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Discussing Food Sufficiency in Ethiopia and other Poorest Nations in the Horn of Africa – Modern Diplomacy

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By geographic definition, Ethiopia is located in East Africa. It is landlocked in the Horn of Africa and shares borders with Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia. With its long chequered history, Ethiopia is discussed from different and divergent perspectives including its geography, politics, economy and culture. Many politicians, academic experts and researchers also look at Ethiopia’s role within the region and its external relations on the global stage.
Ethiopia has been these several years in the news media. In May 1998, a border dispute with Eritrea led to the Eritrean–Ethiopian War, which lasted until June 2000 and cost both countries an estimated $1 million a day. This had a negative effect on Ethiopia’s economy, but strengthened the ruling coalition. Early November, Ethiopia and its ethnic the Tigray are desperately looking for a peace deal that sent them to South Africa.
For his efforts in ending the 20 year-long war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, Abiy Ahmed was awarded the Nobel prize for peace in 2019. After taking office in April 2018, 46-year-old Abiy released political prisoners, promised fair elections for 2019 and announced sweeping economic reforms.
With approximately 115 million population, majority is still impoverished despite its huge land and other natural resources. Within Ethiopia is a vast highland complex of mountains and dissected plateaus divided by the Great Rift Valley, which runs generally southwest to northeast and is surrounded by lowlands, steppes, or semi-desert. There is a great diversity of terrain with wide variations in climate, soils, natural vegetation and settlement patterns.
Ethiopia has 14 major rivers flowing from its highlands, including the Nile. It has the largest water reserves in Africa. As of 2012, hydroelectric plants represented around 88.2% of the total installed electricity generating capacity. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project, when finally completed, it will provide surplus energy in Ethiopia which will be available for export to neighbouring countries.
Ethiopia is often considered as the birthplace of coffee which it produces more than any other nation on the continent. Coffee provides a livelihood for close to 15 million Ethiopians, 16% of the population and it generates $1.4 billion in revenues annually.
Ethiopian Airlines, wholly owned by the government, is the flagship of Ethiopia. It serves a network of 125 passenger destinations. Ethiopian is Africa’s largest airline in terms of passengers carried, destinations served, fleet size, and revenue.
Addis Ababa, the prestigious capital city of Ethiopia hosts the African Union headquarters and all foreign governments and international organizations are represented here. That compared, Moscow as a capital has modern infrastructure but lacks foreign representative organizations. Moscow is not New York or Washington and with the Russia-Ukraine crisis, most foreign organizations exited the city.
China is the largest developing country in the world, and Africa is the continent with the largest number of developing countries. That however, China is visible with its investment and financing infrastructure in Africa Six years ago, in January 2012, the African Union inaugurated its new headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The $200 million building was funded and largely built by China, even using building materials imported from China. In addition, the construction of the headquarters of the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) is a project assisted with $48 million by China.
Ethiopia – the Poorest Nation
By classification and from Russia’s perspectives for instance, Ethiopia is one of the poorest in need of food security and urgent humanitarian assistance. President Vladimir Putin reiterated free delivery of food to Africa’s poorest, referring to Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia and Sudan.
Russian Security Council deputy chairman Dmitry Medvedev and South Africa’s Deputy President David Mabuza discussed early November, within the strict adherence to the Istanbul package agreements, to export Ukrainian grain and advance Russian foodstuffs and fertilizers to world markets including Africa. Medvedev confirmed Russia’s readiness to provide its stock of agricultural products to African partners free of charge.
According to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, an agreement was reached with Russia on the supply of grain to poor countries in Africa. “First of all, the corridor will function for deliveries to the poor countries of Africa, in particular to Djibouti and Sudan,” he said.
Putin consistently makes passionate arguments for a shift from western hegemony, while Russia as an alternative that could support sustainable development especially in Africa. On the other hand, African leaders have to think seriously how to use their huge untapped resources for improving agricultural sector, raise agricultural production for impoverished millions.
Andrew Korybko, an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, wrote in October article to One World: “As Ethiopia attempts to reduce its dependence on foreign food aid, it must first seriously consider switching suppliers in order to not remain as vulnerable to the West’s possible weaponization of this aid during the interim. Russia has become an agricultural superpower in recent years, ironically enough largely due to its response to Western sanctions according to President Putin during his remarks at the latest Valdai Club plenary session. It should therefore have more than enough supply to meet Ethiopia’s needs.”
