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NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Ethiopian lawmakers have removed the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front from terrorist list
Source: NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Ethiopian lawmakers have removed the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front from the country’s list of designated terror groups more than four months after a peace agreement ended a conflict that killed hundreds of thousands of people.
Wednesday’s decision highlights the improving relations between federal officials and Tigray regional ones and moves the region closer to the establishment of an interim government. The TPLF dominated Ethiopian politics for close to three decades before Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in 2018. The Tigray conflict began in late 2020.
Most of Ethiopia’s 547 lawmakers voted to remove the TPLF from the terror list, with 61 objections and five abstentions, according to the state-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation.
The TPLF was added to the list in May 2012.
Kindeya Gebrehiwot, a senior TPLF official, told The Associated Press the removal will be a “very good step in moving the peace agreement forward.”
Ethiopia accused the TPLF of starting the conflict by attacking an army base in Tigray, while the TPLF accused the federal government of preparing to strike first.
The peace agreement signed in November has led to the return of communications, banking and other basic services cut to the Tigray region of more than 5 million people. Ethiopia now faces a post-conflict reconstruction bill of $20 billion.
UN calls for rapid, ambitious action to tackle climate crisis
IPCC’s world leading scientists say there are enough resources and knowledge to tackle the global climate crisis.
Source: By Al Jazeera
Published On 20 Mar 202320 Mar 2023
The world has the tools to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to secure a sustainable future if more ambitious actions are taken, a United Nations report has said, noting that actions taken so far are not enough to tackle the growing threats posed by climate change.
A UN panel of scientists stressed in a synthesis report on Monday that there are multiple, feasible and effective options to adapt to climate change.
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“Mainstreaming effective and equitable climate action will not only reduce losses and damages for nature and people, it will also provide wider benefits,” said Hoesung Lee, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in a statement.
The report “underscores the urgency of taking more ambitious action and shows that, if we act now, we can still secure a liveable sustainable future for all”, he added.
The IPCC is a UN body that brings together leading scientists to assess the evidence related to climate change and inform political leaders with periodic scientific assessments. The IPCC’s first main scientific input was delivered in 2014, which paved the way a year later for the Paris Agreement – a landmark international treaty on climate change.
Monday’s so-called synthesis report summarises the findings of several previous IPCC assessments and comes after a week of deliberations in Interlaken, Switzerland.
The report said that carbon emissions need to be cut by almost half by 2030 if global warming is to be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Effective and equitable conservation of about 30-50 percent of the world’s land, freshwater and ocean will help ensure a healthy world, it added.
It is also key to prioritise risk reduction for low-income and marginalised communities, read the report, highlighting the need to finance poorer nations that are the most vulnerable to climate change despite producing less greenhouse gas emissions compared with industrialised countries.
It said that from 2010-2020, human mortality from floods, droughts and storms was 15 times higher in regions that were highly vulnerable to climate change, compared with regions with very low vulnerability.
Source: The U.S. State Department issued a statement dated 20 March 2023 titled “War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity, and Ethnic Cleansing in Ethiopia” by Antony J. Blinken.
The statement determined that members of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, Eritrean Defense Forces, Tigray People’s Liberation Front forces, and Amhara forces committed war crimes during the conflict in northern Ethiopia. The United States will partner with Ethiopia as it implements a credible transitional justice process for the benefit of all victims and affected communities.
The Washington Post published on 21 March 2023 an article titled “U.S. Finds Ethiopian Troops Committed Crimes against Humanity” by Missy Ryan.
The article says the Biden administration is moving cautiously as it seeks to repair strains with Ethiopia that resulted during the civil war in Ethiopia. Officials in Ethiopia warned Washington to stay out of its internal affairs.
The Voice of America published on 21 March 2023 an article titled “Ethiopia Rejects US Accusation of War Crimes as Inflammatory” by Maya Misikir.
Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs subsequently issued a statement rejecting the US allegation, adding that it “unfairly proportions blame” and is inflammatory and untimely
Source: The Stimson Center published on 20 March 2023 an analysis titled “US Security Assistance to Somalia” by Elias Yousif.
Between 2010 and 2020, the United States provided more than $500 million in direct security assistance to Somali forces and spent $2.5 billion on security assistance for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Despite recent Somali government successes on the battlefield, the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab organization has proven to be both adaptable and resilient.
Nature Climate Change published in January 2023 a study titled “Cooperative Adaptive Management of the Nile River with Climate and Socio-Economic Uncertainties” by ten experts in the United Kingdom.
This technical study presents a planning framework for adaptive management of the Nile infrastructure system, combining climate projections; hydrological, river system and economy-wide simulators; and artificial intelligence multi-objective design and machine learning algorithms. It concludes that if Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt compromise cooperatively and adaptively in managing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the national-level economic and resilience benefits are substantial, especially under climate projections with the most extreme streamflow changes
Source: The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute published in March 2023 its “Trends in International Arms Transfers, 2022” by Pieter D. Wezeman, Justine Gadon, and Siemon T. Wezeman.
