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Horn of Africa
Source: International Business Times, Wednesday December 25, 2019
by Nirmal Narayanan
A village in Ethiopia has been discovered by archaeologists (pictured) which belonged to the little-known Empire of Aksum – a bustling, sprawling metropolis to rival Rome that survived for centuries
A new study conducted by archaeologists has discovered the remnants of a lost city in Ethiopia. After making this discovery, researchers revealed that these remnants were from one of the least documented major civilizations of the ancient world, the kingdom of Aksum.
Scientists have now discovered one of the Kingdom of Aksum’s most important sites, trade and religious centre located in the capital city of the civilization. They have now named this site, ‘Beta Samati’.
The Kingdom of Aksum: The civilization that first minted coins
Gold and carnelian intaglio ring unearthed from the site I. Dumitru
The Aksum kingdom sits along the northern edge of the Red Sea, and it encompasses Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, and Somaliland. Historians believe that this civilization has played a crucial role in flourishing the trade between the Roman empire and ancient India. It should also be noted that the Aksum kingdom was the first sub-Saharan African state to initially mint coins.Even though the Kingdom of Aksum was the first state in the region to adopt Christianity, historians are yet to uncover crucial details about this civilization. Experts believe that these newly discovered remnants could unveil some of the unknown mysteries surrounding the rise and fall of this ancient African kingdom.
Even though more analysis should be carried out on the remnants, preliminary findings have already broken a common notion surrounding the African empire. Earlier, it was believed that societies in the pre-Aksumatic kingdom have collapsed leaving only very few rural settlements. However, this new finding suggests that there was an unknown yet greater continuity between Pre-Aksumite and Aksumite governments.
“The recent discovery of Beta Samati is of considerable importance for understanding the development of early complex polities in Africa. Our work demonstrates that Beta Samati was a large, densely populated settlement located 6.5km (90 minutes by foot) north-east of Yeha, the centre of political power for sub-Saharan Africa’s earliest (Pre-Aksumite) complex polity.
Our findings also demonstrate that, contrary to the supposed abandonment of the Yeha region following the Pre-Aksumite period, Beta Samati continued to function as a major node on trade routes that linked the Mediterranean to Adulis and Aksum during the Classic, Middle and Late Aksumite periods,” wrote the researchers in the study report.
The fallen kingdom of Aksum
Several historians believe that it was the arrival of Islam which resulted in the decline of the Aksum Empire. In AD 615, the king of Aksum granted asylum to early Muslims, and slowly, Islamists gained control over the kingdom and the Red Sea trade.
The study report also added that further research should be carried out in this site to know more about the development of Aksum’s trade connections and the exact reason behind the gradual fall of the kingdom.
Kenya News Agency
Source: Kemya News Agency,Wednesday December 25, 2019
By Joseph Ng’ang’a
Members of the Organizing Committee for the Regional Forum to Harmonise Labour Migration Policies in the East and Horn of Africa on Monday December 23, 2019 which will take place on the 20th and 21st of January 2020 at the Nairobi Inter Continental Hotel. Photo by KNA.
Human trafficking and smuggling have been identified as leading forms of transnational crime in the East Africa and Horn of Africa region.
To address these issues, the region has organised the ‘Regional forum to Harmonise Labour Migration Policies in the East and Horn of Africa’ which will take place on January 20 and January 21, 2020 at the Nairobi Intercontinental Hotel.
Speaking during a preparatory meeting for the forum on Monday, the Joyce Mwale said that member States in the region are perceived to be a source, transit point and destination for persons being trafficked and smuggled.
“One link that is less frequently talked about is the issue of trafficking connected to free movement of persons in the East Africa Community (EAC) region. Proper management of labour migration therefore remains an important aspect of mitigating against trafficking,” said Mwale.
She explained that the forum will bring together Ministries in-charge of labour migration and social protection in the States in the East and Horn of Africa, namely Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.“The forum will offer an opportunity to the Heads of the ministries and their delegations to strengthen regional cooperation on pressing issues concerning labour migration management. It will also address the need to promote safe and orderly labour mobility in order to address irregular migration flows,” she said.
The Undersecretary in the State Department for Social Protection, Fatma Ahmed said that the region is faced by challenges of human trafficking and smuggling of migrant workers; Abuses of migrant workers’ rights and there is need to establish labour Market Information System on migration, diaspora engagement and bilateral labour arrangements in order to address these challenges.
“The need to hold the Conference was initiated in Geneva Switzerland during the International Labour Conference in June 2019 in which Kenya committed itself to host the forum. The conference is being organised by the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection in partnership with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM)/UN Migration Agency,” said Ahmed.
The forum is specifically expected to enable the member states to among other things discuss regional strategy on the negotiation of Bilateral Labour Agreements and to be able to present a unified front and hence gain stronger bargaining power for the protection of labour migrants, she added.
“We hope to share data and Information on trends; priorities; needs, and interests of Member States in order to foster safe and orderly labour mobility within Africa,” she said.
The Undersecretary added that the forum will enhance the knowledge and skills of government stakeholders on ways in which to put effective mechanisms and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in place to prepare migrant workers and ensure that their fundamental human labour and social rights are upheld in all stages of the migration process.
The International Migration Report 2017 figures indicate that over 47 percent of the African population on the move, migrates outside the continent of Africa.
Further, it is estimated that on average 50 percent of them are youth, predominantly male, of an average age of 25 years old and 46.8 percent are female.
The report also indicates that African economies are largely dominated by the urban informal economy and agriculture.
According to the report, migrant workers on the continent are often found in settings characterised by low incomes and wages, lack of social protection, precarious jobs and workplaces and abysmal working conditions.
