A week in the Horn

  • December 7, 2018

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy in Europe: meeting French President Macron in Paris…

 

Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed made a working visit to France on October 29 at the invitation of Emanuel Macron, President of the French Republic. In their talks the two leaders agreed to deepen bilateral relations between France and Ethiopia and to cooperate on international peace and security. At a joint press-conference, President Macron promised that France would stand with Ethiopia during the transition phase the country is going through. He offered “all my support and that of France” in reforming Ethiopia and “in calming domestic tensions”. He told reporters he knew how much Prime Minister Dr. Abiy had risked to see the reforms through and how much the reforms were fraught with difficulties, but also how much Prime Minister Abiy had chosen a courageous path. He indicated that he would consider budgetary support to Ethiopia to supplement existing multilateral initiatives; and Dr. Abiy’s Chief of Staff of the Office the Prime Minister, Fitsum Arega who described the talks as “productive” said France had agreed to provide support to protect and preserve the Lalibela Rock hewn Churches.

In a Joint Declaration issued after the meeting, France officially welcomed the bold reforms launched to deepen democracy and the rule of law in Ethiopia. Prime Minister Dr. Abiy and President Macron reaffirmed their shared commitment to work towards the strengthening of international peace and security and their intent to deepen bilateral relationships in the areas of political advancement and democratization, as well as economic, trade and development partnerships, defense and security cooperation and technical and cultural cooperation.

On political dialogue, the Joint Declaration underlined the agreement to deepen collaboration on international agendas in order to find common positions, matching shared interests, within the context of the historic rapprochement among the countries of the Horn of Africa initiated by Dr. Abiy. France warmly welcomed he rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Commending this new development, France said the rapprochement opened up promising prospects for the whole region and underlined the need to implement an inclusive process that takes into account the interests of all parties in the region. They acknowledged the significance of stability and security in the Horn of Africa and stressed that the international community needed to pay special attention. They agreed Ethiopia and France would continue their efforts to promote peace and prosperity in the region, through their contributions to AMISOM and the strengthening of the capacities of Somalia’s forces, as well as the stabilization of South Sudan following the revitalized peace agreement signed on September 12 in Addis Ababa. France also restated its support to Ethiopia’s engagement within IGAD and to Ethiopia’s commitments within the African Union.

In the areas of economics, trade and development, France promised to mobilize the international community, within the framework of the French presidency of the G7 in 2019 as well as international financial institutions, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, to support the reforms of the Ethiopian government. They expressed their commitment to increase and diversify trade and investment opportunities, and ensure a mutually beneficial business environment. France promised to work to implement a program that supported the economic reforms initiated by Dr.  Abiy and to consider specific ways of implementing the French Development Agency (ADF’s) support programs, to take into account the constraints Ethiopia is facing regarding balance of payments and access to foreign currency.

According to the Declaration, France will promote opportunities for French private sector investment and development of economic activities in Ethiopia, while Ethiopia will work to create an enabling environment for French companies and to promote a conducive environment for the development of the private sector in Ethiopia. They will work to develop their bilateral cooperation on economic and financial matters; encourage dialogue between their business communities, including through the development of the French-Ethiopian Business Forum; encourage investments through a conducive business environment and enable companies willing to invest to receive adequate advice and services; and work towards solving issues regarding enforcement of tax regulations, in accordance with the applicable legislation. They welcomed expansion of the French Development Agency’s activities in Ethiopia, pointing out the two countries have signed two declarations of intent regarding support for Ethiopian Airlines’ investment program and support to strengthening sustainable urban development strategies for Addis Abeba and Dire Dawa within the framework of their respective decentralized cooperation strategies.

According to the Joint Declaration, Ethiopia and France agree to strengthen inter-university and research partnerships and educational cooperation including vocational education and training as well as linguistic cooperation. They agreed to facilitate the operation of the Lycée Français Guébré-Mariam in Addis Ababa; and to support an increase in the number of Ethiopian students in France, and foster the training of teachers through co-financing of MA and PhD scholarships to support the development of scientific research, together with the French Center for Ethiopian Studies and its partners. They will continue to promote the teaching of the French language in the Ethiopian educational system.