Between 2018 and 2022, Africa imported only 5 percent of global major weapons. Imports of major arms by African states fell by 40 percent between 2013-2017 and 2018-2022 due mainly to decreases in arms imports from the two largest African importers: Algeria and Morocco. States in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) accounted for 2 percent of total global imports of major arms in 2018-2022. The three largest importers in SSA were Angola, Nigeria, and Mali.
The main suppliers to all of Africa in 2018-2022 were Russia, accounting for 40 percent of African imports of major arms, the United States (16 percent), China (10 percent), and France (8 percent). Russia’s share of arms imports to Sub-Saharan Africa was 26 percent while China was second at 18 percent.
Somalia’s president commits to universal suffrage
AFP, Wednesday March 22, 2023
Demonstrators hold flags during a rally against the Al-Shabaab jihadist group in Mogadishu on January 12, 2023. Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has declared “all-out war” against Al-Shabaab, which has been waging a bloody insurgency against the frail internationally-backed federal government for 15 years. (Photo by Hassan Ali Elmi / AFP)
(AFP) – Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said the country would organise the next national elections by universal suffrage, a departure from an indirect voting system that has often triggered crises.
The fragile Horn of Africa nation has not held a one-person, one-vote election in more than 50 years.
Instead, polls follow a complex indirect model, where state legislatures and clan delegates pick lawmakers for the national parliament, who in turn choose the president.
“The next election… God willing… will be one-person-one vote that is based on a political party system,” Mohamud said late Monday.
“Party platforms will be the market for selling political ideas,” he told legislators gathered in his palace in the capital Mogadishu.
The country’s next polls are planned for May 2026.
Clans have been the organising principle of Somalia’s politics with influential roles such as speaker, prime minister and president divided among the main clans.
But rivalries between the clans have provided fertile ground for years of strife and political wrangling, that have been exploited by the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab militants.
– Confronting jihadists –
“Politics is not about dominance, it is about organisation of ideas and therefore, the clan politics is not relevant to the Somali national politics,” Mohamud said.
“I can see a bright future for this country.”
Last year, Mohamud defeated a field of 36 candidates for the top job after a protracted political crisis that arose after the federal government and regional states failed to agree on a mechanism to pick a president.
The 67-year-old, whose first administration between 2012-2017 was dogged by claims of corruption and infighting, became the first Somali president to win a second term.
Since retaking office, he has vowed to confront myriad problems and bring relief to citizens weary of violence by Al-Shabaab jihadists, surging inflation and a worsening drought that threatens to drive millions into famine.
Mohamud has staged an “all-out war” on the militants, rallying Somalis to help flush out members of the jihadist group he described as “bedbugs”.
Despite the gains by the pro-government forces, the militants have continued to demonstrate the ability to strike back with lethal force against civilian and military targets.
Somalia sank into a devastating civil war in 1991 when warlords ousted president Mohamed Siad Barre, plunging the country into years of chaos
Monday March 20, 2023
As a part of its Ramadan campaign, The Education Above All (EAA) Foundation is opening new opportunities of education for the most marginalised out-of-school children in Somalia.
The ‘Educate your children II’ project aims to address obstacles to educational access for out-of-school children affected by political and economic instability, refugee status and internal displacement, social exclusion and poverty in Somalia.
This project is being implemented across 17 districts within the five Somalia regional states of Galmudug, Hirshabelle, Jubaland, South West and Puntland.
The project’s primary goal is to ensure more than 80,000 out of school children affected by instability, displacement, social exclusion and poverty in Somalia have access and the opportunity to complete quality primary education.
The EAA foundation’s Ramadan campaign is slated to create a strong, unique buzz among people during the holy month of Ramadan. Its goal is to raise awareness to support and educate every boy and girl and ensure no child is left behind.
Investing 783 riyals is enough to educate a child in quality primary education for a total of three years in Somalia.
Somali leaders agree to increase troop numbers
Source: VOA, Harun Maruf
Monday March 20, 2023
Somalia’s federal and regional leaders have agreed to increase the number of armed forces and police officers to meet security demands as African Union forces leave the country by the end of next year.
The leaders have agreed the number of national armed forces to be at least 30,000 soldiers and at least 40,000 police personnel, according to the agreement obtained by VOA Somali.
According to the agreement known as the “National Security Architecture” signed by Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre and the leaders of federal member states last week, the new number of armed forces do not include the navy, air force and special commando units trained by the United States and Turkey.
The agreement revises a 2017 deal between Somali leaders, which specified the number of military and police to be at least 18,000 and 32,000 respectively. The earliest age to register for the army will be 18 and 62 is the new retirement age.
