Friday, January 31, 2020

Ethiopia, Egypt Failed to Reach an Agreement, “Observers” Want an End to it by Late February
USA and The World Bank are attending as “observers” but there seem to be an interest to advance Egyptian interest at the expense of Ethiopia. More than 80 percent of the Nile water originates from Ethiopia.

January 31, 2020

Egypt and Ethiopia failed to reach an agreement again on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)

Washington meeting, which started on January 28 concluded around midday on January 31, as disclosed by Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy – the leading negotiator on the Ethiopian side.  It was supposed to be a final meeting to sign the agreement.

On Thursday, January 30, 2020, news emerged that  Ethiopian negotiators were under pressure to sign an agreement on the terms of that violates Ethiopia’s sovereignty.  Some in the Ethiopian team reportedly proposed that they need to return home for a consultation. The proposals for “water release from the dam in the event of drought” was one of the critical points that triggered the disagreement.

The US Treasury Department and The World Bank are part of the meeting as “observers,” and seemingly gave more weight to Egyptian interest to the point that Ethiopian negotiators felt the pressure.

Negotiating parties are to meeting again, starting next week to discuss the detailed legal and technical documents. The “observers” and Egypt seem to want an end to the negotiation by the end of February 2020.

The US Treasury Department has published what it called “Joint Statement of Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, the United States, And the World Bank.”

The full text of it reads as follows :

Washington, DC – The Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Water Resources of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan and their delegations met with the Secretary of the Treasury and the President of the World Bank, participating as observers in negotiations on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), in Washington, D.C. on January 28-31, 2020.  At the conclusion of the meetings, the Ministers reached an agreement on the following issues, subject to the final signing of the comprehensive agreement:

1. a schedule for a stage based filling plan of the GERD;
2. a mitigation mechanism for the filling of the GERD during drought, prolonged drought, and prolonged periods of dry years; and
3. a mitigation mechanism for the annual and long-term operation of the GERD in drought, prolonged drought, and prolonged periods of dry years.

They also discussed and agreed to finalize a mechanism for the annual and long-term operation of the GERD in normal hydrological conditions, a coordination mechanism, and provisions for the resolution of disputes and the sharing of information.  Moreover, they also agreed to address dam safety and pending studies on the environmental and social impacts of the GERD.

The Ministers have instructed their technical and legal teams to prepare the final agreement, which shall include the agreements reached above, for a signing of the three countries by the end of February, 2020.

The Ministers recognize the significant regional benefits that will result from this agreement and from the operation of the dam with respect to transboundary cooperation, regional development and economic integration.  The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of transboundary cooperation in the development of the Blue Nile to improve the lives of the people of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan.
United States, the World Bank Reportedly Threatening Ethiopia Over Dam Talk
The United States and The World reportedly standing in guard of Egyptian interest. Their proposals in the negotiation in Washington said to be one that affects the interest of Ethiopia.

January 30, 2020

The Water Ministers and Foreign Ministers from Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan, as well as experts, have been discussing the final document to be signed regarding Ethiopian Dam operation between January 28 and 29 in Washington DC.  And it was expected to be the final one. As it turns out, that does not seem to be the case.

Wazema radio reported on Thursday that negotiating parties failed to make a final agreement. Proposals for water release from the dam in the event of drought are said to be the principal points of disagreement. 

Egypt and the “Observers” (The World Bank and The United States) views regarding how to release water during drought stands against the interest and sovereignty of Ethiopia. At the same time, it empowers Egypt to the extent of dictating terms on ways of releasing water, according to the report by Wazema.

The negotiation is extended for the third day, but it is unclear if it will continue until an agreement is reached or not.

Wazema Radio cited insider information to report those Ethiopian negotiators experienced pressure and threat to sign the document.

The observers (US Department of Treasury and The World Bank), and Egyptians negotiators reportedly warned Ethiopian negotiators that there would be a consequence to Ethiopia if it fails to sign the agreement based on their proposal.

There appear to be diverging views among Ethiopian negotiators. Some want to return to Ethiopia before signing the document. Those who favor it argue that it is against international law to sign it under pressure and need to have extensive consultation back in Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian government has not updated the public officially at this writing regarding the progress of the negotiation.

Seleshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy, said in his twitter message on January 27 :

“The main elements of the technical results include principles, filling stages, retained volumes of water in the dam, reservoir operation, drought & its management, data exchange & coordination mechanisms. Lawyers, experts & ministers have arrived in DC”

A day after the last negotiation in mid January 2020, Ethiopian authorities expressed firm commitment saying that “Ethiopia has not, will not sign an agreement that compromises national interest.”

Sudan, another negotiating party, seems to have been convinced that the Ethiopian dam could actually be used for mutual benefits. And has been consistent though out the negotiation.
Ethiopians in Washington Demand Ethiopian Government to Act to Rescue Abducted Girls
Photo credit : VOA Amharic
January 28, 2020

When Abiy Ahmed met Ethiopians in three cities in the United States in July 2018, he got a  hero’s welcome. Back then, people have an image of a man “who contributed immensely to end TPLF’s ruthless administration” and a leader with the potential to bring about peace and unity in Ethiopia.

That deferential attitude towards Ethiopia’s prime minister is no longer there.  Instead, many Ethiopians in the diaspora are venting anger and frustration over Abiy Ahmed’s administration incompetence to enforce the rule of law and protect Ethiopians citizens.

The latest example is the abduction of 21 students of Dembi Dollo University, mostly girls, as they were returning to their parents following the closure of the university in light of security problems that targeted mainly ethnic Amhara students. They were taken from a bus somewhere along the way between Dembi Dollo and Gambella.  The Federal police said on Tuesday this week that it has formed an investigative team to “determine the identity of the armed group that abducted the students and why and how it did so.” And this measure came nearly two months now.

Ethiopians in Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia area took to the streets condemning Abiy Ahmed’s government over silence in connection with the abduction, which happened in the Oromo region of Ethiopia.

“We condemn the abduction of university students” and  “Justice to those who are attacked by extremists” are few of the placards that protestors were carrying.

 Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States, Fitsum Arega, received a letter written to prime minister Abiy Ahmed.  Abebe Belew, the coordinator of the protest, personally handed over the message to the Ambassador.

“We are confident that the Ambassador will hand over the letter to the prime minister,” Abebe Belew is cited as saying in the DW Amharic report.

Ambassador Fitsum discussed with protestors, and he said that he would present the message to the Ethiopian government and follow up with it.

“Why is government silent about the abduction?” and “where are the students” are the crucial questions that Ethiopians are asking.

On the same day, millions in several cities in the Amhara region of Ethiopia took to the street demanding an answer about the whereabouts of abducted students.
Tigray Region Appointed the Minister Removed from Federal Government Position
January 29, 2020

Last week, Fetlework Gebregziabhier, who is the deputy chairperson of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), was removed from her Federal government position as minister of Trade and Industry.

The decision turned out to be controversial. For Tigray regional state, which is under the leadership of TPLF, it was an action targeted against “TPLF member and Tigreans.”

The Federal government refuted TPLF’s allegation saying that Fetlework was removed for competence reasons and sabotage to obstruct work in her ministry.

VOA Amharic service aired an interview on Tuesday. It is an interview that it had with Fetlework Gebreegziabhier. She, too, framed her removal from her ministerial position as a politically motivated decision. It has something to do with TPLF’s refusal to join the Prosperity Party, she argued.

Solomon Kidane, another TPLF Member and a senior official at Addis Ababa City Administration with the rank of deputy mayor, is also dismissed from his position.

The office of the prime minister announced on Tuesday this week that Sadik Abraha, used to be a central committee member of TPLF before he announced his resignation sometime last year, is appointed as the coordinator of the Democratic Building Center in the Federal government. Maybe the intention behind the appointment is to demonstrate that the Federal government has no issues with Tigrean identity.