According to Korybko’s analysis, the Eurasian Great Power is incomparably more politically reliable than the West as evidenced by its support of Ethiopia during its ongoing anti-terrorist campaign in Tigray. The two countries even signed a military agreement over the summer which aims to revive their Soviet-era strategic partnership. From the Ethiopian perspective, it would be wise to rely more on Russian wheat imports – including through possible food aid – than on Western ones while it transitions towards sustainably ensuring its food security, which will take time.
But in a sharp contrast to above, why should African countries and leaders brace for grains imports and be struggling with rising food prices as a direct result of Russia-Ukraine crisis? In the national development context, this to a large extent are not questions of neo-colonialism, imperialism or Joe Biden administration. Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia and Sudan, and many others have get back to learn the advantages of pragmatic import substitution policies in basic Economics. 
The Way Forward
Beyond food assistance that is commendable, but if it is interested in sustainable food security then Russia has to facilitate agricultural development in Africa. That compared, China has always been sharing its agricultural development experience and technology with Africa, to support African countries in improving agricultural production and processing, and to help them in building their agricultural value chains and trade. 
Since 2012, 7,456 African trainees have received agricultural training in China. Through projects such as sending Chinese agricultural experts to Africa, more than 50,000 Africans have been trained and 23 agricultural demonstration centers have been built. To date, China has established agricultural cooperation mechanisms with 23 African countries and regional organizations, and signed 72 bilateral and multilateral agricultural cooperation agreements.
Since 2012, China has signed 31 agricultural cooperation agreements with 20 African countries and regional organizations. In 2019, the First China-Africa Agriculture Cooperation Forum was held, which announced the establishment of the China-AU Agriculture Cooperation Commission and the formulation of a program of action to promote China-Africa cooperation in agricultural modernization. 
By the end of 2020, more than 200 Chinese companies had an investment stock of $1.11 billion in agricultural sector in 35 African countries. Their investments cover areas such as planting, breeding and processing. More than 350 types of African agricultural products can be traded with China. All this ensures steady growth in China-Africa agricultural trade.
Significant to note that during business conference held at the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center on April 22, African Development Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, speaking as a guest of the Washington, DC, US-based think tank, called for an increased sense of urgency amid what he described as a once-in-a-century convergence of global challenges for Africa, including a looming food crisis. The continent’s most vulnerable countries have been hit hardest by conflict, climate change and the pandemic, which upended economic and development progress in Africa.
Adesina suggested that Africa must rapidly expand its production to meet food security challenges. “My basic principle is that Africa should not be begging. We must solve our own challenges ourselves without depending on others…” he said.
In a similar argument and direction, the World Bank has also expressed worry over sub-Saharan Africa countries high expenditure on food imports, that could be produced locally using their vast uncultivated lands, and devastating impact on budgets due to rising external borrowing. According to the bank, it is crucial to increase the effectiveness of current resources to expanding and supporting local production especially in the sectors of agriculture and industry during this crucial period of Russia-Ukraine crisis.
With the above facts, African leaders have to demonstrate a higher level of commitment to tackling post-pandemic challenges and the Russia-Ukraine crisis that have created global economic instability and other related severe consequences. And this requires collaborative action, and much stronger pace of transformation to cater for the needs of the population over 1.3 billion in Africa.
Conclusion
In a wider context, as I have written multiple times about the food security especially in Africa, while a few outspoken African leaders shifted blames to Russia-Ukraine crisis, others focus on spending state budget to import food to calm rising discontent among the population, it is necessary to to redirect focus on improving local agricultural production. Some experts and international organizations have also expressed the fact that African leaders have to adopt import substitution mechanisms and use their financial resources on strengthening agricultural production systems.
Providing food assistance is commendable but will definitely offer the needed long-term food security. External investment in Africa’s agriculture is the best way to support Africa. China is doing its best, so also some European Union members. African leaders have to continue building production capacity, look for a more resilient agriculture and food systems as answers to national food requirements and needs. Some external states are readily assisting with long-term solutions.
U.S. Congress allocated $336.5 million to bilateral programs for Sub-Saharan Africa, including Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe and regional programs in southern Africa, west Africa, and the Sahel.
Also of this $2.76 billion, USAID is programming $2 billion in emergency food security assistance over the next three months. Last August, the United States has provided nearly $1 billion specifically for countries in Africa, and further $2 billion commitment to Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Uganda.
That compared, Russia’s Agro-Export Federal Center for Development of Agribusiness Exports in close partnership collaboration with Trust Technologies and the business expert community plans to earn (revenue) $33 billion through massive export of grains, meat poultry and other agricultural products to Africa. 
According to Interfax News Agency and TASS reports, the plan remotely aims at marginalizing local production, cut out foreign contributions to support livelihoods through local production and make African leaders spend their hard earned revenue on food imports instead of supporting agricultural production. The business concept report says eight African countries have been identified and chose as target markets for the delivery of the agricultural products. These are Angola, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, Tunisia and South Africa.