According to the new agreement, the country’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) will continue to have special armed agents until current security conditions end. Federal member states, which currently have their own intelligence agencies and armed agents, will no longer have these agencies once the country is stabilized.
The new agreement also allows the number of custodial corps to be 5,300 — comprised of 4,500 federal and 800 prison guards.
Leaders of the Puntland semiautonomous region did not participate in the meeting held in the southwestern town of Baidoa between March 15 and 17. In January, Puntland leaders said they would govern their own affairs like an “independent government” until the federal constitution is completed.
Somali government officials said the new agreement is intended to prepare the country’s forces to take over security responsibilities from AU forces.
“The Somali government today is concentrating on transferring security responsibilities from ATMIS (African Union Transition Mission in Somalia) which have been in the country for not less than 15 years,” Kamal Dahir Hassan Gutale, national security adviser to Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre told VOA Somali.
“The target is that on December 2024 the last AU soldier will leave the country. This is important for Somalia meeting its security responsibilities.”
Gutale said paramilitary forces belonging to the regions will be used as stabilization and holding forces in areas captured from al-Shabab militants.
Immediately after the agreement was reached, Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud flew to Uganda to attend the graduation of newly trained soldiers.
Somalia’s national security adviser Hussein Sheikh-Ali confirmed to VOA in January that the government is training 3,000 soldiers in Uganda.
Ali also recently confirmed that troops from neighboring countries will participate in the next phase of military operations against al-Shabab.
Gutale told VOA that the new offensive will commence during Islam’s holiest month, Ramadan, which starts this Wednesday.
“There is a rigorous preparation by the Somali national armed forces and all other forces for large operations during Ramadan,” he said.
“God willing, we hope Somali forces will achieve [a] big victory.”
Can one woman with a phone and a laptop change society?
Source: UNDP, Monday March 13, 2023
The Chief Editor of Somalia’s only all-women media team believes she can by using mobile journalism to break down barriers and open up new ground for women in the media
Scott Peterson/Getty Images/The CSM
As chief editor of “Bilan”, Somalia’s first all-women, editorially independent media unit, Fathi Mohamed Ahmed has been blazing a trail for women since the unit started up with support from UNDP almost a year ago. Boasting a string of articles in international media – including the Guardian, BBC and El Pais – and a huge following locally, Fathi and her team have shown how women can compete at the highest level of international journalism and bring new stories to public attention inside Somalia
They’re also showcasing a new approach to media production – using mobile journalism and the latest tech to get the job done faster, cheaper and more efficiently.
“Since the inception of Bilan Media, a year ago, we have been using advanced tools and software that have made our journalism work in Somalia easier, relying on smartphones, Mac computers, and digital audio tools for filming, editing and recording interviews,” Fathi says. “In this day and age, you don’t need huge analog cameras or an editing suite: you can get the job done on a phone and a laptop, editing as you travel, posting to social media from the road and cutting down on costs in the process.”
Digital tools and smaller tech also allow Bilan’s journalists to work more safely. In Somalia, many people still believe that journalism is a shameful profession for women and women journalists can face harassment on the street.
Fathi Mohamed Ahmed, Chief editor of Bilan Media
“The use of smaller media equipment allows us to do our work without standing out too much as journalists in places where that can be dangerous. Most people are used to male reporters carrying huge equipment, like big cameras and tripods, with one reporter and other man to carry to equipment, but now one woman can do all of that with a smartphone, gimbal, and wireless mics, Fathi says. “Mobile journalism – and women journalists – are the future of media.”
Apart from the media work, Mogadishu-born Fathi is a mother of three children, including one born just three months ago, and her days start long before she reaches the office.
“When I wake up in the morning, I prepare breakfast for my children, clean the house, drop the kids off at school then head to work,” Fathi explains. “Sometimes I go to work with my three-month-old son.”
This would be impossible in any other media environment, but at Dalsan TV, the media company that has partnered with UNDP to host the Bilan offices and distributes their reports locally, the Bilan team enjoys secure offices where women can work safely, without harassment and with the facilities they need to juggle the multiple commitments faced by working mothers.
In just a few months, the results have been dramatic. “With my team, I have produced a range of stories that never used to get attention in Somalia, including elderly people living with HIV, drug addiction among young women, female farmers studying agriculture degrees, and many more,” says Fathi “We want to be a voice for the voiceless.”
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) established Bilan Media in April 2022. Staffed and run entirely by women, Bilan produces high-quality, high-impact, original journalism across all platforms, including television and radio, for distribution across Somalia and also undertakes commissions for international media.
Chinese-built Ethiopia-Djibouti railway wins acclaim for boosting integration on 5th anniversary
Source: XINHUANET, Monday March 13, 2023
Representatives from China, Ethiopia and Djibouti pose for a photo during the celebration ceremony of Ethiopia-Djibouti railway’s fifth anniversary of operations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 8, 2023. (Photo:Xinhua)
The Chinese-built Addis Ababa-Djibouti Standard Gauge Railway, also known as the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway, has won acclaim for boosting regional integration and prosperity as it marked its fifth anniversary of operations.