Participants at the forum will include Development Partners, Representatives from the African Union Commission, EAC, The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and Representatives from a number of Embassies and Missions.
The conference will provide an opportunity towards harmonising Labour Migration Policies and chart the way forward towards standardisation of labour migration management in the region.
Source: EU, CAP, Wednesday December 25, 2019
“Somalia is ready to take its place to cooperate in the international effort against maritime crime,” said Captain Hassan Mohamed Afrah, Director of the Somali Maritime Administration, as he addressed participants this week at a key conference on information sharing in the Indian Ocean.
On the 17-18 December, Somali officials from the Somali Maritime Administration (SMA) of the Ministry of Ports and Marine Transport traveled to Mombasa with EUCAP Somalia advisors, to attend a regional conference on the EU CRIMARIO (Critical Maritime Routes in the Indian Ocean) project.
CRIMARIO is an information sharing initiative for maritime security and cooperation in the Western Indian Ocean, which also works to support the blue economy of nations in the region.
EUCAP is supporting Somali partners to take part in CRIMARIO as part of an EU Critical Maritime Routes programme. It is intended that Somalia will start using the main information tool of the initiative, called IORIS (Indian Ocean Region Information Sharing and Incident Management). The IORIS tool works to increase maritime security awareness, and support prevention of trafficking and smuggling in the Indian Ocean. Use of the tool would mark an important capacity step in the development of Somalia’s state coastal responsibilities by the SMA, as it increases its institutional abilities with the support of EUCAP and other partners.
EUCAP’s adviser to the SMA, Andrew Lyttle, said a multi-partner approach to maritime and port security was key for Somalia’s maritime sector. “Friends and colleagues of neighbouring states are natural partners in the development of maritime security,” he said.
The increased participation of women was also discussed during the three-day event, with emphasis on strengthened knowledge sharing and raising awareness of the contribution of women to the maritime sector.
Following the conference there was also an opportunity to encourage technical cooperation and understanding with Kenya, with a visit by the Somali officials, together with EUCAP advisors, to the Kenyan Port Authority
Source: Hiiraan Online, Wednesday December 25, 2019
MOGADISHU (HOL) – The Lower House today passed two crucial bills key to bolstering governance and ease of doing business in Somalia.
The House endorsed the Public Finance Management Amendment Bill and the Company Law Bill both of which have been undergoing debate in parliament for over a year now.
The Ministry of Commerce submitted the Company Law Bill to the House May 2017 while the Public Finance Management Bill from the Ministry of Finance was first tabled in the House November 2017.
The Public Finance Management Act is crucial in mainstreaming prudent management of resources in public institution by instilling best practices and holding accountable those tasked with management of public resources.
The Bill will also be significant in taming corruption in public institutions as Somalia seeks to shed off the ‘most corrupt’ tag attested by subsequent Transparency International indices.
The passage of the Company Law Bill will also be instrumental in establishing the legal framework under which companies are established, run and even dissolved in Somalia.
It also provides the regulatory framework for licensing and management of both public and private companies in the country.
The two pieces of legislation now proceed to the Upper House for further debates.
Source: TheNational, Monday December 23, 2019
L-R) Ethiopian, Sudanese and Egyptian delegations taking part in a new round of talks over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), in Khartoum, Sudan, 22 December 2019. EPA/MARWAN ALI
Cairo is worried the new construction will restrict its water supplies from the river.
Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have come closer to agreeing on the filling the reservoir of and operating the giant hydroelectric dam that Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile, the Sudanese irrigation minister said on Sunday.
Cairo is worried the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), under construction near Ethiopia’s border with Sudan, will restrict supplies of already scarce Nile waters on which it is almost entirely dependent.
Ethiopia begun the GERD project in 2011 to try and provide electricity to more than half of the country’s population, while becoming Africa’s largest power exporter.“Proposals were submitted by the three countries regarding filling the reservoir and operating the dam and a convergence (of views) occurred,” Sudanese irrigation and water resources minister Yasser Abbas told reporters after he met with his Egyptian and Ethiopian counterparts in Khartoum.
The World Bank and the United States were observers on Sunday’s meeting in the Sudanese capital. The meeting was a follow up on meetings held in November in Addis Ababa and one held in Cairo in December.
“It was agreed to take the new positions separately to be discussed at the meetings in Addis Ababa,” he said. The three sides will meet in the Ethiopian capital on January 2-3.
The three parties also agreed to define droughts and the operating conditions during droughts, Mr Abbas said.
“There is a convergence (of views) in general, and there are differences of views in some circumstances. Sudan proposed a specified time for filling the reservoir and added definitions for drought and continuous drought,” Mr Abbas said.
Mohamed Abdel Aty, Egypt’s minister of irrigation, said that his country had shown leniency in the talks.
“We expect from other parties to listen to our views on the rules of filling the reservoir. The rules have to be integrated and we are ready to hold frank talks,” the minister asserted,” he said.
Source: The Washington Post, , By Goitom Gebreluel
Monday December 23, 2019
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his wife, Zinash Tayachew, in Oslo on Dec. 10. (Terje Pedersen/AFP/Getty Images )
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed picked up his Nobel Peace Prize in Stockholm earlier this month, then returned home to Ethiopia to face challenges beyond sustaining peace with Eritrea. In November, Abiy proposed merging the four-party Ethiopian People’s Revolution Democratic Front (EPRDF) into one party, bringing an end to the ruling group in Ethiopia since the communist junta was overthrown in 1991.The EPRDF came to power as the Cold War ended. Instead of abandoning their Marxist-Leninist roots, the group’s leaders tried to fuse revolutionary principles and class politics with capitalism and liberal democracy. The EPRDF’s successor party — the Prosperity Party — is a radical departure from the past, in terms of ideology and membership base. Here’s what you need to know.