France and Ethiopia also agreed to restate their commitment to support linguistic and cultural diversity. France will foster mobilization of young Ethiopian artists and Ethiopia’s civil society within the framework of the Season of African Cultures 2020. They will continue cooperation regarding conservation and valorisation of heritage, museums and archives, as well as scholarly and vocational training for heritage-related professions. France expressed its willingness to share its expertise in these fields.

In terms of defence and security cooperation, France welcomed Ethiopia’s very positive role within UN and African peacekeeping operations, especially in AMISOM.  They agreed to support co-financing by the AU and the UN, on a case by case basis, of African peace operations authorized by the AU Peace and Security Council and by the UN Security Council.

…meeting German Chancellor Merkel in Berlin and attending the Compact with Africa Summit…

The Prime Minister, who headed a high-level Ethiopian delegation including Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, met with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. The talks with Chancellor Merkel centered on support for the reform process underway in Ethiopia through Reform Partnership Program which envisages to earmark 100 million Euros, and “Cooperation on the reintegration of former combatants, agricultural mechanization, financial and technical cooperation,” according to Chief of Staff of the Office the Prime Minister, Fitsum Arega. The two leaders agreed to strengthen cooperation on both bilateral and multilateral platforms. Chancellor Merkel commended the ongoing comprehensive reforms in Ethiopia. Their discussion also covered the ongoing reforms in Ethiopia and potential investment opportunities for German companies in Ethiopia as well as the peace efforts in the Horn of Africa region and in particular the Ethiopia-Eritrea peace deal.

The Prime Minister also attended the 2nd Summit of the G20 Compact with Africa (CwA) which was initiated last year under the German G20 Presidency to promote private investment in Africa, including in infrastructure. The Compact’s primary objective is to increase attractiveness of private investment through substantial improvements in macro business and financing frameworks. It aims to bring together reform-minded African countries, international organizations and bilateral partners from the G20 and beyond to coordinate country-specific reform agendas, support respective policy measures and advertise investment opportunities to private investors. It intends to increase sustainable private sector investment, improve infrastructure and tackling unemployment. Another aim of the Compact with Africa project is to curb migration to Europe by offering young Africans jobs in their own countries.

In order to achieve this, African countries are partnering with the G20, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank to negotiate specific action plans for each state. The countries will commit to implementing reforms to increase their investment potential while international partners will assist with economic issues, offer technical expertise and help encourage investors to the country. The initiative is demand-driven and it is open to all African countries. Launched last year, the Compact has so far attracted eleven Africa countries: Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo and Tunisia.

Chancellor Merkel opened the G20 Compact with Africa meeting emphasizing that it was critical “not only to talk about Africa but to talk with Africa” about development needs and goals. She said the project put African countries and the West on an “equal footing,” and it was already having an impact. She told the Summit that “The point isn’t just talking about Africa, but with it,” adding that, “The Compact with Africa follows a different, a new approach – it is about an equal footing type of partnership, aiming to be long-lasting and benefit all equally.” She said: “Apart from strengthening Africa as a location for investment, it is also important to establish fair trade relations between Europe and Africa.” The Chancellor said, “This conference here expresses the fact we want to live and breathe partnership and cooperation.”