In a sharp contrast to food-importing African countries, Zimbabwe has increased wheat production especially during this crucial time of the current Russia-Ukraine crisis. This achievement was attributed to efforts in mobilizing local scientists to improve the crop’s production. Zimbabwe is an African country that has been under Western sanctions for 25 years, hindering imports of much-needed machinery and other inputs to drive agriculture, but now working towards food sufficiency in southern Africa.
Addressing food security in this changing geopolitical times should be the key in the 21st century for Africa. From the discussions above and various perspectives, African leaders have to focus, mobilize and redirect both human and financial resources toward increasing local production, the surest approach to attain sustainable food security for over 1.3 billion population in Africa, and this falls directly within the Agenda 2063 of the African Union.
Resurgence of ethnic clashes in Sudan’s Blue Nile region
In Zambia’s Reform Process, Political Parties Remain a Weak Link
MD Africa Editor Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher and writer on African affairs in the EurAsian region and former Soviet republics. He wrote previously for African Press Agency, African Executive and Inter Press Service. Earlier, he had worked for The Moscow Times, a reputable English newspaper. Klomegah taught part-time at the Moscow Institute of Modern Journalism. He studied international journalism and mass communication, and later spent a year at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. He co-authored a book “AIDS/HIV and Men: Taking Risk or Taking Responsibility” published by the London-based Panos Institute. In 2004 and again in 2009, he won the Golden Word Prize for a series of analytical articles on Russia’s economic cooperation with African countries.
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The UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide expressed grave concern on Thursday over a reported resurgence of ethnic clashes in the Blue Nile region of Sudan.  According to the UN, inter-communal clashes that have flared up several times since July have caused at least 359 fatalities, injured 469 people, displaced more than 97,000, and triggered extensive property damage.  
“The clashes between the ethnic communities are rooted in long standing issues over land ownership and ethnic representation”, Alice Wairimu Nderitu said in a statement.  
The violence, which kicked off in July, was renewed in September and again last month.
It has spread from the Al Rosires locality to Ad Damazin and then to Wad Al Mahi.  
“There is a risk of further escalation as local sources reported that ethnic groups across the border were being mobilized in support of the violence in the Blue Nile,” she warned.
The Special Adviser expressed particular concern that violence and reprisal attacks have been fuelled by hate speech and incitement to hatred, exacerbated through social media and in ethnic gatherings.
Despite an agreement on a “cessation of hostilities” by the affected communities on 13 July 2022, ethnic clashes have continued.
“The repeated violence undermines efforts at mitigation and strengthening inter-communal dialogue”, said Ms. Nderitu.  
The senior UN official welcomed efforts by the government of the Blue Nile region to stop the violence, restore order and establish a committee to investigate the violence in Wad al Mahi locality.
She then called on those in positions of authority to “do their utmost” to institute conflict prevention mechanisms and bring the perpetrators of violations to account “no matter how high or influential”.  
“Only through ensuring accountability will the cycle of violence be broken”, the senior UN expert said.  
The Special Adviser also called on the people of Sudan, leaders, civil society, and youth to “prioritize trust-building and increase efforts to enhance social cohesion” and on religious leaders and others to use their voices to “speak out against hate and to stand in solidarity with the affected communities in line with the Fez Plan of Action”.  
Finally, Ms. Nderitu urged tech and social media companies to utilize all available tools to “stop the spread of incitement and hatred” on their platforms, as stressed in the UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech.
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Authors: R. Maxwell Bone & Mike Brodo*
In Zambia’s August 2021 elections, Hakainde Hichilema defeated then-incumbent President Edgar Lungu by a margin of over twenty percent. Lungu’s defeat and timely commitment to ensuring an orderly transition of power came after he went to great lengths during the campaign period to ensure his continuity in power. Actions taken include revision to the voter registry that opposition parties perceived as disenfranchising their voters, high levels of electoral violence that led to the deployment of security forces to opposition strongholds, and judicial action against opposition leaders on dubious legal grounds. The victory of Hichilema, a long-time opposition leader who has often been subjected to state violence and even spent time in prison, was seen as a welcome course correction after years of backsliding in what had previously been one of southern Africa’s strongest democracies. While the peaceful transfer of power in 2021 was a positive step toward restoring the stability of Zambia’s democracy, vulnerabilities remain. In Hichilema’s 15 months in power, multiple worrisome patterns that emerged during Lungu’s presidency have persisted, with the nature of the country’s political parties constituting the most significant barrier to reform and much-needed stability. In order to address this barrier, it is imperative to fully understand how these patterns have and continue to manifest themselves.
In March 2022, the National Assembly of Zambia suspended 30 MPs from the opposition Patriotic Front (PF) party over procedural matters, an action that followed the Speaker of National Assembly barring nine PF MPs from taking their seats in December 2021 given legal challenges to their elections. For a period of time, these actions led to 76% of the PF’s MPs being suspended, in effect making it all but impossible for the opposition to carry out its most important task: government oversight. Critically, these expulsions were not decided by an independent body, but instead by the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, both of whom are senior UPND figures. These recent suspensions are not the first time such a tactic has been used to weaken the opposition in the legislature, as the previous administration regularly did so against the UPND. Ironically, at the time the UPND and Hichilema decried that such expulsions constituted an assault on democracy, only to go on and do the same when they won power. While the MPs have since taken their seats, these actions are some of the latest manifestations of a worrisome trend that has seen the legislative opposition fundamentally weakened, with serious consequences for democratic oversight and stability.
Moreover, Hichilema’s government has emulated the legacy of his predecessor by denying coverage to opposition parties on state-run television and radio stations, such as the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation, as well as in state-funded newspapers, Zambia Daily Mail and Times of Zambia. Even President Hichilema’s signature anti-corruption campaign has been domestically derided as disproportionately targeting PF figures. Though at face value anti-corruption measures are laudable, the fact that so many PF officials are under investigation has effectively neutralized the opposition.
Beyond impacting government oversight, the weakening of political parties through the aforementioned means gives way to malicious actors, at times with deadly consequences. This is particularly relevant given the increasingly antagonistic relationship that exists between the two main parties, which often leads to violence. Inter-party clashes spurred by party agents, though not absent from Zambia’s political history, reached an unprecedented rate during the 2021 electoral cycle. For instance, PF-sponsored violence at a police station led to the suspension of campaigning for two weeks, while the brutal murder of PF supporters by machete-wielding opposition cadres was used as pretext for a massive military deployment to opposition strongholds. Recent by-elections demonstrate that high levels of violence show no signs of abating and that the tactics the PF used while in power are now used against it by the UPND. This worrisome trend demonstrates that the wide-scale violence seen in 2021 was no outlier, but instead a growing characteristic of Zambian politics, a concern also raised by civil society and religious leaders.
The weakness of political parties also inhibits reforms to existing laws that place extensive power in the executive and have previously been used to undermine the opposition, sowing the seeds for a continuation of antagonistic, zero-sum politics. This is particularly relevant with respect to the Defamation Law of 1965, which among other things carries a sentence of up to three years for insulting the president. Numerous Zambian administrations have used this law to silence dissent, including that of Hichilema, which employed it against individuals ranging from leaders of opposition parties to online influencers. In fact, during the first year of Hichilema’s administration, more people were arrested and sent to prison under this law than during the entirety of Lungu’s six-year presidency. The same applies to the Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Act, a law hastily enacted by the Lungu administration in the run-up to the 2021 election that gives authorities the ability to engage in telephone tapping and seize electronic equipment with minimal justification. Concerns have also been raised about the need to reform the Public Order Act under which opposition parties and civil society have continuously been charged. During the campaign, Hichilema promised to either repeal or amend these laws but has remained silent on doing so since assuming the presidency. Given the seeming unwillingness of the government to act on such reform measures, the cycle of such laws being used against the opposition, only for them to continue utilizing them when they get into government, will continue.
These laws remaining on the books will taint all other reforms that the administration takes as not being about solidifying democracy, but instead political aims. The perceived legitimacy of reform efforts is particularly relevant given the administration’s emphasis on electoral reform. Specifically, the aim of the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to introduce electronic voting could lead to widespread disenfranchisement and the perceived illegitimacy of the electoral process should there not be engagement and support of the opposition. Given the administration’s perceived aggressions against the opposition and lack of progress on legal reforms, the situation in which the opposition loses trust in the electoral reform process with disastrous consequences is imaginable.
Despite the peaceful transition after Zambia’s 2021 election, the country’s democracy remains fragile and saddled with weaknesses. This is particularly the case regarding Zambian political parties, which have been locked into an antagonistic and zero-sum relationship with one another. The degree to which these weaknesses are addressed will determine if the 2026 election is another step toward democratic consolidation, or a revelation that Hichilema’s commitment to democracy is no better than that of his predecessor.
*Mike Brodo is a Program Associate for Africa at the International Republican Institute (IRI).