Ethiopia’s party coalition was stabilizing, until it wasn’t
The four parties that made up the EPRDF were the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the Amhara Democratic Party, the Oromo Democratic Party and the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement. The first three parties, respectively, represented the Tigray, Amhara and Oromo nations, which together are more than 70 percent of Ethiopia’s population. The Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement represented a regional state composed of numerous smaller national communities.
But EPRDF founders — leaders from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front — and other ethno-nationalist politicians strongly oppose the new PP. These dissenters want to maintain the old party structure and ideology and are unlikely to join the new Prosperity Party.
Parties that had never been allowed to join the EPRDF — the ruling parties in the Afar, Benishangul-Gumuz, Harari, Somalia and Gambella regions — have decided to dissolve and merge with the Prosperity Party. The EPRDF leadership previously argued that these largely pastoral regions lacked the agrarian class structure that revolutionary democracy presupposed. For almost three decades these groups were relegated to the status of partner parties; they were part of the federal government but couldn’t vote in EPRDF committees, where the group reached all of Ethiopia’s major political decisions.
The EPRDF’s role has come to an end
The separation — if it takes place peacefully and legitimately — could prove a source of stability in Ethiopia. The ideological ambiguity of the EPRDF has been a destabilizing factor and breaking it up may pave the way for establishing internally coherent parties and coalitions, which could mean greater stability in Ethiopia more generally.
EPRDF’s fragmentation began when its strongman, Meles Zenawi, passed away in 2012. Since then the four parties that make up EPRDF haven’t been able to agree how to share power. The power struggle enabled protests to escalate in 2016 and culminated in Abiy Ahmed becoming prime minister in 2018.The fragmentation of the EPRDF was exacerbated under Abiy Ahmed’s leadership, leading to, among other things, the political assassination of Ethiopia’s military chief and the president of the Amhara Regional State on June 22. The power struggle also crystallized irreconcilable ideological positions within the leadership.
Abiy’s reforms break from EPRDF’s foundations
Abiy Ahmed came to power with a vision to transform the EPRDF as well as Ethiopia at large. His first target was the developmental state economic model, which had guided policy in Ethiopia since 2000. Under this model, the government plays an active role in the economy and invests in infrastructure, human capital and energy to fast-track a structural transformation of the economy from largely agrarian to increasingly industrial.
Abiy undermined this development model by drawing attention to financial mismanagement in Ethiopia’s state-owned enterprises, notably the military industrial complex METEC. He then declared that Ethiopia’s model for development would be “capitalism.”
The most controversial reform, however, was Abiy’s move away from the EPRDF’s nationalist narrative. The EPRDF had long depicted Ethiopia’s ethnic groups as victims of forced assimilationist policy — under a nation-building project that began in the 19th century and ended in 1995 with the introduction of the Ethiopia’s federal constitution, which granted the “nations, nationalities and peoples” the right to self-determination. Abiy formulated an alternative history that de-emphasized ethnic oppression and instead focused on ethnic harmony and national unity.
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front leads the resistance against Abiy’s revolution
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front wants to continue the centrally directed economic model and has made saving the federal constitutional arrangement its main rallying point. In August, it convened a conference for pro-federalism forces that resembled a first step toward making a “federalist coalition” as an alternative to Abiy’s new Prosperity Party.
A peaceful divorce of EPRDF member parties could be derailed by the internal fragmentation with the factions. The leadership in Abiy’s own Oromo Democratic Party, for example, is split between those that embrace Abiy’s nationalist narrative and those that want to stick to the old ethno-nationalist discourse.
Abiy’s critics claim that the dismantling of the EPRDF and establishment of the Prosperity Party did not follow appropriate party procedures, saying that one individual imposed this change. Notably, the leader of the political process that brought Abiy Ahmed to power in 2018, former president of the Oromia Regional State Lemma Megersa, has made public his opposition to the Prosperity Party.
What does this mean for Ethiopia going forward?
If Ethiopians feel that their leaders are imposing this merger, the Prosperity Party’s coherence probably rests on shaky ground. This could make it difficult for Abiy and his new party to uphold law and order and navigate through the political reform process.
Efforts to turn the restructuring process into an opportunity to score tactical victories against various groups raises risks for instability as well. The different EPRDF factions want others to come out of the party transformation as bruised as possible.
Over the past weeks, these groups have been exchanging provocative accusations. Events throughout 2019, including the June 22 killings and the conflict between Abiy Ahmed and Jawar Mohamed’s supporters, illustrate how tit-for-tat dynamics can escalate into violence. The fate of the May 2020 parliamentary elections and general stability in Ethiopia will depend on how this process unfolds over the next few months.
Goitom Gebreluel is a political analyst based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Follow him on Twitter @goitom_gebrelue.
Source: BBC, By Joseph Odhiambo
BBC Africa, Nairobi
Monday December 23, 2019
The national football team of Eritrea celebrating after beating Kenya 4-1 going through to the final of the 2019 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup.
Seven players from the Eritrean football team have gone missing after playing in the East African regional championship in Uganda.The rest of the squad have returned home following the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup, where they finished runners-up.
It’s the second time this year footballers from Eritrea have disappeared while on international duty after five players fled from their hotel in the middle of October’s Cecafa Under-20 Challenge Cup.
Cecafa are searching for the players and have informed Ugandan authorities about their disappearance.
“The information I have is that seven of them escaped,” said Cecafa spokesperson Rogers Mulindwa.