When three core political organizations that constituted EPRDF, the coalition that ruled Ethiopia for nearly 28 years, decided in November 2019 to merge as one, TPLF declined it arguing that the move is not right on constitutional and political grounds. 

Despite TPLF resistance, the three parties mobilized five other region-based support parties. They merged to form the Prosperity Party –  which the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) recognized in a matter of weeks. 

TPLF chairman, Debretison Gebremichael, said a few days ago that the difference between Tigray regional state and the Federal government is widening – and some think it might lead to war.

It is against the backdrop of the above political development in the country that the Tigray regional government made two appointments on Wednesday this week.

Two of them are those who were removed from the Federal and Addis Ababa City Administration positions.

In Tigray, Fetlework Gebreegziabhier is appointed as Head of Justice and Good Governance Cluster with a rank of Deputy head of Tigray regional state.

And Dr. Solomon Kidane is appointed as head of a department in the region’s Urban Development Office.  The region’s council made the decisions formally.  
Ethiopia's Week of Human Rights Caution and Kidnap, Insecurity Protests
Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban
Africa News

The past week has been one of human rights warnings to the Ethiopian federal government over opposition arrests over the last weekend.

International rights groups, Human Rights Watch, HRW, and Amnesty International, AI, said wave of arrests in Oromia regional were a worrying development especially with key elections looming.

“The return of mass arrests of opposition activists and supporters is a worrying signal in Ethiopia. These sweeping arrests risk undermining the rights to freedom of expression and association ahead of the 2020 elections,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.

A HRW statement of January 27 said at least 75 supporters of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) were arrested … across the state including in Finchawa town in West Guji Zone of Oromia, and Shambu town in Horo-Guduru Wallaga Zone of Oromia.

“Among those arrested was Chaltu Takele, a prominent political activist. Police broke into her parents’ home in Shambu town, Horo-Guduru Wellaga at 5am on 26 January and arrested her. She is detained at the Shambu Police Station,” the statement added.

Laetitia Bader, a Senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, Africa Division in commenting on the arrests added that it was worrying that the government was starting an election year with arrests of opposition members.

The #BringBackOurStudents protests transited from a social media hashtag to the streets of several cities in the Amhara regional state and hundreds turned up to protest the inability of government to give concrete answers on the abduction.

The HRW researcher also decried the arrests and acts of intimidation to persons that were pushing for responses.

“Ethiopia’s government should be allowing individuals to question and criticize its response to the fate and whereabouts of the missing #DembiDollo students, not intimidating those who want to speak out,” she wrote on Twitter.

“It should also be seeking to share as much information on the fate of the students as possible. Families have a right to know the fate of their loved ones,” she added. Allied to that, the federal government has announced a committee to probe the matter.

State-owned Fana broadcasting corporate, FBC, reported police chief Endeshaw Tassew, as telling journalists on Wednesday that three teams had started investigation on the kidnapping incident.

“The investigation carried out following the news of abduction early December showed that 12 of the 17 kidnapped students were from Dembi Dolo University, he said. The remaining 5 students have not yet been identified, the Commissioner indicated,” the report added.

Over in western Oromia, protesters also marched demanding an end to what they said were the targeting of civilians by the government command post. Protests were called in the city of Harar. On Wednesday many parts of the city were shut down while roads connecting the city were blocked, local media portals reported.

The latest development on the issue is that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed will be appearing before lawmakers on Monday to address current issues.
Chad Beefs Up Security Near Nigeria Border After Attack
Chadian armed forces have beefed up security near the border with Nigeria following a deadly attack Thursday.

A jihadist attack killed three Chadian troops and a female civilian on an island in Lake Chad early Thursday.

The attack was part of a mounting campaign by jihadists in the vast Lake Chad area, where the borders of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria meet.

Chadian armed forces chief of staff general, Taher Erda told AFP that 21 assailants were neutralized during the attack.

On Monday, six troops were killed during an ambush on the island of Tetewa on Lake Chad. Last week, a suicide bomber killed nine civilians within the same province.

US Adds Nigeria, Eritrea, Tanzania, Sudan to Trump's New Travel Ban
Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban
Africa News

Four African nations have been added to a new travel ban by United States president Donald Trump. Incidentally, only one of the quartet is a Muslim-majority nation i.e. Sudan.

The others are Eritrea, Nigeria and Tanzania. The quartet are joined by the Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan. During an engagement on the sidelines of the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump, told the Wall Street Journal that plans were afoot to upgrade the controversial list.

The measure largely affects specific types of visas. Analysts have averred that business or visitor visas could likely be impacted.

Barely a year after coming into office back in 2017, Trump issued his first controversial travel ban which barred people from Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. Libya and Somalia were African reps along with Iran, Syria and Yemen.

A court challenge of the measure was upheld by the Supreme Court in June 2018. The court ruled that it was within Trump’s executive powers to issue such an order. The fightback against it however continues by some politicians and activists.

The United States’ recently published blacklist of religious freedom violations report kept Eritrea listed whiles it removed Sudan. Nigeria along with Comoros were classed on a watchlist by the State Department.

Nigeria hit back at the U.S. for self appointing itself police of the world. “In international relations, you respect the internal affairs of other countries. The U.S. itself has enough to chew solving its own problems not to talk of poke-nosing into that of another country.”

“No man, no country, nobody has appointed them the policeman of the world, let them face their own issues”, Mr Adesina, a media aide to President Buhari said in December 2019.
ECOWAS Attempts to Break Political Deadlock in Guinea-Bissau
Amelia Nakitimbo

A visiting commission from the economic community of West African states, ECOWAS wants to save Guinea Bissau from recurrent outbreaks of political instability.

The country is currently facing post-presidential election tension following the announcing of the official results by the National Electoral Commission. The former ruling party, the PAIGC contests the outcome.

Umaro Sissoco Embalo won the second round of the presidential election held on 29 December with 53.55% . While the candidate of the traditional ruling party PAIGC, Simoes Perreira trailed with 46.45%, according to the results of the National Electoral Commission (CNE).
Worsening Locust Invasion Threatens Food Security Across East Africa
The worst locust outbreak that parts of East Africa have seen in 70 years needs some $76 million to help control and the money is “required by, actually, now,” the United Nations said Thursday.

So far just $15 million has been mobilized to help stop the outbreak that threatens to worsen an already poor hunger situation for millions of people in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and elsewhere, Dominique Bourgeon, emergencies director with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, told a briefing in Rome.

“You can imagine that a country that has not seen such a thing in 70 years is not well prepared,” he said of Kenya, East Africa’s economic hub.

If after April the money has come, it’s somehow useless. So the timing, location, is crucial.

The outbreak, blamed in part on a changing climate, now threatens to spread to South Sudan and Uganda and new rains in the weeks to come will fuel fresh vegetation and a new wave of breeding. The outbreak might not be under control until June when drier weather arrives, authorities have said.

But by then the number of locusts, if left unchecked, could grow 500 times, experts have warned. “If after April the money has come, it’s somehow useless,” FAO chief Qu Dongyu told the briefing. “So the timing, location, is crucial.”

Already the locusts, moving in swarms of hundreds of millions, have stripped some crops bare. An Ethiopian representative at the briefing told the FAO that some farmers in Africa’s second most populous nation have lost 90% of their production.

The locusts have been moving steadily toward Ethiopia’s Rift Valley, the country’s breadbasket, the U.N. says. Authorities have said aerial pesticide spraying is the only effective control in the outbreak, but officials in Kenya and elsewhere have said more planes and more pesticide are needed.

