A Week in the Horn 16.10.2020

News in Brief

37th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union Meets Virtually

President Isaias Afwerki pays a three-day visit to Ethiopia

Africa and the African Union

The African Union Commission announced on Thursday (October 15) that the African Trade Observatory (ATO) –a mechanism being implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC) to help the new African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) function when it goes live in 2021 –has begun testing the online dashboard to give real-time trade statistics to African users. Such information will include intra-continental trade flows (traded values, traded quantities, the use of tariff preferences, taxes and fees paid at the border), and information on market conditions (such as taxes applicable at the border and regulatory requirements).The 37th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union (AU) kicked off on Tuesday (October 13). The two-day Ministerial meeting deliberated at lengths, the progress and intensification of actions aimed at peace, security, development and integration as articulated in Africa’s Agenda 2063. The ministers also, among other key issues, reflected on the ongoing institutional reforms particularly with the ongoing transition to the new Departmental structure of the Commission, adopted by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in February 2020, as well as the Financing Strategy for the new structure. The meeting also considered the African Union Budget for the financial year 2021 and deliberated on the African Union theme for 2021. (See article)A group of public, private and non-profit organizations, led by the African Union Commission through the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), launched on Monday (October 12) the Africa Pathogen Genomics Initiative (Africa PGI) in a US$100 million, four-year partnership to expand access to next-generation genomic sequencing tools and expertise designed to strengthen public health surveillance and laboratory networks across Africa. Africa PGI will be part of the Institute of Pathogen Genomics, launched by Africa CDC in 2019, with a vision to integrate pathogen genomics and bioinformatics into public health surveillance, outbreak investigations, and improved disease control and prevention in Africa. The institute’s capacity will be strengthened to manage and provide technical oversight for Africa PGI.

Last week on Friday (October 09), the UN Secretary-General spoke at the second High-Level event on “Mobilizing with Africa” as part of the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The Secretary-General said that since the beginning of the crisis, African countries and the African Union have shown commendable leadership and unity in response to the pandemic. He stressed that the international community must continue to show commitment to Africa’s health and well-being. The Secretary-General said the pandemic has resulted in acute liquidity constraints for African countries that without bold measures could spiral into a solvency crisis.He called on development partners to broaden the eligibility of the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative so that it includes all highly indebted and vulnerable countries that have been adversely affected by the emergency and also urged developed countries to support the Liquidity and Sustainability Facility, and to support efforts to prioritize green growth and environmental conservation. He also reiterated the UN’s solidarity with the people and governments of Africa at this pivotal moment for the continent. The International Organization for Migration on Friday (October 09) called for effective global cooperation to help the at least 2.75 [million] migrants who are stranded around the world due to COVID-19 restrictions, including border closures and nationwide lockdowns. IOM’s Director General, António Vitorino, said that, where governments have taken action, tens of thousands of migrants have been able to return home in a manner that takes into consideration the significant health challenges the pandemic poses.Ethiopia Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, Ambassador Dina Mufti said Ethiopia has repatriated 993 migrants within the last three weeks. Among these 953 are from Saudi Arabia, 5 from Tanzania and 35 from Djibouti. He said this today (October 16) while delivering the Ministry’s biweekly press briefing. Besides the situation of Ethiopian migrants in Saudi Arabia, the Ambassador also covered current issues in Ethiopia and the main diplomatic activities of the Ministry within the last three weeks. The 37th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union was concluded on Thursday (October 15). It was held virtually and Minister H.E. Gedu Andargachew has participated in it. The Council has adopted the budget for the AU for the year 2021 and endorsed the theme of the year 2021: “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers to building the Africa We Want”. At the occasion, Mr. Gedu has suggested the 2021 budget of the Commission to consider the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic potential of member states in appropriation. Ethiopia and the World Bankon Thursday (October 14) signed a financing agreement amounting $400 million for the urban productive safety nets and jobs project (UPSNJP). The agreement was signed here in Addis Ababa by Ahmed Shide, Ethiopia’s Minister of Finance, and Ousmane Dione, World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan and Sudan. The stated amount of funding from the International

