured from al-Shabab militants.

Immediately after the agreement was reached, Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud flew to Uganda to attend the graduation of newly trained soldiers.

Somalia’s national security adviser Hussein Sheikh-Ali confirmed to VOA in January that the government is training 3,000 soldiers in Uganda.

Ali also recently confirmed that troops from neighboring countries will participate in the next phase of military operations against al-Shabab.

Gutale told VOA that the new offensive will commence during Islam’s holiest month, Ramadan, which starts this Wednesday.

“There is a rigorous preparation by the Somali national armed forces and all other forces for large operations during Ramadan,” he said.

“God willing, we hope Somali forces will achieve [a] big victory.”

Can one woman with a phone and a laptop change society?

Can one woman with a phone and a laptop change society?

Source: UNDP, Monday March 13, 2023

The Chief Editor of Somalia’s only all-women media team believes she can by using mobile journalism to break down barriers and open up new ground for women in the media

 Scott Peterson/Getty Images/The CSM

As chief editor of “Bilan”, Somalia’s first all-women, editorially independent media unit, Fathi Mohamed Ahmed has been blazing a trail for women since the unit started up with support from UNDP almost a year ago. Boasting a string of articles in international media – including the Guardian, BBC and El Pais – and a huge following locally, Fathi and her team have shown how women can compete at the highest level of international journalism and bring new stories to public attention inside Somalia

They’re also showcasing a new approach to media production – using mobile journalism and the latest tech to get the job done faster, cheaper and more efficiently.

“Since the inception of Bilan Media, a year ago, we have been using advanced tools and software that have made our journalism work in Somalia easier, relying on smartphones, Mac computers, and digital audio tools for filming, editing and recording interviews,” Fathi says. “In this day and age, you don’t need huge analog cameras or an editing suite: you can get the job done on a phone and a laptop, editing as you travel, posting to social media from the road and cutting down on costs in the process.”

Digital tools and smaller tech also allow Bilan’s journalists to work more safely. In Somalia, many people still believe that journalism is a shameful profession for women and women journalists can face harassment on the street.

Fathi Mohamed Ahmed, Chief editor of Bilan Media

“The use of smaller media equipment allows us to do our work without standing out too much as journalists in places where that can be dangerous. Most people are used to male reporters carrying huge equipment, like big cameras and tripods, with one reporter and other man to carry to equipment, but now one woman can do all of that with a smartphone, gimbal, and wireless mics, Fathi says. “Mobile journalism – and women journalists – are the future of media.”

Apart from the media work, Mogadishu-born Fathi is a mother of three children, including one born just three months ago, and her days start long before she reaches the office.

 “When I wake up in the morning, I prepare breakfast for my children, clean the house, drop the kids off at school then head to work,” Fathi explains. “Sometimes I go to work with my three-month-old son.”

This would be impossible in any other media environment, but at Dalsan TV, the media company that has partnered with UNDP to host the Bilan offices and distributes their reports locally, the Bilan team enjoys secure offices where women can work safely, without harassment and with the facilities they need to juggle the multiple commitments faced by working mothers.

In just a few months, the results have been dramatic. “With my team, I have produced a range of stories that never used to get attention in Somalia, including elderly people living with HIV, drug addiction among young women, female farmers studying agriculture degrees, and many more,” says Fathi “We want to be a voice for the voiceless.”

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) established Bilan Media in April 2022. Staffed and run entirely by women, Bilan produces high-quality, high-impact, original journalism across all platforms, including television and radio, for distribution across Somalia and also undertakes commissions for international media.

Chinese-built Ethiopia-Djibouti railway wins acclaim for boosting integration on 5th anniversary

Chinese-built Ethiopia-Djibouti railway wins acclaim for boosting integration on 5th anniversary

Source: XINHUANET, Monday March 13, 2023

Representatives from China, Ethiopia and Djibouti pose for a photo during the celebration ceremony of Ethiopia-Djibouti railway’s fifth anniversary of operations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 8, 2023. (Photo:Xinhua)

The Chinese-built Addis Ababa-Djibouti Standard Gauge Railway, also known as the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway, has won acclaim for boosting regional integration and prosperity as it marked its fifth anniversary of operations.

This came as senior Ethiopian and Djiboutian government officials, the Chinese diplomatic community in Ethiopia, and management contractors of the 752-km transnational railway celebrated the anniversary at the Lebu Railway Station on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, on Wednesday.

Ethiopia’s Minister of Finance Ahmed Shide said during the occasion that over the last five years, the railway has shown remarkable achievements in the areas of operation, maintenance and capacity building.

Shide commended the railway’s crucial role in streamlining Ethiopia’s export-import trade, and boosting people-to-people relations between the two neighboring countries as well as technology transfer with better coordination among Chinese and local experts.

Noting that the Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway Share Company is tasked with operations, maintenance and capacity building, Ahmed said “in all these areas, the company has been showing considerable growth.” He said the railway’s operation capacity in terms of freight carriage has grown by 100 percent, reaching 1.9 million tons of cargo annually.