A single swarm can contain up to 150 million locusts per square kilometer of farmland, an area the size of almost 250 football fields, regional authorities say. One especially large swarm in northeastern Kenya measured 60 kilometers long by 40 kilometers wide (37 miles long by 25 miles wide).

“We depend a lot on this season and we worry that the locusts will destroy our harvest and we end up remaining hungry through the rest of the year, waiting for October for the next cropping season,” one farmer in Kenya’s Kitui county, Esther Kithuka, has told the FAO.

Even before this outbreak, nearly 20 million people faced high levels of food insecurity across the East African region long challenged by periodic droughts and floods.

Coronavirus: African Airlines Suspend Flights to China
Africa News

The coronavirus was confirmed in the Chinese city on January 7, 2020. Cases have since been confirmed in several other Asian countries, Europe and the United States.

The World Health Organisation’s Africa emergency response program manager Michel Yao advised health ministers in the region to activate standard flu screening at airports for passengers coming from mainland China.

There is a considerable community of students in China from African countries, and a number of them have expressed their desire to return home as authorities struggle to contain the virus. Other countries across the world are considering the option of evacuating their citizens.

Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda among other countries have started implementing surveillance and screening at airports, especially for travelers arriving from Wuhan in China where the outbreak began in December.

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that range from the common cold to MERS coronavirus, which is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus and SARS, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus.

January 31, 2020: African airlines suspend flights to China

Kenya’s national carrier on Friday suspended all flights to and from China, as a precautionary measure against the spread of coronavirus.

Kenya Airways says it is working with the country’s health and foreign ministries to determine the length of the suspension.

RwandAir, Air Madagascar, Air Mauritus and Royal Air Maroc have also suspended flights to mainland China, where the coronavirus has killed over 200 people. These airlines said the suspensions are indefinite and offered re-funds or re-routes to passengers who had booked flights to China.

On the other hand, Africa’s largest aviation operator, Ethiopian Airlines on Thursday said it would continue to operate all its flights to China, adding that it was working with relevant authorities to “protect its passengers and crew” from the virus.

Ivory Coast suspected case tests negative

Ivory Coast’s health ministry on Wednesday said the suspected case of coronavirus in the country had tested negative.

A student who had travelled from Beijing to Abidjan over the weekend had shown flu-like symptoms, ‘coughing, sneezing and experienced difficulty breathing’.

In a statement, the Ivorian health ministry said that tests by research institutes in Ivory Coast and France had come back negative for the virus.

According to the ministry, the 34-year-old student who was quarantined while tests were carried out is being treated for her symptoms and is recovering well.

If the results had been positive, this would have been the first confirmed case in Africa.

January 28, 2020: Mozambique suspends visas

Mozambique’s cabinet on Tuesday decided to temporarily suspend the issuance of visas on arrival for travelers from China, as one of the measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, it is not yet clear whether the government will evacuate its students studying in China, who have requested to be taken from the country until the virus outbreak is controlled.

Kenya’s ambassador to China Sarah Serem on Wednesday said the government of the East African nation would not be evacuating its citizens from the Chinese city of Wuhan.

‘’“The option for evacuation should not be an immediate concern for now,“Serem, who is back in Kenya said, adding that the Chinese were in a better position to deal with the virus.

January 28, 2020: Ethiopia confirms four possible cases

Ethiopia’s state-affiliated FANA broadcasting corporate, FBC, reported that four Ethiopians suspected of being infected by coronavirus has been placed in isolation, said the Ministry of Health.

“The students arrived in Ethiopia from a university in Wuhan, Chain’s worst-affected city by the disease,” the report added.

January 28,2020: Kenya rushes suspected case to hospital

Kenya Airways on Tuesday confirmed that one of its passengers who had travelled from the Chinese city of Wuhan to Nairobi had presented coronavirus-like symptoms and was rushed to hospital on arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

‘‘Kenya Airways confirms that a passenger who travelled on our flight KQ886 from Guangzhou to Nairobi on 28 January 2020 has, as a precautionary measure, been quarantined at the Kenyatta National Hospital,” KQ said in a statement.

The county’s health ministry said it was investigating the suspected case at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) isolation ward.

‘‘He was brought by the airport surveillance ambulance and is currently going through tests to rule out or confirm if he indeed has the disease,’‘ KNH Communications manager Hezekiel Gikambi told a local newspaper.

The Daily Nation added that KQ’s crew had isolated the passenger during the flight and provided him with a face mask, as per ICAO protocols.

January 27,2020: Ivory case tests suspect

Ivory Coast on Monday became the first African country to test a suspected Coronavirus case, when a female student arrived at an airport in the capital with suspicious symptoms.*

‘‘The 34-year-old student traveled from Beijing to the Félix-Houphouët-Boigny International Airport in Abidjan on Saturday and was coughing, sneezing and experienced difficulty breathing,’‘ Ivory Coast’s Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene said in statement.

This effectively becomes the first case of testing for the virus on the African continent, even as Chinese authorities announced on Tuesday that its death toll had surpassed 100 from over 4,000 cases reported.

Authorities in Ivory Coast moved the student to a safe location where she is currently being monitored. The health says it is highly likely a case of pneumonia and not coronavirus, but the final diagnosis will be made after the analysis of the results of the test.
How African Countries Are Responding to Coronavirus
Daniel Mumbere

As the death toll from the Coronavirus surpassed 200 in China, several African countries have implemented different measures including screening of travelers from China at airports, issuing travel advisories and reviewing visa issuance terms, in a bid to protect their populations.

In China itself, which hosts several African communities of students, traders and diplomats, there are different options available including evacuation, collaboration with Chinese authorities and these have been exercised differently from nation to nation.

In this article, we will explore the responses of different African governments to this outbreak that the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

African students in China

Beijing’s push to expand its influence on the youthful African continent means Africans now make up the second-largest population of foreign students in China, behind those from elsewhere in Asia, according to China’s education ministry. In 2018 African students numbered more than 80,000.

More than 4,000 are estimated to be in Wuhan alone.

None of them expected this. No one knows how long the lockdown will last, or all the ways the virus can spread.


Ethiopia whose Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa is the leading gateway to Africa, has tested four suspected cases of the coronavirus. Authorities on Thursday said all tested negative.

Ethiopian Airlines, which is the continent’s largest operator on Thursday said it would still operate its regular flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Hong Kong in China.


Botswana’s government has openly worried about its students’ supplies of water and food. It issued a statement on Sunday saying its embassy in China ‘is in constant contact with students in Wuhan City through an established Web Chat platform and emergency hotline number’.


Authorities in Kenya have opted not to evacuate their citizens from China, arguing that China is in a better position to contain the virus.

On Friday, Kenya’s health cabinet secretary announced that results of a suspected case had tested negative.

‘‘I can confirm that results on the suspected coronavirus case sent to South Africa for validation are negative,’‘ Sicily Kariuki said on social media.

The student had been quarantined at Kenyatta National Hospital, after returning from the Chinese city of Wuhan aboard the national carrier, Kenya Airways.

Kenya Airways itself on Friday suspended all flights to and from China, as a precautionary measure. RwandAir, Air Madagascar, Air Mauritus and Royal Air Maroc also suspended flights to mainland China.

South Africa

Africa’s most developed economy, South Africa, has signaled it will not evacuate citizens. On Sunday it told students in China to adhere to university instructions, warning that leaving without permission “can have far-reaching consequences.”


Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, however, has ordered his government to repatriate 100 nationals of the north African nation from Wuhan.


Mozambique on Tuesday issued a directive temporarily suspending the issuance of visas on arrival for travelers from China, as one of the measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.


The president of another north African nation, Algeria’s Abdelmadjid Tebboune, ordered the “immediate” repatriation of 36 citizens in Wuhan, most of them students, the official APS news agency said.

Coping mechanisms in Wuhan

Khamis Hassan Bakari, a 39-year-old Tanzanian doctor and a small committee of fellow doctors from his East African country regularly send updates on social media about the outbreak to the more than 400 Tanzanian students in Wuhan, as well as hundreds of countrymen elsewhere in China.

“They don’t have a clue what is going on,” Bakari said. And, because the updates are largely in Swahili, the lingua franca of East Africa, many beyond his country can follow them, too.

“Together we are one family,” the association tweeted Tuesday, encouraging fellow Africans to follow precautionary measures.

We want to leave

Several African students have however expressed a strong desire to leave China, until the virus is contained.

A Ghanaian student said campus authorities at Wuhan University of Science and Technology had warned students against sharing videos, photos or messages about the virus on WeChat, the popular Chinese messaging app, threatening to cut their WiFi connections if they do.

Students were only trying to learn about the situation, said the student, adding that he wants to leave China the moment transport links are restored.

“This is not the time to be adventurous,” Ghana’s ambassador to China, Edward Boateng, has warned. “Let’s not panic in the process.” The African diplomatic corps in Beijing has been exploring options to help students, reaching out to the U.N. migration agency and others.

Students have reached out to Tanzania’s embassy about leaving Wuhan and were told authorities were working on it, Dr. Hilal Kizwi, a member of the grassroots committee said. “But I don’t expect it.”

Thursday, January 30, 2020

College Burnt in Militant Attack in Northern Mozambique
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Militants torched a teacher training college run by a local charity in northern Mozambique, a director of the organisation and a security analyst said on Thursday, although it appeared that no one had been wounded.

The attack took place in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, where a festering Islamist insurgency threatens security in a nation set to become a top global gas exporter. Hundreds of people have been killed since 2017.

Birgit Holm, director of ADPP Mozambique, a charity working in education, health, agriculture and renewable energy, said its college had been set alight but it did not seem like any students or staff had been hurt.

The alarm was raised during a spate of attacks nearby, allowing people from a nearby village and the school in Bilibiza time to flee before the militants reached them on Wednesday night, she told Reuters.

“But (the militants) were there, and they burnt the place, we don’t know yet how much because nobody has dared to go back yet,” she said.

An institute of agriculture in Bilibiza run by the Aga Khan Foundation, an international development agency, was also hit, Holm and the analyst, Johann Smith, said. The institute told Reuters it was still gathering information.

A group known as Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama began staging attacks in the region in 2017. More recently, the Islamic State has claimed a number of the attacks via their media outlets.

The violence, including beheadings, the razing of villages and clashes with security forces, is unfolding on the doorstep of the biggest gas find in a decade, with projects being developed by the likes of Exxon Mobil Corp and Total that have the potential to transform Mozambique’s economy.

The frequency of attacks is growing, with around 16 so far in January, Smith said.

South Africa’s International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor said this week that attacks by militants affiliated with the Islamic State in neighbouring Mozambique were cause for concern.

“History has shown that poorer regions are most vulnerable to violent external incursions as material incentives are easily disbursed to attract young people to these negative activities,” she told a conference in Pretoria, South Africa.

Reporting by Emma Rumney; Additional reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Alison Williams
Algerian Protests Blunted Without a Shot Fired in Anger
Lamine Chikhi

ALGIERS (Reuters) - While uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East have been quelled by deadly force, Algerian authorities are on the way to becalming a powerful protest movement without a shot fired - at least for now.

Thousands still march, but protests are smaller than those that toppled the veteran president last year. Some prominent figures say the opposition should accept an offer of dialogue from the government.

These changes suggest the secretive authorities, known to Algerians as le pouvoir - “the powers that be” - may have outmanoeuvred the biggest threat to their rule in decades.

Their strategy has been to place new faces at the top of government, while playing for time and proposing talks. The approach seems to be wearing down the opposition.

“I did not go to the protests on the past two Fridays,” said Hamdadou, 51, a telecoms worker who had attended most previous marches and asked to keep his family name unpublished.

“I think we have done the maximum to push towards change. Let’s cross our fingers and see what happens.”

Protesters say the marches have diminished since last month’s election of a new president, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, seen by the leaderless opposition as an establishment stalwart.

The protests began nearly a year ago, flooding cities with national flags and placards, demanding a removal of the ruling elite, an end to graft and the army’s withdrawal from politics.

Le pouvoir jettisoned President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, threw some top officials into prison on corruption charges and let the protests continue, publicly hailing them as a patriotic renewal while detaining dozens of marchers and prominent dissidents.

Their strategy - pushed by the powerful army chief Ahmed Gaed Salah - was to use December’s election to restore legitimacy to a system that would remain essentially unchanged.

Tebboune was elected on an official turnout of 40%, though many protesters believe even that figure was inflated, and immediately freed many prisoners and offered dialogue with the protesters and reform of the constitution.

Gaed Salah then died suddenly of a heart attack in late December, meaning Algeria now has a new president, government and army chief and that all the most prominent figures associated with le pouvoir have been replaced.


Some politicians who embraced the protest movement, known as “hirak”, say their struggle should now move from the street to the negotiating table, arguing that further reforms can only be achieved through dialogue.

“It is the time for politics now. Hirak would continue to be a means of pressure, but only politicians can talk with the regime to push forward demands including a change of the system,” said Soufiane Djilali, an opposition leader.

For the remaining protesters that viewpoint is anathema.

Maasum, a student at the Algiers Bab Ezouar university of technology, who gave only his first name, acknowledged during last Friday’s protest that there were fewer demonstrators, but said he remained committed to bigger change.

“How can you talk with a president we do not recognise?” he said. “We said they must all go. So no dialogue until they all go.”

Djilali was one of several opposition figures including Mouloud Hamrouche, Ahmed Taleb Ibrahimi, Abdelaziz Rahabi and Ahmed Benbitour to meet Tebboune, a former prime minister under Bouteflika, drawing ire from Maasum and other street protesters.


Few would deny the scope of the hirak’s achievements so far. In a region where leaders have often used extreme violence to suppress public dissent, it has brought down a president, Bouteflika, who was entrenched for 20 years, without a gunshot.

Bouteflika’s brother and de facto regent during his illness, as well as the once all-powerful intelligence chief Mohamed “Toufik” Mediene, have been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

“Many believe that the hirak fulfilled its mission by sacking Bouteflika and cleaning the country of its corrupt leaders,” said Algerian political analyst Farid Ferrahi.

Even in the Kabyle region outside Algiers, a stronghold of the hirak, “life is almost back to normal,” said Said Mezouane, a resident of the village of Haizer.

But the thousands - down from hundreds of thousands last spring and tens of thousands before December’s election - who still protest believe there has been only cosmetic change.

Since the hirak has no leadership, official organisation or commonly agreed plans for effecting change, however, there is no clear mechanism by which it can agree on a way forward.

Novelist Kamel Daoud, a fierce critic of the authorities, wrote: “Has the regime won? Yes, temporarily. It is also true to conclude that the protest has temporarily been lost”.

However, Algeria faces a hard economic year with falling energy revenue eating deep into its budget and a planned public spending cut of 9% this year - meaning the government may find it hard to win enduring public support.

Protesters in central Algiers seem unwilling to compromise.

“Morale is high. We will continue our struggle... we want the opposition to unite and push the regime to the exit,” said Dahmani, 25, a student at Dely Brahim university.

Reporting By Lamine Chikhi, editing by Angus McDowall and William Maclean
Coronavirus Case Suspected in Djibouti, Where US and China Base Troops
Sign outside Camp Lemonier, Djibouti. (Defense Logistics Agency)

30 Jan 2020
By Richard Sisk

The commander of U.S. forces in Africa said Thursday that a suspected coronavirus case has turned up in the tiny East African state of Djibouti, where the U.S. and China maintain bases about seven miles apart.

Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, head of U.S. Africa Command, said he is not aware of any confirmed cases of coronavirus spreading from China to the continent, but "there are some suspected cases."

"The first reported suspected case I've heard of is in Djibouti, which you would imagine [has a] significant Chinese presence" with the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN)'s first overseas base, he said. The Doraleh port facility is also operated by the Chinese.

During testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Townsend did not elaborate on whether the suspected case was at China's naval base or at the port facility.

He also was not questioned on whether precautions are being taken at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, the primary base of operations for AFRICOM on the Horn of Africa.

The potential for the spread of coronavirus to Africa is a grave concern, Townsend said.

Suspected cases have also been reported in Ivory Coast and Kenya, and "the capacity of African nations to deal with this problem varies widely," he said.

At the same hearing, Adm. Craig Faller, head of U.S. Southern Command, said he "would be extremely concerned" about the potential spread of coronavirus to Latin America.

More than five million refugees have fled the dictatorship in Venezuela to neighboring countries and have already strained local health and social services beyond their capacities, Faller said.

Both Faller and Townsend were responding to questions from Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, who said the coronavirus is on the verge of becoming a global pandemic. He said that China has been "lying" about the extent of the threat "and they've been lying about it from the beginning."

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said a directive would be going out to troops worldwide "advising forces about precautions they should take -- how to recognize the signs and symptoms" of coronavirus. "We want to make sure we stay in front of this."

At a Pentagon news conference Thursday, Esper also said that the Defense Department is working with interagency partners "as we monitor the situation and protect our service members and their families, which is my highest priority."

He noted that the DoD is providing housing support for about 210 U.S. citizens evacuated from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, who arrived on a charter flight Wednesday at March Air Reserve Base in southern California.

The evacuees are expected to stay voluntarily for at least three days in base housing while they are monitored, but health officials stressed that they are not under quarantine.

Military personnel will not be in contact with the evacuees, who will be under the supervision of the Department of Health & Human Services, according to Pentagon officials.

Reports Thursday from China's official media said that 38 more deaths from coronavirus had been recorded, bringing the total in that country to 170.

The World Health Organization in Geneva said Thursday that another 1,844 cases of infection had been reported worldwide over the last 24 hours, bringing the global total to 7,818. The vast majority are in China, with 82 cases reported in 18 other countries.

In announcing the new numbers, the WHO for the first time declared the coronavirus outbreak a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern," signaling to all members of the United Nations the need to take precautions.

In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control gave a troubling announcement on the first person-to-person spread of coronavirus in the U.S., in which a woman being treated for the illness passed it to her husband.

"We understand that this may be concerning, but based on what we know now, our assessment remains that the immediate risk to the American public is low," Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, said in a conference call with reporters.

Six people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus in the U.S. -- two each in Illinois and California, and one each in Arizona and Washington state.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at
Djibouti Meeting Calls for More Funding for Education
African leaders during the opening of the International Summit on Balanced and Inclusive Education (Third Forum BIE 2030) in Djibouti on January 27, 2020. They called on governments to increase budgetary allocations and increase resources to the education sector. PHOTO | FAITH NYAMAI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

In Summary
The conference is organised by the Education Relief Foundation in conjunction with the Djibouti government.
Mr Mussallama said policies in education do not exist in vain.
He said countries should continuously work on improving the curriculum content and infrastructure.


African leaders have called on governments to increase budgetary allocations and increase resources to the education sector.

Speaking Monday at the International Summit on Balanced and Inclusive Education (Third Forum BIE 2030) in Djibouti, the leaders said this will make to education inclusive and accessible children.

The conference brings together education stakeholders from 36 countries from Sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia, Latin America and Europe.

The conference started on Monday and ends on Thursday.

The conference has been organised by the Education Relief Foundation in conjunction with the Djibouti government.


The foundation’s president Sheikh Manssour Bin Mussalam challenged governments to change the existing education policies and increase budgetary allocations to make education more inclusive and accessible to all children.

"The challenges facing education are those of social justice. We can no longer condone education systems which promote inequality," said Mr Mussallama.

Mr Mussallama said the world should aspire for future which embraces inclusivity in education and in curriculum reforms.

He said policies in education do not exist in vain and that countries should continuously work on improving the curriculum content and infrastructure, training teachers and ensuring textbooks are available in schools.


"We must articulate a common language and define our understanding of true equality and inclusive. We must developed clear strategies to ensure the whole system embraces inclusivity," he said

Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh said the country has embraced inclusive education policy models.

Ugandan Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda said the country is committed to inclusive education that responds to children's rights.

"The focus on inclusion should be on the character of each child. Uganda has made sure no child is left behind," he said.

Others present at the meeting included the deputy prime minister of Somalia and the prime ministers of Niger and Togo.
Djibouti Rejects Awarding Port Operations to Dubai Firm
The Doraleh Multi-Purpose Port in Djibouti. The Djibouti government has rejected an order of arbitration that awarded control of a key port terminal to DP World. PHOTO | AFP

In Summary
In what could either settle or perpetuate the row over the lucrative facility, President Ismail Guelleh said on Thursday Djibouti will not honour the decision of the London Court of International Arbitration because it violates the country’s “high national interest.”


The Djibouti government has rejected an order of arbitration that awarded control of a key port terminal to an Emirati firm – DP World.

In what could either settle or perpetuate the row over the lucrative facility, President Ismail Guelleh said on Thursday Djibouti will not honour the decision of the London Court of International Arbitration because it violates the country’s “high national interest.”

The government says the ruling is part of DP World’s continual legal war that seeks to have Djibouti disregard its national law and allow the company take all the benefits from the Dolareh Port Terminal.

“Under no circumstances can the Republic of Djibouti accept such a ruling, which was handed down in an arbitration in which it did not take part and which flouts the rules of international law,” President Guelleh said in a statement.

“These rules allow a sovereign State to terminate any contract for reasons of higher national interest subject to the payment of fair compensation.”

The terminal is an important facility for landlocked Ethiopia. But the larger part of the port, a key gateway for shipping to Europe and Asia, is run by China Merchants Port Holdings, a Hong Kong based conglomerate, under a concession with the Djiboutian government.

Earlier this month, DP World indicated it had been awarded back the terminal after a sole arbitrator appointed by the London Court of International Arbitration issued a new arbitral award for the container terminal of Doraleh.

The company said an independent assessor had estimated that the cancellation of its concession agreement in February 2018 had caused it $1 billion in losses. This ruling indicated Djibouti authorities had “acted illegally when it forcibly removed DP World from management of the terminal …and transferred the Terminal assets to a state-owned entity.”

DP World had pursued the challenge in court, winning six times in the London Court of International Arbitration and the High Court of England and Wales, all of which Djibouti rejected.

The Doraleh Container Terminal agreement had been signed in 2016 as a joint venture between the Djibouti International Port Authority and DP World. In November of 2017, the Djibouti Parliament passed a law that made the deal illegal.

Under the deal, the Djibouti government had a two-thirds stake in the venture but claimed that the terminal had come under the de facto control of DP World.

The country nationalised the terminal in September 2018, bringing under its control an essential facility for supplies to neighbouring landlocked Ethiopia.

“DP World's operation of the terminal had proved to be contrary to the fundamental interests of the nation.

“Its continuation would have seriously harmed Djibouti's economic and social priorities by placing unacceptable restrictions on its development policy and giving a foreign-owned company total control over one of its most strategic infrastructure,” President Guelleh said in the statement.

Djibouti says the Doraleh container terminal had not been operated to its full potential by DCT in order ostensibly to avoid rivalling the company’s operations in Dubai, and that it refused a renegotiation. Now Djibouti says its operations have risen by a third.

“As the Republic of Djibouti has consistently indicated since the termination of the concession, the only possible outcome is allocation of fair compensation in accordance with international law.”
Somalia: Kenya's Foreign Policy Failure
Major foreign policy mistakes Kenya has made threaten to unravel its relations with Somalia and endanger its security.

By Abdullahi Boru Halakhe
29 Jan 2020

In 2012, Kenyan troops helped Sheikh Ahmed Madobe, leader of the Ras Kamboni, take the Somali port city of Kismayu in southern Somalia  [File: Reuters/Richard Lough]

After gaining independence in 1963 and throughout the Cold War, Kenya tried to stay away from the internal and external struggles of its neighbourhood. While Ethiopia allied itself with the erstwhile USSR and Cuba, Somalia aligned with the United States and Tanzania became the intellectual hotbed for the Third World left, Kenya maintained poised neutrality and a policy of non-intervention.

Daniel Moi, the country's second president after independence, sought to firewall Kenya from spillovers of regional conflict by maintaining a foreign policy of ideological ambivalence - being neither a friend nor a foe of regional and international powers.

Moi also took up mediating conflicts in the region and made it the main feature of Kenyan diplomacy which carried on even after the end of the Cold War. During his presidency, Kenya became the venue for peace negotiations between the warring sides in Sudan, Somalia, and Uganda.

Various agreements were negotiated and concluded in Nairobi, including the 1985 peace deal between the Ugandan government of Tito Okello and the National Resistance Army (NRA), a rebel group led by Yoweri Museveni and the 2005 peace agreement between the Sudanese government and southern rebels, which ended Africa's longest-running civil war.

Kenya also played an important mediation role in the Somali conflict, hosting the negotiations and the signing of the agreement that led to the creation of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in 2004.

This strategy not only ensured Kenya's internal affairs were undisturbed by regional developments but also earned it a certain diplomatic reputation in the region.

Today, both of these are on the line because of repeated mistakes Kenya is making in its policies towards Somalia. Kenyan military presence on Somali land has entered its ninth year, which has now metastasised into entanglement in Somalia's internal affairs and encouraged more al-Shabab violence on Kenyan territory. Kenya's imprudent stance on its maritime dispute with Somalia also threatens to erode its international reputation.

From intervention to occupation

For decades, bilateral relations between Kenya and Somalia remained warm and cordial. But in 2011, the Kenyan government decided to send troops to its neighbour, which since then has been a source of considerable friction between Nairobi and Mogadishu.

Kenya's intervention in Somalia was in line with the zeitgeist of the "war on terror" launched by the US in 2001. Packaging the intervention as an "anti-terror" operation automatically guaranteed domestic support and international immunity for human rights violations.

The official justification for the military intervention was the pursuit of al-Shabab members who allegedly abducted aid workers in northern Kenya and kidnapped tourists along the coast.

The intervention has since degenerated into an occupation. Currently, there are more than 3,600 Kenyan troops in Somalia, primarily deployed in the semi-autonomous southern Somali region of Jubaland.

Over the past eight years, the Kenyan forces have been accused of committing various human rights violations against civilians and being involved in illicit smuggling activities. The Somali government has demanded that Kenyan troops leave, but it has not followed up with any serious effort to expel them, given its own limited capacity to provide security.

At the same time, the Kenyan military presence has done little to secure Kenya from al-Shabab's attacks or Somalia itself for that matter. In fact, violence has escalated since the intervention.

Kenya has witnessed a number of large-scale al-Shabab operations, like the ones in Westgate Mall in 2013, and the Garissa University in 2015, which took the lives of hundreds of civilians, as well as numerous low-grade and low casualty ones.

Since October, there have been on average two al-Shabab attacks every week in Kenya and Somalia. In the first half of this month alone, the armed group raided a military camp used by Kenyan and US soldiers in southern Kenya and then launched four other attacks, killing 10 civilians.

The intervention has revealed the underbelly of Kenya's security policy, its failed military strategy and the inability to police its own borders.

Support for Jubaland

Alongside the military intervention, Kenya has also involved itself in the maelstrom of Somali domestic politics.

Its principal vehicle of involvement in Somalia is Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed Islam, also known as Madobe, an Islamist militia commander from the Somali Ogaden clan.

Madobe is seen as a rather controversial figure, having switched sides in Somalia's civil war multiple times. He was part of various Islamist armed groups since the 1990s. He has fought against the government in Mogadishu as an ally of al-Shabab for years and was involved with militants seen as supportive of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), a separatist group who has fought for Somali self-determination in eastern Ethiopia.

In 2007, a year after Ethiopia sent troops to Somalia to back the TFG against the Islamist insurgency, Madobe was hit by a US bombing and captured by the Ethiopians, who offered him a political deal. He accepted to join the TFG in 2009, but shortly after he deserted his new post and with his Ras Kamboni militia joined al-Shabab in their fight against government and African Union troops.

In 2011, he struck another deal, this time with Nairobi, and the following year, his militia, backed by Kenyan troops, managed to expel al-Shabab from Jubaland's capital, Kismayo, which is also a strategic port city.

Over the next two years, Madobe presided over clan reconciliation and in 2015, with Kenyan backing, he was elected president of Jubaland. In the 2019 presidential election in the semi-autonomous state, Nairobi again supported his candidacy, despite the fact that the Somali government opposed it.

Kenya's backing for Madobe has revealed that all along it was not only interested in containing al-Shabab, but in establishing a "sphere of influence" through Jubaland - a satellite statelet, remote-controlled from Nairobi.

This misguided support for Jubaland, however, is something anyone with a basic understanding of the dynamic in the Horn of Africa would have counselled against. For the fragile government in Mogadishu, the strengthening of Jubaland means the weakening of its powers.

For Ethiopia, Kenya's interference in a region predominantly populated by the Ogadens, the largest Somali clan, whose members also live in southern Ethiopia and have a fraught with the government, is creating unnecessary tension.

Thus, Kenya is not only endangering its relationship with the Somali government but also with Ethiopia, a neighbour and a major regional power, with whom it has a decades-old defence pact to ensure regional stability and curb Somali irredentism.

The maritime dispute

If Kenya's original sin was the 2011 intervention, its natural outcome is the needless maritime dispute with Somalia. Both Nairobi and Mogadishu claim a narrow triangle of about 100,000 square kilometres off their coasts in the Indian Ocean. The territory supposedly has oil and gas deposits.

The dispute could have been resolved amicably had Kenyan officials taken the issue seriously and had they regarded their Somali counterparts with some modicum of respect rather than assuming Somalia is a failed state incapable of mounting any defence.

As a result, the case eventually ended up at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which last year decided to delay its ruling to 2020 to let the two sides negotiate further.

Instead of correcting their earlier mistakes, Kenya's ministry of foreign affairs officers dug in their heels and started engaging in petty moves like denying Somali officials entry into the country and reintroducing flight stopovers in Wajir for security checks for all flights to and from Somalia, substituting petulance for diplomacy.

For decades, Somalia has regarded Kenya as a neutral arbiter compared with Ethiopia which Somalis have resented for its multiple military interventions. The overarching danger is that, in the end, Kenya's intervention and meddling in Somalia's internal affairs, coupled with the self-aggrandisement of a bubbling and venal elite, could ruin Kenyan-Somali relations.

This will also undermine the authority and capacity of the federal Somalia government to administer the country, especially if AMISOM troops depart as scheduled by December 2020.

The net winner of these squabbling and reckless diplomacy will be al-Shabab, which will continue to enjoy enough space to launch attacks in Kenya and within Somalia. The ultimate loser will be the Somali people who have endured decades of conflict.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial stance.

Abdullahi Boru Halakhe is an expert on governance, security and peace in Africa.
Erdogan Says Somalia Invited Turkey to Explore for Oil Offshore
Turkish leader says Ankara will take steps in its operations in Somalia in line with the invitation.

21 Jan 2020

Turkey has developed its relations with Somalia in recent years [File: Tolga Bozoglu/EPA]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that Somalia invited Turkey to explore for oil in its waters, private national broadcaster NTV reported.

Turkey has been a significant source of aid to Somalia following a famine in 2011. Turkish engineers have helped to build infrastructure in Somalia, businesses have invested in the country and Turkish officers have trained Somali soldiers as part of efforts to build up the country's army.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, on his flight back from a Libya summit in Berlin, Erdogan said Turkey would take steps in line with the Somali invitation, but did not elaborate further.

"There is an offer from Somalia. They are saying: 'There is oil in our seas. You are carrying out these operations with Libya, but you can also do them here.' This is very important for us," Erdogan was cited as saying by NTV.

"Therefore, there will be steps that we will take in our operations there."

In late December, a group of Turkish engineers was among those hit in a blast at a checkpoint in Mogadishu that killed at least 90 people. Last weekend, a car bombing wounded some 15 people, including Turkish contractors, in Afgoye.

In November, Turkey signed a maritime delimitation deal with Libya's internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in a move that infuriated Greece and Cyprus. Athens has been at odds with Ankara over offshore resources off the coast of the divided island of Cyprus.

Erdogan recently said Turkey's seismic exploration vessel Oruc Reis would be deployed to explore for oil and gas off Libya. Other similar Turkish vessels are engaged in the same activity off Cyprus.

He also said it was "no longer legally possible" to carry out any search and drilling activity or build a pipeline without Libya's or Turkey's approval in the zones subject to their agreement.

Earlier this month, Greece, Cyprus, and Israel signed a deal to construct a pipeline to ship gas to Europe, despite Turkey's vehement opposition.

Erdogan had previously announced that Ankara was sending military forces to Libya to back the Tripoli-based GNA against renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar's offensive on Tripoli, which began last April but has since stalled on the outskirts of the capital.

Haftar's forces are aligned with a rival administration based in eastern Libya and have in recent weeks made some military advances with help from Russian mercenaries, according to news reports. Russia has denied sending military contractors to Libya.

Turkey and Russia attended a summit in Berlin on Sunday, where a host of foreign powers agreed to end external interference in the Libyan conflict and work towards a ceasefire in the country.

Turkey Targets Somalia for Oil Drilling
January 23, 2020

Ankara has been increasing its footprint in the country since 2011

ANKARA: Turkey is to drill for oil off the shores of Somalia after an invitation from the Horn of Africa nation to explore its seas, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

Somalia adopted a new petroleum law last week to attract further foreign investment in the energy field, and opened up 15 blocks for oil companies that are willing to explore the country’s hydrocarbon potential.

Turkey has been increasing its footprint in Somalia, especially since 2011 when it began providing the country with humanitarian aid to tackle a famine problem, and is also signing energy and resource deals with African countries.

It will start exploring for gas in the eastern Mediterranean this year after signing a maritime agreement with Libya, and has a deal with Niger to carry out mineral research and exploration activities.

“There is a proposal from Somalia,” Erdogan said on Monday. “They are saying: ‘There is oil in our seas. You are carrying out these operations with Libya, but you can also do them here.’ This is very significant for us.” Turkish engineers are carrying out infrastructure work in Somalia, but contractors are increasingly being targeted in terror attacks.

Local forces have been trained by Turkish officers at a military base that was built by Turkey in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

Ibrahim Nassir, an Africa analyst from Ankara-based think tank Ankasam, said the Somali drilling offer might be payback for some of the reconstruction work and humanitarian aid. But he also suggested that Somalia might be using Turkey as a counterbalance against its regional rivals.

Turkey has been increasing its footprint in Somalia, especially since 2011 when it began providing the country with humanitarian aid to tackle a famine problem, and is also signing energy and resource deals with African countries.

“The dispute over maritime territory in the Indian Ocean between Kenya and Somalia might result in security risks during drilling activities, and some armed groups may be used to prevent Ankara from proceeding with hydrocarbon exploitation,” he told Arab News.

Jędrzej Czerep, a senior analyst at the Polish Institute of International Affairs, said that Turkish oil extraction from Somalia could be presented as stealing national wealth.

“That would expose the Turks to greater risks both on the mainland and at sea where Al-Shabab is using motor ships. It could also divide the growing Somali diaspora in Istanbul or even radicalize some of its members,” he told Arab News.

An unstable political situation in Somalia could expose Turkey further, according to Atlantic Council senior associate Charles Ellinas. The third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit is set to be held in April in Turkey.

“It is not just the short term one should be worried about,” he told Arab News. “It is also the longer term. It takes something like 20 years to recover the investment from an oilfield. And during that period oil sales must be maintained. As things stand, with a very unstable political environment, upheavals in Somalia over such a period are quite likely.”
Morocco Says to Help Somalia Improve Water Management
2020-01-30 00:02:28
Editor: yan

RABAT, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- A Moroccan minister said on Wednesday that his country will help Somalia build its capacities in water management and dealing with flooding and drainage issues.

The remarks were made by Moroccan Minister of Equipment, Transport, Logistics and Water Abdelkader Amara during his meeting with his Somali counterpart Fawzia Mohamed in the capital Rabat, according to a statement by Amara's office.

The two countries agreed to establish a bilateral partnership framework aimed at providing technical assistance to Somalia through the sharing experiences and exchanging visits by experts.

This partnership will also include the development and management of water resources, preservation of water quality, transfer of technology and aspects related to improving water governance.
Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea Pledge Joint Anti-terror War
By Jerry Omondi
China Global Television Network
January 27, 2020

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo (L), Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki (C) and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed met in Asmara, Ethiopia, on 27 January 2020. /PHOTO: Somalia Presidency – Twitter.

Three Horn of African countries have pledged to join forces in the fight against terrorism.

A joint communique from the leaders of Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea after a meeting in Asmara said the countries will adopt a Joint Plan of Action with two main objectives; consolidating peace, stability, and security as well as promoting economic and social development.

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visited Eritrea for a tripartite meeting with their host President Isaias Afwerki.

President Farmajo and PM Abiy arrived in Asmara on Sunday for the talks.

“On the security front, the three leaders formulated a comprehensive plan to combat and neutralize the common threats they face, including terrorism, arms and human trafficking and drug smuggling,” the joint statement read in part.

The Horn of African region has been dogged by conflict for years, causing deaths and destruction of property. The war has dwarfed growth and development in some parts of the region, with Somalia the most affected.

Somalis is still struggling to rid itself of the threat of al-Shabaab terror group. With a newly trained force and support from the international community however, Mogadishu hopes to win the fight.

President Farmajo, President Afwerki and PM Abiy in their statement said also said they agreed to mobilise their countries’ human and natural resources to boost the region’s economic growth.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

SADC Exposes US Sanctions Renewal Plot
30 JAN, 2020 - 00:01
Herald Reporters

SADC has exposed a plot by the United States of America to influence the European Union (EU) to extend sanctions on Zimbabwe at its review meeting in Brussels next month.

On Tuesday, the US embassy in Botswana claimed on its official Twitter handle that Sadc executive secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax and Ambassador Craig Cloud had discussed that economic policies and corruption, not sanctions, had destroyed Zimbabwe’s economy.

But Dr Tax immediately rebuffed the claims.