“We have already notified the police, the Federation of Uganda Football Associations and the embassy. We are working closely to locate them and I think we shall get them. They may not have Christmas in Uganda.”
This latest incident follows a long list of Eritrean footballers escaping in the past.
In 2015, ten players refused to return home after playing a World Cup qualifying match in Botswana.
Two years earlier 15 players and the team doctor were granted asylum in Uganda after they absconded in the country also during the Senior Challenge Cup.
At the 2009 edition of the tournament the entire team, apart from the coach and an official, failed to return home from Kenya.
Human rights group Amnesty International says thousands of Eritreans continue to flee the country while the authorities severely restrict their right to do so.
The Eritrean government has dismissed these allegations in the past, and said figures of those fleeing are fabricated.
Source: theSTAR, Tuesday December 24, 2019
Kenyan troops will not pull out of Somalia until the al Shabaab threat has been completely neutralized, Chief of Defense Forces Samson Mwathethe has said.
Mwathethe said Kenya will only be secure after the terror group has been decimated.
“We are in Somalia because we know that if Somalia is free of al Shabaab and terrorism, Kenya will also be free of the scourge. We must, therefore, ensure that we destroy the enemy here, to guarantee the destruction of the enemy at home,” Mwathethe added.
Mwathethe spoke during a visit to Kenyan troops at the Kuday Forward Operating Base in Badhadhe District in Lower Juba region.
He further assured the troops that they will be properly equipped to enable them execute their mandate in Amisom.
“I am happy that we have been able to provide the best equipment for the task that we have been mandated to undertake in this mission. We have, over time, appreciated your various needs,” he said.
Mwathethe also exuded confidence that the Kenya Defence Forces will soon free the region of terror.
“I am confident that with the defences that we have, with the weapons that we have and with the courage of the soldier that we have, I have no doubt that we shall execute our tasks successfully,” he said.
As part of Amisom, Kenyan troops have also participated in local community-building initiatives such as disaster response and construction of schools and bridges, among others.
Mwathethe lauded these initiatives and urged the troops to sustain them.
“The number of schoolgoing children has significantly increased and business has been thriving because of your presence in this region. This is commendable,” the CDF said.
Mwathethe told the troops that the KDF top brass and President Uhuru Kenyatta are firmly behind them.
“Even when you are here, we want you to know that we are thinking of you, we can never forget you. We wish you well and success in the execution of your mandate in Somalia,” Mwathethe noted.
The CDF was accompanied by commander of Kenya Navy Maj Gen Levi Mghalu, general officer commanding Eastern Command Maj Gen Ayub Matiri, director of Military Intelligence Maj Gen Said Farah, sector commander Amisom Sector 2 Brigadier Dickson Ruto, sector commander Amisom Sector 6, Brigadier Juma Mwinyikai, chief of operations Headquarters Kenya Army Brigadier William xShume, among other senior officers.
Somaliland delivers $600,000 aid assistance to Beledweyne as Federal Government goes mute on its pledge
Source: Hiiraan Online, Tuesday December 24, 2019
Somaliland delegation arriving Beledweyne
BELEDWEYNE (HOL) – A delegation from Somaliland arrived in Beledweyne Monday to deliver humanitarian aid to victims of floods as the Federal Government’s pledge remains unfulfilled.The delegation delivered aid worth $600,000 adding to overwhelming response from Somalis both locally and internationally.
The head of the Somaliland delegation Jamal Aided Ibrahim said the funds were a contribution from Somaliland Government and business community. He thanked President Muse Bihi and the people of Somaliland for their generous contribution towards the relief efforts.
The head of the flood relief committee in Hiiraan Osman Dhagahow Harur thank the government and the people of Somaliland for their support flood victims in Hiiraan.
Over 500,000 people were affected by floods countrywide with about 300,000 mainly from Beledweyne displaced from their homes when Shabelle River breached its banks late October.
Though the water levels have receded, thousands are yet to return to their homes as humanitarian agencies and well wishers continue to support the recovery process.
Somali Government pledged $500,000 at the onset of the floods but multiple sources among them elders contacted by HOL indicated the government was yet deliver even a penny.
The opposition coalition Forum for National Parties delivered $600,000 and other humanitarian assistance as traders from other areas such as Puntland and Somalis in Kenya and other parts of the world sent in their contributions.
It appears, sources noted the government went to Beledweyne for photo opportunities only and even attempted to block those who intended to support the victims of the floods among them the opposition groups.
The FNP leaders among them former Presidents Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Sheikh Sharif Ahmed were held at Aden Adde Airport in October for several hours in what they said were attempts by the government to block their travel to Beledweyne where they were to deliver the aid.
The author identified six plot lines dealing with the war in Yemen, the future of Somalia, political change in Sudan and Ethiopia, the establishment of a Red Sea Forum, intra-Gulf State dynamics, and great power competition.
Source: SeefoodSource, Wednesday December 18, 2019
By Shem Oirere
The Food and Agriculture Organization has delivered 12 longline fishing vessels to the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources in Somalia’s northern autonomous State of Puntland.
The vessels were transferred under the European Union’s financed Coastal Communities Against Piracy (CCAP) program, designed to support the Horn of Africa country’s ongoing fisheries and aquaculture sector reforms.
The CCAP is one of several projects intended to woo more young people and small-scale fishers away from piracy by providing them an alternative source of income through revival of the country’s commercial fishing industry. The CCAP is also building capacity among the state’s fishers through training that focuses value-chain activities such as boat-building and seafood product handling, processing, and marketing.
