February 19, 2019 Ethiopia, News

Ethiopia contracts Chinese companies to complete Nile dam construction

Ethiopia contracts Chinese companies to complete Nile dam construction

In a bid to accelerate the pace of the construction of Ethiopia’s strategic dam, the country has contracted the services of two Chinese companies.

Source: Africa News

The Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) on Tuesday signed a contract worth $40m with China Gezhouba Group Co., Ltd (CGGC). CGCG will henceforth handle the pre-commissioning activities at the dam, that is expected to be operational by 2020.

READ MORE: Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance dam to start operations in 2020‘‘CGGC is expected to work aggressively in partnership with other companies in order to complete the project as per schedule,’‘ EEP’s CEO Abrham Belay said.

EEP also signed a contract worth $113m with Voith Hydro Shanghai, that includes the electrical, mechanical, and various civil/structural works required to complete the construction of the generating station and spillways of GERD.

A long overdue project

The 6,000-megawatt Grand Renaissance Dam is the centrepiece of Ethiopia’s bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter.

Last year, Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed cancelled the contract of a state-run military conglomerate, Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC), to build the dam’s turbines.

Abiy said at the time that not a single turbine was operational more than seven years after the government awarded the contract to METEC.

The dam has also been a source of constant friction between Egypt and Ethiopia’s competing energy and water interests respectively.

Egypt fears the project will reduce waters that run to its fields and reservoirs from the Nile river in Ethiopia’s highlands and via Sudan.

A Tripartite Infrastructure Fund that to deal with issues relating to the GERD was established in May last year, in addition to a resolution to regularise the summit of the leaders, to be held every six months alternately in the capitals of the three countries.

February 18, 2019 Ethiopia, News

February 18, 2019 2.24pm GMT
A statue of Ethiopia’s last emperor, Haile Selassie, at the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa. Hailu Wudineh Tsegaye / Shutterstock

The unveiling of a statue to the Emperor Haile Selassie outside the African Union has stirred up a storm among Ethiopians and Eritreans. Some, including the Rastafarian community who still worship the Emperor as a god, were delighted. Others were furious, recalling his role in the 1973-74 famine or his suppression of Eritrean freedom.

Haile Selassie ruled Ethiopia for more than four decades, between 1930 and 1974. In 1935 his country was invaded by Italy and he sought refuge in Britain. He became a symbol of resistance to fascism in Africa, returning to the country in 1941.

An austere, aloof figure, he was finally overthrown by a group of left wing military officers in 1974, furious at the lethargy with which he had dealt with famine and the stagnation of the country. But years of war and instability since his murder and burial under a toilet in his palace, have led to a reassessment of his role and he is now seen in a more favourable light. In 2000 he was re-buried in Addis Ababa’s cathedral.

Emperor Haile Selassie is an example of how leaders have gone in and out of fashion. The movements they lead wax and wane – and with them go the reputations of those who led them. His statue, now unveiled at the African Union, is recognition of his role as a champion of African freedom against colonial intervention.

Fallen idols

In South Africa the statue of British colonialist Cecil Rhodes was removed from the University of Cape Town after students objected to his role as an imperialist. Nor did the protests end there. A whole range of works of art was removed or destroyed. This led to accusations of censorship, as the university authorities gave in to pressure from those who felt that the art demeaned the subjects they portrayed.

Cecil Rhodes was once venerated for his generosity: he donated all the land on which the University of Cape Town stands, as well as his own home, which is still the residence of the President of South Africa when he is in Cape Town.

Another fallen image includes Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, whose statue was destroyed even before the Libyan dictator had been captured and killed.

Other targets of student anger have included Mahatma Gandhi. His newly erected statue was removed at the University of Ghana in Accra. The objectors argued that he had held racist views of Africans during his time in South Africa. What they failed to understand was that his position had changed and that by the time he left the country in 1914 he was no longer the racist he had once been.

Another statue removed in South Africa was one to King Shaka Zulu at the airport in Durban that bears his name. The Zulu royal family objected to the way in which he was portrayed. Seven years later there is still no clarity on when it will be replaced. The decision to commemorate Shaka kaSenzangakhona, who ruled the Zulu people (1787 – 1828) is controversial in itself. The military campaign he led (the Mfecane – or “crushing”) killed and displaced a vast number of people, who were driven as far as Zambia and Malawi to escape in troops.

Some former African leaders still have statues they commissioned standing, but in the forlorn setting of their home villages, now largely abandoned and forgotten. For example, the statue of emperor Jean-Bedel Bokassa of Central African Republic still stands some 80km from the capital, Bangui.

A similar fate has been suffered by Mobutu Sese Seko, the Congolese ruler of the state he then called Zaire. His palace once described as the “Versailles of Africa” is derelict, inhabited by his former troops. A statue depicting his first wife, Marie-Antoinette Mobutu, stands forgotten in the palace garden.

But there is one African president whose image is still revered by almost everybody: Nelson Mandela. Statues to South Africa’s first truly democratically elected leader can be found across the country, but it’s the one at Sandton in Johannesburg that draws the crowds. Six meters high, it towers over those who come to see it.

Way forward

What to do about the symbols of bygone regimes is always going to be a contested terrain. Few countries have got this right.

One way forward is suggested by the approach taken by the former Soviet republic of Georgia. They have no reason to worship Stalin. He was Georgian by birth but as leader of the Soviet Union he butchered 200,000 of his countrymen and women. Yet in Gori, Stalin’s birthplace, they not only preserve the hovel in which he was born, but also the vast museum built to glorify his achievement.

Visiting the museum a few years ago, I asked our young guide why every exhibit is retained intact, when his bloody legacy is so well known. “Ah,” she replied. “We must preserve the past as it was, so we can learn from it. But wait until the final room.”

Our guide was right. There – in the last room – Stalin’s crimes against the Georgians were laid out for all to see. The painful truth to put the hagiography of the rest of the museum in perspective

February 17, 2019 Ethiopia, News

MEKELLE/ETHIOPIA, 14 February 2019

“Ethnic tensions are the biggest problem for Ethiopia right now,” Tewodrose Tirfe, chair of the Amhara Association of America, a US-based advocacy group that played a significant role in lobbying the US government to censor the former regime. “You’ve got millions of people displaced – it’s a humanitarian crisis, and it could get out of control.”

During the first half of 2018, Ethiopia’s rate of 1.4 million new internally displaced people exceeded Syria’s. By the end of last year, the IDP population had mushroomed to nearly 2.4 million.

Tigrayans comprise just six percent of Ethiopia’s population of 100 million people but are perceived as a powerful minority because of their ethnic affinity with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. The TPLF wielded almost unlimited power for more than two decades until reforms within the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front last year.

Since coming to power in April 2018, Prime Minister Abiy – from the Oromo ethnic group, Ethiopia’s largest – has brought major changes to the politics of the country, including an unprecedented redistribution of power within the EPRDF and away from the TPLF.

The politics of ethnic tensions

Despite the conflicting interests and disagreements between ethnic groups, the Ethiopian government has managed to keep the peace on a national scale. But that juggling act has shown signs of strain in recent years.

“You’ve got millions of people displaced – it’s a humanitarian crisis, and it could get out of control.”

In 2017, an escalation in ethnic clashes in the Oromia and the Somali regions led to a spike in IDPs. This continued into 2018, when clashes between the Oromo and Gedeo ethnic groups displaced approximately 970,000 people in the West Guji and Gedeo zones of neighbouring Oromia and the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region.

“The pace and scale of the change happening in Ethiopia is quite unbelievable,” said Ahmed Soliman, a research fellow with the Africa Programme at the London-based think tank Chatham House.

“The impact of inter-communal tensions and ethnic violence presents a serious challenge for the new leadership – in Tigray and elsewhere. Abiy’s aggressive reform agenda has won praise, but shaking up Ethiopia’s government risks exacerbating several long-simmering ethnic rivalries.”

Although clashes are sometimes fuelled by other disagreements, such as land or resources, people affected often claim that politicians across the spectrum use ethnic tensions as a means of divide and rule, or to consolidate their position as a perceived bulwark against further trouble.

“Sadly [around Ethiopia] ethnic bias and violence is affecting many people at the local level,” said a foreign humanitarian worker with an international organisation helping Ethiopian IDPs, who wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issue. This includes fuelling the displacement crisis and worsening the humanitarian situation.

“The main humanitarian concern is that new displacements are occurring by the day, that due to the wide geographic scope, coordination and response in all locations is practically impossible,” the aid worker said.

“I would like to see more transparency as to what actions the government is taking to hold regional and zonal governments responsible for addressing conflict, for supporting reconciliation, and supporting humanitarian response.”

Tigray fears

Although Tigrayans constitute a relatively small part of overall IDP numbers so far, some Tigrayans fear the power shift in Addis Ababa away from the TPLF leaves them more vulnerable and exposed.

Already simmering anti-Tigrayan sentiments have led to violence, people told IRIN, from barricading roads and forcibly stopping traffic to looting and attacks on Tigrayan homes and businesses in the Amhara and Oromia regions.

James Jeffrey/IRIN
Tigrayans on the streets of Mekelle, the Tigray capital.

In the Tigray region’s capital of Mekelle, more than 750 kilometers north of the political changes taking place in Addis Ababa, many Tigrayans feel increasingly isolated from fellow Ethiopians.

“The rest of the country hates us,” Weyanay Gebremedhn, 25, told IRIN. Despite the reforms, Tigrayans say what hasn’t changed is the narrative that they are responsible by association for the ills of the TPLF.

Although he now struggles to find work, 35-year-old Huey Berhe, who does mostly odd jobs to pay the bills, said he felt safer living among his own community in Mekelle.

Huey said he had been a student at Jimma University in western Ethiopia, until growing ethnic tensions sparked fights on campus and led to Tigrayans being targeted. “I left my studies at Jimma after the trouble there,” he said. “It was bad – it’s not something I like to discuss.”

‘A better evil’

“There is a lot of [lies] and propaganda, and the TPLF has been made the scapegoat for all vice,” said Gebre Weleslase, a Tigrayan law professor at Mekelle University. He criticised Abiy for not condemning ethnic attacks, which he said had contributed to tens of thousands of Tigrayans leaving Amhara for Tigray in recent years.

But Amhara Association of America’s Tewodrose said the feeling of “hate” that Ethiopians have toward the TPLF “doesn’t extend to Tigrayans”.

“There is resentment toward them when other Ethiopians hear of rallies in Tigray supporting the TPLF, because that seems like they aren’t supporting reform efforts,” he said. “But that doesn’t lead to them being targeted, otherwise there would have been more displacements.”

☰ Read more: The complex Tigray evolution

Tigrayans, however, aren’t as reassured. Despite the vast majority enduring years of poverty and struggle under the TPLF, which should give them as many reasons as most Ethiopians to feel betrayed, even those Tigrayans who dislike the TPLF now say that turning to its patronage may be their only means of seeking protection.

“The TPLF political machinery extended everywhere in the country – into the judiciary, the universities… it became like something out of George Orwell’s ‘1984’,” Huey said. “But the fact is now the TPLF may represent a better evil as we are being made to feel so unsafe – they seem our only ally as we are threatened by the rest of the country.”

Others note that Abiy has a delicate balance to strike, especially for the sake of Tigrayans.

“The prime minister needs to be careful not to allow his targeting of anti-reform elements within the TPLF, to become an attack on the people of Tigray,” said Soliman.

“The region has a history of resolute peoples and will have to be included with all other regions, in order for Abiy to accomplish his goals of reconciliation, socio-political integration and regional development, as well as long-term peace with Eritrea.”

Although the government has a big role to play, some Ethiopians told IRIN it is essential for the general population to also face up to the inherent prejudices and problems that lie at the core of their society.

“It’s about the people being willing and taking individual responsibility – the government can’t do everything,” Weyanay said. “People need to read more and challenge their assumptions and get new perspectives.”

Freelance journalist specialising in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa

Disagreements over land and resources between the 80 different ethnic groups in Ethiopia have often led to violence and mass displacement, but a fast and unprecedented shift of power led by reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is causing new strains, experts say.



Swarms have already crossed to Saudi Arabia and even to the UAE


Swarms of hundreds of thousands of locusts could head up the Red Sea coast. Getty Images

Swarms of hundreds of thousands of locusts could head up the Red Sea coast. Getty Images


Massive swarms of locusts are bearing down on Saudi Arabia and Egypt as they spread rapidly along the shores of the Red Sea, the United Nations has warned.

Breeding along the coasts of Eritrea and Sudan, the swarms are spreading farther afield, with at least one having crossed over the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia in mid-January and more a week later.

Swarms also went north along the Red Sea towards Egypt.

In January, Abu Dhabi's Al Dhafra area was covered in a cloud of the flying insects.

The UN is calling on countries in the flight path to step up vigilance and take precautions.

"Good rains along the Red Sea coastal plains in Eritrea and Sudan have allowed two generations of breeding since October, leading to a substantial increase in locust populations and the formation of highly mobile swarms," the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation said on Friday.

Adult locusts can eat their body weight in fresh vegetation every day and the FAO warned that even a small swarm can eat enough food for 35,000 people in just 24 hours.

A female locust is able to lay around 300 eggs in her short life, meaning swarms can measure miles wide and be made up of hundreds of millions of individuals. They can strip the land bare as they fly through.

Tackling swarms is also made difficult because they are highly mobile and able to fly up to 150 kilometres a day.

The FAO is planning to hold a meeting in Jordan next week to discuss measures to tackle the spread and how to assist affected countries.

“The devastating impact locusts can have on crops poses a major threat to food security, especially in already vulnerable areas,” the FAO said.

The issue of higher breeding is not only confined to Eritrea and Sudan. Rains from cyclones Mekunu in May and Luban last October triggered a mass breeding of locusts in Saudi Arabia’s Empty Quarter, near the Yemen-Oman border.

Hatching was also recorded around the villages of Thuwal and Masturah, south-west of Medina on the kingdom’s west coast.

The UN agency said a few swarms from two generations of breeding had reached the UAE and as far as southern Iran. However, with no signs of slowing, swarms could reach the India-Pakistan border if unchecked.

"The next three months will be critical to bringing the locust situation under control before the summer breeding starts," said Keith Cressman, the FAO's senior kocust forecasting officer.

"The further spread of the current outbreak depends on two major factors – effective control and monitoring measures in locust breeding areas of Sudan, Eritrea and Saudi Arabia and the surrounding countries, and rainfall intensity between March and May along both sides of the Red Sea and in the interior of the Arabian Peninsula."

Aerial spraying and ground control operations have already taken place across Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Egypt and Eritrea. So far, nearly 85,000 hectares – about eight-and-a-half times the area of Abu Dhabi island – has been treated since December, 30,000 hectares in the past two weeks alone.

A light plane sprays pesticides as a Swarm of locusts hits an area near the Egyptian border. Getty Images A light plane sprays pesticides as a Swarm of locusts hits an area near the Egyptian border. Getty Images

Control measures are also under way in Iran after at least one swarm arrived on the southern coast at the end of January.

The outlook for February is that breeding will continue along the Red Sea coast, leading to more “hopper bands and adult swarms”.

The FAO warned that “as vegetation dries out, adult groups and a few swarms are likely to move north along the Red Sea coast”.

It predicted this would largely have an impact on northern areas around the Nile Valley in northern Sudan, but there was a “moderate risk” that swarms would continue to cross the Red Sea towards Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Mr Cressman told Reuters that the previous major desert locust upsurge was between 2003 and 2005, when more than 12 million hectares – about twice the size of the UAE – were treated in west and north-west Africa. The swarm response cost some $750 million, including food aid to affected areas.

Since then there have been numerous outbreaks along the coastal plains on both sides of the Red Sea, but they have mostly been controlled.

The FAO operates an early warning system across parts of Africa and the Middle East where swarms breed. On-the-ground observers armed with tablets can feed data to the Rome FAO office in real time that is then put together with weather reports, historical patterns and satellite imagery to predict where there will be major outbreaks. Forecasts are made for up to six weeks in advance.

Saturday 16 February 2019

A checkpoint in Metema in north-western Ethiopia, next to the border with Sudan. The town is a centre of a booming trade in migrants from Ethiopia and Eritrea. (AP Photo)

February 15, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - A joint meeting between Sudanese and Ethiopian officials would be held on 23 February to discuss ways to combat cross-border crime and implement agreements to end border encroachments.

The governor of Sennar State, Abdel-Karim Musa, said he recently discussed with the Ethiopian Ambassador to Khartoum, Shiferaw Jarso, ways to secure the border between his state and neighbouring Ethiopian regions.

He told the semi-official Sudan Media Center (SMC) the meeting also discussed the situation of the Ethiopian community in Sennar as well as ways to enhance bilateral relations between the two countries.

Furthermore, Abdel-Karim said the meeting discussed recent border encroachments, pointing out that some Ethiopian farmers have cultivated lands at El-Dinder National Park in violation of the agreements signed between the two countries.

For his part, the Ethiopian Ambassador said a meeting between experts from both countries would be held to resolve the border issues through the border demarcation committee.

He also praised the role of the Sudanese army in maintaining security on the joint border between the two countries.

Although Khartoum and Addis Ababa have close ties, the border area between the two countries remains a source of tension and violence between the two sides due to the human trafficking and smuggling to reach Egypt and Libya.

Also, Ethiopian farmers are accused by the Sudanese farmers of occupying vast agricultural land in the Al-Fashqa area of Gedaref State.

The third issue until recently was Ethiopian rebels who sneak over the border coming from Eritrea. Many have been detained and handed over to the Ethiopian authorities.

Earlier this month, there were media reports that Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Workneh Gebeyehu, has warned that Sudan’s failure to curb continued arms smuggling into Ethiopia through its border may lead to cutting diplomatic relations.

However, the Ethiopian government has dismissed these reports as unfounded saying the Foreign Minister’s remarks were taken out of context.

In October 2017, the security committee between Sudan’s Gedaref state and Ethiopia’s Amhara region decided to recommend to the leadership of the two countries to deploy a joint force along the border.

Last August, the Sudanese and Ethiopian armies signed an agreement to withdraw troops from both sides of the border and to deploy joint forces to combat "terrorism", human trafficking and to eliminate any potential security tensions. But it was not clear if effective steps have been taken towards its deployment.

On the other hand, it is noteworthy that the current borders between Sudan and Ethiopia were drawn by the British and Italian colonisers in 1908. The two governments have agreed in the past to redraw the borders and to promote joint projects between people from both sides for the benefit of local populations.

The joint Sudanese-Ethiopian High Committee announced in December 2013 that it reached an agreement to end disputes between farmers from two sides of the border over the ownership of agricultural land.

In November 2014, the former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and President al-Bashir instructed their Foreign Ministers to fix a date for resuming the border demarcation. The operation had stopped following the death of Ethiopia’s former premier, Meles Zenawi.



Saturday 16 February 2019

February 15, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Thursday expressed hope that calls by Sudanese people for regime change will be heard.

As the Sudanese opposition welcomed his supportive statement of the U.S. top diplomat and called for international pressure on President Omer al-Bashir to step down and allow a peaceful democratic transition in Sudan.

Asked by Michel Ghandour of Al-Hurra TV in Warsaw about his assessment on the ongoing demonstrations in Sudan for "regime change", Popmeo said hopeful that Sudanese achieve their goal.

"It’s very difficult for the Sudanese people today. We’re hopeful that their voices will be heard and that the transition," he said according to a transcript of the interview released by the State Department.

"If there is one, will be led by them and not by outside influences," he further stressed.

Pompeo statements are the first official comment by an American official on the two-month protests in Sudan.

The remarks also are the first statement by an international official supportive for the demand of Sudanese people who protest for peaceful change in their country. Previously, different regional leaders expressed support for the incumbent president.

The Secretary for External Relations of the opposition alliance, Sudan Call, Yasir Arman, welcomed Pompeo’s statement and underscored that the State Department Secretary expressed his sympathy for the Sudanese people in the difficult times they are going through.

"This is a highly welcome and significant statement by one of the most senior figures in the international community calling for the voices of the Sudanese people to be listened to and emphasising the need for a transition to be made by the Sudanese people," said Arman.

The opposition leading member added that Pompeo’s statement "is a step forward in building international support that will put pressure on General Bashir to step down after three decades in power and allow a democratic transition to take place".

"Sudanese people are indeed very capable of managing their own affairs without foreign intervention," he stressed.

The opposition groups are discussing a transition period to be led by an inclusive transitional government to lay out solid foundations for a democratic regime.

Arman who is the vice-chairman of the SPLM-N led by Malik Agar said the "Sudanese revolution against al-Bashir and his regime will continue to be peaceful" stressing that it has reached a the point of non-return.