“This was not part of what was discussed. (It) might be the position of the Embassy, but definitely not Sadc’s position,” said Dr Tax.

Political analysts yesterday said the Gaborone incident was part of grandstanding which has become common ahead of high-level meetings such as the EU review and the forthcoming African Union (AU) summit.

Political analyst, Mr Goodwine Mureriwa, said the US was making false claims to arm-twist Sadc and the AU to take a hard line stance on Zimbabwe as well as influence EU deliberations.

“The US is trying to arm-twist Sadc in particular and the world in general to support its illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe.

“It was the US which enacted Zidera on December 21, 2001. So, now ahead of the forthcoming meeting, the Trump government wants to perpetuate its unjustifiable aggression.

“One hopes progressive individual countries in the EU are going to take bold and realistic decisions to embrace President Mnangagwa’s hand of reconciliation and engagement in order to rebuild burnt bridges and strengthen bilateral relations,” said Mr Mureriwa.

Another political analyst, Mr Obert Gutu, weighed in saying the attempt by the US to deny the adverse effects sanctions have had on Zimbabwe was unfortunate.

“Sanctions are a brutal and lethal force that has made the Zimbabwean economy literally scream since the year 2001. Zidera was made in hell.

“The effect of Zidera is to deny Zimbabwean companies access to financial support from American corporations, especially those blue chip global corporates that are listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Bluntly put, America wants regime change in Zimbabwe.

“They can never, ever forgive the ruling party, Zanu-PF, for embarking on the land reform programme in the year 2000. They would prefer to have a malleable and puppet government in Harare, a government that they can easily control and manipulate,” he said.

Harare has registered significant progress in the attainment of media, political, electoral and legal reforms as well as the anti-corruption drive since the new dispensation led by President Mnangagwa took over in 2017.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo, in September last year, presented a paper to Cabinet, indicating that Zimbabwe lost about US$98 billion due to illegal sanctions that were imposed after the Land Reform Programme launched in 2000.

According to the paper, Zimbabwe lost an estimated US$42 billion in revenue, US$4,5 billion in bilateral donor support, US$12 billion in loans from international financial institutions, US$18 billion in commercial loans and suffered a GDP reduction of US$21 billion.

President Mnangagwa has asserted his influence on the local, regional and international front after he undertook various reforms.

Notable achievements, analysts said, included the bold decision to invite local, regional and international electoral observer missions like the EU, US in the July 2018 harmonised elections, some of whom last observed Zimbabwean elections almost two decades ago after they fell out with the previous administration.

Mr Mureriwa noted reforms like amending the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and repealing of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), among others.

“Ongoing electoral reforms and repealing of AIPPA through the Freedom of Information Bill are set to strengthen our multi-party democracy by promoting freedom of expression, and of the media at large,” he said.

Some electoral reforms include amendment of the Electoral Act to ensure the release of presidential results within five days.

The Government has since set up an Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on Political, Electoral and Legislative Reforms, chaired by the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, and has
since identified over 20 reform priorities drawn from reports of election observer missions.

The reform priorities range from recalibrating the legislative framework, election administration systems, voter registration rules, drawing up of constituency boundaries and political party finance and registration.

Last year, former United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Mr Johnnie Carson spoke highly of electoral and media reforms which President Mnangagwa’s administration has undertaken since the July 2018 harmonised elections, saying Harare was on course to implementing recommendations made by poll observer missions.

Mr Carson, also a former Ambassador to Zimbabwe, said this in Harare last year where he was leading an international election observer mission, the International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute that was assessing progress on Harare’s implementation of its recommendations.
US Ambassador to Botswana Exposed Over Lies on Zimbabwe
29 JAN, 2020 - 12:01
Herald Reporter

SADC executive secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax has exposed United States ambassador to Botswana Craig Lewis Cloud’s lies that failed economic policies and corruption has destroyed Zimbabwe’s economy.

Ambassador Cloud met Dr Tax at the regional body’s headquarters in Gaborone, Botswana yesterday and the US embassy in Botswana later tweeted: “Ambassador Cloud and @DrTax also discussed how failed economic policies and corruption have created the current economic crisis in Zimbabwe. #ItsNotSanctions.”

The tweet by Dr Tax

Responding to the tweet, Dr Tax said no such thing was discussed adding that it could be the US embassy’s position but not that of Sadc.

“This was not part of what was discussed. Might be the position of the embassy, but definitely not Sadc’s position,” said Dr Tax.
Zimbabwe, EU Launch € 10m Project
30 JAN, 2020 - 00:01
Zimbabwe Herald
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Deputy Minister David Musabayana (centre) chats with permanent secretary in the ministry Ambassador James Manzou and EU Head of Delegation Ambassador Timo Olkkonen during the Zimbabwe Economic Partnership Agreement Support Project launch in Harare yesterday. — Picture: Memory Mangombe

Farirai Machivenyika
Senior Reporter

Government and the European Union yesterday officially launched the €10 million Zimbabwe Economic Partnership Agreement Support Project that is expected to boost small to medium scale enterprises.

The ZEPA project was officially launched by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Deputy Minister David Musabayana who was standing in for Minister Sibusiso Moyo.

Zimbabwe signed the ZEPA Financing Agreement with the EU in 2017. This followed the country’s signing of the interim Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPA) with the EU in August 2009, together with Madagascar, Mauritius, and Seychelles with the Comoros joining in 2017.

The objective of the project is to enhance Zimbabwe’s integration into the regional and international trading system through reforming and streamlining policy, regulatory and institutional frameworks in order to incentivise production and trade.

In remarks read on his behalf, Minister Moyo said the project had come at an ideal time for Zimbabwe.

“The ZEPA project comes at a time when Zimbabwe is already implementing a new economic order that is expected to restore confidence in the economy,” he said.

“A raft of measures, aimed at creating a conducive environment for the creation, transformation and growth of sustainable enterprises have been introduced, including Ease of Doing Business reforms.

“Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) play an important role in Zimbabwe’s economy. They are the backbone of our economy, employing about 90 percent of the workforce and contributing more than 60 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). They are a driving force of innovation, knowledge diffusion and social inclusion.

“I am glad to realise that one of the specific objectives of the ZEPA project is to improve the competitiveness of the micro, small and medium enterprises. I am informed that through this project, the EU has approved a total of  5 million grants that are aimed at strengthening the competitiveness of the SMEs and their capacity to produce and export for example, in the areas of horticulture. The grants will also support the Business Support Organisations (BSOs) to improve their service delivery to their members.”

He added that the project was helping Government strengthen trade-related regulatory framework, improve the ease of doing business, as well as revise the MSME policy so as to incentivise them to produce, diversify and export,” he said.

Minister Moyo said the project was in sync with the country’s national vision espoused in the 2020 National Budget passed under the theme, “Gearing for Higher Productivity, Growth and Job Creation”.

In his remarks Head of the EU Delegation to Zimbabwe, Ambassador Timo Olkkonen said the objective was to enhance trade.

“The overall objective of the ZEPA is to enhance Zimbabwe’s integration into the regional and international trading system and in particular to increase the volume of exports between the EU and Zimbabwe.

“A notable increase in the volume of horticulture exports from Zimbabwe to the EU has been recorded, but there is still a huge potential for further increase, as trade with the EU forms about five percent of Zimbabwe’s total trade,” Ambassador Olkkonen said.

He added that the EU was supportive of Zimbabwe’s economic reform process.

“The EU fully supports Zimbabwe’s business reform processes under the ease of doing business initiative. The ZEPA project has resources in the form of technical expertise that is ready to be deployed to expedite business climate reforms in particular to do away with the plethora of regulations, procedures and permits and licence requirements which are raising the cost of exporting, rendering the country’s exports uncompetitive,” he said.