“The vessels are another contribution from the Coastal Communities Against Piracy (CCAP) Project, generously funded by the European Union, which works to develop a vibrant fisheries sector that harnesses the great potential offered by Somalia’s coastline by providing decent employment opportunities young people along the fisheries value chain,” FAO CCAP Project Manager in Somalia John Purvis said.Somalia’s coastline has been synonymous with illegal fishing, frequent piracy, and a thriving chaotic maritime system, though the problem has abated somewhat since September 2012, when the country held indirect presidential elections and a government formed in an attempt to end the more than 20 years of civil war.
FAO said the 12 vessels were deliberately designed to be of the longline fishing model that is more sustainable. Fishers can now more easily catch fish, maintain their quality, and gain value for their catch with their effective deployment, it said.
Last year, the Federal Government of Somalia (South Somalia) issued offshore fishing licenses for the exploitation of tuna and tuna-like species, a move made as part of the country’s drive to encourage investments into its fishing industry. Somalia’s fisheries remain underexploited despite Somalia having the longest coastline along the Indian Ocean, primarily due to their inaccessibility and the threat of piracy.
The offshore fishing licensing bid attracted the interest of Chinese Offshore Fishing Association, which is the only entity that submitted expression of interest for the advertised fishing venture, which is to be carried out beyond 24 nautical miles from Somalia’s coastline.
Photo courtesy of FAO
Source; AFP, Thursday December 19, 2019
The carcass of a dead goat lies in the desert in a drought-stricken area near Bandar Beyla in Somalia on March 8, 2017. The United Nations’ emergency relief coordinator said on June 4, 2019, that more than 2 million men, women and children could die of starvation in Somalia by summer’s end if international aid is not sent quickly to the drought-stricken African country. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis
BELEDWEYNE, Somalia (AFP) — As Somalia withered from drought early this year, and her goats dropped dead from thirst, Maka Abdi Ali begged for rain.
When the skies finally opened, nature was unmerciful.
Unrelenting downpours in October turned to flash floods, destroying her meagre home and few remaining possessions, and washing away whatever harvest and bony animals farmers managed to save during the months without rain.
“I have nothing now,” 67-year-old Ali told AFP in a squalid camp on the outskirts of Beledweyne in central Somalia.
Here, 180,000 people fled the fast-rising waters in the country’s worst floods in memory.
The arid Horn of Africa country has always been hostage to climate extremes. Rain is erratic, and drought a feature of life.
But catastrophic weather events are occurring in Somalia with ever-greater fury and frequency, trapping millions in a near-constant cycle of crisis.Little by little, the ability to recover is ground down, say experts.
There is no time to rebuild homes and replenish food stocks before another disaster strikes.
Impoverished and weakened by decades of war, battling an armed insurgency, Somalia is ill-equipped to cope with the destabilizing impact of double-tap environmental crises.
Aid budgets are stretched trying to respond to back-to-back emergencies.
In May, the United Nations launched a drought appeal, warning of looming starvation as Somalia faced its worst harvest on record.
Six months later, it’s again appealing for help — this time for $72.5 million for half a million victims of flood.
“There hasn’t been a day this year where we haven’t been talking about either drought or floods,” Abigail Hartley, deputy head of office for the UN humanitarian agency OCHA in Somalia, told AFP.
A new norm
Among those fleeing the inundation in Beledweyne, the epicentre of this disaster, were Somalis already on the run from other climate-stricken parts of the region.
“The drought forced us to flee… now we are displaced by floods,” bemoaned Maryama Osman Abdi, who abandoned her bone-dry farmland for a new start in Beledweyne.
Now, her home in ruins, she contemplates her next move.
Many had migrated to the banks of the Shabelle River — a lifeline which runs through Beledweyne — seeking water to revive their livestock, and nurture their crops.
But the river burst its banks under the ceaseless barrage of rain.
The mighty flood that followed should in statistical terms occur only once in 50 years, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
But, the UN agency noted, the river overflowed in 2019, after 2018 and 2015.
“This was different from the others. I have never seen anything like it,” Omar Dule, a 74-year-old who has spent his lifetime in Beledweyne, told AFP.
The FAO, bracing for the next overflow, is repairing embankments along the river long neglected by cash-strapped authorities.
Rainfall extremes in Somalia are forecast to intensify this century, even as the region overall dries considerably, said Linda Ogallo, from the Nairobi-based Intergovernmental Authority on Development Climate Prediction and Applications Centre.
“Droughts and floods are increasing, in frequency and intensity,” said Ogallo, a climate scientist who specialises in Somalia’s weather patterns.
It is an omen already playing out for Mohamed Osman Hashi, whose watermelon and sesame fields in Beledweyne have been devastated again and again.
“In recent times, it seems to be on repeat, almost every year,” he told AFP.
East Africa has endured unusually extreme rainfall since October, with torrential deluges killing hundreds across eight countries, and displacing millions more.
This month, even as water slowly receded in Beledweyne, a tropical cyclone transformed deserts in Somalia’s north into seas.
Bosaso, in the semi-autonomous Puntland region, received close to a year’s worth of rain in less than two days.
Adding to the suffering, the FAO said Wednesday that the country had been hit by its worst outbreak of desert locusts in 25 years.
The curse — exacerbated by the exceptional rain — could spread to Somalia’s main crop-growing areas.
The just-concluded UN climate summit in Madrid failed to agree on compensation for poor countries, which have least to blame for causing global warming, for weather-related disasters.
This is grim news for Somalia, which lacks the resources to cope with, or plan for, an ever-more hostile climate.
Each blow sets back the monumental task of rebuilding a country reliant on foreign aid to support some 5.4 million people in desperate need.