Shide said the railway, by reaching its maximum capacity, is expected to become the best transport alternative for import-export commodities by providing fast, safe and efficient transportation service.

“The Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway line is an example of the ever-flourishing Sino-African relations. The sino-African partnership has passed the test of time, demonstrated its resilience, and marks a brighter and strong future,” Shide said.

Djibouti’s Minister of Infrastructure and Equipment Hassan Houmed Ibrahim, on his part, said on the occasion that the railway observed increasing performance despite major obstacles, and enabled motivated and highly committed young engineers and technicians from both countries.

Ibrahim said the quality of services offered to users, the safety of goods and people, availability, and local human relations are among the key factors in achieving greater performance quality.

The electrified railway has cut the transportation time for freight goods from more than three days to less than 20 hours, and reduced the cost by at least one-third.

Liu Weimin, chairman of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), speaks during the celebration ceremony of Ethiopia-Djibouti railway’s fifth anniversary of operations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 8, 2023. (Photo:Xinhua)

Ethiopia, as a land-locked country in the Horn of Africa, accesses international maritime trade through ports in neighboring countries. The Ethiopia-Djibouti trade corridor is the main gateway for Ethiopia, with about 90 percent of import and export passing through it.

Ethiopia’s State Minister of Transport and Logistics Denge Boru commended the railway’s multifaceted significance for the two countries. “The railway mutually benefits the two sisterly countries in promoting regional economic and social integration, facilitating trade and industrial development, and bringing employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for citizens of both countries.”

Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia Zhao Zhiyuan lauded the railway as “a way of peace, a way of development, a way of hope, and a way to prosperity.” Zhao said the railway, as an important Belt and Road cooperation project, has demonstrated greater performance and resilience.

“The past five years have been great for the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway. I am confident that, with close collaboration between all relevant parties from China and Ethiopia, as well as Djibouti, the next five years will be even better, as the railway still holds huge untapped potential,” he said.

Sudan: Division Among Generals on Transition to Civilian Rule

Sudan: Division Among Generals on Transition to Civilian Rule

 Source: The Associated Press published on 7 March 2023 an article titled “Sudan General Says Military Leaders Clinging to Power” by Samy Magdy.

General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, head of the Rapid Support Forces, claims that he opposes the unwillingness of other military leaders to hand over power to civilians.  Dagalo is trying to portray himself as a defender of the transition to democracy

US Considers Economic Lifeline to Ethiopia

US Considers Economic Lifeline to Ethiopia

 Source: Foreign Policy published on 9 March 2023 an article titled “U.S. Weighs Offering Economic Lifeline to Ethiopia Despite War Atrocities” by Robbie Gramer.  

The author reports that the Biden administration is weighing plans to lift restrictions on aid and financial assistance to Ethiopia in a move that will be criticized by human rights groups that want accountability for atrocities during the civil war with Tigray Region

Ethiopian troops cross Somali border town to join a final offensive against al Shabab

Ethiopian troops cross Somali border town to join a final offensive against al Shabab

Source: Sunday March 12, 2023

Kismayo (HOL) – Ethiopian military units, accompanied by armored vehicles, have been stationed in Dolow, Gedo region, after crossing the border on Wednesday, according to reports from local residents.

Although there has been no comment from either the Ethiopian or the federal governments on this development, other troops from Djibouti and Kenya are expected to follow suit.

Earlier this month, the national security adviser to Somali President Hussein Sheikh-Ali confirmed that Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya would send new troops to support Somali forces in the next phase of military operations against al-Shabab.

Sheikh Ali emphasized that these troops would join the soldiers already serving in the African Transitional Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) but would not be part of the ATMIS mission.

“Their role is to jointly plan and operate under the command of the Somali security forces,” he said. “They will fight against al-Shabab alongside Somali forces. That is the plan.”

The leaders of the three countries attended a summit hosted by Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on February 1 in Mogadishu, where they agreed to jointly plan and organize a robust operational campaign to “search and destroy” al-Shabab on multiple frontlines, according to a communique issued at the time.

The Big Break-up: How Africa is gradually splitting into two continents and giving rise to a new ocean

The Big Break-up: How Africa is gradually splitting into two continents and giving rise to a new ocean

Source: FIRSTPOST, Sunday March 12, 2023

Scientists say Africa is peeling apart into two parts that will eventually lead to the formation of a new ocean. While the process will take millions of years to complete, this will split present-day Somalia and parts of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Tanzania from the rest of the continent, as per reports

The new ocean, splitting Africa into two continents, will take at least 5 to 10 million years to form. Reuters (Representational Image)

Africa is breaking up or “rifting” into two parts and a new ocean is being born, scientists have said.

As per a research published in the peer-reviewed journal Geophysical Research Letters, two major sections of the continent are peeling apart, which could eventually form a new ocean.

Let’s understand the reason behind the split and how long will it take for Africa to break up.

What is rifting?

According to Science Direct, rifting is the tearing apart of a “single tectonic plate into two or more tectonic plates separated by divergent plate boundaries”.