Prime Minister Dr. Abiy told the Summit that the Government of Ethiopia highly appreciated Germany’s leadership in supporting the Compact with Africa (CwA) initiative. Ethiopia, he said, attached high importance to the Compact initiative as it provides a much needed framework to enhance investment and infrastructure in the country. He said, “As you all know Ethiopia is a country at a historic moment of economic, social and political transformation that has put an inclusive and sustainable agenda front and center. We have now officially embarked on privatization of state enterprises in areas such as energy, telecom and aviation sectors”. This represented a most important opening up of the Ethiopian economy, he added. Dr. Abiy underlined that the Government of Ethiopia, as part of its economic transformation agenda, was placing strong focus on leveraging Foreign Direct Investment, fostering industrialization, export diversification and most importantly job creation. He said, “Creating jobs for the growing youth is an urgent priority for the government and we are fully convinced that much of the employment opportunity must come from the private sector”. Key priorities in this context, he said, included the need for high-quality Foreign Direct Investment, investment in productive infrastructure, skills development for enterprises, and competitiveness.

He encouraged potential investors to partner with the government in key areas, and underlined Ethiopia’s competitive investment opportunities, adding “I’d like to reassure you of my government’s commitment and seriousness to take all the necessary measures required to attract investment in Ethiopia” and stressing the many initiatives underway to create a conducive investment climate. He said: “Ethiopia offers a competitive investment opportunity. I would like to take this opportunity and mention the strategic engagement we just started ….as a concrete example of what the compact initiative can deliver when focused on targeted investment, recruitment and facilitation.” He added: “We would like to see similar, more investment from G20 countries and hope this platform will continue to play a driving and catalytical role.”  The Prime Minister also emphasized the need to establish fair trade relations between Europe and Africa and a sharing of a common vision towards transforming the two continents.

The message of Tuesday’s Summit re-emphasized that of last year’s meeting: Africa and Europe should work together more closely on economic issues. This will make Africa more prosperous, curb the number of migrants for the benefit of both African states and Germany. Germany and other partners are supporting the initiative with technical expertise and money. Germany’s Finance Ministry says foreign investors have committed around €243 billion ($277.61 billion) to the Compact countries, but would like to see more.  When Chancellor Merkel visited Nigeria, Senegal and Ghana in August, she took a large business delegation. Among the companies setting up new projects in Africa are Bosch, with a medical packaging facility, Voith a solar power plant, and Volkswagen a manufacturing plant.  Ahead of the summit opening, Germany’s Development Minister, Gerd Müller, indicated the main areas of German investment interest would be in health care, agriculture and education in Africa.

During his visit to Berlin, Prime Minister Abiy also held talks with Sebastian Kurz, Chancellor of Austria on the sidelines of the Compact Summit. Discussions covered bilateral relations between the two countries, and the two leaders exchanged invitations to pay official visits to each other’s countries to further strengthen bilateral ties. The Prime Minister also held talks with the President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim.

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Visas on Arrival in Ethiopia for all African citizens

Ethiopia has officially launched the issuance of Visas on Arrival for all African citizens as of Tuesday October 30, 2018. This was celebrated this week on Thursday at the Headquarters of the African Union Commission. The event, organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ethiopian Immigration, Nationality and Vital Events Registration Agency and Ethiopian Airlines, was attended by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Hirut Zemene, the State Minister of Peace, Zeynu Jemal, the CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, Tewolde Gebremariam, and the Director-General of Immigration, Nationality and Vital Events Registration Agency Gebre-Yohannes Teklu, as well as Ambassadors accredited to the African Union and UNECA.

State Minister Mrs. Hirut said the Government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed, had decided to offer Visa on Arrival services to all African citizens with the view to realizing the vision of “our founding fathers, to see a peaceful and integrated Africa, where minds are open to ideas and markets are open to trade.” She noted the issuance of Visa on Arrival for all Africans clearly demonstrated “Ethiopia’s resolute commitment to the ideals and objectives of the African Union and its determination to continue to play its rightful roles towards free movement of people and the realization of our integration agenda.”

Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said that Ethiopia in making this decision had once again demonstrated its commitment to the ideals of the African Union and to the principles which informed Pan-Africanism. He said the move would greatly enhance the status of Addis Ababa as the political capital of the continent.