To compound problems, an October study by international researchers found climate change amplifies conflict, emboldening the Al-Shabaab militants waging a potent insurgency in Somalia.
“Developed countries are more resilient. Somalia has been in crisis for years,” said Chris Print, a hydrologist with the FAO and expert on Somalia’s land and rivers.
“Ironically, the poorest countries are the most likely to be impacted by climate crisis.”
Two months after the floods began, about 220,000 people are yet to receive assistance, the UN said.
In the fetid camps for disaster evacuees fringing Beledweyne, 100,0000 people are still unable to return home, squatting beneath tattered stick-and-cloth shelters.
“If it happens again, you can bet that some people are just going to give up,” Print told AFP.
Driven from place to place, pursued by a ferocious climate, some have already reached the end of the road.
“We don’t know what else to do,” said Abdi, squatting in the dirt, surrounded by nine grandchildren.
Source: Reuters, Wednesday December 18, 2019
FILE PHOTO: International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva speaks at a news conference following the “1+6” Roundtable meeting at the Diaoyutai state guesthouse in Beijing, China November 21, 2019. REUTERS/Florence Lo
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund’s executive board has approved a financing plan that will help the IMF cover its share of debt relief for Somalia, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said in a statement on Wednesday.The financing plan includes cash grants from member countries and IMF internal resources, she said, without providing any further details of the financing package. Those funds will be used to clear Somalia’s arrears to the IMF.
“This marks a critical step in helping Somalia advance the process of normalizing relations with the international community and making progress toward achieving debt relief under the Heavily-Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative,” Georgieva said.
A decision unlocking debt relief could come as soon as members provided the necessary financial commitments, assuming Somalia’s government continued its strong reform efforts, she added, without giving a specific date.The African nation has about $5 billion in external debt, accounting for about 100% of its GDP, which the Fund has declared to be unsustainable.
Somali’s finance minister, Abdirahman Duale Beileh, welcomed the news in a posting on Twitter, adding, “We are grateful to all partners for their continued support in our journey to debt cancellation. We will march on with economic reforms.”
Beileh in October cited positive discussions with the United States, Somalia’s biggest creditor, Britain and others during the IMF/World Bank annual meetings, and said he expected a decision in favor of debt relief in February.
Georgieva on Wednesday described debt relief for Somalia was as a priority for the Fund and said she was encouraged by the support of IMF members on the issue.
Debt relief would “help unlock significant new financial resources to address Somalia’s large development needs and poverty reduction,” she said.
Ethiopia’s Political Transition
The ICG concluded that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed should move cautiously in implementing reforms, step up efforts to reduce tensions among Oromo factions and between Amhara and Tigray regional leaders, and, if necessary, consider delaying next year’s parliamentary election.
‘Embrace the transformation’ to a carbon-neutral world by 2050, UN chief tells COP25
Source, UN, 12 December 2019
With millions of workers increasingly affected by the climate crisis the route to securing livelihoods in the future lies in a wholesale transformation of how we power the planet and manage our resources, the UN chief said on Thursday, at a COP25 climate action event focused on greener jobs.
“We are still losing the climate race”, Secretary-General António Guterres said in Madrid, “but we can choose another path, the path of climate action and well-being for people and planet”, which is about jobs, health, education, opportunities and the future.
He maintained that the answer to the climate crisis “lies in transforming how we generate our power, design our cities, and manage our land”, but it also requires actions “consistent with making people’s lives better”.
The enormous opportunities linked to #ClimateAction are overlooked too often.
Economic growth and tackling the climate crisis go hand in hand.
The Paris Agreement agreed in 2015 included “a just transition” for people whose jobs and livelihoods are impacted by moving “from the grey economy to the green”, he noted, part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“We can no longer refuse to face up to the climate crisis”, he spelled out, urging governments to commit, businesses to lead and people everywhere to “embrace the transformation that will bring us to a carbon-neutral world by 2050”.
New Climate Economy
Mr. Guterres spoke encouragingly about “enormous opportunities” linked to climate action.
According to the UN chief, shifting to a low-carbon economy represents a $26 trillion-dollar growth opportunity that could create 65 million new jobs by 2030 – with solar, wind and geothermal energy already being the fastest-growing job creators in several economies.
“The green economy is the economy of the future and we need to make way for it right now”, he stated, encouraging countries to re-train people so they can “switch careers with the concept that education now became a lifelong enterprise”.
Stressing that the transition to a low-carbon future be “fair and inclusive”, he said that this means “a future of green and decent jobs…of thriving, resilient communities, cities and countries.”
Climate Action for Jobs
Meanwhile, the Climate Action for Jobs initiative, which the UN chief launched at the conference with Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), puts job creation and livelihoods at the centre of national climate action plans, the UN chief enumerated measures to ensure inclusivity, such as assessing the employment, social and economic impacts of ecological transition and the potential of green jobs.
We cannot continue to have one foot in both the grey and the green economies at the same time — UN chief
He underscored that economic growth and tackling climate change are “mutually reinforcing”, adding that “failing to tackle global heating is a sure-fire recipe for economic disaster”.
Cleaner, greener future for all
Detailing the need to “reduce emissions 45 per cent by 2030 from 2010 levels, achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and stabilize global temperature rise at 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century”, Mr. Guterres said the Paris Agreement must be used as “our multilateral path forward”.
Without achieving our climate goals, the Secretary-General maintained that only the richest would survive.
And because “we cannot continue to have one foot in both the grey and the green economies at the same time”, he underlined that developed nations must fulfil their pledges under the Paris Agreement to mobilize at least $100 billion dollars a year for mitigation and adaptation in developing nations.
Decisive challenge of our time
For his part, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder told delegates that greening the world of work was “the defining and decisive challenge of our time.”
He called for “a jobs-and-human-centred policy agenda for climate action, based on country-level assessments, innovative social protection and strong consensus” saying the initiative “can make a major contribution” to this.
Moreover, it will focus on three inter-related, complimentary areas of advocacy and outreach; a policy innovation hub that will gather knowledge and generate innovative solutions; and capacity building and support for governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations.
“The fight against climate change is inextricably linked with the battle for greater social justice”, he concluded.
Source: ASHARQ AL-AWSATSunday December 15, 2019
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed poses with medal and diploma after receiving Nobel Peace Prize during ceremony in Oslo City Hall, Norway December 10, 2019. NTB Scanpix/Hakon Mosvold Larsen via REUTERS
Addis Ababa – Ethiopia announced Friday that it had secured roughly $9 billion (8 billion euros) in outside financing for ambitious economic reforms which analysts say could underpin the country’s delicate political transition.
According to Agence France Presse, the finance ministry said in a statement that development partners had pledged “well over” $3 billion for Ethiopia’s “Home-Grown Economic Reform” agenda unveiled earlier this year.
The statement said that comes on top of previous commitments of $3 billion from the World Bank and $2.9 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Twitter that he was “very pleased” with the pledges, adding that they would go toward “macroeconomic, structural and sectoral reforms”.Abiy, this year’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate, clearly believes that breathing new life into Ethiopia’s economy is crucial for his prospects in elections planned for next year, AFP said.
Failure to address problems like unemployment and a weakening currency would risk aggravating tensions in a country already grappling with mounting ethnic unrest and other security challenges.
Ethiopia is one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, but high GDP rates have been largely fueled by state spending and officials now want to stimulate private-sector growth.
Abiy unveiled the “Homegrown Economic Reform” agenda to donors in September, describing it as “our bridge to prosperity”.
The plan is intended to address issues like high inflation, foreign exchange shortages and current account deficits.
At the time, officials said it would require roughly $10 billion in external financing, and Abiy appealed to donors to “join us on this path”.
The IMF funding was announced this week.
In a statement Wednesday, the lender said it had reached a “staff-level agreement” to provide $2.9 billion over three years to address challenges including “debt vulnerabilities”.
The support now has to be approved by the IMF’s executive board.
The finance ministry said Friday it expected to receive additional reform financing from United Nations agencies and the European Investment Bank.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Ethiopians lined the streets of Addis Ababa on Thursday to welcome Abiy upon his return from Norway where he accepted his Nobel Peace Prize.
Abiy said he accepted the award “on behalf of Ethiopians and Eritreans, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of peace.”
Abiy was cited by the Norwegian Nobel Committee for “his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea” and his efforts for “peace and international cooperation.”
Source: Hiiraan Online, Sunday December 15, 2019
MOGADISHU (HOL) –The IMF is engaging international partners to mobilise funds to pay off Somalia’s arrears to the IMF, spokesman Gerry Rice has said.
“We are working with Somalia and our members to secure the financial resources necessary to clear the arrears to the IMF currently owed by Somalia and importantly to cover the cost of the debt relief,” Rice said.
Rice noted the IMF board will meet on December 18 to agree on how to finance the funds contribution for Somalia’s debt relief noting it is an important step forward.
Payment of arrears to the IMF is an integral part of the debt relief process under the Highly Indebted and Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. Somalia owes the IMF approximately $300 million with a roughly similar amount to the World Bank.
Norway pledged in October it will clear the arrears owed by Somalia to the World Bank in 2020 through a bridging loan. Somalia is expecting to reach the decision point, a key threshold in debt relief process early next year which will unlock initial access to concessional loans and grants.
Speaking at the sidelines the Doha Rounds in Qatar Sunday, UN chief James Swan said the debt was a key component of the talks alongside security and elections.
Source: Petroleum Economist, Alastair O’Dell
Monday December 16, 2019
Somalia’s minister of petroleum & mineral resources Abdirashid Mohamed Ahmed
The geology of offshore Somalia is proven— and fresh details attracted even more attention at Africa Oil Week in November—as the country prepares for its much-delayed first licensing round in December.An independent assessment of the 15 blocks has found there may be 30bn bl of oil in shallow and deepwater, which is easily accessible so long as it remains free of the piracy that afflicted the area in recent memory.
Since the merger of subsurface data providers Spectrum and TGS this year, the Somali offshore has been supported by “a much bigger data library”, according to the first scientist to evaluate it, Karyna Rodriguez, vice president of geosciences at TGS.
“We really see oil potential all along the Somali coast. This is going to be the next oil province. I totally agree with the ministry. This is not going to be gas… the source rocks are not buried deep enough to be giving off gas.”
She says TGS’s “thermal maturity modelling indicates that we will be generating a lot of oil, the [sea surface] slick evidence is telling us that we are generating light oil and we have a lot of different structures. This is a huge area… and each of these leads is big. In terms of the subsurface, we have huge potential. We have done a summation of all the potential leads and it comes to about 30 bn bl. And that is just what we were able to map out,” says Rodriguez.
However, it will be above-ground risks—in a country plagued by civil war since the 1980s, followed by piracy and terrorism—at the forefront of decision- makers’ minds at international oil companies (IOCs) when they are deciding whether to become involved.
There is no doubt that the worst is behind Somalia, with piracy under control for the better part of a decade. Actual and attempted attacks by Somali pirates peaked at 237 incidents in 2011, according to trade association the ICC International Maritime Bureau, but this fell steeply to just a handful of incidents, if any, each of the last six years.
