Category Archives: Local News

IGAD MOVES FORWARD IMPLEMENTATION OF DJIBOUTI DECLARATION ON REFUGEE EDUCATION

Addis Ababa (Ethiopia): The State Minister for Education of Ethiopia, H.E. Mr. Mohamed Ahmedin, yesterday July 17 inaugurated a meeting of education experts tasked with implementing the Djibouti Declaration and Action Plan on Refugee Education in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) region which was adopted in December 2017.

The main purpose of this second meeting of the implementation task force was to develop a joint operational plan or roadmap for the country level implementation of the Djibouti Declaration and Plan of Action in the next three years. The Meeting also deliberated on the state of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), and Skills Development in the region.

Participants included IGAD Member States Senior Experts and Directors in Charge of General Education and Higher Education, Refugee Management Agencies, Partner Institutions and the IGAD Secretariat.

H.E. Mr. Mohamed Ahmedin stated his belief that educating refugees, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and returnees as well as the host communities will contribute to the attainment of peace and stability. He also announced the the Ethiopian Parliament approved a bill that allows refugees to enjoy education, employment and other social services opportunities at par with citizens of the country.

The Acting Director of IGAD Health & Social Development Division, Ms Fathia A. Alwan, thanked UNHCR, the Government of Germany, the European Union, UNESCO and others for working very closely with IGAD in organizing the Djibouti Conference of IGAD Ministers in charge of Education on Refugee Education in December 2017. She recalled the numerous IGAD activities towards the implementation of the Djibouti Declaration since.

IGAD will continue to work with partners and member states in changing the lives of refugees, returnees, IDPs and host communities through quality, accessible, affordable and relevant education at all levels, she said.

Mr. Robert Bob Prouty for the European Union, Dr. Yumiko Yokozeki for UNESCO, and Ms Marti Romero for the UNHCR expressed support to IGAD in this endeveour.

The following results are expected from the two-day Meeting:

– A clear understanding of the key elements of the Declaration,

– An agreed regional framework on regional quality framework for refugee education with recommendations for adoption by the Ministerial session in December 2018;

– An implementation plan and M&E tools.

Source: inter Governmental Authority on Development

As China’s Investment Strategies Shift, African Partners Face Risks

When the China-financed Nairobi-Mombasa Railway opened in May 2017, it became Kenya’s largest infrastructure project and a high-profile achievement for President Uhuru Kenyatta ahead of his successful bid for re-election.

The 440-kilometer line cuts travel time in half and promises to make goods drastically cheaper to ship. But by August, widespread administrative issues, including difficulties with ticket purchases online and on the day of travel, had stymied passengers, leaving some to wonder whether the project had been rushed to completion.

As operational issues smoothed out, deeper concerns emerged. The railway cost Kenya nearly $4 billion and may take decades to pay for itself. Environmentalists worry about the impact on a vast nature preserve, and an independent analysis suggests Kenya overpaid, according to research compiled by the China-Africa Research Initiative (CARI) at Johns Hopkins University.

Throughout Africa, China is investing in large-scale infrastructure projects like the Nairobi-Mombasa line. A half-dozen railways have launched in recent years, along with dozens of other infrastructure projects, including bridges, dams, roads and power plants. These projects appear to benefit all sides. However, they often lack proper vetting, and deals unfold with little transparency.

Experts worry that the drive by African governments to industrialize could backfire, and seemingly useful projects will become white elephants � overpriced, underutilized showpieces that do little to drive economic growth or benefit local communities.

Decades of involvement

Chinese involvement in African infrastructure dates to the 1960s, when talks opened with Tanzania and Zambia to build an ambitious post-colonial railway from Dar es Salaam to Kapiri Mposhi, just north of Zambia’s capital, Lusaka. The TAZARA Line, built by China and financed with a more than $400 million, interest-free loan, still operates, despite ongoing maintenance issues and occasional strikes. It was China’s first major African infrastructure project and remains the longest Chinese-built line on the continent.

More recently, China has shifted its engagement from resource-rich countries in West Africa like Angola and Nigeria to emerging economies in East Africa like Kenya and Ethiopia.

New partners have brought new approaches. In a 2008 deal widely criticized by the World Bank and others, China offered billions in infrastructure development to Angola in exchange for a decade of tax-free mining in the country.

As its focus has moved to East Africa, China has downplayed deals for minerals and interest-free loans with more conventional financing and deeper partnerships.

For example, a new railway connecting Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, to Djibouti was financed in large part by a commercial loan from the Export-Import Bank of China.

Chinese motives, African gains

For China, infrastructure investment in Africa reflects a decades-old strategy of soft power called the Going Out policy. More recent investments in Kenya and Ethiopia represent the latest chapter, extending Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, a trillion-dollar investment strategy focused on transportation and infrastructure, particularly in Eurasia but also in East Africa.

