A Week in the Horn
(28.10.2011)

                                ….Further progress against Al-Shabaab

                    ….and a new UN Security Council resolution on piracy


IGAD’s Council of Ministers fully endorses Kenya’s actions in Somali  

The 41st extra-ordinary session of the IGAD Council of Ministers was held in Addis Ababa on Friday last week. Ethiopia is the current chair of IGAD and the session which reviewed the situation in Somalia and was briefed on the activities of IGAD by Engineer Mahboub Maalim, IGAD’s Executive Secretary, was chaired by Ato Hailemariam Desalegn, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. The meeting was attended by Kenya’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Moses Wetang’ula, Minister of State for Defence, the Honourable Yusuf Haji, and Chief of General Staff, General Julius Karangi; Ethiopia’s Minister of Defence, Ato Siraj Fergessa, and General Samora Yunis, Chief of the Armed Forces; by Somalia’s Minister of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Environment, Mr. Abdirahman Sheikh Ibrahim, the TFG’s Deputy Defence Minister, Brigadier General Mohamed Ali Ibrahim, and Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, General Abdukadir Sheikh Ali Dini. Djibouti, Uganda and Sudan were represented by their respective ambassadors to Ethiopia or Djibouti.  

Opening the session as Chairman, Ato Hailemariam told the Council that the task of guaranteeing lasting peace and security in the region required a concerted effort and called on the Council to go beyond emergency meetings and temporary solutions. He condemned the kidnappings of civilians from Kenya and noted the encouraging developments since the last Council meeting on August 24th including the adoption of the roadmap, the official re-opening of the Bakhara market in Mogadishu and liberation of most of the city. He called on members of the council to continue to give their full support to the TFG and to AMISOM. The meeting was briefed in detail by Mr. Moses Wetang’ula on recent security developments, including the increasing violation of Kenya’s territorial integrity by Al-Shabaab’s kidnappings of foreign tourists and aid workers and Kenya’s military activity along the borders of Somalia in response to the direct threat posed by Al-Shabaab. On behalf of Ethiopia, Ato Hailemariam expressed the belief that Kenya’s recent military action was within the limits of the right to self defence as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and the responsibility to protect the safety and security of its people. The Somali ministers present also briefed the Council on the current situation in Somalia and the on-going joint TFG/AMISOM security operations against Al-Shabaab and their successes in Mogadishu. 

After discussion, the Council expressed its serious concern regarding the recent security challenge posed by the violation of Kenya’s territorial integrity as indicated by the kidnappings of foreign tourists and aid workers by Al-Shabaab. It welcomed Kenya’s security operations in pursuit of Al-Shabaab under the title ‘Operation Protect the Nation’ and the agreement between the Government of Kenya and the TFG, endorsing the joint communiqué of the meeting between the two Governments in Mogadishu on 18th October. The Council also welcomed the African Union’s support for the sustained and ongoing joint security operations against Al-Shabaab and the TFG/AMISOM successes in Mogadishu. It called on the AU to fast-track the next phase of AMISOM deployment to sustain and consolidate these successes, and on the international community to enhance its assistance to AMISOM.  It expressed gratitude to the AMISOM troop contributing countries of Uganda and Burundi for their continued sacrifice in pursuit of security.

 

The communiqué also condemned the actions of Al-Shabaab in kidnapping aid workers from Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya and took note of the concerns of humanitarian organizations over their security in view of the escalation of Al-Shabaab attacks. It urged humanitarian groups not to scale down their support to the more than 500,000 refugees in the Dadaab camps. The Council also strongly condemned the recent attack against AMISOM troops by Al-Shabaab and expressed its condolences to the families of fallen soldiers. It reiterated its call to the international community to implement previous decisions and recommendations of IGAD and the AU. These have included calls to the UN Security Council to impose a maritime blockade on Kismayo and a no-fly zone on parts of Somalia, as well as lifting the arms embargo on Somalia to enhance the capacity of the national security forces of the TFG, and to expand the mandate and capacity of the AMISOM to allow it to undertake more effective peace support operations.

 

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….Further progress against Al-Shabaab 

Kenya launched its “Operation Linda Nchi – Protect the Nation” on Sunday October 16th when some 1,500 Kenyan troops crossed over into Somalia in response to a series of recent terrorist activities by Al-Shabaab in Kenya, announcing that it was taking what it called “robust measures to protect and preserve the integrity of the country and the national economy and security.” It invoked Article 51 of the UN Charter which says “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.” Defence Minister, Yusuf Haji, said “If you are attacked by an enemy, you have the right to pursue the enemy…Al-Shabaab will be pursued.” 

The Kenyan forces crossed the border in several places. From Dhobley and Liboi they advanced towards Afmadow, an important Al-Shabaab base, 130 kilometers from the border, and about the same distance north of Kismayo. Driving Al-Shabaab out of Qoqani they rapidly reached within a few kilometers of Afmadow before being halted by heavy rain. The Kenyan troops are accompanied by armour and are using air support. Reports suggest Al-Shabaab has been trying to build up its forces in Afmadow, forcibly recruiting local youths and bringing in fighters from other areas. There have been reports that a number of prominent local figures have been arrested by Al-Shabaab after they protested against these actions. Further south, other Kenyan forces attacked and captured Ras Kamboni last week and then advanced to take Kolbio, and are now reported to be moving towards Badhadhe. Another force appears to be moving up the coast towards Bur Gabo. Kenyan naval units are also reported to have been in action around the Bajuni Islands. Additional Kenyan troops joined in the offensive at the end of the week, and according to the Kenyan media there are now some 4,000 Kenyan troops in Somalia.   

Kenyan military spokesmen have indicated suggested that driving Al-Shabaab out of one of its major centres, the port of Kismayo, is a significant aim of the Kenyan operations. Kismayo provides much of Al-Shabaab’s revenue through its livestock and charcoal trade. It is also said to be an important staging post for drug consignments en route to Kenya. The Kenyan government hasn’t formally explained its intended aims but clearing Al-Shabaab extremists away from the border and securing the safety of the border is clearly an important element. In the past Kenya has encouraged the establishment of a buffer zone along the border with local militias supporting the TFG, but this failed to prevent Al-Shabaab’s cross-border activities. Now Kenya clearly intends at least to ensure that Al-Shabaab is kept much further away from the border and it appears to be planning to remove it from the regions of Lower and Middle Juba and Gedo as far as possible. Government spokesman, Alfred Mutua said that Kenya’s efforts to flush out Al-Shabaab might take a couple of months but that weeks would be a more ideal time frame.    

Kenya has underlined that it is co-ordinating its operations in Somalia with the TFG, and with TFG allied local militias. Defence Minister, Yusuf Haji, and Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula were in Mogadishu on Tuesday last week to talk to President Sheikh Sharif and Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed about the joint military offensive. Discussions focused on closer security co-operation, and sizeable pro-TFG forces, including both Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a and Ras Kamboni militias, have been co-operating with Kenyan forces in the advance on Afmadow. In a subsequent statement, the two sides pledged to cooperate in “undertaking security and military operations in Lower Juba border regions of Somalia” and “pre-emptive action and pursuit of any armed elements that continue to threaten and attack both countries.”  

At the beginning of this week President Sheikh Sharif called on Kenya to halt its advance. He welcomed Kenyan support for training and logistics but described Kenyan troops crossing the border as “inappropriate”. The President has apparently been concerned that Kenya might be tying to support the idea of an “Azania” state in the Juba valley, proposed earlier by the former Defence Minister, Mohamed Abdi Ghandi. However, on Wednesday, the Somali government issued a clarification of its views, thanking Kenya for working with the TFG to stabilize Somalia, for training Somali troops and for hosting a “huge number of refugees from Somalia”. The statement said Kenya and Somalia agreed that Al-Shabaab was a common enemy to both countries and that the territorial integrity of both Somali and Kenya should be respected. It added that in order to evolve a common security strategy Somali and Kenya had agreed to coordinate security and military operations spearheaded by TFG forces trained by Kenya. There was also agreement on cooperation and collaboration in the sharing and exchange of information relevant to the fight against cross-border crimes and operations.    

After his visit last week, Mr. Wetangula also came to Addis Ababa where Prime Minister Meles assured him of Ethiopia’s support for Kenya’s actions. Following the expressions of full support from IGAD’s Council of Ministers last Friday, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, said Ethiopia was considering joining the military campaign. It was “high time” for a regional response to the threat of Al-Shabaab and its provocations, he added, and the long term goal must be to eradicate Al-Shabaab from Somalia.   

Others have also expressed their support for Kenya’s actions. The US Ambassador in Kenya, Scott Gration, has said that the US, as an ally in the conflict on terrorism, is looking to see how it can help Kenya. Ambassador Gration said the US had been involved in “a very robust bilateral training program” and equipment to help strengthen border protection. The Ambassador has made no comment on the claims that there have been a series of US drone attacks on Al-Shabaab bases in southern Somalia in recent months. Kenya also hopes that France and other countries with naval warships involved in the fight against piracy will be prepared to assist Kenyan forces as they advance along the coast towards Kismayo. France has responded to a Kenyan request for logistical support and provided some air transport for Kenyan troops up to the border. Somali and Kenyan military officials have claimed that there have been US drone attacks and a French naval bombardment against Al-Shabaab positions but both France and the US have denied providing such support.  

Al-Shabaab has responded to Kenya’s intervention by calling for violent retaliation in Kenya. Al-Shabaab spokesman, Sheikh Ali Mohamed Rage, said “The bloody battles that will ensue as a result of this incursion will most likely disrupt the social equilibrium and imperil the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians; and with war consequently comes a significant loss of lives, instability and destruction to the local economy and a critical lack of security.” Although not directly claimed by Al-Shabaab, two grenade attacks in Nairobi at the beginning of the week have underlined government concern about further possible terrorist activity in Kenya, and the Kenyan authorities have carried out a number of arrests of suspected Al-Shabaab members in Kenya, and are tightening security in possible target areas as well as screening processes for travellers.

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….and a new UN Security Council resolution on piracy  

Meanwhile, on Monday, the UN Security Council renewed its call for tougher anti-piracy measures in Somalia and the region, urging all countries to adopt laws to prosecute and punish pirates and co-operate with international organizations for this purpose. Unanimously adopting SC 2015 (2011), the Security Council urged countries to criminalize piracy under their domestic laws and implement prosecutions. The resolution requests the Secretary-General, in conjunction with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to consult further with Somalia and regional States on the international assistance required to help make anti-piracy courts operational and on procedural arrangements, a timeline and costs for such courts. It asked for detailed implementation proposals within 90 days. These courts should have jurisdiction over all who incite or facilitate piracy operations and illicitly finance, plan, organize, or profit from pirate attacks as well as over suspects captured at sea. The resolution calls on Member States and regional organizations to support efforts to establish anti-piracy courts, and on the Somali authorities, UNODC, UNDP and other international partners to support the construction and responsible operation of prisons in Somalia.   

The Security Council made it clear it continued to be gravely concerned by the continuing and growing threat that piracy poses to the situation in Somalia and the increasing level of violence used. It stressed the need for a comprehensive solution to the problem and the importance of building up Somalia’s potential for sustainable economic growth as a means to tackle the underlying causes of piracy. The resolution recognized the primary role of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Somali regional authorities in eradicating piracy off the coast of Somalia. It welcomed the roadmap of September 6th, and its references to developing counter-piracy policy and legislation. The Security Council has made its future support to the TFI contingent upon the completion of the tasks defined in the roadmap. The resolution strongly urges States that have not already done so to criminalize piracy under their domestic law, and to share evidence and information on anti-piracy law enforcement. It calls on all Member States to report by the end of the year on measures taken, and in conclusion, decides to remain seized of the matter.

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Conferences on Green Economy and Sustainable Development 

Addis Ababa this week hosted two conferences: the first was the seventh session of the Committee on Food Security and Sustainable Development (CFSSD-7) and the Expert Segment of the Africa Regional Preparatory Conference for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), which took place on Monday and Tuesday; the second was the three day Sixth African Economic Conference on the theme of “Green Economy and Structural Transformation in Africa”, October 26th - 28th.  

The aim of the first meeting was to unify and streamline the position of Africa in advance of the upcoming UN Rio+20 conference on sustainable development. This is expected to be held in June next year in Rio De Janeiro, and the conference was addressed by the Chairperson of the Bureau of CFSSD-6, Dr. Jean Ping, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, the President of the Republic of Congo, the Executive Secretary of UNECA, and representatives from various UN agencies and from the African Development Bank. 

Prime Minister Meles recalled that the world leaders who came together twenty years ago at Rio De Janeiro to adopt Agenda 21 had expected it to serve as a blueprint to achieve sustainable development by promoting economic growth that was socially equitable and environmentally responsible. Many had hoped that Agenda 21 would generate the necessary resources and political commitment to help countries embark jointly on a new and more sustainable way of managing the world’s resources. Not much has happened at international meetings since to realize those lofty objectives. There had been a continuing and disturbing pattern of many promises and little or no delivery. This, said the Prime Minister, had been particularly detrimental for those who did not have the necessary resources and technology to cope with the changing global environment. Africa, in fact, was getting the short-end of the stick. Nevertheless, scepticism and frustration, however legitimate, were no substitute for producing a better strategy or a reason for giving up the fight. Prime Minister Meles stressed that speaking with one voice would help Africa to fight better, and he appreciated that agreement had been reached to do that at Rio+20 under the leadership of President Nguesso of Congo. He also underlined the need to develop effective and realistic strategies to get decisions that would enhance resource flows and technology transfer to Africa and to fight for their implementation. Every African country should have a plan that it could implement with or without external support.   

President Nguesso said the conference created an excellent opportunity to share views that would be helpful to ensure sustainable development. He reaffirmed the need for Africans to have a common position and speak in one voice; and stressed the need for African leaders to give major attention to national and regional issues of building the green economy. African Union Commission Chairperson, Jean Ping, noted that the AU Summit in Malabo had adopted a resolution for Africa to be represented with one voice and said it was indispensable for Africa to have a strong common stand. The UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, Abdoulie Janneh, said an agreed institutional framework would promote coordination and synergies across various sectors and actors, and give a greater voice for sustainable development to developing countries. He said all stakeholders should take the opportunity provided by Rio+20 to secure renewed international commitment to strengthen and deepen the implementation of NEPAD programs. A draft resolution on a unified African position for Rio+20 was issued and will be presented to the upcoming AU Summit. The Conference paid tribute with a minute’s silence for the late Professor Wangari Maathai, Kenya’s Nobel Prize winner and a most notable advocate for the environment.  

 

The Sixth African Economic Conference also took place this week under the theme of “Green Economy and Structural Transformation in Africa”. Organized jointly by the African Development Bank, the Economic Commission for Africa, the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP  - Regional Bureau for Africa), its main objective was to provide a platform for experts on Africa to reflect and discuss possible new directions for growth policy on the continent in order to determine the best approaches to attain the Millennium Development Goals, achieve the objectives of NEPAD and accelerate Africa’s sustainable development.

 

Prime Minister Meles gave a keynote speech emphasizing his belief that Green Development should involve major reforestation, water management and soil conservation programs. There cannot, he said, be any structural economic transformation in Africa without transforming the agricultural sector and massively increasing electricity and power generation using available but untapped and renewable resources with maximum involvement of modern technology. Green Growth was the only way to sustain a meaningful agricultural sector in the current global environment. That was why Green Development was a pillar of Ethiopia’s overall goal of structural economic transformation. He detailed Ethiopia’s plans for agriculture which include reforestation of up to 15 million hectares of degraded land by 2025; and its aim to increase its current electricity generation by eight fold within five years with the longer-term ambition of achieving a close to zero net carbon emission by 2025.  

The Prime Minister said Africa’s problem in charting a course for the future lay more in implementation and the availability of resources for implementation. It would be natural and fair for Africans to be compensated for the damage caused to their economies by global warming and for the services they have rendered to those who created the problems, but the issue of Green Development and structural economic transformation in Africa was too urgent and too important to be left merely to the good will of others. Africa should first and foremost look at options for mobilizing its own resources and do more to enhance domestic resources for investment in electric power generation. There might be no shortage of investment funds in the world today, but Africa, despite profitable investment opportunities, still has difficulty accessing savings from emerging countries. Faced by the scale and scope of the gaps in financing, it needs additional mechanisms. Several have been tried including the borrowing of money from emerging countries with excess savings, but only some African countries have been successful in these efforts.  