The bureau reported that Somalia experienced no piracy-related incidents for the first nine months of 2019 but the threat remains. “Although no incidents have been reported, Somali pirates continue to possess the capacity to carry out attacks in the Somali basin and wider Indian Ocean. As a result, the IMB PRC advises ship owners to remain cautious when transiting these waters,” it stated in an October report.The United Nations notes just two incidents since October 2018, a failed attempt to board a bulk carrier east of Mogadishu in which defensive shots were fired, and a single one this year in April involving two fishing boats off the central coast. TGS reports that no security incidents took place while carrying out its seismic testing.
On 4 December the UN renewed Resolution 2500, effective until December 2020, which allows states and regional organisations to enter into Somali territorial waters and use all necessary means to repress acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea.
On land, the government is fighting Al-Qaeda aligned Al-Shabaab, which the UN describes as still being a “potent
The intertwined political and security situations in Somalia are currently stable and democratic institutions are being constructed under the guidance of the United Nations. The first universal election since 1969 is planned for 2020.
Somalia’s Prime Minister, Hassan Ali Khayre, committed publicly at the Somalia Partnership Forum, in the presence of the UN special representative, in October that it will prioritise “holding open and fair elections and ensuring a peaceful transition, completion of the constitutional review process and deepening of federalism, all this while not losing sight of the gains made so far and the investment of our international partners”.
Central to ensuring that the sudden emergence of oil money does not become a destabilising force is a production sharing arrangement agreed between the central government and its six constituent member states. The member states will receive up to 70pc of the revenue. It effectively passed a trial run in June; $1.7mn fees relating to agreements struck prior the civil war were dispersed without issue.
The country is in desperate need of revenue. This year the cereal harvest was the worst since 2011 and Food and Agriculture Organisation predicts that it will lead to “severe hunger” for 2mn people. In November, this was compounded by flooding that caused at least 19 deaths. The conditions offshore can also be challenging; tropical cyclone Pawan was making its way across the Indian Ocean to the Somali offshore as this publication was going to press.
Somalia’s minister of petroleum & mineral resources Abdirashid Mohamed Ahmed spoke to Petroleum Economist about his hopes for the licensing round and what his government is doing to ensure that it will be a success.
Somalia, unfortunately, is perhaps best known for its long civil war and piracy. Does a threat remain for oil companies considering bidding in the licensing round?
Ahmed: Somalia was well known before for insecurity, piracy and terrorism. But now things have changed. The goal of the federal government of Somalia is to eradicate all piracy and Al-Shabaab. For piracy, there has not been a single incident [involving casualties] in Somalia for 10 years. Thanks to African troops and American forces fighting together with Somali forces, piracy is not there and the offshore is safe.
How confident can you be that the production sharing agreement with the member states will hold if oil money starts flowing?
Ahmed: We took up the federal system [in 2012]. In order that we [honour] the constitution, the Somali federal government negotiated a resource sharing and management agreement with the federal member states. We reached agreement on 5 June. That agreement was signed by the prime minister of the federal government and signed by all the presidents of the member states, so it is now part of the constitution.
The civil war destroyed most of the country’s infrastructure, some of which would be needed for the development of the oil sector. How will this be reconstructed?
Ahmed: Somalia was engaged in civil war for a long time and all infrastructure collapsed. The oil revenue will be invested in all that is missing—infrastructure, environment, bridges, education, health and social services. The central government of Somalia will pay [with the money] it will generate from oil operations.
The federal states will present their plans for what they would do with their share of the money. The government would then approve it and give them that investment. The federal government has the final say. The federal states’ [priorities are the] same, but infrastructure will be the first.
How is Somalia approaching the licensing round?
Ahmed: We are hoping to, first of all, present and showcase our data. Then follows the bid round—companies will show their interest in bidding for the blocks and then selection will come. We welcome IOCs to show their interest in Somalia—who is favoured by Somalia [will be done] in a transparent way. That is the way that we are proceeding. The central government of Somalia is responsible. We will work closely with the states—they will have their own contribution, but the federal government will lead the process.
Exciting discoveries can quickly become bogged down in bureaucracy or disputes. What is Somalia doing to ensure this will not happen?
Ahmed: There have been lessons learned by Somalia. Somalia is the last frontier country willing to start oil operations so we will learn from all our neighbouring countries.
In addition, we have prepared all necessary [steps] such as legislation and sharing agreements with the federal member states, and the contract itself is ready. Nothing will be delayed. When we start dealing with the companies, we will facilitate all of what is necessary.
What plans has the government put in place for the oil once it starts flowing?
Ahmed: The plan will come after we negotiate with the companies. The domestic market will be first but we want to sell oil to the [international] market. We used to have a refinery in Somalia but it collapsed during the civil war. And we are planning to build new refineries that will facilitate the domestic market. The other portion we would export as crude.
Beyond the upcoming licensing round, what other opportunities are there in Somalia?
Ahmed: What we have [offered] now is not the total Somali offshore, only a portion of Somalia’s offshore. We are planning to complete a full seismic survey of the Somali offshore, which will take place in less than one year. Potentially, more licensing rounds [will follow] depending on what happens with the seismic.
What message do you want to get out to IOCs?
Ahmed: The message is that Somalia is ready for business. All the necessary steps have been taken—the legislation is ready and the Somali offshore is safe. We are inviting all IOCs to look into Somalia. The market is huge, much bigger than they are expecting. And, getting to the international market is easy. Somalia is in a very good strategic location in East Africa, the Horn of Africa, adjacent to the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. Investment in Somalia is very easy, and connections to other markets are very easy as well.
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.