This came as senior Ethiopian and Djiboutian government officials, the Chinese diplomatic community in Ethiopia, and management contractors of the 752-km transnational railway celebrated the anniversary at the Lebu Railway Station on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, on Wednesday.
Ethiopia’s Minister of Finance Ahmed Shide said during the occasion that over the last five years, the railway has shown remarkable achievements in the areas of operation, maintenance and capacity building.
Shide commended the railway’s crucial role in streamlining Ethiopia’s export-import trade, and boosting people-to-people relations between the two neighboring countries as well as technology transfer with better coordination among Chinese and local experts.
Noting that the Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway Share Company is tasked with operations, maintenance and capacity building, Ahmed said “in all these areas, the company has been showing considerable growth.” He said the railway’s operation capacity in terms of freight carriage has grown by 100 percent, reaching 1.9 million tons of cargo annually.
Shide said the railway, by reaching its maximum capacity, is expected to become the best transport alternative for import-export commodities by providing fast, safe and efficient transportation service.
“The Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway line is an example of the ever-flourishing Sino-African relations. The sino-African partnership has passed the test of time, demonstrated its resilience, and marks a brighter and strong future,” Shide said.
Djibouti’s Minister of Infrastructure and Equipment Hassan Houmed Ibrahim, on his part, said on the occasion that the railway observed increasing performance despite major obstacles, and enabled motivated and highly committed young engineers and technicians from both countries.
Ibrahim said the quality of services offered to users, the safety of goods and people, availability, and local human relations are among the key factors in achieving greater performance quality.
The electrified railway has cut the transportation time for freight goods from more than three days to less than 20 hours, and reduced the cost by at least one-third.
Liu Weimin, chairman of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), speaks during the celebration ceremony of Ethiopia-Djibouti railway’s fifth anniversary of operations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 8, 2023. (Photo:Xinhua)
Ethiopia, as a land-locked country in the Horn of Africa, accesses international maritime trade through ports in neighboring countries. The Ethiopia-Djibouti trade corridor is the main gateway for Ethiopia, with about 90 percent of import and export passing through it.
Ethiopia’s State Minister of Transport and Logistics Denge Boru commended the railway’s multifaceted significance for the two countries. “The railway mutually benefits the two sisterly countries in promoting regional economic and social integration, facilitating trade and industrial development, and bringing employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for citizens of both countries.”
Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia Zhao Zhiyuan lauded the railway as “a way of peace, a way of development, a way of hope, and a way to prosperity.” Zhao said the railway, as an important Belt and Road cooperation project, has demonstrated greater performance and resilience.
“The past five years have been great for the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway. I am confident that, with close collaboration between all relevant parties from China and Ethiopia, as well as Djibouti, the next five years will be even better, as the railway still holds huge untapped potential,” he said.
Source: The Associated Press published on 7 March 2023 an article titled “Sudan General Says Military Leaders Clinging to Power” by Samy Magdy.
General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, head of the Rapid Support Forces, claims that he opposes the unwillingness of other military leaders to hand over power to civilians. Dagalo is trying to portray himself as a defender of the transition to democracy
Source: Foreign Policy published on 9 March 2023 an article titled “U.S. Weighs Offering Economic Lifeline to Ethiopia Despite War Atrocities” by Robbie Gramer.
The author reports that the Biden administration is weighing plans to lift restrictions on aid and financial assistance to Ethiopia in a move that will be criticized by human rights groups that want accountability for atrocities during the civil war with Tigray Region
Ethiopian troops cross Somali border town to join a final offensive against al Shabab
Source: Sunday March 12, 2023
Kismayo (HOL) – Ethiopian military units, accompanied by armored vehicles, have been stationed in Dolow, Gedo region, after crossing the border on Wednesday, according to reports from local residents.
Although there has been no comment from either the Ethiopian or the federal governments on this development, other troops from Djibouti and Kenya are expected to follow suit.
Earlier this month, the national security adviser to Somali President Hussein Sheikh-Ali confirmed that Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya would send new troops to support Somali forces in the next phase of military operations against al-Shabab.
Sheikh Ali emphasized that these troops would join the soldiers already serving in the African Transitional Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) but would not be part of the ATMIS mission.
“Their role is to jointly plan and operate under the command of the Somali security forces,” he said. “They will fight against al-Shabab alongside Somali forces. That is the plan.”
The leaders of the three countries attended a summit hosted by Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on February 1 in Mogadishu, where they agreed to jointly plan and organize a robust operational campaign to “search and destroy” al-Shabab on multiple frontlines, according to a communique issued at the time.