Issuing Visas on Arrival for all citizens of African Union member states is in line with realizing Africa’s vision of prosperous and integrated Africa, and facilitating the free movement of all African Citizens as envisaged in the AU Agenda 2063 and its flagship project of an African Passport and free movement of people. Any person with a valid passport from any AU member state will now be eligible to get a visa on arrival without any preconditions.

The government has set up two ways to secure the visa. Anyone with a valid African passport can travel directly to Ethiopia and get a visa on arrival by filling a simple form and paying the required fee. In addition, Ethiopian Airlines ticket offices worldwide are now authorized to process the Visa on Arrival application forms. The offices will collect completed forms and visa fees from the applicant and the visa will be granted immediately on arrival in Ethiopia. All citizens of African Union member states with a valid passport will also be allowed to obtain an Ethiopian entry visa through the E-Visa service, which has been available for almost all countries since June this year.

The granting of Visas on Arrival as well as E-Visa for Ethiopia, apart from facilitating the integration of Africa by encouraging free movement of people, offers other benefits, in terms of saving time and money, avoiding bureaucracy, boosting business and investment flows, and promoting conference tourism as well as bolstering economic cooperation among Africans.

Ethiopia is once again paving the way in the journey towards successfully implementing “Agenda 2063”. It is an exemplary action by Ethiopia and will help to would accelerate successful implementation of other flagship projects of Agenda 2063 such as the Single African Air Transport Market and the African Continental Free Trade Area.

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The 2nd Italy-Africa Ministerial Conference held in Rome, Italy

 

The 2nd Italy-Africa Ministerial Conference brought together ministers and other representatives from 46 African Countries and 13 International Organizations, including the African Union, a total of 350 delegates. A high-level Ethiopian delegation, headed by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, attended the meeting, held in Rome on October 25.

The bi-annual conference represented a framework at the highest level for renewed and strengthened cooperation between Italy and Africa. It aimed to find shared solutions to the challenges in the areas of peace, freedom, democracy and security, as well as single out common approaches towards growth, especially by involving qualified Italian players from the world of industry and business, academia and non-governmental organizations.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella addressed the opening ceremony while the plenary session was opened by Minister of Foreign Affairs Enzo Moavero and by the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Kwesi Quartey. President Mattarella emphasized that the meeting confirmed Italy’s interest in ongoing developments on the African continent and its determination to strengthen partnership with African countries. He said no geographical area was affected by such profound changes as those under way in Africa. It had the highest rate of population growth and the highest percentage of young people, and this demanded the need for benefits from a high and lasting growth, to support the development and strengthening of social networks that should “prevent the emergence of inequalities, a real obstacle to the harmonious progress of every society “. “Italy”, he said, “stands by Africa and is ready to hold hands with you across the Mediterranean”.

Italian Prime Minister Conte told the conference that Italy was ready to “relaunch with energy and determination” its strategic role in Africa’s development, going beyond the traditional donor-beneficiary model and forging new partnerships based on shared responsibilities and rewards. He said: “Now more than ever is the moment for Italy to play a strategic role and in Africa and to confirm our priorities in our bilateral relations, in the European and the multilateral context, building stronger ties with the African Union”. He noted that several innovative economic cooperation projects would get off the ground next year in the agro industry sector;’ and underlined that the conference had shown Italy’s strategic commitment to Africa. Many challenges might remain, he said, “but we are ready to re-launch this commitment with energy and determination.”

Foreign Minister Moavero, said, the conference represented the biggest opportunity for a structured dialogue between Italy and African States, which were witnessing very steep population and economic growth. He emphasized it represented “a valuable and unique opportunity to get to know each other better, talk to each other and listen to each other’s point of view and real needs on the issues that link us now and might connect us in the future. This was precisely why Italy considered it essential that “the European Union guarantee a greater and more effective provision of financial resources to the next EU Multiannual Financial Framework.” He said Italy was “thoroughly motivated to act in this sense at the negotiations in Brussels and support the introduction of new and genuinely autonomous sources of revenue for the Union’s budget.” Mr. Moavero said: “We are all on the same side, Europeans and Africans. Compared to the past today, the path can be different: we embark on paths of peace, cohabitation, respect and mutual enrichment”. He emphasized that the conference represented “a significant indicator of a common wish on the part of both Africa and of Italy, to be leading players in the dynamic contemporary scenarios in a growingly competitive globalized world.”