A lowland region called the rift valley erupts where Earth’s tectonic plates move apart, noted National Geographic. These rift valleys can occur on land as well as at the bottom of the ocean.

This phenomenon can be dated at least 138 million years back when South America and Africa were divided into different continents, says IFLScience report.

For the last 30 million years, the Arabian plate has been drifting away from Africa, a process that resulted in the creation of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, according to NBC News.

Why is Africa is splitting into two?

The splitting up of the continent is linked to East African Rift, a 56 kilometres or 35-mile-long crack that emerged in Ethiopia’s desert in 2005. This will set off the formation of a new sea, as per a report in Economic Times.

The seismic data present in the research shows that the creation of the rift was triggered by similar tectonic processes that are taking place at the bottom of the ocean.

The crack was discovered at the border of three tectonic plates – African Nubian, African Somali, and Arabian – that have already been separating for some time, the Economic Times report added.

Spanning over 3,000km, the East African Rift Valley lies from the Gulf of Aden in the north towards Zimbabwe in the south. As per The Conversation, it divides the African plate into two parts: the Somali and Nubian plates.

“This is the only place on Earth where you can study how a continental rift becomes an oceanic rift,” Christopher Moore, a doctorate student at the University of Leeds, said, according to Mashable.

As rifting occurs, material from “deep inside Earth moves to the surface and forms oceanic crust at the ridges”, as per NBC News.

“We can see that oceanic crust is starting to form, because it’s distinctly different from continental crust in its composition and density,” Moore, who has been using satellite radar to monitor volcanic activity in East Africa that is associated with the continent’s breakup, had told NBC News in 2018.

How long before Africa is divided?

Not anytime soon.

It will take millions of years for Africa to be sliced into two unequal parts. The new ocean will take at least 5 million to 10 million years to form which could eventually give the landlocked countries of Uganda and Zambia their own coastlines.

The smaller continent created by the rift will include countries such as present-day Somalia and parts of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Tanzania, as per USA Today.

GPS tracking has revealed the different paces at which the land movements between these tectonic plates are occurring, with the Arabian plate shifting away from Africa at a rate of one inch per year.

“As we get more and more measurements for GPS, we can get a much greater sense of what’s going on,” Ken Macdonald, a marine geophysicist and a professor emeritus at the University of California, said, as per Mashable. 

“The Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea will flood in over the Afar region and into the East African Rift Valley and become a new ocean, and that part of East Africa will become its own separate small continent.”

Dr Edwin Dindi of the Department of Geology in the Faculty of Science and Technology at the University of Nairobi told All Africa, “The Eastern arm of the Rift Valley is fairly active, this is seen in the many tremors that occur around it”. He added that “it will however take a long time probably millions of years” for the continent to split.

Though the process of rifting is happening for some time, the potential split made the headlines worldwide when a large crack in Kenyan Rift Valley emerged in 2018.

However, The Guardian reported then that the massive split was caused by sudden erosion rather than being evidence of the African continent actively tearing into two.

With inputs from agencies

East Africans ail from too much, too little rain

East Africans ail from too much, too little rain

Source: AP, Saturday March 11, 2023

East Africa, and in particular, parts of Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya, are experiencing the driest conditions and hottest temperatures since satellite record-keeping began.

Surrounded by miles of dried land and what remains of his famished livestock, Daniel Lepaine is a worried man. Dozens of his goats in Ngong, a town in southern Kenya, have died after three years of harrowing drought in the east and Horn of Africa.

The rest are on the verge of starvation as rain continues to fail.  “If this drought persists, I will have no livelihood and nothing for my family,” Lepaine mourned. “We are praying hard for the rains.”

But a few thousand miles south, communities are facing the opposite problem.  Tropical Cyclone Freddy, which has already caused 21 deaths and displaced thousands of others in Madagascar and Mozambique, is set to make landfall in Mozambique once more on Friday. The nation is already suffering from Freddy’s first battering last month and severe flooding before that. Meteorologists told The Associated Press the uneven and devastating water distribution across Africa’s east coast states is caused by natural weather systems and exacerbated by human-made climate change with cyclones sucking up water that would otherwise be destined for nations further north. “The trend has always been two contrasting weather systems,” said Evans Mukolwe, the former head of Kenya’s meteorological department. “Intensified cyclones in the southern Africa region translates into drought on the eastern side including Horn of Africa.”

The current drought in the region began in late 2020, when the region’s short rains season failed. Meteorologists traced the lack of rain to the start of La Nina in late summer of the same year, the natural and cyclical weather event that cools sea surface temperatures in the Pacific, with knock-on effects for the African continent and the rest of the world. La Nina, together with El Nino and the neutral condition are called ENSO, which stands for El Nino Southern Oscillation.

These events have the largest natural effects on climate and can dampen or juice up the effects of human-caused climate change.

“There is a connection between the El Nino Southern Oscillation, rainfall patterns and drought in east and southern Africa,” said climate scientist Marjahn Finlayson. La Nina means east Africa “would be primed for drier conditions while southern Africa would be more primed to experience wetter and more humid conditions.”