The Big Break-up: How Africa is gradually splitting into two continents and giving rise to a new ocean
The Big Break-up: How Africa is gradually splitting into two continents and giving rise to a new ocean
Source: FIRSTPOST, Sunday March 12, 2023
Scientists say Africa is peeling apart into two parts that will eventually lead to the formation of a new ocean. While the process will take millions of years to complete, this will split present-day Somalia and parts of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Tanzania from the rest of the continent, as per reports
The new ocean, splitting Africa into two continents, will take at least 5 to 10 million years to form. Reuters (Representational Image)
Africa is breaking up or “rifting” into two parts and a new ocean is being born, scientists have said.
As per a research published in the peer-reviewed journal Geophysical Research Letters, two major sections of the continent are peeling apart, which could eventually form a new ocean.
Let’s understand the reason behind the split and how long will it take for Africa to break up.
What is rifting?
According to Science Direct, rifting is the tearing apart of a “single tectonic plate into two or more tectonic plates separated by divergent plate boundaries”.
A lowland region called the rift valley erupts where Earth’s tectonic plates move apart, noted National Geographic. These rift valleys can occur on land as well as at the bottom of the ocean.
This phenomenon can be dated at least 138 million years back when South America and Africa were divided into different continents, says IFLScience report.
For the last 30 million years, the Arabian plate has been drifting away from Africa, a process that resulted in the creation of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, according to NBC News.
Why is Africa is splitting into two?
The splitting up of the continent is linked to East African Rift, a 56 kilometres or 35-mile-long crack that emerged in Ethiopia’s desert in 2005. This will set off the formation of a new sea, as per a report in Economic Times.
The seismic data present in the research shows that the creation of the rift was triggered by similar tectonic processes that are taking place at the bottom of the ocean.
The crack was discovered at the border of three tectonic plates – African Nubian, African Somali, and Arabian – that have already been separating for some time, the Economic Times report added.
Spanning over 3,000km, the East African Rift Valley lies from the Gulf of Aden in the north towards Zimbabwe in the south. As per The Conversation, it divides the African plate into two parts: the Somali and Nubian plates.
“This is the only place on Earth where you can study how a continental rift becomes an oceanic rift,” Christopher Moore, a doctorate student at the University of Leeds, said, according to Mashable.
As rifting occurs, material from “deep inside Earth moves to the surface and forms oceanic crust at the ridges”, as per NBC News.
“We can see that oceanic crust is starting to form, because it’s distinctly different from continental crust in its composition and density,” Moore, who has been using satellite radar to monitor volcanic activity in East Africa that is associated with the continent’s breakup, had told NBC News in 2018.
How long before Africa is divided?
Not anytime soon.
It will take millions of years for Africa to be sliced into two unequal parts. The new ocean will take at least 5 million to 10 million years to form which could eventually give the landlocked countries of Uganda and Zambia their own coastlines.
The smaller continent created by the rift will include countries such as present-day Somalia and parts of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Tanzania, as per USA Today.
GPS tracking has revealed the different paces at which the land movements between these tectonic plates are occurring, with the Arabian plate shifting away from Africa at a rate of one inch per year.
“As we get more and more measurements for GPS, we can get a much greater sense of what’s going on,” Ken Macdonald, a marine geophysicist and a professor emeritus at the University of California, said, as per Mashable.
“The Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea will flood in over the Afar region and into the East African Rift Valley and become a new ocean, and that part of East Africa will become its own separate small continent.”
Dr Edwin Dindi of the Department of Geology in the Faculty of Science and Technology at the University of Nairobi told All Africa, “The Eastern arm of the Rift Valley is fairly active, this is seen in the many tremors that occur around it”. He added that “it will however take a long time probably millions of years” for the continent to split.
Though the process of rifting is happening for some time, the potential split made the headlines worldwide when a large crack in Kenyan Rift Valley emerged in 2018.
However, The Guardian reported then that the massive split was caused by sudden erosion rather than being evidence of the African continent actively tearing into two.
With inputs from agencies
East Africans ail from too much, too little rain
Source: AP, Saturday March 11, 2023
East Africa, and in particular, parts of Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya, are experiencing the driest conditions and hottest temperatures since satellite record-keeping began.
Surrounded by miles of dried land and what remains of his famished livestock, Daniel Lepaine is a worried man. Dozens of his goats in Ngong, a town in southern Kenya, have died after three years of harrowing drought in the east and Horn of Africa.
The rest are on the verge of starvation as rain continues to fail. “If this drought persists, I will have no livelihood and nothing for my family,” Lepaine mourned. “We are praying hard for the rains.”