Beyond strengthening ties in dozens of countries around the globe, China’s international investments create export markets for Chinese labor and goods, provide access to natural resources, standardize Chinese technologies, and enable the world’s second-largest economy to manage $3 trillion in foreign assets. The investments also help China lessen risk through a diverse portfolio of projects that complement its increasingly ambitious political and security objectives.

For African countries intent on economic growth and industrialization, China represents a willing partner that can bring massive projects to completion with speed and ease, said Yunnan Chen, a doctoral student at Johns Hopkins University who recently completed fieldwork in West Africa.

Short term, African countries stand to benefit from the transfer of skills and technology, job creation, and increased capacities to ship goods and move people.

Infrastructure projects bring symbolic benefits as well, highlighting nations’ independence and self-determination. That’s particularly true for rail projects, which often replace colonial-era lines that were used to move resources out of Africa, before falling into disrepair.

Hidden risks

Unlike colonial-era foreign investment, Chinese-backed projects have intrinsic value for Africa, experts agree. But those real benefits can mask unfairness and corruption, which can result in deals that disproportionately benefit China and projects that aren’t driven by real demand, undermining efforts to industrialize.

China, whose $11 trillion economy is more than five times larger than all of Africa, has signed multibillion-dollar contracts without competitive bidding, raising concerns that African countries have overpaid for projects that could take decades to produce a return on investment.

That’s a particular concern with the new line connecting Nairobi and Mombasa. It’s one of the latest fully operational Chinese-built railways in Africa, but it’s not clear that Kenya got a good deal.

In a 2013 analysis of alternatives to the project, the Africa Transport Unit at the World Bank concluded, There is no economic or financial case for standard gauge in the EAC [East Africa Community] area at this time.

Beyond economics, concerns about displacement and environmental damage loom large in discussions about infrastructure projects, especially railways, which often cut through small communities and wildlife preserves. The Nairobi-Mombasa line, for instance, traverses environmentally sensitive regions, said Chen, the Johns Hopkins doctoral student.

An investigation this month by The Standard, one of Kenya’s largest news organizations, concluded Chinese nationals have created a small kingdom in which they run roughshod over Kenyan workers who say they are experiencing neo-colonialism, racism and blatant discrimination.

Kenya Railways has launched its own investigation into claims of mistreatment shortly after The Standard’s reporting.

Despite the potential for negative impacts, planning that could help minimize these effects often falls short.

Uwe Wissenbach and Yuan Wang, researchers with CARI, determined that ideally, social and environmental impact assessments should be carried out before the project begins to evaluate and mitigate the negative impacts on the local population; however, this is often not done or done inadequately.

Without proper planning and oversight, promises of skills training and technology transfer can also fail, further diminishing the value for African partners. And work that could be completed by African laborers is, at times, undertaken by Chinese.

You do see Chinese digging ditches and laying bricks and doing other stuff that’s sort of silly because they can � they should be � hiring Africans to do that, said David Shinn, a former diplomat and a professor of international affairs at George Washington University.

‘Two or three wins for China’

To protect current and future investments, African countries need more oversight and transparency, experts agree.

Chinese firms do have policies to manage social and environmental impacts. But how they get implemented on the ground or how much attention is paid to them does depend a lot on the capacity of the host government and the host institution, Chen said. If you don’t have adequate monitors, if you don’t have a strong enough government on the ground to enforce their own laws and to enforce these policies, then you run into trouble.

In the case of the Nairobi-Mombasa line, Wissenbach and Wang recommend that Kenyan authorities rigorously assess and communicate to the public the long-term economic and financial impacts of the project.

African countries carry the brunt of the risk, Shinn said, but China gets the biggest reward.

Keep in mind that this is a loan from a Chinese bank. A Chinese company by contract is required to build the projects on an enormous amount of that loan money that’s going to go straight into the pocket of a Chinese state-owned company. It’s going to have a percentage of Chinese labor, he said.

And most of the material that goes into the project will be manufactured in China. So, Chinese companies are making a profit on that. There are two or three wins for China, you know, [and] one win for Kenya and Ethiopia, being that they get a railway built that no other country is offering to build for them, Shinn added.

Source: Voice of America

As China’s Investment Strategies Shift, African Partners Face Risks

When the China-financed Nairobi-Mombasa Railway opened in May 2017, it became Kenya’s largest infrastructure project and a high-profile achievement for President Uhuru Kenyatta ahead of his successful bid for re-election.

The 440-kilometer line cuts travel time in half and promises to make goods drastically cheaper to ship. But by August, widespread administrative issues, including difficulties with ticket purchases online and on the day of travel, had stymied passengers, leaving some to wonder whether the project had been rushed to completion.

