Latest News Regarding
Horn of Africa
Corruption Threatens South Sudan Peace Progress
The authors argue that unless blatant corruption is brought under control in South Sudan, the chances for social, political, and economic stability are slim.
Challenges facing Ethiopia
This article reviews the challenges facing Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed.
Women in Somali Politics
In recent election cycles, the Somali parliament has mandated a 30 percent quota for women. Although Somalia continues to fall short of the quota, in the 2016/2017 cycle women did constitute 24 percent of all parliamentarians. Women are slowly making progress and agitating for even higher percentages.
Sustainable farming, ‘key’ to world free of hunger, malnutrition, says UN agriculture chief
Source: UN News´Center, 17 September 2018
Focusing this year on the links between agricultural trade, climate change and food security, Director-General José Graziano da Silva said in the foreword that “ensuring food security for all is both a key function of, and a challenge for agriculture, which faces ever-increasing difficulties.”
“As populations rise, urbanization increases and incomes grow, the agricultural sector will be under mounting pressure to meet the demand for safe and nutritious food,” Mr. da Silva explained.
Climate change will have an increasingly adverse impact on many regions of the world, with those in low latitudes being hit the hardest – FAO chief
He sized up that agriculture must generate decent jobs to support billions of rural people globally, especially in developing countries where hunger and poverty are concentrated.
Turning to the warming planet, he underscored that agriculture is pivotal in helping to sustain the world’s natural resources and biodiversity.
“Climate change will have an increasingly adverse impact on many regions of the world, with those in low latitudes being hit the hardest,” he said.
The report points out that by the middle of this century, higher temperatures, precipitation changes, rising sea levels, extreme weather events and a likely increase in damage due to pests and disease, will all significantly impact agriculture and food security.
Climate change impacts will be affect different places in different ways, with variations across crops and regions. Arid and semi-arid regions will be exposed to even lower rainfall levels and higher temperatures, lowering crop yields.
Countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America will be disproportionately affected, many of which already suffer from poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition.
Conversely, countries in temperate, largely more-developed areas, may benefit from warmer weather during their growing season, further exacerbating existing inequalities and widening the development gap.
“Unless we take urgent action to combat climate change, we can expect to see a very different global picture of agriculture in the future,” the FAO chief stressed.
Agricultural trade impact
The relationship between agricultural trade and food security is increasingly important in both trade and development agendas, with developing countries requiring international support to cope with climate change.
While international trade can potentially stabilize markets and reallocate food from surplus to deficit regions, Mr. Graziano da Silva emphasized: “We must ensure that the evolution and expansion of agricultural trade is equitable and works for the elimination of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition globally.”
Against the backdrop that the world’s food system overall in 2050 will need to produce almost 50 per cent more, compared to 2012, according to the report, the sector needs to adjust to climate change effects and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while meeting a growing demand.
Producing more with less, while preserving natural resources and enhancing the livelihoods of small-scale family farmers, will be a key challenge for the future.
“Developing and implementing policies that shift global agricultural production onto a more sustainable path, protect the most vulnerable countries and regions…will be key if we are to see a world free of hunger and malnutrition by 2030,” concluded the Director-General.
Is the Ethiopia-Eritrea Peace Permanent?
The author concludes that while peace remains subject to the whims of Eritrea’s president, structural and regional changes help to ensure that peace is in the interest of both parties.
Eritrea’s Foreign Success May Inhibit Domestic Policy Reform
Source: African Arguments posted on 12 September 2018 a commentary titled “Eritrea: Why Change Abroad Doesn’t Mean Change at Home” by Salih Noor.
The author argues that Eritrea’s improved relations with Gulf States may strengthen and embolden President Isaias Afwerki so that he avoids making needed domestic reforms.
Eritrea, Djibouti leaders hold historic meeting in Saudi Arabia hare
Source: africanews, Tuesday September 18, 2018
The historic meeting between the leaders of Eritrea and Djibouti on Monday ‘opens a new page to promote peace and stability in the region’, the Saudi Arabia foreign minister, Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir said.
Eritrea’s president Isaias Afwerki met his Djibouti counterpart, Ismail Omar Guelleh met in Saudi Arabia, one day after the Gulf nation recognised the peace efforts of Afwerki and Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed.
Djibouti and Eritrea, normalised relations two weeks ago after a delegation of Eritrean, Somali and Ethiopian foreign ministers initiated dialogue to resolve a long-standing border dispute.
The disputed land in question is the Dumeira mountain and Dumeira island which Djibouti claims is being illegally occupied by Eritrea.
While Djibouti had petitioned the United Nations and the African Union to ‘facilitate an agreement between the two countries, Guelleh on Tuesday said his country has always favoured dialogue as a means to resolve the dispute.
‘‘We have never ceased to call for the settlement of the dispute between us and Eritrea by means of dialogue,’‘ Guelleh said, adding that the region can only ‘achieve sustainable development and real economic integration without the prior realization of lasting stability’.The Djibouti – Eritrea standoff is seen by most political and security analysts as the final rift needed to be solved to restore durable peace to the Horn of Africa region.