Sudanese continue to organise daily protests including demonstrations, sit-ins and meetings despite the brutal crackdown by the security forces and militiamen of the ruling National Congress Party.

Since December 2019, some 31 people were killed across the country according to the Sudanese authorities but activists and rights groups say the death toll is over 50 people.



February 14, 2019 News, Uncategorized

This study by the Economist Intelligence Unit draws lessons from conflicts in Rwanda, Sri Lanka and Colombia.

The full report is here: Post Conflict Trade

This is an extract

A key part of creating and sustaining economic growth in post-conflict countries is increasing trade. This is not an easy task, however, and it is not without risks. Most, if not all, post-conflict countries were at low levels of development when their conflicts began and are highly dependent on primary commodities exports for growth. Continued dependence on these products raises the likelihood that the country will revert back to conflict, as well as creating continuing opportunities for corruption at both the state and the local level. But moving up the value chain is difficult. It requires hard infrastructure like roads, bridges and rail and electricity generation and transmission, and for the general population to attain education that endow them with basic skills. They also take time.

Ethiopia and Eritrea both face problems in these areas. To provide insights into their post-conflict trade and development environment, The Economist Intelligence Unit was commissioned by DP World to produce a series of three case studies on how post-conflict countries around the world have dealt with similar issues, for better and worse.

The first case study looks at the coffee industry in Rwanda. Like Ethiopia, Rwanda is a landlocked country and coffee is one of its primary exports. In the aftermath of a civil war and the 1994 genocide, the government instituted a plan to move the country’s coffee industry up the value chain, and compensate for being landlocked, by producing specialty coffee. The early results were mixed, but more recently the effort appears to be paying off.

Potential lessons for post-conflict countries

Every country in a post-conflict situation finds itself facing different problems. The scale and nature of the conflict matters greatly. How much destruction was caused to the country’s physical capital? How much of the population was displaced as a result of the conflict and will they be able to return? Can trust in institutions and civil society be re-established among the combatants?

Nevertheless, there are basic and generalisable lessons that can be drawn from countries that have been or are going through the process of post-conflict recovery. These lessons form a baseline for that recovery. This paper, which looked at three such cases, provides the following lessons:

  1. Identify sensible opportunities for moving up the value chain.

Being ambitious is important to post-conflict development, and development in general. But it must be tempered by reality. Rwanda wanted to develop a manufacturing sector, as do most countries seeking to climb the economic ladder. And it still might be able to do so, despite being landlocked and short of (at least at the time) reliable power. In the short-term, however, it wasn’t a realistic option. What made more sense was to identify existing industries where there were possibilities to add more value rather than start from scratch elsewhere. For Rwanda that meant building a specialty coffee industry off the back of its production and trade in commodity coffee.

Sri Lanka has done likewise by developing a tyre industry on the strength of its domestic rubber output, but it has also found success by leveraging the relatively higher levels of education and skills in its labour force to position itself in niche links in global supply chains, such as the manufacture of weighing components for neonatal incubators.

  1. Beware white elephants.

Right now there is a significant amount of capital available for funding infrastructure projects in Asia and Africa. On its face, this is a welcome development. Almost all of the countries in the two regions, post-conflict or otherwise, are in dire need of paved roads that reach rural areas, upgrades to creaking railways and additional, and reliable, power generation capacity.

Were Ethiopia and Eritrea to focus on these more quotidian types of infrastructure projects, it would do much to improve their export capabilities.

Yet the temptation to build big and shiny airports and other types of facilities where ground can be broken with a golden shovel, and the new building unveiled with a ribbon-cutting photo op, is hard to resist.

But it must be. The case of Sri Lanka and its nearly-empty airport and sleepy new seaport is illustrative of the problems caused by white elephant projects. It is just one example among many, however.

  1. Create an enabling environment for PPPs (Public Private Partnerships).

These are not without problems, but for many countries PPPs can be the best available option. Most, if not all, post-conflict countries lack the domestic capabilities to build the kind of hard and soft infrastructure economic recovery requires. Bringing in foreign firms as partners with the government can help to overcome this constraint, as well as transfer knowledge and expertise to the local populations in a range of areas, such as in digitisation, data analytics and integrating production with global supply chains.

The local environment needs to be conducive for these agreements to be effective, however. Colombia performs well in this regard. Many countries don’t, especially those where good and consistent governance and clearly defined laws and regulations are in short supply.

To a certain extent, however, improvement only comes with experience, but there are areas where quick gains can be made, such as co-ordination among government entities when developing and awarding contracts, creating high-level political support for PPPs and ensuring transparency during the bidding process.

February 13, 2019 News

Source: Eritrea Watch

Eritrean social media pages have, for the last few weeks, been awash with the news coming out of Eritrea. The Assassination Attempt of Gen. Sebhat Efrem! Details of the incident are sketchy and one had to depend on anonymous sources, and to an extent on a hear say for details of the incident.

Who is the General

General Sebhat Efrem is the current Minister of Mines of the country Eritrea. He is a well known for his role as the commander of the gorilla army during the liberation of Eritrea from Ethiopia. He is best Known for his skilful leadership and personality.

In the internal politics of the EPLF (the liberation army), however he is known for his staunch loyalty and support of the current President of Eritrea. The now totalitarian dictator, has dominated the Pre and Post history of Eritrea. With that part of history, known for its secrecy, betrayal, foul plays and even disappearances – the General is well known to have taken the side of the movement leader, now dictator.

After Eritrean independence, he has fallen out of favour with his boss. Sidelined to be a Minster of Health, yet remained loyal. In the Coupé d’etat attempt of the 2013, commonly known as the Operation Forto, coming to the rescue of his boss once again. Historically, he is considered as loyal subject and a snitch to the dictator in power.

Leading to incident

Unexplained decisions and incidences, have people believe the Assassination Attempt was no coincidence of sorts. The public blieves, this was no work of an individual, as the unofficial report indicates; or doesn’t indicate.

– Anonymous sources, and confirmed by at least one relative, have described security apparatus on the hunt for certain people who happen to be His former staff at the Ministry of Defence. Those people would be hunted and arrested in the two weeks leading up to the incident. The name Col. Wunesh, comes up in all sources, though the number of people arrested is believed to be about fifteen or more.

– In the days leading up to the incident, the Municipality is said to have checked and pounded dogs which have not been vaccinated. They concentrated more at the vicinity where the General is residing.

– More mysterious incidences are to follow two days before the said incident. The security detail of the General’s residences are given a break and would not report for duty in the area.

– On the day of the Assassination Attempt, there is to be a power outage in the area of residence.

The Assassination – failed attempt

Anonymous witnesses confirmed the assailant was captured by passersby and handed over to security. He allegedly sneaked in to the residences, taking advantage of the darkness caused by the power outage on the evening. It is believed he was armed with a gun, a silencer, as no gun shot is heard by neighbours. He is to shoot the General once on the head, but the gun malfunctioned before shooting second time.

Details of the assailant and his wherebouts after capture are sketchy. Some sources claim he is from a military division assigned to guard the unofficial residences of the President, at Adi Halo.

Suicide followed by – a failed Coupé d’etat

The president of the country, Isayas Afwerki, is said to be under immense pressure to reform. Specially after the peace deal he signed in July with Ethiopia. He should feel a revolt from his ranks on how he handled the peace process with Ethiopia. The president has been in power for almost 28 years, he finds his safety net in holding on to power. Though many attempts to topple him, the knowns and unknowns, he should feel the current crisis poses a greater threat to his power. In September, when he travelled to Saudi Arabia to sign a new agreement with Ethiopia, he took his son – Abraham Isayas – with. This act would create crisis, even with in his support group, that he was about to groom his son for the position as a successor. That by all means seemed, his plan B.

General Sebhat Efrem, even during the struggle for independence, was known for his charming character and witty skills of negotiation. He has managed to outmaneuver opponents, yet without making so many enemies. For external players, like the US, he has come across as a person with a unifying influence, solid support base in the army and better communication counterpart. It is believed he has also voiced concern with the president’s handling of the recent peace process with Ethiopia.

All this seems to make the President more irrelevant. The president could not stand the idea, the General would be considered as a potential successor. On the most recent visit by a delegation from US, it is believed they inquired about the General’s attendance. Request was rejected by the President.

Speculation is rife, the failed Assassination Attemp, was was pre-empted, and with pre-manufactured reasons meant to persuade many of the General’s supporters and the public – this was a failed Coupé d’etat followed by suicide.

Post Assassination Attempt

After the incident, the General was flown to a hospital in Dubai, UAE. It is believed authorities in Dubai only learnt the importance of the person under treatment after few days. They are to make a security arrangement, after voicing dismay with the Ambassador of Eritrea in UAE. Contrary to other reports that stated he was not accompanied by anybody, sources confirm three people flew alongside him. The wife, a doctor and a party Official, who goes by the nick named Kisha.

He is believed to be in a stable condition. Sources claim even though he has started to communicate, his full recovery seems a long upheaval.

As of yet, there is no Official clarification on the part of the government about the General’s assassination attempt.

Nor his Progress.
It’s a developing story….

February 11, 2019 12:19 pm 39













The State of Qatar affirmed its support and solidarity with the Republic of Sudan and called for its removal from the list of states sponsoring terrorism.
This came in the hearing session held yesterday by the Arab Parliament at the headquarters of the League of Arab States, on the removal of Sudan from the list.

During the session, HE the Deputy Speaker of the Shura Council Mohamed bin Abdullah al-Sulaiti, said the State of Qatar has never wavered in its support for Sudan, calling on the US administration to remove its name from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism.

In this regard, the Deputy Speaker of the Shura Council referred to Doha hosting the Darfur peace negotiations under the auspices of the UN, where Doha has been an essential partner for the peace efforts in Darfur and for the consolidation of peace and development.

In order to complete this effort, the State of Qatar has sought with the Arab and Islamic countries, the lifting of the US sanctions imposed on Sudan, he added.

He stressed that Doha is still seeking to help Sudan to meet the conditions set by the US administration to provide security and stability in areas of conflict, calling for enabling Sudan to stabilise, develop and overcome its economic crisis.

Al-Sulaiti said its time to stand for the right, and to demand the US administration to remove Sudan from the list of states sponsoring terrorism.

The Deputy Speaker of the Shura Council said that yesterday’s meeting comes under the conditions of instability, successive crises and the great challenges facing Arab countries, adding that many of these countries are suffering from internal conflicts, foreign polarisation and pressures.

The State of Qatar strives to help the Arab and Islamic countries to overcome the obstacles to stability and development, he added.


Report from European Commission's Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

Published on 08 Feb 2019

Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica is visiting Eritrea today, where he launches an initial €20 million project to rebuild the road connection between the Ethiopian border and Eritrean ports.

During his visit, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica meets with the President of Eritrea Isaias Afwerki to discuss the situation in the region and explore ways for the EU and Eritrea to step up political relations and dialogue on matters of concern to both sides.

On this occasion, Commissioner Mimica said: "The European Union is committed to support Eritrea and Ethiopia in delivering their historic peace agreement, which ended twenty years of conflict. To back this, we are launching a €20 million programme to rebuild the roads connecting both countries. This will boost trade, consolidate stability, and have clear benefits for the citizens of both countries through the creation of sustainable growth and jobs.”

The new project will be financed through the EU Trust Fund for Africa and through the United Nation's Office for Project Services (UNOPS). It will rehabilitate road connections between the Ethiopian border and Eritrean ports to boost trade and create jobs. This is the first phase of a broader support to Eritrea, which is planned to scale up later this year.

This co-operation is part of the EU's new dual track approach of strengthening political dialogue with Eritrea, notably encouraging political and economic reforms and improvement of human rights, as well as pursuing development cooperation to tackle root causes of poverty, and to reinforce the peace agreement and economic integration.


In July last year, Eritrea and Ethiopia signed an historic peace agreement ending 20 years of conflict. This provides a major opportunity for economic development and stability in the region. The rapprochement has already yielded benefits for the Eritrean population, with re-opened borders, resumed communication and the reduction in the price of basic commodities.

One of the commitments of the peace agreement is that ‘transport, trade and communications links between the two countries will resume'. To achieve this requires rehabilitating the main arterial roads between the Ethiopian border and the Eritrean port of Massawa, which is the focus of this road project.

For more information

Africa-Europe Alliance for sustainable investment and jobs

Progress factsheet – Africa-Europe Alliance for sustainable investment and jobs

Delegation of the European Union to Eritrea