As operational issues smoothed out, deeper concerns emerged. The railway cost Kenya nearly $4 billion and may take decades to pay for itself. Environmentalists worry about the impact on a vast nature preserve, and an independent analysis suggests Kenya overpaid, according to research compiled by the China-Africa Research Initiative (CARI) at Johns Hopkins University.

Throughout Africa, China is investing in large-scale infrastructure projects like the Nairobi-Mombasa line. A half-dozen railways have launched in recent years, along with dozens of other infrastructure projects, including bridges, dams, roads and power plants. These projects appear to benefit all sides. However, they often lack proper vetting, and deals unfold with little transparency.

Experts worry that the drive by African governments to industrialize could backfire, and seemingly useful projects will become white elephants � overpriced, underutilized showpieces that do little to drive economic growth or benefit local communities.

Decades of involvement

Chinese involvement in African infrastructure dates to the 1960s, when talks opened with Tanzania and Zambia to build an ambitious post-colonial railway from Dar es Salaam to Kapiri Mposhi, just north of Zambia’s capital, Lusaka. The TAZARA Line, built by China and financed with a more than $400 million, interest-free loan, still operates, despite ongoing maintenance issues and occasional strikes. It was China’s first major African infrastructure project and remains the longest Chinese-built line on the continent.

More recently, China has shifted its engagement from resource-rich countries in West Africa like Angola and Nigeria to emerging economies in East Africa like Kenya and Ethiopia.

New partners have brought new approaches. In a 2008 deal widely criticized by the World Bank and others, China offered billions in infrastructure development to Angola in exchange for a decade of tax-free mining in the country.

As its focus has moved to East Africa, China has downplayed deals for minerals and interest-free loans with more conventional financing and deeper partnerships.

For example, a new railway connecting Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, to Djibouti was financed in large part by a commercial loan from the Export-Import Bank of China.

Chinese motives, African gains

For China, infrastructure investment in Africa reflects a decades-old strategy of soft power called the Going Out policy. More recent investments in Kenya and Ethiopia represent the latest chapter, extending Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, a trillion-dollar investment strategy focused on transportation and infrastructure, particularly in Eurasia but also in East Africa.

Beyond strengthening ties in dozens of countries around the globe, China’s international investments create export markets for Chinese labor and goods, provide access to natural resources, standardize Chinese technologies, and enable the world’s second-largest economy to manage $3 trillion in foreign assets. The investments also help China lessen risk through a diverse portfolio of projects that complement its increasingly ambitious political and security objectives.

For African countries intent on economic growth and industrialization, China represents a willing partner that can bring massive projects to completion with speed and ease, said Yunnan Chen, a doctoral student at Johns Hopkins University who recently completed fieldwork in West Africa.

Short term, African countries stand to benefit from the transfer of skills and technology, job creation, and increased capacities to ship goods and move people.

Infrastructure projects bring symbolic benefits as well, highlighting nations’ independence and self-determination. That’s particularly true for rail projects, which often replace colonial-era lines that were used to move resources out of Africa, before falling into disrepair.

Hidden risks

Unlike colonial-era foreign investment, Chinese-backed projects have intrinsic value for Africa, experts agree. But those real benefits can mask unfairness and corruption, which can result in deals that disproportionately benefit China and projects that aren’t driven by real demand, undermining efforts to industrialize.

China, whose $11 trillion economy is more than five times larger than all of Africa, has signed multibillion-dollar contracts without competitive bidding, raising concerns that African countries have overpaid for projects that could take decades to produce a return on investment.

That’s a particular concern with the new line connecting Nairobi and Mombasa. It’s one of the latest fully operational Chinese-built railways in Africa, but it’s not clear that Kenya got a good deal.

In a 2013 analysis of alternatives to the project, the Africa Transport Unit at the World Bank concluded, There is no economic or financial case for standard gauge in the EAC [East Africa Community] area at this time.

Beyond economics, concerns about displacement and environmental damage loom large in discussions about infrastructure projects, especially railways, which often cut through small communities and wildlife preserves. The Nairobi-Mombasa line, for instance, traverses environmentally sensitive regions, said Chen, the Johns Hopkins doctoral student.

An investigation this month by The Standard, one of Kenya’s largest news organizations, concluded Chinese nationals have created a small kingdom in which they run roughshod over Kenyan workers who say they are experiencing neo-colonialism, racism and blatant discrimination.

Kenya Railways has launched its own investigation into claims of mistreatment shortly after The Standard’s reporting.

Despite the potential for negative impacts, planning that could help minimize these effects often falls short.

Uwe Wissenbach and Yuan Wang, researchers with CARI, determined that ideally, social and environmental impact assessments should be carried out before the project begins to evaluate and mitigate the negative impacts on the local population; however, this is often not done or done inadequately.

Without proper planning and oversight, promises of skills training and technology transfer can also fail, further diminishing the value for African partners. And work that could be completed by African laborers is, at times, undertaken by Chinese.

You do see Chinese digging ditches and laying bricks and doing other stuff that’s sort of silly because they can � they should be � hiring Africans to do that, said David Shinn, a former diplomat and a professor of international affairs at George Washington University.

‘Two or three wins for China’

To protect current and future investments, African countries need more oversight and transparency, experts agree.

Chinese firms do have policies to manage social and environmental impacts. But how they get implemented on the ground or how much attention is paid to them does depend a lot on the capacity of the host government and the host institution, Chen said. If you don’t have adequate monitors, if you don’t have a strong enough government on the ground to enforce their own laws and to enforce these policies, then you run into trouble.

In the case of the Nairobi-Mombasa line, Wissenbach and Wang recommend that Kenyan authorities rigorously assess and communicate to the public the long-term economic and financial impacts of the project.

African countries carry the brunt of the risk, Shinn said, but China gets the biggest reward.

Keep in mind that this is a loan from a Chinese bank. A Chinese company by contract is required to build the projects on an enormous amount of that loan money that’s going to go straight into the pocket of a Chinese state-owned company. It’s going to have a percentage of Chinese labor, he said.

And most of the material that goes into the project will be manufactured in China. So, Chinese companies are making a profit on that. There are two or three wins for China, you know, [and] one win for Kenya and Ethiopia, being that they get a railway built that no other country is offering to build for them, Shinn added.

Source: Voice of America

EAST AFRICAN BLOC LAUDS CHINA-BUILT FREE TRADE ZONE IN DJIBOUTI

ADDIS ABABA– The Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has lauded the China-built International Free Trade Zone (DIFTZ) in Djibouti.

The Horn of Africa nation last week inaugurated the DIFTZ at an august ceremony in Djibouti.

“This is a clear demonstration of regional economic integration that the member states have been working towards,” IGAD said in a statement.

The 370-million-U.S.-dollar project consists of three functional blocks located close to all of Djibouti’s major ports, and the pilot zone will have four industrial clusters, focusing on trade and logistics, export processing and business support.

Estimated to handle over 7 billion dollars’ worth of trade in the next two years, the Free Trade Zone will house manufacturing, warehouse facilities, an export processing area and service centers that will create over 15,000 job opportunities, IGAD has noted in the statement.

President Ismael Omar Guelleh of Djibouti stated during the launch that the Free Trade Zone is a place of hope for thousands of young job seekers.

The importance of this Free Trade Zone extends beyond the IGAD region to the rest of the African continent, as was well articulated by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, who noted that it will not only serve Djibouti but wider regions of the continent.

This was also echoed by the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and chair of IGAD, Abiy Ahmed; the President of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed; the President of Sudan, Omar Al Bashir, and the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, who have graced the launching ceremony.

Speaking during the inaugural ceremony, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia expressed his country’s support to Djibouti in efforts to speed up regional economic integration.

“The IGAD Secretariat is proud of this important milestone in regional integration and associates with it as it contributes towards the realization of the aspirations of the ongoing discussions on the IGAD free movement protocol and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” said the East African bloc.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

RAMAPHOSA COMMENDS MACHAR FOR PARTICIPATION IN SOUTH SUDAN TALKS

PRETORIA– President Cyril Ramaphosa has welcomed the participation of Dr Riek Machar Teny, the chairperson of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/A-In-Opposition (SPLM/A-IO), in the High Level Revitalisation talks aimed at ending the civil war in South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation.

The talks are being facilitated by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the eight-nation Horn of Africa Grouping currently chaired by Ethiopia and the consultations are taking place in Addis Ababa.

President Ramaphosa said here Wednesday that Machar’s participation in the talks was a step towards finding solutions to the challenges in South Sudan.

The President commends IGAD countries for their tireless efforts in pursuit of a lasting and sustainable solution to the challenges facing South Sudan. In this regard, he welcomes and fully supports the latest efforts aimed at revitalising the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS),a statement from the Presidency said.

On Sunday, President Ramaphosa had consulted with the Heads of State and government of IGAD countries on the peace process in South Sudan and expressed concern about the continued instability in South Sudan which had resulted in a humanitarian crisis and displacement of people.

He also called on all stakeholders to do everything in their power to stop the violence and commit to a constructive dialogue.

President Ramaphosa has re-affirmed South Africa’s commitment to continue working with IGAD and the African Union to assist the people of South Sudan to achieve lasting peace, stability and development, said the Presidency.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK