Latest News Regarding
Horn of Africa
US Bureaucratic Snafu Jeopardizes Debt Relief for Somalia
A bureaucratic failure in Washington to write off Somalia’s debt to the United States now jeopardizes implementation of a broader debt relief program for Somalia under the Heavily Indebted Poor Country Initiative.
Call to Remove Sudan from US List of State Sponsors of Terrorism
The authors argue that for Sudan’s new government to succeed economically, the United States must remove sanctions, especially taking Sudan off the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Source: TECH dot AFRICA
Friday December 13, 2019
By Gbenga Ajao
Djibouti African Regional Express (DARE 1), the 4,854 km undersea fibre optic is expected to be completed by June next year and its landing point in Kenya will be managed by Telkom Kenya.
“Telkom is excited to be the landing party in Nyali, Mombasa, with the DARE1 consortium, considering the benefits it has in store for the country. This investment will offer diversity in the routing of traffic and will also provide for fibre continuity, cognisant of the risk at the high seas. The development of regional backbones such as the DARE1 will also increase access to data in the region, with eventual gains being realized on cost for the end consumer,” says Telkom Kenya’s MD for Carrier Services, Kebaso Mokiongi.
“The system is on track to be ready for commercial traffic in June 2020,” the venture partners were quoted as saying. they also said that the manufacturing aspects are complete and the remaining works are progressing.The completion of the project will add to Telkom Kenya’s stake in various undersea cable infrastructures. They own 2.6% stake of EASSy, 10% stake in LION 2 and a 23% stake in TEAMS. They also operate the National Optic Fibre Backbone which is a project aimed to ensure connectivity in all the 47 counties of Kenya.
The DARE1 system is reported to have cost KES 8.6 billion (about $86 million) and Mombasa is one of the 4 landing stations in East Africa.
The 36 Terabit system is geared to enhanced communication and connection with other cable systems. The great thing about it is that it will provide a redundant international connection for Kenya.
Getting Sudan over the Finish Line
While Sudan has embarked on a path toward democratic and accountable government, economic fragility threatens its transition. The statement urges the friends of Sudan to bolster the civilin-led administration with urgently needed financial support and calls for an African Union envoy to help keep the transition on track.
Sudan and the US State Sponsors of Terrorism List
The transition to a democratic government in Sudan will be difficult enough as it is and much more difficult if it remains on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. The authors argue that the U.S. designation puts an unjust economic and political burden on a government that is working to give democracy a chance.
U.S. ambassador considers resigning over the issue, which could harm U.S. anti-terrorism mission and aid programs there, officials say.
Source: FP, By Robbie Gramer, Keith Johnson |
Wednesday December 11, 2019
Ambassador Donald Yamamoto with President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo – Photo: Villa Somalia
An international push to secure sorely needed debt relief for Somalia may be derailed because of a bureaucratic blunder in Washington, undercutting long-standing efforts to stabilize one of Africa’s least developed and most conflict-plagued countries.The issue has so alarmed some U.S. officials that the U.S. ambassador to the East African country is quietly considering resigning if it isn’t resolved, current and former officials tell Foreign Policy.
The United States spends around half a billion dollars per year in aid and development to help prop up Somalia’s fragile government as it grapples with violence from terrorist groups and chronic instability. Despite the challenges, the new Somali government under Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire has, with U.S. backing, pushed through a number of difficult and unpopular reforms to align the government with international standards on financial governance and transparency.
The reforms have given Somalia a chance to receive debt relief by the spring of 2020 under a program run by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank called the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) Initiative. Such a move would unblock Somalia’s access to sorely needed international financial assistance, a key to helping the country boost its laggard economic growth and stabilize its federal institutions.
The debt relief would have a host of positive knock-on effects, officials say, including allowing Somalia to strengthen its military and confront al-Shabab, one of the deadliest terrorist groups in the world, which operates out of ungoverned spaces in Somalia. The U.S. Defense Department has sent elite troops to help train Somalia’s army to combat al-Shabab and regularly conducts air strikes in Somalia targeting al-Shabab militants. Debt relief, officials say, would help Somalia get its own house in order to eventually ease the burden on U.S. military and U.S.-led aid programs in one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. “There is no economic development and military independence without these IMF and [World Bank programs],” said one former U.S. official familiar with the matter.
But HIPC rules require major creditors, including the United States, to approve writing off Somalia’s debt simultaneously, or it cannot move forward at all. “If the U.S. doesn’t contribute, the whole deal falls apart,” said one Senate aide familiar with the matter.
3While securing debt relief for Somalia has been a policy priority for the United States for years, that plan that could now be derailed because the State Department and Treasury Department didn’t inform lawmakers they should include authorization to write off Somalia’s debt before Congress finalized its spending bills, according to six current and former U.S. officials and congressional aides who spoke to Foreign Policy on the matter. Some believe it simply slipped through the cracks as the State Department scrambled to prepare its budget priorities with the White House.“All along, I could not believe all we have invested in Somalia could be squandered over something so small and simple,” said one official.
The State Department declined to comment for the story, and the Treasury Department did not respond to a request for comment.
U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Donald Yamamoto has privately considered quietly resigning if the U.S. government can’t resolve the issue, according to current and former officials familiar with the matter. Yamamoto is a career diplomat with extensive experience in Africa, who previously served as acting assistant secretary of state for African affairs under President Donald Trump from 2017 to 2018 before his current posting in Somalia. He did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
Through complex bureaucratic maneuvering, the United States could write off Somalia’s debt to the United States—about $1 billion—by essentially having the State Department pay a fraction of the debt back to the Treasury Department on behalf of Somalia, to the tune of about $35 million. That requires congressional authorization through spending bills—and no one at the State Department or Treasury Department appeared to communicate to lawmakers they needed to do that before spending bills were finalized, officials and congressional aides said.
Some aides and officials are scrambling to find a last-minute fix, but thus far no senior Trump administration official has signaled to lawmakers Somali debt relief is a priority, as it gets drowned out amid the dozens of other priorities in the massive federal spending bills—let alone priorities on Africa. “This is an easier lift than a lot of the other problems on the continent, and the administration just hasn’t prioritized it to raise enough attention for members of Congress to address,” said one congressional aide.
While everyone appears to support the effort—at Treasury, at the State Department, and on Capitol Hill—no one yet appears willing to expend the political capital to ask senior lawmakers to reopen the spending bill and include the authorization for debt relief, officials said. The State Department also hasn’t indicated where it would cobble together the $35 million from other spending priorities to divert for Somalia, they said.“It’s just a bureaucratic fuckup. … This is so stupid,” said another former official familiar with the matter.
Debt relief is such an urgent issue for Somalia because the country is crushingly poor, swamped by unsustainable debt, and facing an accelerating climate catastrophe stoking prolonged droughts. The latest IMF analysis of Somalia notes that the country is in “debt distress,” with its $4.7 billion in external debt equivalent to its entire GDP, and no way to repay any of it; 96 percent of Somalia’s debt is already in arrears, meaning even if it never borrows another dime, its debt burden will continue to grow. Somalia’s debt to the United States is decades-old, and much of its debt relates to military spending wracked up during the Cold War. Somalia remains one of the world’s least developed countries, with nearly one-third of the population requiring humanitarian assistance and over 80 percent of the population living in poverty, according to U.N. data.
“Debt relief under the HIPC Initiative is needed to restore debt sustainability and support Somalia’s medium-term development prospects,” the IMF concluded in its August report.
The problem isn’t just clearing the debt burden off Somalia’s back now—the HIPC program would open the door to new funding that could help the government jumpstart some economic development programs. Debt relief through HIPC “unlocks concessional lending from the World Bank, from regional development banks, the IMF—it’s a gateway you need to pass through that Somalia desperately needs,” said Masood Ahmed, the president of the Center for Global Development.
Somalia has been in talks to secure some $300 million in international financial assistance to begin projects aimed at improving the country’s infrastructure, education system, and tackling poverty after it obtains debt relief.
Because of the way HIPC is set up, all creditors need to agree to relieve Somalia’s debt at the same time, meaning if the United States isn’t on board, HIPC debt relief won’t go through. “The U.S. is the biggest bilateral creditor. It’s essential for the whole thing to move forward,” said Ahmed, who previously ran the HIPC program at the World Bank.
The United States could still push through debt relief in a separate piece of legislation, but that might prove more politically difficult than folding it into the wider government spending bill, given the Trump administration’s efforts to pare back foreign aid and financial assistance, aides say. In June, U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Mark Green visited Somalia, where he urged international donors to begin to wean the country off of its decades-long reliance on international aid—something officials say debt relief will help accelerate. The United States still commits hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Somalia per year.
Khaire, the Somali prime minister who has closely cooperated with the United States on reform and security issues, could face steep political backlash in Mogadishu if the debt relief isn’t pushed through in time, some officials fear.
Other countries have already lined up plans to forgive Somalia’s debt with the HIPC initiative. Earlier this year, in part at Treasury’s urging, the European Union, United Kingdom, and Qatar agreed to cover $150 million of Somalia’s $330 million debt to the IMF. Norway has agreed to pay nearly $360 million to clear Somalia’s debt with the World Bank.
If the down payments on Somalia’s debt could go through, Somalia would receive interim debt relief under HIPC at a point called “decision point” in IMF and World Bank parlance. From there, it still has to navigate other technocratic mazes to prove to international lenders they will stick to financial reforms under IMF guidelines before exiting the debt relief program at a finish line, known as “completion point.”
Senior staff writer Colum Lynch contributed to this report.
Source: Hiiraan online, Thursday December 12, 2019
MOGADISHU (HOL) – The U.S embassy in Somalia has welcomed the new agreement in Galmudug between the Federal Government and Alhu Sunna group noting his country will lend support to implement the process.
Ambassador Donald Yamamoto said the agreement was inclusive and crucial for the development of Galmudug state.“The United States is committed to supporting these efforts and ensuring their implementation for the peace and stability of Somalia,” a statement from the embassy Thursday read in part following the unveiling of the agreement.
“The United States applauds the hard work of negotiators to reach an inclusive agreement that ensures the long-term stability and prosperity of Galmudug state, an important front for our combined efforts in fighting al-Shabaab.”
He also acknowledged previous reconciliation efforts in Galmudug including the agreement on the electoral mode.
Noting that Galmudug remained critical for the future development of Somalia, the Embassy said it remained committed to facilitating humanitarian aid, security assistance, and economic development for the people of Galmudug.
Source: AP, Wednesday December 11, 2019
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed makes a speech during the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo City Hall, Norway, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2019. (Stian Lysberg Solum/NTB Scanpix via AP)
STOCKHOLM (AP) — The winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize says his horrifying experiences as a young Ethiopian soldier fueled his determination to seek an end to the long conflict with a neighboring country.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed spoke at Oslo City Hall during the ceremony in Norway’s capital where he received his Nobel on Tuesday.
“War is the epitome of hell for all involved. I know because I was there and back,” he said in accepting the prize.
Abiy won the prize, in part, for making peace with Eritrea after one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts. Abiy served in the army during the war.
“Twenty years ago, I was a radio operator attached to an Ethiopian army unit in the border town of Badame,” he recalled. “I briefly left the foxhole in the hopes of getting a good antenna reception. … It only took but a few minutes. Yet upon my return I was horrified to discover that my entire unit had been wiped out in an artillery attack.”Abiy, 43, took office in early 2018 and within weeks astonished the long-turbulent Horn of Africa region by fully accepting a peace deal ending the 20-year border conflict with Eritrea that saw around 80,000 people killed.
In his speech, he said stability in the region was strategically important.
“The global military superpowers are expanding their military presence in the area. Terrorist and extremist groups also seek to establish a foothold. We do not want the Horn to be a battleground for superpowers nor a hideout for the merchants of terror and brokers of despair and misery,” he said.
The peace prize also recognizes Abiy’s significant domestic reforms including the release of tens of thousands of prisoners and the return of once-banned opposition groups. But since the prize was announced in October, he has faced growing challenges at home, including bloody protests.
Just days after the November launch of his book promoting his national unity philosophy, protesters burned copies of it in the streets. The protests had erupted after an outspoken activist who had returned from exile asserted that his government-provided security detail was being removed.
The claim came a day after Abiy had warned unnamed people that “if you threaten our peace and security, we will take measures.”
The government said 78 people were killed in the unrest.
In Oslo, he called on “my fellow Ethiopians to join hands and help build a country that offers equal justice, equal rights and equal opportunities for all its citizens.”
“The evangelists of hate and division are wreaking havoc in our society using social media. They are preaching the gospel of revenge and retribution on the airwaves,” he said.
Tensions with another regional power, Egypt, over Africa’s largest dam project have led Abiy to talk in terms of war. Ethiopia wants a peaceful settlement of the Nile water dispute, but could muster millions to fight if needed, he said recently.
Residents of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, packed into hotel lobbies and cafeterias to watch the speech broadcast.
“It is an extraordinary speech. I have to study it again and again,” said Dejene Sakoume, a writer who supports Abiy.
But an Eritrean human rights advocate expressed reservations, although she supports reforms in Ethiopia.
“I find the fact that the prize is mainly for the peace with Eritrea perplexing, as a year-and-a-half on there is hardly any evidence of a peace dividend, especially for the long-suffering people of Eritrea. The border is shut and remains not demarcated,” Selam Kidane told The Associated Press.
Wednesday December 11, 2019
MOGADISHU (HOL) – The German Foreign Office has contributed additional EUR1 million to bolster police training and capacity support in Somalia.
The UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) said in a tweet Wednesday the additional funding will help in the Joint Police Programme and strengthen peace building and stability in Somalia.
The programme covers recruitment of new police officers and training to contribute towards the Transition Plan which envisages gradual handover of security responsibility from the African Union to Somali Security Forces.
About 250 recruits commenced basic police training last week in Jowhar at the HirShabelle State police academy.
Upon completion of the initial basic training, the personnel will be deployed to deliver policing services to population centres and main supply routes in Hiraan and Middle Shabelle regions.
The Joint Police Programme, which is led by the Federal Government of Somalia, with support from AMISOM, UNSOM UN Police, the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with funding from the European Union, UK Aid and the German Federal Foreign Office.
UN, EU and African Union call for collaboration to achieve universal vote in 2020
Source: Hiiraan Online, esday December 11, 2019
MOGADISHU (HOL) – The UN, EU and the African Union have called for collaborative efforts between the Federal Government and Federal Member States in Somalia to realise universal elections in Somalia.
Speaking on behalf of the two blocs and the regional body IGAD in Baidoa, UN head in Somalia James Swan said the realization of the 2020 milestone called for efforts among stakeholders wiwht the leader from the two levels of government.
“Achieving these will require the active collaboration of all Somali stakeholders, and it will particularly need the leadership of the Federal Government and the Federal Member States,” said Swan. “In order to address these issues, we encourage all stakeholders to engage in dialogue with one another – this includes federal and state authorities, civil society and the people of Somalia.”
The UN chief also noted 2020 was a pivotal moment for Somalia when a number of key national processes should be concluded. These include setting the foundations for one-person-one vote, continued fight against Al-Shabaab and paving the way for debt relief in Somalia.
The Lower House is currently debating the Elections Bill which is proposing a winner takes all formula others, First-Past the Post (FPTP) model in election of parliamentarians.
While in Baidoa, the delegation met with SWS’ President Abdiaziz Hassan Mohamed ‘Laftagareen,’ local elders and representatives from civil society to help better understand the opportunities and challenges to implementation of the various national process set for 2020.
UNDP | Human Development Report 2019
Source: Hiiraab, Saturday December 7, 2019
MOGADISHU (HOL) –Roads were cut off and some vehicles swept away by heavy rains that hit parts of Puntland Friday night and continued into Saturday with fears more damage may be witnessed in the coming hours.
Sources in Puntland said five fishing boats were washed away by floods and three vehicles swept off roads as heavy rains accompanied by strong winds hit the eastern region.
The most affected parts are Eyl, Sanaag, Alula, Hafun, Bayla and Garaad.
Telephone lines were reportedly disconnected in Ely district located in Nugal region.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned Friday the cyclone was expected to make landfall in Nugaal region in 24 hours adding it had increase speeds from 10% to 35%.
“The influence of PAWAN may start being felt in the coastal areas of Bari, Mudug and Sanaag regions in the next 12 hours where moderate to heavy rains and strong winds are expected.
The rains will then spread further inland to many areas within Somaliland, Puntland and central regions on 07 and 08 December 2019,” FAO said.
It noted the storm initially known as SIX had been renamed PAWAn after sustaining a speed of more than 39 miles per hours for two days.
The storm poses an immediate threat to the shipping lane that links Somalia and Gulf states.
Other impacts expected include destruction of property and infrastructure including roads, buildings and boats due to the strong winds, FAO said.
Meanwhile authorities in Puntland have restricted road travel especially at night and warned fishermen to take precautionary measures
Source: Hiiraan Online, Sunday December 8, 2019
ADDIS ABABA (HOL) – The European Union has announced a €170 million aid package to Ethiopia to support economic reform, health, elections and climate change.
Newly elected EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen announced the support to the Horn of African nation Saturday during a first visit to Ethiopia and outside Europe since her election last month.
The EU bloc said in a statement Saturday the funds will be a ‘significant boost to the EU’s cooperation with Ethiopia.
Most of the funds-€100 million is aimed at bolstering key economic reforms in the transport and logistics sectors with the view to ‘facilitating Ethiopia’s trade and economic cooperation with neighbouring countries.’Speaking during her visit, the EU Commission President expressed the bloc’s support for Ethiopia lauding it as a key partner in Africa.
“Ethiopia has given hope to a whole Continent and beyond, showing that peace with one’s neighbours, for the good of the people, is possible, when there is courage and vision,” she said.
“I am here today to show the European Union’s full commitment to supporting Ethiopia and its people on their future path.”
The announcement comes as President von der Leyen and Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa.
The announcement is a major boost to Ethiopia which has been battling heavy debt burdens. Ethiopia successfully managed to secure a loan rescheduling with China in 2017 following an imminent default.
Ethiopia is also preparing for elections next year. Out of the funding announced by the EU, €10 million will support the upcoming elections.
Although soils are essential for human well-being and the sustainability of life on the planet, they are threatened on all continents by natural erosion, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on World Soil Day, calling for their protection.
The international community on Friday took stock of action to improve UN peacekeeping in line with a Security Council resolution aimed at enhancing performance at all levels, both at Headquarters in New York and in the field.
Resuscitating South Sudan’s Peace Process
The statement concludes that regional leaders should use the 100 day extension for naming a unity government to pressure Salva Kiir and Riek Machar to agree on how to divide the country into states, an essential step for peace.
South Sudan Peace Process: The Politics of Delay
The authors conclude that the single most important concern during the current 100 day delay in the peace process is maintaining the ceasefire in South Sudan; a slow political process is far preferable to a return to war. A close second is maintaining forward motion in addressing the governance issues facing the country; continued discussion is better than a lurch into authoritarianism. The 100 day delay should be seen by international policy makers as an opportunity for advancing consultation and strengthening action towards a peace agenda.
Ethiopia’s Difficult Transition to Democracy
The author suggests there are six reasons why Ethiopia’s transition to democracy is so fraught: (1) EPRDF dissension (2) Prosperity Party confusion (3) politicized security forces (4) politicized civil service (5) weak opposition parties (6) weak democratic institutions.
Sudan Prime Minister’s Agenda in Washington
Sudan Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is visting Wasahington with a daunting wish list that includes:
–Removing Sudan from the US State Sponsors of Terriorism list;
–Unwinding other congressional and executive branch sanctions related to the genocide in Darfur and human rights abuses in other parts of Sudan;
–Creating a pathway for Sudan to pay back its financial arrears, restart the flow of international financial assistance, and put it on the road to debt relief.
The author argues that Hamdok’s political survival and the fate of the nascent civilian government is at stake.
Monday December 2, 2019
The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) signed a $9 million agreement to fund the design and construction of a water distribution network, a judicial courthouse and infrastructure projects in Djibouti.
SFD Vice-Chairman, Khaled Al Khudairy signed the agreement with Elias Moussa Douala, Minister of Economy and Finance, in the presence Djibouti’s Prime Minister Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed and other government officials.
Al Khudairy led the fund’s delegation in a visit to Djibouti, according to a press release issued on Sunday.
“The SFD and government of Djibouti have a long history of working together to positively alter the social and economic landscape of this country. Over the decades, the SFD’s funding has supported numerous infrastructure projects throughout the country, from developing the education sector to expanding transportation and communication capabilities. We hope the new projects will ensure that the people of Djibouti are given the opportunities to not only better their futures, but their communities’ futures too,” Al Khudairy noted
Beside infrastructure projects, SFD is also supporting social development programs in Djibouti, including the Djibouti Social Fund in support of Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) incubation, as well as building a number of multi-use sports fields throughout the country.
SFD has contributed to a total of 17 development projects in Djibouti, such as the rehabilitation of major roads, the airport, and partial financing of the soon to be completed Tajura Port, which will provide an important gateway into the Horn of Africa.