The Prime Minister noted that attempts to try to devise a mechanism through the G20 to mitigate the perceived risk of lending to Africa and to use Multilateral Development Banks to mobilize additional resources for infrastructural investment in Africa appear to have reached a dead-end, apparently due to the belief that African states should limit themselves to building schools, clinics and social infrastructure and leave everything else to the private sector. Africa had, of course, done essentially that for the last 30 years and the result was the massive gap in infrastructural investment that was crippling the prospect of economic growth throughout the continent. These efforts should continue, of course, but at the same time Africa should seek other ways of accessing global savings, through multilateral rather than bilateral mechanisms and without intermediaries. He emphasized the importance of approaching the emerging countries as a group to design mechanisms to enable Africa to obtain investment in green infrastructure, and of the importance for the continent to continue to speak with a single voice.

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Recognition for Ethiopia’s Economic Performance                                                       

Ethiopia’s economic performance has been getting a good press this week with articles in the prestigious International Economic Bulletin of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and in TIME Magazine. Both have rightly pointed to the impressive growth the country has been registering.  

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace analyzed Ethiopia’s economic development in some detail, noting the unprecedented 11% average growth rate since 2004, a significant increase on the average annual growth for Africa as a whole, and one outperforming most of the continent. Indeed, it’s the highest such rate among the non-oil producing economies of Africa, and it’s well in excess of the population growth rate and above the 7% rate required to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of reducing poverty by a half in 2015. Nominal GDP grew six-fold over the last decade, and the International Monetary Fund predicts that it will reach 474.1 billion Birr in the 2010/2011 fiscal year, representing a compound annual growth rate of over 55%, fuelled mainly by government and private sector investment.  

The report suggests this remarkable growth has been associated with sound macroeconomic policies, political stability and the government’s commitment to comprehensive development and strict implementation of its policies. The favourable policy environment has been accompanied by improved regulatory and institutional frameworks, installed to encourage business. Large investments in infrastructure have also helped to fuel the economic performance. All this has been accompanied by rising international commodity prices and an increase in remittances which have positively contributed to an impressive result. The article, in fact, sees Ethiopia as one of the success stories in Africa. 

It also notes that the government is taking concrete measures to gear the economy to an even higher trajectory through the formulation of its Growth and Transformation Plan. The agricultural sector of course continues to be the major driving force of the economy but the contributions of service and industry sectors have also been significant and this is to continue under the GTP. The industry sector is projected to take a 15.6% share of GDP by the end of 2015, and it is expected to grow on average at 20% a year. The plan projects real GDP growth of between 11.2% and 14.9%. This allows for a doubling of current GDP and the raising of exports to $10 billion by 2015.  

The GTP is seen to offer ample scope for private investment, public-private partnerships and Private Finance Initiatives in a series of mega development projects. These range from road and rail networks to energy and large scale farms. The government plans to expand large scale irrigated agriculture projects from the current 127,242 hectares to 785,582 hectares and increase the area of small-scale irrigated agriculture to 1.85 million hectares by the end of the GTP period. These will play an important role in improving the economy and alleviating poverty. 

The report notes that the government aims to meet the growing demand for energy and electricity by increasing hydropower generation from the current 2060 MW to 10,000 MW by 2015. This will also allow for the export of electricity to neighboring countries and contribute to plans for regional economic cooperation and integration. Large scale investments in transport and energy infrastructure will also help to underpin future industrialization drives. Under the GPT the expansion of the road and railway networks will allow for the connections of most rural kebeles, the lowest administrative body, to the main road networks. There are plans for 2,400km of railway and for 88,179 km of new federal and regional roads to provide a more integrated and efficient transport system and increase linkages between the regions. This will enhance the export market and cut transportation costs.  

The Carnegie Endowment does have some concerns as the title of the article - “Ethiopia’s Imperfect Growth Miracle” – underlines, but these largely relate to the twin challenges of inequality and inflation, problems that are recognized by the government which is putting in place appropriate policies to deal with them. Economic growth, of course, is crucial for the eradication of poverty and to allow the citizens of Ethiopia to enjoy fast-growing living standards; and this growth has to be rapid, sustainable and fair. Failure to achieve this will place real constraints on the country’s anti-poverty agenda. It is, of course, for these reasons that Ethiopia’s development policies, and the Growth and Transformation Plan in particular, place full importance on ensuring sustained, rapid, broad-based, poverty-reducing and fairly-distributed economic growth. It is this which will result in the creation of jobs, allow earnings to rise and living standards improve. 

Equally, the government has recognized that finding a solution for increasing inflation is crucial. In last week’s parliamentary session, the Prime Minister promised the government will strive to curb this problem, arguing that keeping up the momentum of the growth rate, together with the government’s commitment to reduce the broad money supply and to address the problems found in the trading system, would provide the solution.  

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace also raised the importance of building stronger market systems and institutions. This was a central point in Alex Perry’s “Africa Blossoms: A continent on the Verge of an Agricultural Revolution”, an article in TIME Magazine which detailed how Ethiopia is building a modern agricultural trading system through the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX). Established in 2008, the ECX was a new initiative for Ethiopia and the first of its kind in Africa. The aim was to revolutionize Ethiopia’s tradition-bound agriculture through creating a marketplace to serve all market actors, from farmers to traders and through to processors, exporters and on to consumers. This is very much in line with the government’s policy directions to expand and commercialize the agricultural sector and the trading system to boost agricultural productivity. This indeed is why the government has been making huge investments in basic infrastructure in rural areas, investment that contributes significantly to the increase in private sector input. The increase in demand for raw agricultural inputs for the growing industrial sector has also encouraged private investment. As the article notes, during the life of the GTP more efforts will be devoted to increase the role of the private sector in agriculture, particularly in lowland areas where land for large scale commercial farming is in much demand and is available. Private investment is also being steered towards high-value horticulture production that can be produced on limited areas, and which uses abundant labour and thus generates significant employment, as well as increasing exports. 

As these articles emphasize, these activities, together with the results that are being achieved, are going to change the image of Ethiopia. Equally important, they will finally demonstrate not just recognition but the reality of success in the efforts to defeat poverty and raise Ethiopia to the ranks of middle income states by the end of the decade.

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Gilgel Gibe III and clean, green, energy 

Survival International is continuing its campaign to prevent Ethiopia developing its clean energy resources and “green power” schemes planned under the current Growth and Transformation Plan. It has now persuaded the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to ask for evidence that assessments of the impact of the Gilgel Gibe III dam were carried out and that people in the region were consulted before the project started. Earlier, two other advocacy organizations, International Rivers, and Friends of Lake Turkana, using the preliminary draft of an African Development Bank document persuaded the UN World Heritage to call for a halt to the project. In fact, the final draft of the African Development Bank’s Assessment of Hydrological Impacts of Ethiopia’s Omo Basin on Kenya’s Lake Turkana Water Levels came to largely positive conclusions. As we have noted before, the report did not find a threat to productive fishing areas; it rejected concerns about seepage from the dam; and it concluded that once filled the dam would not cause lake levels to fall. Irrigation is not an element of Gilgel Gibe III which is a power generation project, though the regulation of the flow will allow for some downstream irrigation. This will also, of course, play a major role in breaking the cycle of food shortage, droughts, floods and dislocation which have persistently affected the river basin.  

The claim that Gilgel Gibe III will have devastating social and environmental effects on the Lower Omo Valley and the Lake Turkana region is no more than an assertion. The possible impacts have been addressed in detail in the Environmental Impact Assessment studies already carried out. The project was thoroughly studied by local and international experts. The conclusions were that it was economically valuable and environmentally friendly, and it would contribute positively to the river’s flow. The discharge and the input of the other streams will allow for the maintenance of the downstream ecology during water harvesting phases. The dam will not dry up or destroy the ecosystems all the way down the Omo Valley to Lake Turkana nor will it deal a fatal blow to the lake or make life impossible for hundreds of thousands of fishing families and pastoralists who use the lake. Regulation of the flow will prevent rather than create “water wars”, and the provision of roads, health clinics, schools and other developments will improve life for those living in the Lower Omo. It is mere hysterics to call these plans “banishing half a million people to a hydrological hell”.  

Whatever the intent of the critics of this, or similar, projects, they have clearly made no effort to see the undoubted benefits of the proposed development: enhancement of clean, green, energy resources, provision of a rural electrification program, building of health clinics, schools and roads, regulation of the river’s flow and avoidance of  disastrous floods, eco-tourist development and environmental education, job opportunities, flood controlled agriculture, and regulation of the Omo River, and of Lake Turkana. The Environmental Impact Assessments will ensure these effects will benefit the people and play a valuable and useful role for the development of the region.  

The government is very well aware that it is responsible for the provision of social welfare and protection for all citizens as well as for creating a conducive socio-economic environment for development. It is answerable to the voters who gave it this responsibility in the elections of 2005 and 2010. It is trying to build sustainable economic growth to benefit all the citizens of the country. One of the major elements of this are the hydroelectric projects, a number of which are now under construction, including Gilgel Gibe III. That this has become a focus of negative campaigning among groups who are using the people of the area and of Lake Turkana as a pretext to meddle in Ethiopia’s affairs is regrettable. It is depressing to see people oppose either this project, or Ethiopia’s development, without making any effort to understand the context or the necessity of its development activities.   

Ethiopia is building an economy based on internal available resources, notably its water resources. Gilgel Gibe III Power Project will help the country achieve its rural electrification objectives and generate foreign exchange through the export of power to neighbouring countries. This will also serve as a catalyst for the enhancement of regional economic integration. As already noted it also offers employment generation, environmental improvement, infrastructural development, new social activities and better health conditions correlated to social growth in the project area. Gilgel Gibe III Dam is situated in a deep gorge of Omo River, in a largely uninhabitable and uncultivated area. It will provide enormous benefits to local communities in surrounding areas. In addition to the advantages arising from regulation of the river mentioned above, it will also provide for improved living standards by introducing small scale irrigation schemes and modern fishing production as well as clean water and electricity supplies and jobs. Additional elements will include community awareness programs, cooperative support programs, agriculture in-service training programs, coordination measures for food, conflict prevention and resolution training programs, and Woreda-level-institution strengthening activities.

The government fully respects the cultures, customs, religions and life styles of all its nations, nationalities and peoples. They are, after all, enshrined in the constitution.  At the same time it is determined to continue to register sustainable economic development and fulfil the socio-economic needs and desires of the people rather than continue to ignore these in favour of the romantic anthropological view of an under-developed tribal lifestyle. Indeed, the government’s plans and the facilities it is developing are “infinitely more environmentally and socially responsible” than the projects and protests of ill-informed western critics.

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Ethiopia and South Sudan sign a Technical Assistance MOU  

Ethiopia and South Sudan have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Technical Assistance and Cooperation for the placement of sixty civil service support officers (CSSOs) from Ethiopia in South Sudan government offices. The agreement is part of IGAD’s Regional Initiative Project with the Republic of South Sudan. The placement of the CSSOs will be for a specific period of years and arranged according to guidelines to be issued by the South Sudan government for the placement of a total of 200 CSSOs from IGAD member states. The United Nations Development Program, with the support of the Government of Norway, will be providing the funds for implementation of the project.  

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed at the beginning of the month by Ethiopia’s State Minister of Civil Service, Dr. Misrak Mekonnen, and South Sudan’s Minster of Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development, Awut Deng Acuil. It was signed under the Framework Agreement on Technical, Economic and Cultural Co-operation between Ethiopia and the Government of South Sudan concluded in December 2007. The agreement will promote the already existing friendly relationship between the two countries by the deployment of 60 civil servant support officers (CSSOs), with the support of United Nations Development program. The support officers will be placed in strategic positions within various South Sudan government ministries and commissions as well as in different states and at local government levels. The aim is to provide for the direct transfer of skills through on-the-job monitoring and coaching. 

The South Sudan Government has identified priority areas for short, medium and long term on-the-job training, monitoring and coaching, in accordance with the Framework Agreement. These areas include: the medical and public health sector, nursing and clinical health services, town planning and surveying, public finance management, public administration, public communication and information, public safety and security, human resource development, investment, legal services, labour and industrial relations and ICT. 

The agreement is also expected to strengthen the institutional capacity of various South Sudanese government institutions to deliver effective administration through rapid capacity enhancement support. It will provide for the establishment of training programs and capacity building in various disciplines. It is also aimed at developing and facilitating socio-economic, cultural and political relations between the two countries, on the basis of equity and mutual benefit.

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          Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

                     Ministry of Foreign Affairs