The conference paid special attention on the positive developments under way in the Horn of Africa following the peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Workneh, underlined that Ethiopia and Eritrea had embarked on their “incredible journey of peace without the help of others, showing that Africans can contribute alone to peace in Africa”. He also emphasized the will to contribute to stability in Somalia and thanked the Italian Foreign Minister for his attention to the situation in the Horn of Africa. Dr. Workneh took the opportunity to congratulate Ambassador Sahlework Zewde on her election as President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The Minister mentioned that this has been “historic” given that Ambassador Sahlework is now the first female president of the republic; and his remarks received applause from the gathering of over 50 African foreign ministers.

Eritrea’s Foreign Minister Osman Saleh, also stressed that Eritrea and Ethiopia had made “a gift of peace and friendship to Africa and the world”. He noted some aspects of the new “partnership”. Eritrea and Ethiopia had not just made peace; they had embarked on a partnership of complementarity and synergy, determined to make up for the lost time and opportunities. They were prioritizing joint interests, and investing in joint programs and projects. They had opened their common borders for the free movement of people and goods. They had also “embarked on jointly fostering a regional partnership”. Already, he said, “Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia have signed an Agreement on Comprehensive Cooperation in a tripartite summit in Asmara. They are determined to make it inclusive of the whole region. They need and welcome the contribution of all external partners, including, of course, Italy.”

Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Administrative Secretary, Ababu Namwamba, urged the Italian government to open up markets for African produce and support peace programs as part of a long-term solution to the problem of illegal migration. He told the conference the Italian government could work with African countries to address the root causes forcing migrants into dangerous travel across the Mediterranean. He said Italy should “open her markets to Kenyan and African products and support African growth as the most sustainable approach to stemming the stream of [illegal] immigrants”. Only shared prosperity, he said, could guarantee global stability. Italy should support African programs like the AU’s vision of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), as well as stabilization programs including the peace deal between Eritrea and Ethiopia as well as the agreement in South Sudan.

The conference offered an excellent opportunity for the exchange of views between Foreign Affairs ministers, high level representatives of major international organizations and Italian business, academia and civil society. It created a framework for high level dialogue and partnership and represented the continuation of renewed and strengthened cooperation between Italy and Africa, a cooperation launched during the first Italy-Africa Conference held in May 2016. It also aimed to make an in-depth analysis of the economic cooperation and investment perspectives and to identify and expand areas of cooperation with counterpart African institutions in the field of training and education.

On the sidelines of the conference, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Italy also held a tripartite meeting among their respective Ministers of Foreign Affairs. This was their second meeting, following one two weeks ago at the UN General Assembly. Mr. Moavero reiterated Italy’s desire to support economic growth and sustainable development in both Eritrea and Ethiopia, with a structured strategy to encompass numerous sectors and initiatives. This should include cooperation in the field of industrial development and investment, with targeted projects in particular on infrastructure to benefit links between the two countries, as well as energy from sustainable and renewable sources including geothermal, strengthening commercial links in anticipation of creating an area of “free trade” involving the whole Horn of Africa. The benefits for other regional actors, Djibouti and Somalia, would be simply immense. Another area for development would be cultural collaboration, and Italy would offer training to encourage the major productive sectors of agriculture, industry and services, giving them further possibilities in terms of growth and competitiveness. This would provide new and important opportunities for the younger generation and greater opportunities for personal and professional growth in their own countries and lead to “a symmetrical reduction of the migratory phenomenon.” In support of this, the three ministers also focused on the necessity of removing the sanctions that still weighed on Eritrea.

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