When it comes to tropical cyclones, ENSO is a large factor in where they form and end up, said Anne-Claire Fontaine, a scientific officer with the World Meteorological Organization’s tropical cyclone program. El Nino favors tropical cyclones forming over the central basin of the Indian Ocean that then move toward the south pole, Fontaine said. “Whereas La Nina favors tropical cyclone formation over the eastern to central part of the basin and zonal tracks running westward to south westward” where it slams into southern Africa.

The damaging La Nina was declared over on Thursday by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which meteorologists say might spell better news ahead for the continent.

“It means that we will be entering an ENSO-neutral period until about June or so,” said Finlayson, when El Nino is then expected to take over — potentially zapping the drought.

“End of La Nina means El Nino rains. But this may not happen immediately. For Africa, El Nino rains are normally expected in the short rains seasons which run from October to December,” said Mukolwe. But there’s still the effect of climate change, which is worsening cyclones and drought by making them longer, more intense and more severe, according to the United Nations’ weather agency. Studies going back to mid-1980s suggest there is a clear link between warmer oceans and the intensity and number of cyclones.

Africa is particularly vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather events like floods, cyclones, droughts, wildfires and sandstorms because it has less capacity to prepare for natural disasters, according to a U.N. report. The continent only contributes about 4% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions but suffers disproportionately.

Southern Africa is still in the throes of its cyclone season, with heavy flooding killing dozens, destroying homes and uprooting communities. Since 2019, the region has borne the brunt of 20 cyclones. A scientific analysis of the cyclones in the region last year found that climate change made the tropical storms more damaging and intense.

Meanwhile in the east and Horn of Africa, now in its sixth straight dry season, communities are counting huge losses. Authorities say 11 million livestock and iconic wildlife species have died due to the drought, leaving pastoralist families in abject poverty. Over 6,000 wild animals were lost to drought in Kenya alone by mid-February, according to the Kenya Wildlife Service, including elephants, giraffes and wildebeests.

But Finlayson is cautiously optimistic for the east of the continent in the short to medium term.

“Predictions are that we should expect a strong El Nino that will last from June to August,” she said, which would provide better conditions on Africa’s east coast. “It may be likely that we see those effects in the boreal autumn, but we have to wait and see.”

Blinken to travel to Ethiopia, Niger next week

Blinken to travel to Ethiopia, Niger next week

Source: Reuters, Saturday March 11, 2023

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken hosts the 17th annual International Women of Courage Award Ceremony on International Women’s Day at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 8, 2023. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

WASHINGTON, March 10 (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Ethiopia next week, the State Department said on Friday, as concerns linger over the implementation of the peace agreement following the conflict in the Tigray region that left tens of thousands dead and millions uprooted.

The visit, set as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed works to reestablish himself on the world stage following the two-year Tigray war, comes as foreign troops remain within the region and bureaucratic hurdles hamper the humanitarian response.

Blinken will also visit Niger, a key U.S. security partner, during the trip, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. It will be the first-ever visit to Niger by a U.S. secretary of state.

Africa has emerged as a focus for Washington as it aims to position itself as a partner to countries in the region amid competition with China, which has sought to expand its influence by funding infrastructure projects on the continent.

The visit to Addis Ababa and Niamey is one of a slew of high-level visits the Biden administration has planned to Africa this year.

Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee told reporters Blinken is expected to meet with the leadership of the Ethiopian government and Tigrayans while in Ethiopia, where he will discuss the implementation of the ceasefire.

Phee said relations with Ethiopia were not back to normal following the “earth shattering” conflict.

“To put that relationship in a forward trajectory, we will continue to need steps by Ethiopia to help break the cycle of ethnic political violence that has set the country back for so many decades,” Phee said.


The Ethiopian government’s two-year conflict with forces in the northern Tigray region ended last November when the two sides signed a deal. Both sides blamed each other for widely documented atrocities, including massacres, rape and detentions without trial.

The war pitted the federal government and its allies against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the party that controlled Tigray.

Allegations of abuses, especially sexual violence, have persisted after the deal was signed, according to half a dozen humanitarians in the region.

Eritrean troops remain in several border areas while militia from neighboring Amhara region still occupy large swaths of territory in contested areas of western and southern Tigray, humanitarians said.

Their presence is seen as a key obstacle to the effective implementation of the deal.

Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Gizachew Muluneh, spokesperson for the Amhara regional government, said it and the people of Amhara were “always ready to co-operate with peace deal process and activities.”

Scarcity of cash and fuel are also hampering the delivery of food and medical supplies, humanitarians and diplomats said.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Cameron Hudson, a U.S. Africa policy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Blinken’s trip comes as Ethiopia is lobbying the United States to restore debt relief and financial assistance as Ethiopia also deepens conversations with China.

“I think it’s the right moment to continue the diplomacy. I don’t think it’s the right moment to kind of declare mission accomplished in Ethiopia,” Hudson said.

While in Addis Ababa, Blinken will also meet with African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat.

The travel to Niger comes at a critical time for West Africa, where groups linked to Islamic State and al Qaeda continue to carry out routine attacks on civilians and the military despite costly interventions from international forces.