Somali PM rejects foreign mediation in internal affairs
Source: The EastAfrican, By ABDULKADIR KHALIF
Monday September 17, 2018
Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre has said that his government would not accept foreign mediation between the member states and the federal government.
Mr Khayre was reacting to suggestions from the leaders of the federal states that a third party be invited to any talks between them and the Mogadishu-based Somali government.
The Premier made the declaration on Sunday at a ceremony held in Mogadishu to re-launch a self-help programme called Isxilqaan.
The leaders of the five member states of the federal government, namely Puntland, Jubaland, Southwest, Hirshabelle and Galmudug on September 8 issued a communiqué withdrawing cooperation with the central government.
The communiqué followed a conference held in Kismayu, 500km south of Mogadishu.The regional leaders expressed grievances on insecurity, the sharing of natural resources and the interference by the central government in the affairs of the member states, which they want addressed before resumption of cooperation.
Mr Khayre, however, asserted that the days of Somali leaders seeking foreign mediation on internal issues were over. He reiterated that all differences should be sorted out through compromises.
“We welcome that all grievances are cleared through dialogue and compromises, considering the interest of the Somali people,” said Mr Khayre.
He particularly noted that Mogadishu could host a meeting of the Somali leaders, indirectly rejecting the suggestion that the capital was insecure.
“We cannot accept people saying that Mogadishu’s security was unreliable,” Mr Khayre stressed.
“This is the Somali capital. A city in which we have all invested and stands as a symbol of our sovereignty,” he added.
Presidents Ahmed Mohamed Islam Madobe of Jubbaland, Mohamed Abdi Ware of Hirshabelle, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gaas of Puntland, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden of Southwest and Ahmed Duale Gelle Haaf of Galmudug had not responded to call by their Somalia counterpart Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo to attend a national security council meeting in Mogadishu on Monday.
President Farmajo is the chair of the national security council that include the presidents of the members states and the Governor of Banadir region (Mogadishu and surrounding areas).
The failure of the regional leaders to attend the meeting would be assumed to be directly related to the suspension of cooperation with the central government announced in Kismayu on September 8.
Leila Ali Elmi makes history as first Somali-Swede elected to Swedish parliament hare
Source: Hiiraan Online
Sunday September 16, 2018
Leila Ali Elmi – SUPPLIED
Stockholm (HOL) – Leila Ali Elmi, a Somali-Swedish woman from Gothenburg has won a seat in Sweden’s parliament known as the ‘Riksdag’, making her the first East African woman to be elected to parliament.
The news was well received by Sweden’s Somali community, a welcomed reprieve to the political uncertainty surrounding the election deadlock. This years election campaign was dominated by headlines from the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats (SD), whose populist rhetoric lurched the leftist liberal Scandinavian country to the right of the political spectrum.
Leila ran on the Green Party (Miljöpartiet) ticket for Angered district in Gothenburg. Her constituency is home to a large number of East African immigrants including at least 14,000 Somalis. She has been a member of the Angered district council since 2014.
Leila is a Somali native who sought refuge in Sweden along with her family in the early 1990’s while civil war-ravaged Somalia.
She grew up in Angered is a suburb in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second-largest city. The suburb is tucked away into the north-eastern edge of the city, at the very end of the tramline and has some of the highest unemployment rates in the country at well over 10%.
Angered is described by commentators as “deprived and isolated” and is known as one of Sweden’s most notorious suburbs.
Leila says that education will be her main priority when she enters parliament.
“I come from a suburb and grew up in a suburb, the issue that matters to me is school policy, in the socioeconomically deprived areas it’s pretty bad schools, we have to focus on the school and that’s the question I especially when I enter the Riksdag.”
The centre-left red-green bloc (made up of the Social Democrats, Green Party, and Left Party) won 144 seats in total, while the centre-right Alliance (made up of the Moderate Party, Centre Party, Christian Democrats and Liberal Party) had 143. Meanwhile, the far-right, anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats had won 62 seats.
Sweden’s election authority met on Sunday morning to finalize the result, and are expected to determine the final allocation of parliamentary seats before the afternoon.
New UN rights chief pledges to push back on ‘centuries of prejudice and discrimination’
Source: UN,10 September 2018
The UN’s newly appointed High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, intends to push back “centuries of prejudice and discrimination” against vulnerable groups including women and the peoples of the Global South, by pushing for more consensus between Member States, she said on Monday.
Speaking for the first time at the Human Rights Council in her capacity as UN rights chief, she acknowledged that while political differences “may divide some of the countries in this room”, she intended to bring her “lifelong dedication to reversing hatred and ensuring equality and respect for all”.
Addressing the Council’s 47 Member States, she said: “Your people seek a common agenda: rights, sustainable development and peace.”
Drawing on her own country’s experience, Chile, Ms. Bachelet insisted that despite the years of dark authoritarian rule that followed a coup d’etat 45 years ago in the South American country, which profoundly affected her personally, the Chilean people now enjoy greater freedoms.
She touched only briefly on the fact that she herself had been a political prisoner – and not at all on her own experience of undergoing torture – a refugee, and subsequently a doctor who cared for child victims who had been tortured, as well as being twice-elected Chile’s elected President, and being appointed the first head of UN Women, in 2011.
“My country has known the pain and terror of tyranny,” she said. “But I am proud to say we have been able to surmount divisions and meet vast challenges – shaping institutions which enable greater participation, and greater freedom, justice and dignity, for our people.”
Human Rights Council
Turning to the Council – which has faced calls for reform, not least by the United States which withdrew its membership in June – Ms. Bachelet expressed how she “deeply admired” its work, along with the UN rights “treaty” bodies which scrutinize the human rights record of every state in the world; and numerous UN-appointed independent experts and fact-finding missions.
“Your expanding agenda and increased workload are not only a testament to the world’s failures to uphold human rights, they are also a mark of your importance,” she said, before repeating the words of the late UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that “no country, no matter how powerful or wealthy” can hope to solve the issues which face States in today’s complex, globalized world.
I believe there should be more engagement by all Member States – not sterile disputes; not withdrawals; but collective, coordinated and cooperative work to sustain core principles – rights chief, Michelle Bachelet
“I am convinced that this Council must strive for consensus,” she said. “I believe there should be more engagement by all Member States – not sterile disputes; not withdrawals; but collective, coordinated and cooperative work to sustain core principles and common goals.”
While underscoring the “primary responsibility” of States to uphold the rights of their people, Ms. Bachelet emphasized that she would strive to ensure that they promoted “all human rights”: civil, political, economic, social and cultural.
“Irrespective of the type of political regime in a given country, the Human Rights Council has the duty to advocate and to assist transformative improvements in upholding all rights,” Ms Bachelet said.
In common with her predecessor, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the rights chief highlighted specific countries where alleged rights abuses required further international attention.
These included Myanmar, where the High Commissioner welcomed the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) recent finding that it has jurisdiction over deciding responsibility for the mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims, victims of what Zeid had emphatically called “a textbook case of ethnic cleansing”.
Welcoming the efforts of some Council Members to “collect, consolidate and preserve and analyse evidence of the most serious international crimes” in Myanmar, she called on the body to pass a resolution so that the UN General Assembly could endorse an independent mechanism that could complement the work of the ICC.
“This is an immensely important step toward ending impunity and addressing the enormous suffering of the Rohingya people,” she said.
The “impending crisis” of Syria’s Idlib was also a matter of deep concern, she continued, given the potential impact of ongoing military operations in the north-western governorate, home to nearly three million people.
“The suffering of the people of Syria has been interminable and terrible,” she said. “I urge all nations to take all necessary action to urgently ensure their protection, as well as justice for the massive human rights violations that they have endured.”
Turning to the issue of migration, and amid reports of violence against migrants in Germany, the new human rights chief insisted that it was in States’ interest to adopt policies that were “grounded in reality, not in panic”.
In December, States are due to adopt the Global Compact on Migration, Ms Bachelet noted, a balanced human rights document that aims to reduce the vulnerabilities of the world’s 256 million migrants.
Historically, people have always moved in search of hope and opportunities, the High Commissioner said. “Erecting walls, deliberately projecting fear and anger at migrant communities; denying migrants fundamental rights by denying them the right to appeal…separating and detaining families…such policies offer no long-term solutions to anyone, only more hostility, misery, suffering and chaos.”
Russia Reengaging in Africa?
The article argues that Russia is reengaging in Africa following a lengthy visit to Africa by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, major military engagement in the Central African Republic (CAR), an agreement for a logistics base in Eritrea, and the continuation of long-standing arms sales to Africa. While Russia’s engagement in the CAR is something of a mystery, the other activity is reminiscent during the past ten years of short-lived upticks in Russian interest in Africa only to be followed by a return to somnolence. It is not yet clear what will happen this time.
War on Terror Grows in Somalia
The author discusses the implications of the uptick in the use by the United States of armed drones in Somalia, arguing that while they have had some military success and bought time to train Somali government forces, there has been no progress in reaching political stability in the country.
Can Ethiopia’s Reforms Succeed?
The author concludes that it is not yet clear whether Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed will succeed, and progress so far has been mixed. But if he does, Ethiopia will have a chance not only to reinvent itself but also to bring a wave of reform and perhaps even democratization to the wider region.
Somalia praises ‘genuine brother’ Turkey for bombs response
Source: Reuters, Wednesday September 12, 2018
Turkey’s swift response to Somalia’s deadliest truck bombing drew praise from survivors and officials who called Ankara their “only genuine” international partner.
It is an implicit challenge to Western backers that spend billions on security but have not, in the view of many Somalis; jumped to help.
“Whenever there is a problem, Turkey helps us. Where are the other countries?” runs a popular cartoon circulating on Somali social media.
Within 48 hours of the huge twin explosions that hit Mogadishu on Oct. 14, a Turkish air ambulance had landed in the battle-scarred capital and picked up dozens of wounded Somalis to transport them to Turkey for free medical treatment.
Turkey’s Health Minister Ahmet Demircan also pitched up with surgeons who set to work at once in hospitals alongside Somali doctors and nurses.
Ankara has invested heavily in Somalia over the past five years.
“Turkey is the best friend to Somalia and they were the first supporter to us after the blast,” said Abdiasis Ahmed, a jobless university graduate who said four friends had been airlifted out, one with a broken back.
At least 300 people were killed in the blasts and more than 400 injured. Although extremist al-Shabaab militants were pushed out of Mogadishu in 2011, the attack – which al-Shabaab has not claimed – shows the dangers still facing the capital.
Many Somalis contrasted Ankara’s response with that of the European Union, which has a naval force including combat ships equipped with emergency medical systems off Mogadishu’s shore to deter piracy, but which did not take in casualties.
“I’ve heard a lot of complaints from Somalis saying ‘There’s a huge Western navy on our shores – why can’t those people come to help us?’,” said Rashid Abdi, a Nairobi-based Somalia analyst at International Crisis Group, a think-tank.
A spokesman from the naval force said the force had diverted its nearest vessel, a Spanish ship, that delivered equipment and medical supplies once it reached the Somali coastline. He said the maritime area the force covers is “vast” but the ship arrived Mogadishu “as quickly as possible.”
A tweet from the naval force earlier on Oct. 18 said it was providing “vital medical aid” for the victims.
Senior officials also compared the speed and scale of Turkey’s assistance with that of Somalia’s foreign partners, including neighbours Kenya and Djibouti and the United States and the United Nations.
Mogadishu Mayor Thabit Mohamed tweeted on Oct. 16 that he was grateful for Turkey’s “immediate response” and “relief for victims”, compared with a “Thanks for standing with #Mogadishu” tweet 24 hours later aimed at the U.S. Embassy.
“Turkey is always first to help us. They are our only genuine brother,” Information Minister Abdirahman Omar Osman told Reuters, recalling a personal visit by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2011, when Somalia was in the grip of famine.
“Their support is visible to everyone. They build hospitals, they build schools, and that’s why they are different than others,” he said.
“Others might give more money but Turkey is perceived by the people to be the ones really helping Somalia.”
Ethiopia, Eritrea reopen border points for first time in 20 years
Source: Reuters, Tuesday September 11, 2018
Thousands of people from both countries watched one ceremony in Zalambessa, an Ethiopian border town that was reduced to rubble soon after hostilities between the neighbors broke out in 1998.
Soldiers and civilians waving Ethiopian and Eritrean flags lined the road as Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki opened the frontier in a ceremony broadcast live on Ethiopian TV.
“This is the happiest day of my life,” Ruta Haddis, an Eritrean from the town of Senafe just across the frontier, told reporters. “I never thought this would take place in my lifetime.”
insideThe war over their border and other issues killed an estimated 80,000 people before fighting between Eritrea and Ethiopia ended in 2000 in a contested peace deal.
Tensions burned on over the position of the frontier – until Abiy offered to end the military standoff this year as part of a package of reforms that have reshaped the political landscape in the Horn of Africa and beyond.
Ever since, landlocked Ethiopia has made it a priority to reopen roads connecting it to Eritrea, which has ports on the Red Sea.
The two leaders also opened another frontier crossing at Bure, Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane Meskel said in a tweet.
ETHIOPIAN NEW YEAR
Pictures posted online by Abiy’s chief of staff showed the leaders talking and walking side by side, Abiy in camouflaged military fatigues and Isaias wearing sandals and a safari suit.
The Bure region saw some of the fiercest fighting during the 1998-2000 war.
Eritrea and Ethiopia share a border that stretches for more than 1,000 km (620 miles), but there were no details of other border openings on Tuesday.
The Eritrean and Ethiopian leaders have moved swiftly to end two decades of hostility since signing a breakthrough agreement in Asmara on July 9 to restore ties.
Eritrea reopened its embassy in Ethiopia in July, and Ethiopia reciprocated last week.
The two countries have resumed flights. Eritrea has agreed to open up its ports to its landlocked neighbor and last week announced plans to upgrade a connecting road.
The two leaders also celebrated Ethiopian new year together at the border with their troops on Tuesday, Abiy’s Chief of Staff, Fitsum Arega, said.
Ethiopia follows a calendar similar to the ancient Julian calendar – which started disappearing from the West in the 16th century – meaning the country entered its year 2011 on Tuesday
Source: December 18, 2011, East African
The wider East African region is special – and even notorious – in Africa. In the past 18 years it has produced more new or wanna-be-new nations than all of Africa combined. In 1993 Ethiopia and Eritrea agreed a mutual and happy divorce. The good vibes didn’t last; they became bitter enemies and fought after it happened.
In 1991, after the Siad Barre regime was overthrown, Somalia plunged into chaos. A few years later Puntland hived itself off as a semi-independent nation. Somaliland too jumped ship. Unlike Puntland, which is open to joining a future, peaceful Somalia federation or confederation, Somaliland is determined to be independent.In February this year, South Sudan voted by nearly 100 per cent to secede from Sudan, and in July formally became Africa’s newest country. That is four major border remakes in less than 20 years. How many new countries have arisen in the rest of Africa as a result of a break-up of existing countries (Saharawi Republic doesn’t count)? ZERO!! Precisely because secessionist and breakaway demons roam the wider East Africa, the feeling is that over the next 20 to 50 years, we shall see more nations breaking up or being swallowed as others grow.
For anyone interested in the future borders of what is sometimes called the Greater Horn of Eastern Africa (GHEA) – comprising Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and DR Congo – two studies are recommended. The first is a popular piece of work “Fluid Borders: Integration, Federation, and Fragmentation”, by the Society for International Development (SID) which was published in its journal Greater Horn of Eastern Africa Outlook (November 2010).
The second was by one of Africa’s leading border experts, Wafula Okumu, who now works with the African Union’s Border Programme. His “Resources and borders disputes in Eastern Africa”, published in the July 2010 issue of the Journal of Eastern African Studies is a fascinating look at how Africa’s borders were made. Okumu argues that contrary to the dominant view, not all colonial borders were arbitrarily drawn. There was a lot of logic to the madness. Colonial powers, according to Okumu, drew borders on the basis of some cold logic; to secure known mineral wealth, and to control rivers and lakes – one reason why natural features became border makers.
Secondly, he argues, after the British were routed in the Second Anglo-Boer war, they studied the reasons for their defeat and reached the kind of conclusion African generals and politicians wouldn’t – they lost because of the poor quality and lack of detailed maps for the British military. They formed the Colonial Survey Committee to draw up maps of Africa – and the exercise was largely done by the military. “To the military, a map of features could be more important than a detailed and accurate demarcation of a boundary,” he writes. But one of the most eye-popping gems in the articles, is the citation that, “For all of Africa, only 200,000 square miles of territory had been surveyed in detail by 1914, when some 3.8 million square miles remained unexplored by Europeans.”
I’ll dwell on two of the many implications that can be drawn from this. First, because the focus of colonial borders was more on dividing up mineral and natural resources, it can be expected that future border conflicts in Africa – as both the GHEA Outlook and Okumu note – will come from disputes over resources. Secondly, because most African borders were based on a military and resource logic, not much social engineering went into them. We can confidently predict, therefore, that a future cultural remake of our borders is inevitable.
There is, for example, talk among Luo revivalist nationalists in northern Uganda, northeast DR Congo, South Sudan (and indeed Kenya) of the re-creation of a greater Lado Republic (in 1912 the Lado Enclave stretched from Sudan to a large part of northern Uganda). This would see bits of northern and northeastern Uganda and South Sudan forming a big Luo nation.
In Rwanda during the war that eventually ended after the 1994 genocide, in which over one million people were killed, at one point there were Tutsi hardline purists in the rebel Rwanda Patriotic Front who were pushing for a “two-state” solution; a Tutsi one in the east, where they would never have to endure torment by the majority Hutu, and a Hutu one in the rest of the country. The idea was eventually discredited. In Kenya, apart from the Somali secessionists in the northeast, in more recent times a secessionist movement has emerged in the Coast. This would be a kind of Swahili-Arab East African Republic that, according to some of its militant advocates, would include Zanzibar Island – which would swim away from mainland Tanzania.
There was a time when Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni was wont to talk about an East and Central African mega state built on the basis of “Bantu commonality”.
One country that must be lucky to still be in one piece is DR Congo. Ten years ago there was a real fear that the vast and rich, but thinly and badly governed country, would be carved up into at least three. One, to the southeast, would be a Rwanda dominion, probably controlled by the Banyamulenge. The other to the east would be run by a Ugandan puppet regime. And the West would be left to the dominant Kinshasa elite.
On the other hand, closer home, Tanzania is thought by some observers to have become “too big” for the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) to manage – or that the country can be managed easily, but CCM has become too unimaginative for the task. And that as its hold on power slips in the year to come, Tanzania could be vulnerable. All these and more scenarios could still come true. However, the exact forces that could determine this are likely to play out from what we can foresee today.
We think borders are likely to be remade out of a dire need to survive. Countries threatened with extinction because they have run out of water or energy, will have little choice but to attack those that have a lot of it – and secure future supplies through conquest.
The GHEA Outlook and Okumu did not, for understandable reasons, examine what countries that achieve technological superiority might do to turn it to their advantage. Some GHEA countries might fail as states, while others will succeed as powerful democracies, redistributing power and conferring the ability to redraw borders on the successful ones. Within the next 30 to 50 years, East Africa borders could be very different.
What is the full range of these creative but disruptive forces that might redesign the region, and what might the new borders that will grow out of the process look like? Here are possible scenarios
SCENARIO 1: THE WATER POWERS
The first force driving border changes could be water and fuel. Virtually all the countries in the region, except Tanzania, face serious water stress in the next few years. Kenya is the most stressed: each Kenyan only has 636 cubic metres of water a year, compared with 1,270 cubic metres in Uganda and 2,035 in Tanzania. As a rule of thumb, hydrologists consider 2,000 cubic metres per person per year as the point when a country is considered “water-stressed”, and 1,000 cubic metres as when the situation is critical, and a country is “water-scarce”. So Kenya is “finished”. Water scarcity is likely to hit Uganda by 2035, and water stress will hit the country even earlier, by the year 2020. At the present rate of deforestation, it is predicted that Uganda is likely to be importing fuel wood by 2020. Nairobi water demand stands at 750,000 cubic metres a day against a supply capacity of 530,000 cubic metres. It is projected that the daily demand in 2020 will stand at 1.6 million cubic metres and climb to 2.2 million cubic metres by 2030. So Nairobi City could collapse. In this scenario, the most successful countries will be the water-rich ones or those that have been smart at environmental management: In this scenario, Rwanda and a resurgent DR Congo could eat up Uganda; and Tanzania will become the regional superpower, swallowing most of Kenya. South Sudan will take a chunk of Kenyan and Ethiopian territory.
SCENARIO 2: THE DEMOCRACY POWERS
The future of most East African nations is uncertain, because the political elite have not arrived at a long-term deal on power sharing and enshrined it in a constitution. As a result, the regimes in Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan and Ethiopia all today still need to call out the army or special forces to beat back the opposition. The only country, paradoxically, that has solved this problem is Kenya. It is the only nation in the sub region where, in the past two years, the power class has worked itself into a position where it can hold power through trickery, patronage, and sweet-talking without bringing out the army. In July this year, Kenya’s government became the first in Africa — and one of the first in the world — to be completely data open. It has a level of openness on government data that is higher than the US’s. If it can leverage all these into political dividends and the other nations don’t sort themselves out quickly, it is easy to see Kenya becoming a Democracy Top Dog and swallowing half of South Sudan, most of Uganda, and a chunk of Tanzania to become a mind-bogglingly expanded nation.
SCENARIO 3: THE RESOURCE POWERS (ENERGY & MINERALS)
When it comes to resources, Kenya does badly, as do Rwanda and Burundi, and Somalia. Rwanda’s main resource is natural gas, with 56 billion cubic metres of natural gas reserves. The resource king in the region is DRC. According to a recent report by Africa Business, the country has $24 trillion worth of untapped mineral deposits, which is equivalent to the GDP of Europe and the United States combined. The DRC has the world’s largest reserves of cobalt and significant quantities of the world’s diamonds, gold and copper. This makes the DRC potentially the richest country in the world. Then there is Tanzania. It has gold reserves of 45 million ounces, and is currently the third-largest gold producer in Africa. A recent geological survey revealed 209 million tonnes of nickel reserves, 50.9 million carats of diamond, and 103 million tonnes of iron ore, as well as 6.5 billion cubic metres of natural gas. Uganda is oil rich, with 1.5 billion barrels of oil reserves. South Sudan too has 3.5 billion – 5 billion barrels of oil reserves.
In this scenario, Tanzania will ingest Burundi, Uganda and DRC would eat Rwanda for lunch, and Kenya would all but disappear, being carved up between Uganda, Tanzania, and South Sudan. Ethiopia would, largely, remain intact.
SCENARIO 4: THE TECHNOLOGY POWERS
Despite lack of natural resources, a country can rise to power through innovation and becoming a leader in science and industry (as Japan teaches us). In East Africa today, the two nations investing heavily in technology innovation are Kenya and Rwanda. Kenya is now dubbed “the Silicon Savannah”.
Rwanda is also investing in IT education, and public health care like no other East African nation. Kenya’s private sector medical industry is years ahead of its peers. Kenya’s innovative capacity is ranked an impressive 52nd globally [third in Africa after Tunisia at 49th and South Africa at 51st], with high company spending on R&D and good scientific research institutions that collaborate well with the business sector in research activities (Global Competitiveness Report 2011/12, Word Economic Forum). The Global Competitiveness Report also showed Kenya with the second highest number of utility patents (i.e. patents for innovation) granted in sub-Saharan Africa, and fifth in Africa if you include Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria, at 0.02 patents per million of the population, which translates into 800,000 patents.
Kenyan operator Safaricom became the first-ever telecom company to create a mass mobile-banking service, setting industry standards now being copied from California to Kabul. By May of this year, Ushahidi, a crowd-sourcing platform developed in Nairobi in early 2008, which is free to download, had been used 14,000 times in 128 countries to map everything from last year’s earthquake in Haiti to this year’s Japanese tsunami and the Arab Spring.
If technology, innovation and the development of the health industry are the future, then Kenya and Rwanda will chew up Uganda, and Rwanda will gobble up Burundi and a large swathe of eastern DRC. A large part of Tanzania, and South Sudan would become Kenya territory. Interestingly, this is probably the only scenario where Somalia survives. It’s a fairly innovative country in communications, so it will survive. It will be reunited with Somaliland and Puntland, and take in the Somali/Ogaden of Ethiopia.
SCENARIO 5: THE ENERGY-AND-FOOD-HUNGRY MILITARY POWERS
The next group of winners could be countries that reasonably stabilise their internal politics, grow their economies and build strong militaries, but have no food and energy to run on. These countries will take account of the rich ones that have resources, but are disorganised, have weak militaries, and chaotic politics.
In this scenario, Rwanda will thrive. Uganda might just get by, but not enough to grow out much. Burundi might survive. Kenya, whose real military strength, it emerges, has been grossly underestimated from what we are learning from its Somalia campaign and with an interesting new political order, will thrive as well as Rwanda. Ethiopia too will do quite well. There are questions about Tanzania in this picture, as there are about South Sudan, and Somalia is a write off. So, Rwanda will expand and absorb DR Congo and its resources. Burundi too will expand considerably into the DR Congo and parts of Tanzania. There will be a small portion of DRC left that Uganda will pick up. Uganda will also pick up a little of South Sudan, but most of it will go Ethiopia and Kenya. Kenya and Ethiopia will divvy up Somalia. Kenya might get a little bite of Tanzania. Whatever the case, Tanzania will shrink.
Source: The East Africa
The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) published on 3 September 2018 a commentary titled “South Sudan Can Learn from Liberia’s Road to Peace” by Liezelle Kumalo, ISS Pretoria.
The author argues that Liberia is a good example for South Sudan of what inclusivity can achieve in establishing peace.
Are Somali Troops Prepared to Lead the War Against al-Shabab?
Source: VOA, Tuesday September 11, 2018
FILE – Somali soldiers stand at a Somali military base, near the site of an attack by al-Shabab, in Lower Juba, June 13, 2018. The base was the target of another al-Shabab assault Monday.
WASHINGTON – As the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) prepares to implement the planned phased withdrawal of more than 21,000 troops fighting militant groups, including al-Shabab and the Islamic State in Somalia, some experts are concerned that the country may not be prepared to take on the task in the face of growing political divisions and lack of military equipment and training.
As part of the first phase, AMISOM plans to withdraw about 1,000 troops by February 2019. The process of handing over responsibility of some forward-operating bases to the Somali national army has already begun.
The plan is to gradually withdraw all AMISOM troops from the country and hand over the lead security responsibility to local government forces.
The transition would occur based on the conditions on the ground and the preparedness of the Somali National Security Forces (SNFS), according to officials at AMISOM.
At a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, in late August, the military operations coordinating committee of the AMISOM urged its commanders to conduct an operational readiness assessment of the Somali national army.
But some experts charge that the timelines are hard to follow and that it would take a longer process for AMISOM to withdraw from Somalia.
“I will be surprised if these timelines are held,” Omar Mahmood, a Somali analyst with the South Africa-based Institute of Security Studies Africa, told VOA.
“I think it’s going to be a much longer process than what people are really thinking about right now,” he added.
Mahmood said there has been some progress with the training of the Somali security forces, but they are unable to take on a leading role without international support.
“If you are talking about in terms of the whole security of Somalia, no, of course not. I don’t think the security forces are ready, but I think you need to start showing some signs of progress, especially because the issue is linked to AMISOM’s talk of withdrawal,” Mahmood added.
Paul Williams, an associate professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, said he thinks the success of the process depends on accurate and calculative assessments on the ground.
“The effect is likely to vary depending on what type of forces AMISOM might withdraw, and where,” Williams told VOA. “If a relatively small number of troops were withdrawn on the basis of an accurate assessment of the al-Shabab threat, and the remaining forces are given better enablers (aviation, rapid reaction and ISR units), then the impact would likely be small or even net positive.”
Somali officials maintain that the country has made progress and that it’s in a better position to take on more responsibility for the security of parts of the country.
In May, Abdisaid Musse Ali, Somalia’s national security adviser, reportedly told a joint A.U.-U.N. delegation that he was assessing the situation in Somalia ahead of the planned transition of security responsibilities to the Somali security forces, and that his country should not be judged based on the past.
“The transition plan represents a significant change in the planning and delivery of security in Somalia. It is not business as usual,” Ali told the delegation, according to an AMISOM press release.
“We need to build a state, and building a state meant the Somalis needed to take responsibility not only of the military, but also of the administration of the country,”Ali added.
Abdulhakim Haji Mohamud Faqi, the former two-time Somali defense minister, echoed Ali’s assessment and said Somalia must be supported in its quest for gradually talking the lead.
“Somali government officials indicated that the Somali security forces are now capable and ready for the gradual handover of security responsibility from AMISOM,” Faqi told VOA. “We must trust and support the government in this aspect.”
Somali security forces are currently being trained by AMISOM, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the EU. The U.S. military’s Africa Command is also helping with training.
A U.S. military official told VOA that the U.S. trains Somali soldiers and targets terror groups.
“AFRICOM provides training and security force assistance to the SNSF, including support for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to facilitate their efforts to target violent extremist organizations in their country,” U.S. Air Force Maj. Karl Wiest, a spokesperson for AFRICOM, told VOA.
“Our military actions, to include precision strikes against the al-Qaida-aligned, al-Shabab terrorist groups, as well as ISIS-Somalia, are done in support and with the concurrence of the federal government [Somalia],” Wiest said, using an acronym for the militant group, Islamic State.
But experts point to lack of coordination among these trainer countries, which leads to poor results on the ground.
Williams, the George Washington professor, believes that several international actors have spent a decade trying to build an effective national force in Somalia, but with little success.
“This failure suggests serious changes are required to how Somalia receives security force assistance, probably involving fewer external providers,” he said.
Mahmood charges that because of the involvement of several external parties, individual units are often trained effectively. However, the macro-level training soldiers receive differs from unit to unit, depending on which country is involved, which undermines efforts of building a unified force.
“The individual trainings themselves could be very adequate, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are building a really unified force that can act in a cohesive manner,” Mahmood said.
Both Mahmood and Williams call for better coordination among countries that help train Somali soldiers.
Analysts such as Mahmood believe that the main obstacle to the creation of an effective national army in Somalia is the inability of the political class to reconcile with each other.
“There are just a high number of divisions — one at the clan level, and two at a sort of Mogadishu versus the federal member states, and so on,” Mahmood said.
“Right now, I think, what you have in some of the federal member states are militias or units that are really responding not to Mogadishu, but to their respective member state capitals,” Mahmood added.
Horn of Africa: UN chief welcomes Djibouti agreement between Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia
Source: UN News Center, 8 September 2018
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has welcomed Thursday’s meeting in Djibouti with the foreign ministers of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia with the Djiboutian head of diplomacy.
The meeting, held on 6 September in Djibouti, resulted in the signing of a cooperation agreement between Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia.
Through his spokesman, the UN chief stressed that “the agreement reached among the four Ministers to work together to restore peace and stability in the region is a positive example for the Horn and beyond.”
“The Secretary-General reiterates the readiness of the United Nations to support countries in the Horn of Africa region in consolidating the recent remarkable gains.” he said.
Djibouti hails ‘new era’ of ties with foe Eritreare
Source: Daily Mail, Friday September 7, 2018
Djibouti on Thursday hailed a new era in its relations with rival Eritrea, whose foreign minister paid a surprise visit to the country as part of a regional bid to soothe tensions between the neighbours.
The two small Horn of Africa nations have been at loggerheads for decades over the disputed border region of Doumeira, and clashes erupted in 2008. Qatar brokered a peace deal in 2010 but relations have remained strained.
Djiboutian Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf said his Eritrean counterpart Osman Saleh was visiting to “open a new era in relations between our two countries. Now it is the time for peace”.
Echoing the sentiment, Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesman Meles Alem welcomed the fact that the countries “have agreed to normalise relations and iron out their differences.”
Saleh was accompanied by his Somalian counterpart Ahmed Isse Awad and Ethiopia’s Workneh Gebeyehu who travelled to Djibouti to “advance dialogue” between the two nations, Ethiopian state media reported.
Their visit came a day after the presidents of Somalia and Eritrea and Workneh met in Asmara.
It is the latest rapprochement in the region after Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a peace pact in July ending two decades of cold war after a two-year border war that broke out in 1998.
“I think it is cooling off, peace and stability that will lead to regional integration,” said Youssouf.
– ‘Region heading towards peace –
“Today the message that we have for the Djiboutian people, the Eritrean people and all in the region, is that the Horn of Africa is heading towards peace.”
Djibouti government spokesman Naguib Ali Taher told AFP bilateral relations have been “interrupted” but that both maintain embassies in each other’s countries.
Tensions between the two countries rose last year after mediator Qatar pulled its peacekeepers out of the disputed zone of Doumeira.
This came after both Djibouti and Eritrea sided with Saudi Arabia in the row between Qatar and its Gulf neighbours.
Djibouti then accused Eritrea of briefly moving troops into Doumeira, a piece of land jutting into the Red Sea that the two countries had previously squabbled over in 1996 and 1999.
In April 1996 they almost went to war after a Djibouti official accused Asmara of shelling the town of Ras Doumeira.
In 1999 Eritrea accused Djibouti of siding with Asmara’s arch-foe Ethiopia while Djibouti alleged its neighbour was supporting Djiboutian rebels and had designs on the Ras Doumeira region, which Eritrea denied.
The clashes in 2008 came after Djibouti accused Eritrean forces of digging trenches on both sides of the border, moving several hundred metres (yards) into Djiboutian territory — which Asmara denied.
Eritrea withdrew in 2010 after Doha stepped in to mediate and sealed a deal in which further dialogue would lead to the demarcation of the border — however this was never done.
Djibouti asked both the African Union and the United Nations to help mediate the dispute after Qatar’s withdrawal.
The warming of ties in the Horn of Africa has seen Ethiopia and Eritrea re-open air links, embassies and trade routes.
Eritrea and Somalia meanwhile established diplomatic ties in July after more than ten years of tensions over accusations Asmara backed Islamic militia.