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Reviewing carefully the primary significance of the working visit of Mozambican President, Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, shows the level of recognition given by African leaders to this country in the Arab world. In the month of October, he headed a government delegation on three working days in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Simply and popularly referred to as Emirates, it is located at the eastern end of the Arabian Peninsula and shares borders with Oman and Saudi Arabia, while having maritime borders in the Persian Gulf with Qatar and Iran. Abu Dhabi is the capital, while Dubai, the most populous city, is an international business hub. As of 2021, the United Arab Emirates has an estimated population of roughly 9.9 million.
Many have asked the most traditional and often-asked question why this Arab country has attained such high level of prominence as business and tourism destination, even as transiting spot for travellers. The United Arab Emirates has the most diversified economy, admirably well-planned city and a refined welcoming culture in the Arab world.
As impressive as economic growth has been in the UAE, the total population has increased now around 10 million. The UAE has good general infrastructure, the system’s major advantage is the domestic macroeconomic stability and undergoes steady growth, and this key factor positively impacts on its economic and business relations with the external countries.
Resultantly African leaders, corporate business leaders, tourists and even the youth have the desire to take a glimpse of the country. African leaders, among them for instance, President Filipe Nyusi, the aim is to establish and strengthen multifaceted economic ties with UAE. According to reports, Filipe Nyusi officially visited at the invitation of the President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and ruler of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
President Nyusi and Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan discussed various aspects of the UAE-Mozambique relations and the opportunities available to expand the scope of common interests. In this context, the two sides affirmed their common interest in developing bilateral relations and pushing them forward to serve the interests of the two parties and their peoples.
The meeting touched on cooperation in the field of environment and combating climate change, in light of Mozambique’s membership in the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) co-led by the United Arab Emirates and the United States which was announced in 2021.
The two sides stressed the important role the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (COP 28), which will be hosted by the UAE next year, can play in this regard. The two leaders exchanged views on a number of regional and international issues of common concern.
Filipe Nyusi also held a meeting the Emir of Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also the vice president, and later visited the Port of Dubai, managed by DP World, which currently participates in the management of the Port of Maputo. He interacted with Mozambican citizens residing in the UAE. In order to facilitate and promote tourism, Mozambique and Emirates were looking to exempt from entry visas under the Economic Acceleration Measures Package.
As part of reviewing bilateral relations, there are contacts to establish a visa waiver agreement on diplomatic and service passports, and this agreement be extended to normal passport holders. Both attempted to fix a direct air link between the two countries.
In the UAE, the diplomatic talks resulted in a series of agreements on strengthen bilateral cooperation on and two memoranda of understanding on defence cooperation and on counter-terrorism were signed. According to official reports, Mozambique and Emirates attach great importance to economic and business cooperation, and also providing necessary assistance in combating terrorism.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and President Nyusi witnessed the signing of several agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) covering various sectors. Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Verónica Macamo, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Mozambique, signed an MoU on security and counterterrorism.
For his part, President Nyusi expressed his thanks and appreciation to His Highness for the warm reception, that the visit constituted an important boost to relations between the two countries in various fields, and finally stressing his keenness to continue working with him for further growth and prosperity of bilateral relations. The meeting was attended by a number of senior UAE officials.
In general, UAE and Africa have an excellent dynamic relations. Dubai International Chamber operates four representative offices in Kenya, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Ghana. Over 1,600 new African member companies have registered with Dubai Chamber since October 2021, after it hosted the sixth edition of the Global Business Forum Africa (GBF Africa). 
According to Gulf Business, the Dubai International Chamber’s strategy is to boost membership, which aims to attract companies and foreign direct investment from the continent to the Emirates. That is to say, efforts are directed at attracting African businesses to the Dubai market and connecting local companies with business opportunities emerging across Africa.
Interesting to note that President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi’s October visit underscored the UAE’s keenness to bolster trade and commercial relations with Mozambique and possibly other African countries. It further shows the strong bonds of friendship and cooperation that bind the two countries and their keenness to explore ways of expanding their partnership to promote mutual investments and enhance stability and prosperity.
After a complete thorough study and review of several reports, UAE businessmen have enormous interest in investing in Mozambique. According to O País (Rádio Moçambique), President Nyusi at the final end of the visit unreservedly expressed his pride in the strong relations between Mozambique and the UAE. With an approximate population of 30 million, Mozambique is endowed with rich natural resources. It is one of the 16 countries with collective responsibility to promote regional socio-economic integration and security cooperation within the Southern African Development Community. 
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Financial.co.ke was founded by Mr. Joseph Muongi Kamau. He holds a Master of Science in Finance, Bachelors of Science in Actuarial Science and a Certificate of proficiencty in insurance. He's also the lead financial consultant.