What began as a Mali-based insurgency in 2012 has since ballooned into a regional network of competing Islamist groups that operate across large areas of landlocked Niger, Burkina Faso and beyond.

The violence has killed thousands and displaced millions.

Blinken will meet President Mohamed Bazoum and Foreign Minister Hassoumi Massaoudou in Niamey to discuss diplomacy, democracy, development and defense, Price said.

(This story has been corrected to fix Blinken’s travel date in the headline and paragraph 1)

Reporting By Paul Grant; Editing by Doina Chiacu

Somaliland’s Berbera Economic Zone opens with DP World’s Jebel Ali Free Zone model

Somaliland’s Berbera Economic Zone opens with DP World’s Jebel Ali Free Zone model

Source: Hiiraan Online, Wednesday March 8, 2023

Hargeisa (HOL) – DP World, in partnership with the Government of Somaliland, has launched the Berbera Economic Zone (BEZ), which is set to become a major trade hub in the Horn of Africa alongside the Port of Berbera. Based on the model of DP World’s highly successful Jebel Ali Free Zone in Dubai, the BEZ aims to attract investment and create jobs in Somaliland by offering a business-friendly environment. This includes a new Special Economic Zone Law, Special Economic Zone Companies Law, fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, as well as a one-stop shop for all registration and licensing requirements, modern offices, warehousing, and serviced land plots.

“The dynamics of global trade are changing, and there is a growing need for trade infrastructure, such as economic zones, with easy and fast access to international shipping. The integration of Berbera port with the new Economic Zone is a great example of this, making Berbera a world-class trading ecosystem, now and for the future,” said Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World.

DP World has already signed an agreement with UAE-based food company IFFCO to develop a 300,000 square feet edible oil packing plant in the BEZ. A dozen more companies operating across various sectors have already registered. The BEZ is 15 km from the Port of Berbera, along the Berbera to Wajaale road, which connects to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. This integrated maritime, logistics and industrial hub will serve the Horn of Africa, a region with more than 140 million people.

The opening of the BEZ follows the inauguration of the new container terminal at the Port of Berbera in June 2021. DP World’s vision for Berbera is to develop it into a trade hub, taking advantage of its strategic location along one of the busiest sea routes in the world and access to the vast hinterland in the region, including Ethiopia.

The BEZ’s Master Plan covers more than 1,200 hectares and will be expanded over time as demand grows. With phase one now open, it offers serviced land plots for the construction of company facilities, 10,000 square meters of pre-built warehouses, build-to-suit facilities, open yard storage, a common user warehouse which DP World will operate to handle customers’ cargo, as well as office space with end-to-end IT services.

The Berbera Port is a cornerstone of the economy. As a result of the expansion, it is expected to facilitate trade equivalent to approximately 27% of Somaliland’s GDP and 75% of regional trade by 2035. The BEZ will make trade easier for businesses in Somaliland and the wider Horn of Africa, benefiting sectors such as exporters, importers, and processors of livestock, agricultural and perishable goods, textiles, and construction materials.

“This is another proud and historic moment for Somaliland and its people. After the inauguration of the container terminal at the Port of Berbera, and now with the economic zone open for business, we are taking a major leap forward in realizing our vision to establish Berbera as an integrated, regional trade gateway, which will be a key driver of economic growth, achieved through increased trade flows, foreign investment, and job creation,” said Muse Bihi Abdi, President of Somaliland, at the opening event.

“Africa-Europe Cooperation and Digital Transformation”: An Extraordinary Learning Tool for African and European Leaders

“Africa-Europe Cooperation and Digital Transformation”: An Extraordinary Learning Tool for African and European Leaders

Source: SIPRI February 6, 2023

The recently published book “Africa-Europe Cooperation and Digital Transformation”, edited by ACET collaborators Chux Daniels, Benedikt Erforth, and Chloe Teevan, provides a unique set of expert insights and thoughtful perspectives that are immensely useful for African and global policymakers in understanding innovation and digital opportunities for driving economic transformation. It is the first edited collection on the topic of Africa’s economic and digital transformation since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its release is well-timed at a moment when the international community re-engages on digital development in a world reframed by geopolitical evolutions, technological advances, and a greater appreciation for innovation and digital opportunities.

At ACET, we believe that economic growth is not enough, as the continent needs economic transformation. We define economic transformation through the framework of growth with DEPTH: Diversification, Exports, Productivity, Technology, and Human wellbeing. While the thirty-seven contributing authors of Africa-Europe Cooperation and Digital Transformation did not write their submissions with the DEPTH framework in mind, their work does support the framework’s applicability in the digital sphere. The reader can better appreciate the need for diversification in the chapter by El Aynaoui, Jaïdi, and Zaoui on digitalization and industrialization (chapter 7); and the importance of SMEs to digitally transform if they are to reap the benefits of regional trade (exports) within the framework of the AfCFTA as outlined by Fafunwa and Odufuwa (chapter 5).

Productivity is a key theme in Banga’s chapter on African labor markets (chapter 6), where she explores the potential for digital technologies to contribute to productivity gains across agriculture, manufacturing, and services. Technological upgrading is naturally addressed in numerous chapters such as those by Bashir and Daniels on digital skills (chapter 13). The chapters on additional frontier issues are particularly insightful. These include the chapter on the biotech revolution by Pauwels and Tilmes (chapter 4) and the chapter on digital water by Ashraf (chapter 8). These chapters highlight policy issues and opportunities “over the horizon” that policymakers should be thinking about now, particularly regarding regulatory frameworks and incentivizing policy.

Finally, there is a welcome strong emphasis on human well-being throughout the book. The concluding chapters on gender provide a fitting and optimistic closing. The chapter on feminist digital development (chapter 15) by Sladkova and Bashir highlights gaps in partnership approaches between Europe and Africa, while the final chapter on female entrepreneurs (chapter 16) by Beleyi highlights the importance of creating networks and ecosystems for female innovators that are fit for purpose.

The book very helpfully places traditional international development themes in a digital context, while also addressing policy issues that are new to African and European policymakers. For example, the discussion of data protection (chapter 10) by Erforth and Martin-Shields emphasizes that Kenya only enacted a data protection law in 2019, drawing on the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GPDR). But as a new regulation, it faces familiar challenges such as public buy-in, uncertain transition frameworks, and a lack of public institutional support for implementation.

Likewise, the chapter on digital sovereignty (chapter 2) by Fritzsche and Spoiala and the chapter on Chinese surveillance in Africa (chapter 3) by Jili are must-reads for policymakers. Since most African governments are highly dependent on non-African actors for connectivity, devices, and services, stakeholders need to be cognizant of, and better understand, the interplay of digital development and digital sovereignty.

As the global economy continues to struggle with food and energy supply challenges, rising interest rates, and increasing trade fragmentation, Africa can benefit from continuing its digital transformation. But this will require a stronger focus by African policymakers, an enhanced role for the African Union, and well-considered global partnerships, including with Europe. The EU is attempting to build digital partnerships through initiatives such as the Global Gateway and the Digital for Development Hub, which should be welcomed, but require informed dialogue.

The editors of “Africa-Europe Cooperation and Digital Transformation” should be commended for bringing together authors around the themes of politics, policies, and people, which at the same time helps informs frameworks such as ACET’s “Growth with DEPTH”. Its true value is in providing policymakers in Africa, Europe, and beyond with a window to future digital policy issues and helping them understand how to benefit from well-considered partnerships that are also fraught with complexity.

The book can be an extraordinary learning tool for African leaders. It can inform collective positions and a common African voice which are needed for effective Europe-Africa digital partnership. Through its insights African and European leaders can strive for mutually beneficial impact while supporting Africa’s digital and economic transformation

After 30 years of fighting, hunger the last straw for Horn of Africa’s most vulnerable: UNHCR

After 30 years of fighting, hunger the last straw for Horn of Africa’s most vulnerable: UNHCR

Source: UN, 1 March 2023


After 30 years of fighting, hunger the last straw for Horn of Africa’s most vulnerable: UNHCR

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Survivors of decades of conflict in the Horn of Africa have told the UN how hunger and drought have finally uprooted them from their homes.

To help 3.3 million people who’ve been displaced in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, issued an urgent appeal this week for $137 million.

And although famine was narrowly prevented last year, the humanitarian outlook for 2023 is extremely uncertain, as the agency’s Olga Sarrado tells UN News’s Daniel Johnson.

Audio Credit

Daniel Johnson, UN News – Geneva



Photo Credit

UN Geneva

UK Relations with Ethiopia

UK Relations with Ethiopia

 Source: The Royal United Services Institute published in February 2023 a study titled “On Shifting Ground: An Appraisal of UK Engagement in Ethiopia” by Simon Rynn.

The paper looks at UK engagement in Ethiopia from 2015 to the present, concluding that London has made some limited progress on aspects of its foreign policy agenda in the country.  But the UK has been constrained by smaller and unpredictable budgets, the unplanned merger of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development, the absence of a detailed strategy for Ethiopia, and weaknesses with leadership.  The overriding limiting factor for UK action in Ethiopia in recent years has, however, been a worsening operating context since a change in Ethiopia’s leadership in 2018.

South Sudan: Renewable Energy for Peace

South Sudan: Renewable Energy for Peace

Source:  The Stimson Center published in February 2023 a report titled “Renewable Energy & the United Nations: A Green Spark for Peace in South Sudan” by Eugene Chen, Flora McCrone, and David Mozersky.

The report looks at electricity access (7 percent of South Sudan’s population) in relationship to South Sudan’s conflict, which is exacerbated by an oil economy, and the options to harness renewable energy as a tool for peace and development.  

Ethiopia Wants to End UN Human Rights Inquiry into Tigray War

Ethiopia Wants to End UN Human Rights Inquiry into Tigray War

 Source: Reuters published on 27 February 2023 an article titled “Exclusive: Ethiopia Seeks to End U.N.-ordered Probe into Tigray War Abuses” by Emma Farge and Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber.

Ethiopia has circulated a resolution at the 47-member UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) calling for the Tigray inquiry to end six months early, which would also block publication of its findings and a final debate at the UNHRC.

US increases military support for Somalia against al-Shabab

US increases military support for Somalia against al-Shabab

Source: AP, Thursday March 2, 2023


The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, right, sits on a military transport plane as it prepares to depart from Mogadishu, Somalia, Jan. 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Cara Anna)

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — The United States is increasing its military assistance to Somalia as the country sees success in battling what the U.S. calls “the largest and most deadly al-Qaida network in the world.”

Sixty-one tons of weapons and ammunition arrived Tuesday in Mogadishu, the U.S. said in a statement of support for a historic Somalia-led military offensive against al-Shabab extremists that has recaptured dozens of communities since August.

In a separate joint statement with other leading security partners Qatar, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Britain, the U.S. said they will support Somalia’s efforts to manage weapons and ammunition that could allow the United Nations Security Council to lift its arms embargo on the country.

“A very productive meeting,” Somalia’s national security adviser, Hussein Sheikh-Ali, tweeted after the Washington gathering.

The government of Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud declared “total war” last year on the thousands of al-Shabab extremists who for more than a decade have controlled parts of the country and carried out devastating attacks while exploiting clan divisions and extorting millions of dollars a year in their quest to impose an Islamic state.

The current offensive was sparked in part by local communities and militias driven to the brink by al-Shabab’s harsh taxation policies amid the country’s worst drought on record. Somalia’s government quickly lent support. Now neighbors Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti have agreed to a joint “search and destroy” military campaign.

Somalia is recovering from decades of conflict, and the federal government is eager to shed the country’s history as a failed state and attract investment. Under the current president, the government is cracking down on al-Shabab’s financial network and encouraging religious authorities to reject the extremist group’s propaganda — even enlisting a former deputy al-Shabab leader as Somalia’s current minister for religious affairs.

The U.S. has an estimated 450 military personnel in Somalia after President Joe Biden reversed his predecessor Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces. The U.S. supports Somali forces and a multinational African Union force with drone strikes, intelligence and training.

The increased support for the Somalia-led offensive comes as the AU force is set to withdraw from the country and hand over security responsibilities to Somalia by the end of 2024.

Qatar to host six-party meeting on Somalia in coming months

Source: Qatar to host six-party meeting on Somalia in coming months
Thursday March 2, 2023

Parties at the Washington meeting have agreed to reconvene in Doha “within the next three months for ongoing discussions and to take stock of progress.”

Qatar has renewed its commitment to peace in Somalia during a six-party meeting held in the United States to tackle counterterrorism in the African country, confirming a follow -up meeting in Doha in the coming months.

In a statement, the US State Department said the meeting on Tuesday dealt with “Somalia’s security, state-building, development, and humanitarian priorities.”

The participants at the meeting included Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.

“They discussed how to better support Somalia’s fight against Al-Shabaab and prepare for the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia drawdown, and agreed to strengthen coordination of international security assistance,” the State Department statement read.

Translating to ‘The Youth’ in Arabic, Al Shabaab first emerged as the extremist youth wing of the now-defunct Union of Islamic Courts in Somalia, which ruled Mogadishu in 2006 before Ethiopian forces drove them out.

Qatar condemns attack in Somalia as death toll rises to 100

Al-Shabaab holds connections to other militant groups in Africa, including Boko Haram in Nigeria, and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which is based in the Sahara desert.

The group seeks to overthrow the central government of Somalia and install its own system of governance based on a strict application of Islamic law, also known as sharia.

In October, the US military claimed to have killed Abdullahi Nadir, a group leader of the militant Al-Shabaab.

Parties at the Washington meeting agreed to reconvene in Doha “within the next three months for ongoing discussions and to take stock of progress.”

The parties said they are committed to supporting Mogadishu’s “efforts to meet the benchmarks on weapons and ammunition management” to enable the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to fully lift the arms controls on Somalia’s government.

During the height of the conflict in Somalia in 1992, the UNSC established an arms embargo on the country that was since amended to provide exemptions.

Currently, the embargo is set to last until 17 November this year.

Representatives at the Washington meeting also voiced backing for political reconciliation in Somalia as well as steps to finalise the constitution.

“The partners encourage and support Somalia’s National Consultative Council (NCC) process in promoting political reconciliation and to delineate the roles and responsibilities of levels of government in Somalia, including by finalising the constitution,” the statement read.

Officials also tapped into the ongoing conflict between forces from Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Somaliland and Dhulbahante militia in the Somali city of Lascaanood.

“The partners expressed concern about the ongoing conflict in and around Lascanood and called on all parties to adhere to the ceasefire, de-escalate, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and engage in constructive and peaceful dialogue,” the joint communique read.

Meanwhile, the worsening drought in Somalia has been a key issue of concern and has driven out thousands to neighbouring areas.

“They welcomed support along with international actors to meet the immediate needs of the Somali people, while also strengthening Somalia’s ability to withstand future climate shocks,” the parties said.

Last year, the UN said that more than 755,000 people have been internally displaced in Somalia because of the country’s severe drought, raising the total to one million since January 2021.

The dry season is the worst in 40 years, with more fears over a rise in famine and displacement.

In April last year, Qatar announced plans to invest $1.5 million as part of an emergency response and “resilience-building” in Somalia

Somalia’s neighbors to send additional troops to fight Al-Shabab

Somalia’s neighbors to send additional troops to fight Al-Shabab

Source: VOA, Harun Maruf
Thursday March 2, 2023

FILE – Security patrol the streets during fighting between al-Shabab extremists and soldiers in Mogadishu, Somalia, Feb. 21, 2023. Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya have agreed to send additional troops to support Somali forces against al-Shabab, a Somali official said March 1, 2023.

WASHINGTON — The three neighboring countries of Somalia are to send new troops to support Somali forces against al-Shabab in the next phase of military operations, the national security adviser for the Somali president said.

In an interview with VOA’s Somali Service on Wednesday, Hussein Sheikh-Ali said Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya will be sending troops in addition to the soldiers they already have serving as part of the African Transitional Mission in Somalia, or ATMIS. He said the new troops will not be part of the ATMIS mission.

“It is their plan to be coming inside Somalia within eight weeks,” he said.

Ali declined to give specific number of the incoming troops, citing “operational purposes.”

“Their role is to jointly plan and jointly operate under the command of the Somali security forces,” he said. “So, they will be fighting against al-Shabab alongside Somali forces. That is the plan.”

The leaders of the three countries attended a summit hosted by Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on February 1 in Mogadishu. In a communique at the time, they said they have agreed to jointly plan and organize a robust operational campaign to “search and destroy” al-Shabab on multiple frontlines.

“The time-sensitive campaign will prevent any future infiltrating elements into the wider region,” the communique read.

Asked why the military operations against al-Shabab have paused recently, Ali said the government is concluding the first phase of the operations.

“It is a calm before the storm,” he said. “We are preparing the second phase … and with the support of the extra non-ATMIS forces from our neighboring countries joining the fight, it is a planning time, that’s why it looks it is quiet.”

He said the objective of the second phase is to be able to take over “every village and town” that al-Shabab is now controlling.

Matt Bryden, a Horn of Africa regional security expert, said the intervention of additional, non-ATMIS forces “could certainly accelerate efforts to degrade and defeat” al-Shabab.

But, he added, “Since the FGS [Federal Government of Somalia] and partners have telegraphed their intentions, al-Shabab is likely to disperse its fighters and avoid direct military engagements as far as possible.”

Bryden warned that the success of the second phase offensive will hinge on two key considerations.

“First, planning,” he said. “Counterinsurgency operations should be intelligence-led, with clearly defined objectives such as dismantling specific al-Shabab bases and neutralizing high-value jihadist leaders.”

The second factor is the availability of holding forces to secure newly recovered territory after the clearing forces have passed through, he said.

“Recent FGS operations against al-Shabab in central Somalia have highlighted the absence of capable holding forces,” he added.

Arms embargo

Meanwhile, the Somali government has received a boost in its quest to have the decades-old weapons embargo lifted.

This week, representatives from the United States, United Kingdom, Turkey, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — five countries that provide security assistance to Somalia — met in Washington, D.C., with Somali officials.

In a statement, the countries said they are committed to supporting Somalia’s effort to meet benchmarks on weapons and ammunition management with a view to “fully lift” the arms embargo by the United Nations.

Ali, who attended the meeting, said that to have the backing of the five countries was “significant.”

“It was the first time that two Security Council members have openly came up supporting Somalia in lifting arms embargo,” he said.

“And it’s a very promising five important countries with us to help achieve all the benchmarks that is required for Somalia to achieve before November this year, but also to lobby for Somalia politically within the Security Council.”

The U.N. weapons embargo was imposed in 1992 at the height of the civil war in Somalia. In 2013, the U.N. slightly eased the embargo allowing the government to buy light weapons.

Bryden, who previously served as the coordinator for the United Nations Monitoring for Somalia, said lifting the embargo would not alter Somali government access to military hardware.

“Because it is already exempt from many aspects of the embargo or is simply required to notify the U.N. Security Council of arms imports,” he said.

“But since the FGS does not directly control any of Somalia’s land borders or its major ports, other than Mogadishu, lifting the embargo would potentially make it easier for non-state actors, as well as Somalia’s federal member states, to obtain arms and ammunition with no fear of consequences.”

Some might say that this is already the case, but it is hard to see how lifting the arms embargo would improve this situation, Bryden added.

This week, the United States delivered the second shipment of weapons to Somalia this year. The 61 tons of AK-47, heavy machine guns, and ammunition arrived off two U.S. Airforce C-17 aircraft at Mogadishu airport.

On January 8, the U.S. announced the donation of $9 million of heavy weapons, equipment including support and construction vehicles, explosive ordinance disposal kits, medical supplies, and maintenance equipment for vehicles and weapons, according to the U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM.