Latest News Regarding
Horn of Africa
Source: Daily Nation Kenya, By AGGREY MUTAMBO
Wednesday May 22, 2019
Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma addressing journalists outside her Nairobi office on May 21, 2019 on her talks with European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini (not in frame). Kenya and Somalia are wrangling over territorial waters rich in hydrocarbons. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Kenya is flexing its diplomatic muscles in its row with Somalia, which it accuses of continuing to violate its territorial waters rich in hydrocarbons by launching investment programmes in the disputed area.The Nation learnt that Kenya is taking measures to put pressure on Mogadishu. These include withdrawing privileges given to senior government officials, resuming stringent measures for Somali aircraft, engaging with friendly federal states, as well as tactical withdrawal of Kenyan security forces from areas they had liberated in Somalia before a transition programme is implemented.
On Tuesday, three members of the Somali delegation who had travelled to Nairobi for the launch of a European Union-sponsored cross-border conflict management programme were sent back to Mogadishu after Immigration authorities said they had no valid visas.
The three — junior minister for water and energy Osman Liban and lawmakers Ilyas Ali Hassan and Zamzam Dahir — were refused entry at the Nairobi airport for lacking visas despite holding diplomatic passports.
The officials later claimed they had been ambushed with the demand for visas, which they used to get on arrival at the airport.
Asked for comment, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma told reporters in Nairobi that the Somali officials should have obtained visas as is required.
“All of us travel with visas so, if you do not have it it can be very difficult,” she said after meeting with EU Foreign Policy boss Federica Mogherini.
Although Ms Juma said she did not have a clear picture of what had happened to the officials, she indicated she “would be very surprised if anybody was turned away with a visa”.
The Kenyan government has previously publicly criticised Somalia’s organising oil-block marketing conferences.
This was just one in a series of actions taken by Nairobi to protest at Somalia’s continuing implementation of a timeline that would culminate in oil blocks being dished out to investors.
The move came as the Somali House of Representatives passed amendments to the 2008 Petroleum Act, allowing the Upper House to routinely determine a revenue-sharing formula between the national government and the six federal states.“The Petroleum law will enable the long-term development of the country and provide the resource to establish infrastructure crucial for long-term prosperity,” said Somalia’s ministry of petroleum and mineral resources in a statement.
“With the passage of the Petroleum Law, it is anticipated that Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs) will subsequently be signed, which will enable exploration activity to then commence and hopefully lead to discoveries.”
Although the Somali ministry insisted that “no blocks in the area currently under dispute with Kenya will be part of this or future licensing rounds until settlement is reached”, the geographical location of some of the 15 blocks in question is in dispute.
Somalia sued Kenya in 2014 at the International Court of Justice seeking to redraw the sea boundary as an extension of the land border, causing the future ownership of the blocks to remain uncertain.
Yet Somalia’s programme on the 15 blocks means a potential bid date for blocks could be November 7, 2019 as the hearing of the case goes on. Nairobi sees this timeline as a violation of the need to wait for the case to be determined.
As Somalia refused to withdraw the case, Kenyan officials say Nairobi will continue with tougher measures on Mogadishu that will include freezing certain bilateral agreements.
On Monday evening, Immigration officials told the group they should have obtained visas at the Kenyan Embassy in Mogadishu before proceeding.
The three later told Somali Radio Dalsan they had been told they would have to return to Mogadishu, though some of their colleagues travelling on foreign passports had been allowed in.
“The Kenyan authorities at the airport informed these guys that such [a] plan has changed, and now everyone has to obtain a visa from Kenya’s Mission in Mogadishu,” a senior Somali official in the delegation who travelled on a foreign passport told the Nation on Monday night.
Source: Reuters, Monday May 20, 2019
MOGADISHU (Reuters) – Somalia passed a petroleum sector law on Monday, paving the way for exploration in its waters that could potentially transform the troubled country’s economy if hydrocarbon riches are found.
The new legislation allows for the creation of institutions to oversee the sector and for revenue sharing between the central government and federal states, among other objectives, the ministry of petroleum and mineral resources said in a statement.
“This is a landmark in the development of Somalia’s natural resources, which will be transformational for the country’s development,” the ministry said in the statement.
Somalia has been mired in insecurity and lawlessness since the toppling of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in the early 1990s.
However, early this year Somalia began preliminary preparations for a licensing round for 15 exploration blocks covering a total of 75,000 square kilometres, according to the statement.”With the passage of the petroleum law it is anticipated that PSAs (production-sharing agreements) will subsequently be signed, which will enable exploration activity to then commence,” the statement said.
Somalia is currently battling a threat from Islamist group al Shabaab which frequently carries out bombings in the capital Mogadishu and other parts of the country.
Al Shabaab wants to overthrow the central government and establish its own rule in the country, based on its strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ahmed Isse Awad, received on Monday in Mogadishu the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Vice-President of the European Commission, Ms. Federica Mogherini, who arrived in the Somali capital on a working visit leading a large multi-faceted delegation
Minister Awad also received the Acting Director of West and East Africa of the European Commission, Mr. Hans Stausboll, and discussed the relationship between Somalia and the European Union in the political, security and economic fields.
The federal government seeks to consolidate these long-term relations to support development projects to achieve economic growth that will reduce unemployment rates to raise the standard of living to push forward efforts to end the violence and recurrent humanitarian crises.
Somalia has a friendly relationship with the European Union.
Friday May 17, 2019
Somali Islamist insurgents are making their own explosives, according to a confidential U.N. report seen by Reuters, as they mount more frequent and deadly attacks.
The findings are a blow for internationally backed efforts to fight the al Shabaab insurgency, which has repeatedly carried out attacks in East Africa and launched dozens in Somalia this year despite a dramatic increase in U.S. air strikes.
“For the first time, post-blast laboratory analyses … indicate a clear shift in al Shabaab construction methods, away from the use of military-grade explosives and toward HME (home-made explosives,” said a confidential report by the U.N. panel of experts on Somalia, which was seen by Reuters.
“Information from a range of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) experts suggests a probable connection between the development of HME by al Shabaab and the recent increased frequency of major attacks in Mogadishu.”
The analysis was based on at least 20 attacks since July 2018, the report said.
It specify who did the analysis, but footnotes cited the U.N. Mine Action Service, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and experts who were not named but only identified by the dates on which they were interviewed.
The U.N. panel declined to comment, and the two organizations did not respond to questions from Reuters.
Somali government officials could not be reached for comment. Lt Col Charles Imbiakha, spokesman for the African Union peacekeeping force AMISOM, said it could not comment because it had not seen the report.
Al Shabaab, which wants to rule Somalia in line with a strict interpretation of sharia law, has carried out at least 19 attacks with vehicle-borne bombs that have killed more than five people in Mogadishu since September, the report found.
Hitherto, the insurgency has mostly relied on military-grade explosives, laboriously harvested by specialists from ordnance such as mines or mortars captured from soldiers or peacekeepers.
But the attacks have become more frequent, or in some cases more dramatic – most notably the truck bomb that killed more than 500 people in October 2017 at a junction where street vendors were selling petrol.
Experts have long suspected that that bomb may have used some home-made explosives, but no evidence had been made public.
The U.N. panel report also does not offer evidence but notes that al Shabaab would have needed explosives from approximately 6,000 mortars to carry out a blast of that size.
It said al Shabaab bombmakers were now mixing highly explosive nitroglycerine with ammonium nitrate or potassium nitrate – both used in fertilisers – and charcoal, although it did not say where they were being obtained.
A raid on an underground site in Mogadishu last month recovered components and chemicals that included aluminum paste, which can enhance the thermal effect of a detonation, the report said.
There are no public statistics on bombings in Somalia. The U.S. Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization, part of the Pentagon, said it did not track bombings and the Somali government does not release statistics.
Saturday May 18, 2019
The breakaway state of Somaliland is preparing to celebrate 28 years since it declared independence from Somalia.
No country recognizes Somaliland as a sovereign nation, but in the capital, preparations for the celebration are under way.
Inside a boardroom in the Somaliland parliament, legislator Abdurahman Atan explained his country’s struggle for international recognition.
“There’s a legitimate case for Somaliland to be recognized, a legitimate case to look at what has been done, legitimate case about the yearnings of Somaliland people to be free and independent,” he said. “They have a right to do so and a right to be part of the international community.”
Outside, the streets of Hargeisa were receiving a face lift ahead of Saturday, when thousands of people will gather at independence square to celebrate the anniversary of the independence declaration.
Despite the lack of international recognition, Somalilanders like Hargeisa student Mohamed Abdullahi are looking forward to the day.
“According to ourselves we are independent, and that’s why we are proud and very happy to see many people celebrating this historic day,” Abdullahi said.
Trader Ahmed Adan felt the same, calling the independence celebration a “very great day.”
Briefly independent before
Somaliland, a former British colony, briefly gained independence in 1961. Five days later, it merged with Somalia after Mogadishu gained independence from Italy.
After years of conflict and the ouster of former Somali dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, Somaliland declared independence in 1991.
Somaliland now has its own police, army and currency, and has held regular elections for parliament and a president. It enjoys relative peace and stability, unlike Somalia, where African troops are helping the government fight al-Shabab and Islamic State militants.
But without recognition, Somaliland cannot get foreign aid, and its economy is largely dependent on diaspora remittances.
Atan rejects the idea that other African countries will break apart if the world recognizes Somaliland.
“They are talking about Pandora’s box,” Atan said. “If, for example, they recognize Somaliland, they think other African regions will also ask for independence, but that’s not true.” He noted that Somaliland was an independent country before joining Somalia.
Every year, Somaliland invites representatives of foreign governments to Hargeisa to lobby its case. This year is no different, and Violet Akurut, vice chair of the Ugandan parliament’s foreign relations committee, has indicated support.
“If our country, our president, recognizes Somaliland, it will be so easy for Uganda to lobby at the African Union for the recognition of Somaliland,” Akurut said.
U.N., AU envision reunion
However, the United Nations and the African Union have refused to recognize Somaliland as an independent country. Their position is that once Somalia is peaceful and has a working central government, then the two can be reunited.
Hargeisa resident Mohammed Baarwani wants none of that.
“The Somaliland people decided to withdraw that unity from Somalia,” Baarwani said.
He hopes that someday, the rest of the world will recognize that fact.
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Somalia faults Kenya for reintroducing flight stopovers
Source: XINHUANET, Saturday May 11, 2019
MOGADISHU, (Xinhua) — The Somali government on Saturday faulted Kenya for its decision to reintroduce flight stopovers in Wajir, northeast Kenya, for all flights from Mogadishu, saying the move restricts movements of Somali citizens.
Somalia’s Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation said in a statement on Saturday that the decision by Nairobi is politicized and not good for neighborly relations.
The ministry said the matter will be referred to the relevant authorities to assess an “appropriate” response, saying Kenya has not fully explained why it has taken the unilateral decision to see Mogadishu flights bound for Nairobi to pass through Wajir airport for security checks.
The ministry also urged Kenya to “reconsider” the decision which it said is going to restrict trade and travels between the two countries.A notice from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) issued early this week ordered all flights from Mogadishu to stop in Wajir airport for security checks before proceeding to Nairobi.
The two neighboring countries agreed on March 2017 to resume the direct flights between Mogadishu and Nairobi and ended the 10 years of Wajir short stopovers.
The Wajir security stopover, which was introduced by Kenya in 2006, is conducted by security agencies and involves passengers disembarking from the plane and going through immigration and customs while all luggage are removed and scanned.
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Is Eritrea coming in from the cold? re
Source: BBC, Thursday May 9, 2019
By James Jeffrey and Milena Belloni Business reporters
Last year Eritrea’s leader, Isaias Afewerqi, and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed signed a historic peace deal/GETTY IMAGES
For decades the Eritrean economy has struggled due to a combination of war, dictatorship and the impact of United Nations sanctions.
But the East African country’s recent rapprochement with its southern neighbour, Ethiopia, and the end of the embargoes, means that its economy now has a chance to grow substantially.
The hope is that the nation will export more to the world than people fleeing the country.
But as Eritrea continues to be an authoritarian one-party state, with a heavily militarised society, substantial hurdles remain. It is also one of the poorest countries in Africa, with a mostly agriculture-based economy.
Goods have been flowing across the Eritrea-Ethiopia border since last summer/GETTY IMAGES
Yemane, an Eritrean expat living in Europe, is part of the country’s vast diaspora.An estimated 1.5 million Eritreans now live overseas, more often after escaping poverty, or the country’s indefinite military service. This is more than one in five of all Eritreans.
Yemane was recently back in Eritrea on holiday, in the city of Massawa on the country’s Red Sea coast. He also used the visit to do some business research.
His company imports Ethiopian beer into Europe, and he hopes to start being able to export it via Massawa. “This would be much easier for my business,” he says.
Most of Eritrea’s active labour force is employed in defence/GETTY IMAGES
Presently the entrepreneurial ex-pat has to ship the bottles via the the small coastal country of Djibouti, to Eritrea’s south east.
This had been the case for all of land-locked Ethiopia’s ground and sea exports ever since its 1998 to 2000 border war with Eritrea meant the country could no longer access Eritrean ports. It led to a Cold War-style standoff between the two countries for the next 18 years.
But in July 2018, Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister, signed a historic peace deal with Eritrea’s longstanding President Isaias Afwerki, and the border between the two country’s re-opened.
It means that Ethiopian merchandise has once again started flowing into Eritrea, while Eritreans have been heading south to shop in northern Ethiopian towns.
Then, in November of last year, the UN lifted its sanctions against Eritrea that had been in place for nine years.
These included an arms embargo, an asset freeze, and a travel ban. They had been put in place after Eritrea was accused of supporting Islamist militants in Somalia – something it denied.
While the four border crossings between Eritrea and Ethiopia are currently officially closed again, this is said to be a short-term move only.
“It appears a temporary closure until they regulate tax, customs and visa issues,” says Associated Press journalist Elias Meseret, who covers the two countries.
Many Eritreans have left the country to find work/GETTY IMAGES
It comes as the Ethiopian Ministry of Transport says it is moving ahead with plans for bus services across the border. And another reporter, freelancer Elias Gebreselassie, says that “people and goods are still crossing informally” between the two countries.
Eritrea – which gained its independence from Ethiopia in 1993 – used to be famous for its entrepreneurialism and trade ties.
This owed much to outside influence – the country has seen influxes of Arabs, Turks and Yemenis throughout its history. Not to forget Italian and British rule.
The Italians were in charge from 1890 to 1941, and the British from 1941 to 1950. Eritrea then became part of Ethiopia.
Gold, copper and zinc are mined in Eritrea’s western Bisha area
“There is a popular saying in Eritrea – ‘let the farmers farm, and the traders trade’,” says Tekle Woldemikael, a sociology professor at Chapman University in California, who was born in Eritrea.
“It means that Eritreans value the possibility to do trade in open and unrestricted markets.”
Sadly, in recent decades the Eritrean economy has been gutted, first by the country’s 30-year fight for independence, then by the 1998-2000 border war.
And the economy is still being profoundly affected by the government’s far left economics.
Could Massawa port become a hub for trade?
“Eritrea’s economic stagnation is rooted in the communist government’s profound antipathy to free trade and capitalism, not the war, and that’s not going to end because of the truce,” says Michela Wrong, who wrote a book on Eritrea’s fight for independence.
Currently, the government limits each person to withdrawing 5,000 Nakfa (about $330; £250) a month from banks, ostensibly to tackle the currency black market, but this hinders private initiatives and entrepreneurialism.
This is compounded by continued mandatory national service, which leaves most young people “serving the nation” in the military or in government ministries for extremely limited salaries.
Nicole Hirt of the GIGA Institute of African Affairs, in Hamburg, is also pessimistic about the possibility of an economic renaissance in Eritrea.
“The problem is the infrastructure has been completely neglected,” she says. “I would warn against being over optimistic, because the ruling elite has always tried to control the economy, and has left very little space for private investors.”
Currently, the country’s only significant export is gold mined in the western Bisha area and sent to China and South Korea. However, there is growing interest in doing business with Eritrea around the world.
At the end of 2018, a group of about 80 Italian investors representing sectors such as energy, construction and agriculture, visited Eritrea with the Italian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Emanuela Del Re.
The disputed border town of Badme was at the heart of the war between the two countries, whose capitals as Asmara and Addis Ababa
“Of course, Eritrea has huge potential to export,” says Ms Hirt. “After World War Two, it was one of the most industrialised areas in Africa.
“[Today] fish could be exported in large quantities, as well as marble, potash, gold, copper, zinc, textiles, processed food, hides, meat, wine and beer.”
A spokesman for the Eritrean government said that the country’s large diaspora could help boost the economy. Most already send back cash to their families, and, officially, ex-pats have to pay a 2% tax on income earned abroad.
In fact, some estimate that about 30% of Eritrea’s gross domestic product is derived from money sent back to the country.
Italy’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Emanuela Del Re, is keen to build trade ties with Eritrea/GETTY IMAGES
But while ex-pats like Yemane are looking at renewing their ties, other commentators warn against any expectation of rapid change in the country.
“Eritrea needs to develop its own basic food security before thinking about exports,” says Victoria Bernal, an anthropology professor at the University of California, and an expert on the country.
“They also cannot do international business without strengthening their ICT [information and communications] infrastructure.”
Ms Hirt adds that most potential international investors are also likely to hold back until they see real political reform in the country.
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