But a few thousand miles south, communities are facing the opposite problem. Tropical Cyclone Freddy, which has already caused 21 deaths and displaced thousands of others in Madagascar and Mozambique, is set to make landfall in Mozambique once more on Friday. The nation is already suffering from Freddy’s first battering last month and severe flooding before that. Meteorologists told The Associated Press the uneven and devastating water distribution across Africa’s east coast states is caused by natural weather systems and exacerbated by human-made climate change with cyclones sucking up water that would otherwise be destined for nations further north. “The trend has always been two contrasting weather systems,” said Evans Mukolwe, the former head of Kenya’s meteorological department. “Intensified cyclones in the southern Africa region translates into drought on the eastern side including Horn of Africa.”
The current drought in the region began in late 2020, when the region’s short rains season failed. Meteorologists traced the lack of rain to the start of La Nina in late summer of the same year, the natural and cyclical weather event that cools sea surface temperatures in the Pacific, with knock-on effects for the African continent and the rest of the world. La Nina, together with El Nino and the neutral condition are called ENSO, which stands for El Nino Southern Oscillation.
These events have the largest natural effects on climate and can dampen or juice up the effects of human-caused climate change.
“There is a connection between the El Nino Southern Oscillation, rainfall patterns and drought in east and southern Africa,” said climate scientist Marjahn Finlayson. La Nina means east Africa “would be primed for drier conditions while southern Africa would be more primed to experience wetter and more humid conditions.”
When it comes to tropical cyclones, ENSO is a large factor in where they form and end up, said Anne-Claire Fontaine, a scientific officer with the World Meteorological Organization’s tropical cyclone program. El Nino favors tropical cyclones forming over the central basin of the Indian Ocean that then move toward the south pole, Fontaine said. “Whereas La Nina favors tropical cyclone formation over the eastern to central part of the basin and zonal tracks running westward to south westward” where it slams into southern Africa.
The damaging La Nina was declared over on Thursday by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which meteorologists say might spell better news ahead for the continent.
“It means that we will be entering an ENSO-neutral period until about June or so,” said Finlayson, when El Nino is then expected to take over — potentially zapping the drought.
“End of La Nina means El Nino rains. But this may not happen immediately. For Africa, El Nino rains are normally expected in the short rains seasons which run from October to December,” said Mukolwe. But there’s still the effect of climate change, which is worsening cyclones and drought by making them longer, more intense and more severe, according to the United Nations’ weather agency. Studies going back to mid-1980s suggest there is a clear link between warmer oceans and the intensity and number of cyclones.
Africa is particularly vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather events like floods, cyclones, droughts, wildfires and sandstorms because it has less capacity to prepare for natural disasters, according to a U.N. report. The continent only contributes about 4% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions but suffers disproportionately.
Southern Africa is still in the throes of its cyclone season, with heavy flooding killing dozens, destroying homes and uprooting communities. Since 2019, the region has borne the brunt of 20 cyclones. A scientific analysis of the cyclones in the region last year found that climate change made the tropical storms more damaging and intense.
Meanwhile in the east and Horn of Africa, now in its sixth straight dry season, communities are counting huge losses. Authorities say 11 million livestock and iconic wildlife species have died due to the drought, leaving pastoralist families in abject poverty. Over 6,000 wild animals were lost to drought in Kenya alone by mid-February, according to the Kenya Wildlife Service, including elephants, giraffes and wildebeests.
But Finlayson is cautiously optimistic for the east of the continent in the short to medium term.
“Predictions are that we should expect a strong El Nino that will last from June to August,” she said, which would provide better conditions on Africa’s east coast. “It may be likely that we see those effects in the boreal autumn, but we have to wait and see.”
Blinken to travel to Ethiopia, Niger next week
Source: Reuters, Saturday March 11, 2023
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken hosts the 17th annual International Women of Courage Award Ceremony on International Women’s Day at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 8, 2023. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
WASHINGTON, March 10 (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Ethiopia next week, the State Department said on Friday, as concerns linger over the implementation of the peace agreement following the conflict in the Tigray region that left tens of thousands dead and millions uprooted.
The visit, set as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed works to reestablish himself on the world stage following the two-year Tigray war, comes as foreign troops remain within the region and bureaucratic hurdles hamper the humanitarian response.
Blinken will also visit Niger, a key U.S. security partner, during the trip, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. It will be the first-ever visit to Niger by a U.S. secretary of state.
Africa has emerged as a focus for Washington as it aims to position itself as a partner to countries in the region amid competition with China, which has sought to expand its influence by funding infrastructure projects on the continent.
The visit to Addis Ababa and Niamey is one of a slew of high-level visits the Biden administration has planned to Africa this year.
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee told reporters Blinken is expected to meet with the leadership of the Ethiopian government and Tigrayans while in Ethiopia, where he will discuss the implementation of the ceasefire.
Phee said relations with Ethiopia were not back to normal following the “earth shattering” conflict.
“To put that relationship in a forward trajectory, we will continue to need steps by Ethiopia to help break the cycle of ethnic political violence that has set the country back for so many decades,” Phee said.
ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSES
The Ethiopian government’s two-year conflict with forces in the northern Tigray region ended last November when the two sides signed a deal. Both sides blamed each other for widely documented atrocities, including massacres, rape and detentions without trial.
The war pitted the federal government and its allies against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the party that controlled Tigray.
Allegations of abuses, especially sexual violence, have persisted after the deal was signed, according to half a dozen humanitarians in the region.
Eritrean troops remain in several border areas while militia from neighboring Amhara region still occupy large swaths of territory in contested areas of western and southern Tigray, humanitarians said.
Their presence is seen as a key obstacle to the effective implementation of the deal.
Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Gizachew Muluneh, spokesperson for the Amhara regional government, said it and the people of Amhara were “always ready to co-operate with peace deal process and activities.”
Scarcity of cash and fuel are also hampering the delivery of food and medical supplies, humanitarians and diplomats said.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Cameron Hudson, a U.S. Africa policy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Blinken’s trip comes as Ethiopia is lobbying the United States to restore debt relief and financial assistance as Ethiopia also deepens conversations with China.
“I think it’s the right moment to continue the diplomacy. I don’t think it’s the right moment to kind of declare mission accomplished in Ethiopia,” Hudson said.
While in Addis Ababa, Blinken will also meet with African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat.
The travel to Niger comes at a critical time for West Africa, where groups linked to Islamic State and al Qaeda continue to carry out routine attacks on civilians and the military despite costly interventions from international forces.
What began as a Mali-based insurgency in 2012 has since ballooned into a regional network of competing Islamist groups that operate across large areas of landlocked Niger, Burkina Faso and beyond.
The violence has killed thousands and displaced millions.
Blinken will meet President Mohamed Bazoum and Foreign Minister Hassoumi Massaoudou in Niamey to discuss diplomacy, democracy, development and defense, Price said.
(This story has been corrected to fix Blinken’s travel date in the headline and paragraph 1)
Reporting By Paul Grant; Editing by Doina Chiacu
Somaliland’s Berbera Economic Zone opens with DP World’s Jebel Ali Free Zone model
Source: Hiiraan Online, Wednesday March 8, 2023
Hargeisa (HOL) – DP World, in partnership with the Government of Somaliland, has launched the Berbera Economic Zone (BEZ), which is set to become a major trade hub in the Horn of Africa alongside the Port of Berbera. Based on the model of DP World’s highly successful Jebel Ali Free Zone in Dubai, the BEZ aims to attract investment and create jobs in Somaliland by offering a business-friendly environment. This includes a new Special Economic Zone Law, Special Economic Zone Companies Law, fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, as well as a one-stop shop for all registration and licensing requirements, modern offices, warehousing, and serviced land plots.
“The dynamics of global trade are changing, and there is a growing need for trade infrastructure, such as economic zones, with easy and fast access to international shipping. The integration of Berbera port with the new Economic Zone is a great example of this, making Berbera a world-class trading ecosystem, now and for the future,” said Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World.
DP World has already signed an agreement with UAE-based food company IFFCO to develop a 300,000 square feet edible oil packing plant in the BEZ. A dozen more companies operating across various sectors have already registered. The BEZ is 15 km from the Port of Berbera, along the Berbera to Wajaale road, which connects to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. This integrated maritime, logistics and industrial hub will serve the Horn of Africa, a region with more than 140 million people.
The opening of the BEZ follows the inauguration of the new container terminal at the Port of Berbera in June 2021. DP World’s vision for Berbera is to develop it into a trade hub, taking advantage of its strategic location along one of the busiest sea routes in the world and access to the vast hinterland in the region, including Ethiopia.
The BEZ’s Master Plan covers more than 1,200 hectares and will be expanded over time as demand grows. With phase one now open, it offers serviced land plots for the construction of company facilities, 10,000 square meters of pre-built warehouses, build-to-suit facilities, open yard storage, a common user warehouse which DP World will operate to handle customers’ cargo, as well as office space with end-to-end IT services.
The Berbera Port is a cornerstone of the economy. As a result of the expansion, it is expected to facilitate trade equivalent to approximately 27% of Somaliland’s GDP and 75% of regional trade by 2035. The BEZ will make trade easier for businesses in Somaliland and the wider Horn of Africa, benefiting sectors such as exporters, importers, and processors of livestock, agricultural and perishable goods, textiles, and construction materials.
“This is another proud and historic moment for Somaliland and its people. After the inauguration of the container terminal at the Port of Berbera, and now with the economic zone open for business, we are taking a major leap forward in realizing our vision to establish Berbera as an integrated, regional trade gateway, which will be a key driver of economic growth, achieved through increased trade flows, foreign investment, and job creation,” said Muse Bihi Abdi, President of Somaliland, at the opening event.
“Africa-Europe Cooperation and Digital Transformation”: An Extraordinary Learning Tool for African and European Leaders
“Africa-Europe Cooperation and Digital Transformation”: An Extraordinary Learning Tool for African and European Leaders
Source: SIPRI February 6, 2023
The recently published book “Africa-Europe Cooperation and Digital Transformation”, edited by ACET collaborators Chux Daniels, Benedikt Erforth, and Chloe Teevan, provides a unique set of expert insights and thoughtful perspectives that are immensely useful for African and global policymakers in understanding innovation and digital opportunities for driving economic transformation. It is the first edited collection on the topic of Africa’s economic and digital transformation since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its release is well-timed at a moment when the international community re-engages on digital development in a world reframed by geopolitical evolutions, technological advances, and a greater appreciation for innovation and digital opportunities.
At ACET, we believe that economic growth is not enough, as the continent needs economic transformation. We define economic transformation through the framework of growth with DEPTH: Diversification, Exports, Productivity, Technology, and Human wellbeing. While the thirty-seven contributing authors of Africa-Europe Cooperation and Digital Transformation did not write their submissions with the DEPTH framework in mind, their work does support the framework’s applicability in the digital sphere. The reader can better appreciate the need for diversification in the chapter by El Aynaoui, Jaïdi, and Zaoui on digitalization and industrialization (chapter 7); and the importance of SMEs to digitally transform if they are to reap the benefits of regional trade (exports) within the framework of the AfCFTA as outlined by Fafunwa and Odufuwa (chapter 5).
Productivity is a key theme in Banga’s chapter on African labor markets (chapter 6), where she explores the potential for digital technologies to contribute to productivity gains across agriculture, manufacturing, and services. Technological upgrading is naturally addressed in numerous chapters such as those by Bashir and Daniels on digital skills (chapter 13). The chapters on additional frontier issues are particularly insightful. These include the chapter on the biotech revolution by Pauwels and Tilmes (chapter 4) and the chapter on digital water by Ashraf (chapter 8). These chapters highlight policy issues and opportunities “over the horizon” that policymakers should be thinking about now, particularly regarding regulatory frameworks and incentivizing policy.
Finally, there is a welcome strong emphasis on human well-being throughout the book. The concluding chapters on gender provide a fitting and optimistic closing. The chapter on feminist digital development (chapter 15) by Sladkova and Bashir highlights gaps in partnership approaches between Europe and Africa, while the final chapter on female entrepreneurs (chapter 16) by Beleyi highlights the importance of creating networks and ecosystems for female innovators that are fit for purpose.
The book very helpfully places traditional international development themes in a digital context, while also addressing policy issues that are new to African and European policymakers. For example, the discussion of data protection (chapter 10) by Erforth and Martin-Shields emphasizes that Kenya only enacted a data protection law in 2019, drawing on the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GPDR). But as a new regulation, it faces familiar challenges such as public buy-in, uncertain transition frameworks, and a lack of public institutional support for implementation.
Likewise, the chapter on digital sovereignty (chapter 2) by Fritzsche and Spoiala and the chapter on Chinese surveillance in Africa (chapter 3) by Jili are must-reads for policymakers. Since most African governments are highly dependent on non-African actors for connectivity, devices, and services, stakeholders need to be cognizant of, and better understand, the interplay of digital development and digital sovereignty.
As the global economy continues to struggle with food and energy supply challenges, rising interest rates, and increasing trade fragmentation, Africa can benefit from continuing its digital transformation. But this will require a stronger focus by African policymakers, an enhanced role for the African Union, and well-considered global partnerships, including with Europe. The EU is attempting to build digital partnerships through initiatives such as the Global Gateway and the Digital for Development Hub, which should be welcomed, but require informed dialogue.
The editors of “Africa-Europe Cooperation and Digital Transformation” should be commended for bringing together authors around the themes of politics, policies, and people, which at the same time helps informs frameworks such as ACET’s “Growth with DEPTH”. Its true value is in providing policymakers in Africa, Europe, and beyond with a window to future digital policy issues and helping them understand how to benefit from well-considered partnerships that are also fraught with complexity.
The book can be an extraordinary learning tool for African leaders. It can inform collective positions and a common African voice which are needed for effective Europe-Africa digital partnership. Through its insights African and European leaders can strive for mutually beneficial impact while supporting Africa’s digital and economic transformation
After 30 years of fighting, hunger the last straw for Horn of Africa’s most vulnerable: UNHCR
Source: UN, 1 March 2023
After 30 years of fighting, hunger the last straw for Horn of Africa’s most vulnerable: UNHCR
Survivors of decades of conflict in the Horn of Africa have told the UN how hunger and drought have finally uprooted them from their homes.
To help 3.3 million people who’ve been displaced in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, issued an urgent appeal this week for $137 million.
And although famine was narrowly prevented last year, the humanitarian outlook for 2023 is extremely uncertain, as the agency’s Olga Sarrado tells UN News’s Daniel Johnson.
Daniel Johnson, UN News – Geneva