Development Association (IDA) was approved on September 30, 2020 by the World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors. The grant will support Ethiopia’s efforts to improve the incomes of the urban poor and promote the inclusion of disadvantaged urban youth in the labor market under UPSNJP. The UPSNJP will provide social protection as well as jobs related services to 816,000 beneficiaries in around 83 cities across the country.Ethiopia on Thursday (October 14) reported 739 new COVID19 cases out of 6, 985 laboratory tests conducted in 24 hours. This brings the total number of cases in the country to 87, 169. The country also reported 13 deaths from the virus, taking the death toll to 1,325. A total of 823 patients have recovered from the virus to bring the total recoveries to 40,988. The country has so far conducted 1,377,080 laboratory tests. As a continuation of the political dialogue platform, political parties operating in Ethiopia discussed on Thursday (October 15) different national agendas. Heads of the parties, including Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed, attended the discussion focused on Ethiopia’s constitution, political system and democracy. The participants reflected their views on research papers presented at the event assessing weaknesses and strengths of constitutions issued in Ethiopia from 1939-1991. The Prime Minister later on his Twitter page writes, “These discussions are key in enabling political parties to work closely together; jointly address issues that arise and co-create a vision of growth and prosperity in service to country and our people”.Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Thursday (October 15) has appointed Dr. AregawiBerhe, a veteran opposition leader, as Director General of the Office of the National Council for the Coordination of Public Participation to the Construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Dr. Aregawi Berhe is one of the opposition political party leaders who had spent years in exile and returned home two years ago following the reform being undertaken by the administration of Prime Minister Abiy. He is currently a chairperson of the opposition “Tigray Democratic Coalition Party.” Dr. Aregawi was also one of the founders of TPLF. The Office of the National Council for the Coordination of Public Participation to the Construction of GERD was established right after the announcement of the construction of the dam to mobilize public support.The Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority (EBA) announced on Thursday (October 15) a plan to establish a Media Center of Excellence to enhance the professional capacity of journalists and the media industry in the country by providing state-of-the-art training courses. Speaking to ENA, Wondwosen Andualem, EBA Deputy Director-General said the proposal to establish the media center of excellence is prepared in partnership with Ethiopian media professionals and experts from Aljazeera Media Network. The governments of Ethiopia and Qatar will fund the construction of the center, it was learned.Environment, Forest and Climate Change Commission announced on Wednesday (October 14) that it has been working to establish the first environmental tribunal thatwill hear cases relating to environmental issues so as to mitigate environmental degradation. Ayele Hegena (PhD) Director General of Policy, Law, and Standards Research and Development with the Commission told the media that the

establishment of the tribunal will have immense role in providing emergency responses via entertaining flexible ways. He underscored that the tribunal will be established in especial way and it will have a mandate to observe only civil cases relating to environment.The Ministry ofFinance forecast Ethiopian economy to register 8.5 percent growth in the 2013 budget year. Following the implementation of home grown economy along with measures taken to lessen the impact of Coronavirus pandemic, the economy has shown a significant growth. Mentioning the pressure of inflation and foreign currency, Finance Minister Ahmed Shide in a press conference on Tuesday (October 13) stressed that the government will continue to implement the combined fiscal and monetary policy. The measures that weretaken on fiscal, monetary and other administrative actions to minimize the negative impacts of COVID-19 pandemic have a significant contribution to maintain the economy.Ministry of Finance disclosed the temporarily suspension of the planned partial privatization of Africa’s biggest aviation and leading company, Ethiopian Airlines. The move comes on the heels of the same measures taken recently to roll back the planned privatization of Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Service Enterprise. The plan is put onhold as the company continues to be profitable and competitive in the global aviation industry, Finance Minister Ahmed Shide told a press conference on Tuesday (October 13) as he presented the Ministry’s three-month performance report. “We do not believe that this is the time to privatize the company while it appears robust.”The seventh meeting of the Statistical Commission for Africa (StatCom7) opened virtually on Tuesday (October 13) with a clarion call from Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde for Africa to urgently transform and modernize its national statistical systems, especially in light of the continuing novel coronavirus pandemic. In remarks to officially open the meeting, Ms. Zewde said African governments need to provide more support and budgets for modernizing national statistical offices for evidence-based planning and decision making. “The transformation of national statistical systems in Africa is more important now than ever before as we fight against the pandemic and as we look to build stronger and better systems. Therefore, access to technology by national statistical systems must be promoted in all African countries in view of accelerating the production and use of data and statistics as public good,” she said.The Addis Ababa Museum has been reopened to tourists after months of enclosure due to pandemic. The reopening of the Museum came on Wednesday (October 13) after Addis Ababa Culture, Arts and Tourism Bureau has disinfected its buildings and vicinity with in order to protect from pandemic. Addis Ababa Museum holds various invaluable heritages representing cultural and historical values of the city as well as the country at large. Currently, Ethiopia has been reopening tourist attraction sites following the decision made by the government to stimulate the industry hit by the pandemic.Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has inaugurated Entoto Natural Park, a park expected to become one of the focal points of tourist attraction, last Saturday (October 10). Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed initiated the Entoto Project alongside the Sheger River side

projects in order to establish a world-class tourist destination. In less than one year, the inaugurated park has become a beautiful place fully with various indoor and outdoor facilities, including sport centers, library, restaurants and coffee shops. It has got also artificial lake, fountain, walkways, bicycle and scooter roads built mostly with local materials, it was learned. During the inauguration, Prime Minister Abiy said that Entoto Natural Park demonstrates the capacity of Ethiopians to achieve big things when united.The National Bank of Ethiopia said that Ethiopian foreign missions will start changing old banknotes with the new ones to address the demands of citizens working overseas. Briefing journalists on Tuesday (October 13), NBE’s Deputy Governor Solomon Desta said that the new notes change is being carried out efficiently; and so far, the Bank has distributed over 90 billion Birr. Currently, over five thousand ATM machines are functional and distributing the new banknotes.131 more are ready to operate.State Minister Tsion Teklu on Tuesday (October 13) has received at her office, Ambassador Stephan Auer, German Ambassador to Ethiopia and discuss to collaborate on migration, border security, job creation, voluntarism, capacity building, migration data management, and effective reintegration of migrants. They also discussed the upcoming continuation of the Ethio-German Joint Ministerial Commission.The Ministry of ForeignAffairs of Ethiopia in cooperation with the House of Federation on Monday (October 12) gave a briefing to the diplomatic community residing in Ethiopia about current issues in the country. Worku Adamu from the House of Federation (HoF), and Dr. Bikila Hurissa and Ambassador Dina Mufti gave the briefing. They explained how the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the schedule for the 6th general election, the ruling of the HoF on the unconstitutional nature of the election that took place in the Tigray Regional State, and the modalities that the Ethiopian Federal Government crafted to reach the needs of the people in Tigray bypassing the unconstitutionally elected leaders.EritreaIt was on Tuesday (October 13) that the Eritrean President, Isaias Afwerki arrived in Jimma, Oromia Regional state for a three-day working visit to Ethiopia upon invitation of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and high-level Government officials accorded a warm welcome to the Eritrean President and members of the delegation upon their arrival at Jimma AbaJifar Airport. Foreign Minister Osman Saleh and Presidential Adviser Yemane Ghebreab were part of the Eritrean delegation that accompanied President Isaias. (See article)The Ministry of Health announced that eight patients have been diagnosed positive for COVID-19 in tests carried out on Thursday (October 15) at Quarantine Centers in Adibara (7) and Shambiqo (1) in Gash Barka Region. All the patients are nationals who returned from Sudan and Ethiopia recently. On the other hand, four patients who were receiving medical treatment in hospitals in Gash Barka Region have recovered fully and have been released from these facilities. The total number of recovered patients

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