Discussions on World Bank support for the Horn of Africa Initiative


Discussions on World Bank support for the Horn of Africa Initiative


(MoFA) Sep 2014 - The seven governments of the Horn of Africa region (Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, and Uganda) and the European Commission jointly launched the implementation of a regional strategy for the Horn of Africa at a meeting in April 2007 under the name of the ‘Horn of Africa Initiative’. The objective was to engage the seven Horn countries in a process of dialogue and cooperation that would ultimately facilitate cooperation in regional integration, trade and economic partnership, infrastructure improvement, peace and security and overall development for the region.


Two years later, in 2009, IGAD Member States adopted a ‘Minimum Integration Plan’ with the aim of accelerating regional economic cooperation and integration. Increased cooperation and investment on key regional infrastructure projects were identified as key aspects of that plan. To that end, the IGAD Member States and development partners, with the European Union playing a supporting role, encouraged the development of regional interconnectivity among the countries of the region. This led to a number of efforts to encourage cooperation, development and integration in the Horn of Africa in various sectors. The Millennium Integration Plan was put in place primarily to clarify priority areas and goals, assess potential and define joint cooperation mechanisms. On the basis of the plan, the IGAD member states and development partners have been actively supporting the development of regional interconnectivity, the re-establishment of areas and peoples suffering from the results of conflict, and economic and trade cooperation as well as overall contributions to regional peace, growth and development.


In December 2009 at an IGAD Ministerial council, the member states officially endorsed the Horn of Africa Initiative (HOAI) priority projects; and in their Nairobi Declaration of July 13, 2010, the IGAD Finance Ministers decided to transpose HOAI commitments into national plans and policies in order to ensure ownership of the HOAI at the national level. The Ministers also reached a consensus to “work together towards a donor or investment conference on financing the HOAI projects.” The declaration was an important milestone on the road to regional integration and for infrastructure development in the IGAD region.


The member countries of IGAD since then have shown their interest and concern to work on these areas of development and for the HOAI. Ethiopia, for example, has demonstrated its commitment to the Initiative and put a lot of effort into advancing the geo-politics of the region, aiming to stimulate regional integration and diversify regional cooperation.


Last week (September 8) Ethiopian Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanom hosted a meeting of World Bank delegates and IGAD officials. This was to consider a World Bank proposal to support and coordinate with the Horn of Africa Initiative. Colin Bruce, World Bank Director of Regional Integration in Africa, and Ambassador Engineer Mahboub Malim, Executive Secretary of IGAD, discussed the possibility of a strengthened partnership covering areas of diplomatic, economic and regional integration to intensify peace and development in the Horn of Africa. The meeting reviewed proposals presented by the World Bank for working in collaboration with Ethiopia on four major areas: regional connectivity, addressing the problems of internally displaced people, cross- border issues, and extractive industries.


Dr. Tedros welcomed the ideas of the World Bank and the proposed approach of addressing the issues by working in cooperation. He mentioned the ongoing efforts and achievements in regional integration and in economic and social ties noting the similarities existing between Ethiopia and the Horn and more widely with the Great Lakes and the Sahel region. Dr. Tedros said the region had the potential to change its challenges into opportunities by integration and cooperation not least because it was so inter-dependent. He emphasized the need to work together to alleviate poverty and speed up developments since as he stressed, poverty was the root cause for many of the problems.

Mr. Colin Bruce praised Ethiopia’s efforts towards regional integration and the key role it was playing, including assistance to re-establish refugees and its own developments. He noted the importance of the priority cooperation areas of connectivity; ICT and road transport; extractive industries and of re-habilitating displaced people in the region, and the need to work further on these. Discussions also covered ways to cooperate in addressing problems related to gender and health infrastructure, the private sector, the building up of the capacity of the IGAD secretariat and the bringing of sustainable peace and development.


The meeting agreed on the need to bring on board other stakeholders and partners in the region in the near future, and on the importance of holding summits and high-level discussions in the near future in order to encourage and cement partnerships in Eastern Africa. A meeting is now planned for October 27 to allow for further discussions on the Initiative with the UN, AU and World Bank. Among those expected to attend are Dr. Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the AU Commission and Donald Kaberuka, President of African Development Bank Group as well as a World Bank delegation, and the Foreign Ministers of the IGAD. Prime Minister Hailemariam is also expected to meet those attending. The aim is to make further significant progress identifying specific contributions to regional integration, economic cooperation and infrastructure development and re-building of conflict-affected infrastructure, especially in Somalia and South Sudan.  Following the meeting in Addis Ababa, attendees will also visit Mogadishu, Nairobi and to the CAR to discuss the initiative with the Heads of Government and various other decision-makers and stakeholders.


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