Tag: Addis Ababa

The 22nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union

African Union Summit 2014
African Union Summit 2014

The 22nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union opened on Thursday January 30, 2014 under the theme of Agriculture and Food Security, launching “2014 Year of Agriculture and Food Security, Marking 10th Anniversary of the Adoption of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP)”.

In its two days of deliberation (January 30-31) the Assembly, which has elected the President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz as the Chairperson of the Union for 2014, will adopt decisions on the basis of the recommendations of the Executive Council and consider reports of the various bodies of the AU. These will include the Progress Report of the Commission on the African Union on Agenda 2063, and the Report of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) on its activities and the State of Peace and Security in Africa, including the activities of the Panel of the Wise and renewal of its membership, as well as the Report on the assessment of the African Standby Force (ASF) and the Operationalization of the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC).

The Assembly will also consider the Reports of President Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal and Chairperson of the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee (HSGOC);  President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone and Chairperson of the Committee of Ten on the UN Reforms;  President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania and Coordinator of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC),  including the outcome of Climate Change Negotiations at the 19th Conference of Parties  (COP 19) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  Other reports considered will include the Report of the Commission on the Implementation of previous decisions on UNCCD and the outcomes of COP 11 held in Windhoek, Namibia, in September 2013; the Report of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia and Chairperson of the High Level Committee on the Post-2015 Development Agenda and the Proposed Draft African Position on the Post-2015 Development Agenda; and the Report on the International Conference on Maternal, New-born and Child Health, Johannesburg, South Africa in August last year.

The Chairperson of the Commission will also present her report on the Implementation of Decision on Africa’s Relationship with the International Criminal Court (ICC), to be considered by Heads of State and Government. The Assembly will adopt the appointment of the ten members of the Peace and Security Council elected for a two year term. Ethiopia along with Burundi, Chad, Gambia, Guinea, Libya, Namibia, Niger, Tanzania and South Africa were elected. It will adopt the decisions and recommendations of the 24th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council as well as the decisions and declarations of the 22nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union.

In his opening remarks, Prime Minster Hailemariam, as the outgoing chair of the AU, noted the theme of this year’s African Union summit, “Agriculture and Food Security” marking the 10th anniversary of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) and said that it was time for Africa to celebrate the progress made over the past decade in implementing CAADP’s goals and objectives and renew commitments to do more in the future. Emphasizing that agricultural transformation holds the key to the success of collective efforts to realize its vision, Prime Minister Hailemariam said more and more countries were allocating 10% of their national budget to the agricultural sector.

Reflecting on Ethiopia’s Chairmanship of the past year, the Prime Minister said Ethiopia has achieved most of the priorities it set when it took over the chairmanship in January 2013. Top on the priorities was the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the OAU/AU. “As a proud host of our continental organization for the last 50 years,” he said, it was a special time to assume the Chairmanship and mark this anniversary together with the Commission, member States and other relevant stakeholders. The Jubilee celebration had been marked by a collective reflection of the past, present and future under the overarching theme of “Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance”.

Prime Minster Hailemariam said Ethiopia had assumed the chairmanship at a time when multilateral negotiations have started in earnest to formulate a global development framework for the post 2015 era. During this formulation process, he said, it was imperative for Ethiopia “to ensure that the progress made thus far in achieving the Millennium Development Goals is sustained and that Africa’s development priorities are fully taken on board in the post-2015 Development Agenda as well as in the formulation of the Sustainable Development Goals.”  Stressing the need for Africa to speak with one voice on the basis of an African Common Position, he said the Post-2015 development Agenda “is currently perhaps the most important process with respect to defining the nature of international development cooperation for the next decades.”  The Committee of African Heads of State and Government to lead efforts in canvassing support for Africa’s development priorities in the context of the post-2015 development agenda under the chairmanship of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a critical element in this. The Committee report will urge the Assembly to take the necessary action soon as negotiations on the formulation of Sustainable Development Goals is going to commence in March.


Prime Minister Hailemariam told the Assembly that there had been enhanced cooperation and partnership between Africa and its strategic partners during the past year. He cited the 3rd Africa-South America Summit, the 5th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V), the 3rd Afro-Arab Summit and the 12th Annual AGOA Forum. These partnership forums, he said, served as platforms to advance Africa’s development agenda and further strengthen its partnerships to ensuring mutual benefit and win-win cooperation. Ethiopia had also participated at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Warsaw (COP-19) representing Africa, he said, and delivered Africa’s key messages on the on-going global climate change negotiations at the G-8 and G-20 Summits held in Northern Ireland and St. Petersburg, advancing the continental development agenda.

The Prime Minister noted that the other major preoccupation during the past year was the issue of peace and security. While he was encouraged to note the progress that Africa has made in resolving some of the conflict situations in the continent, “I am nevertheless deeply concerned by the emergence of new conflicts which, if not addressed urgently, will have a potential to seriously threaten our collective peace and security and undermine the gains that we have made in recent years.”  He referred the unfolding situation in South Sudan and Central African Republic and emphasized the need to find urgent solutions “to rescue these countries from falling into the abyss”. He said: “Failure to do so will have serious implications for peace and security in the region and indeed the whole continent.”Helping these two States in restoring peace and stability and addressing their internal challenges was primarily the responsibility of Africans, he underlined. In South Sudan, he emphasized that “both protagonists should know that the problem cannot be resolved through the barrel of the gun and they should be fully committed to seat at the negotiating table without any preconditions so as to find a political settlement to the crisis.”  He called on South Sudanese political actors to rise to the occasion and avoid the country from falling over the precipice.  The parties should demonstrate the necessary political leadership and compromise in order that the peace process initiated by IGAD and supported by the African Union, the United Nations and other international partners should succeed and achieve peace and durable reconciliation.

On the Central African Republic, he said “the senseless violence that has taken a heavy toll on the civilian population” remained a matter of concern for Africa. He emphasized the necessity to take urgent action to avert the further escalation of the problems. The African-led Peace Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA) faced daunting challenges in restoring peace and security and ensuring a successful transition towards a constitutional order. He urged the international community to remain fully committed to support the Central African Republic in the difficult task of stabilizing itself and organizing elections to ensure a successful political transition.

Prime Minister Hailemariam commended the conduct of legislative and presidential elections in   a number of countries pointing out elections had certainly helped some member States to come out of political crisis and others to consolidate democratic governance. In this regard, he welcomed the restoration of constitutional order in Mali, and urged ECOWAS, the African Union, the United Nations and other partners to continue their support to help consolidate the gains made and enable the country address its many challenges. He also commended “the people of Madagascar for conducting a successful presidential election, which is critical in ending the country’s political crisis.” Looking forward to the holding of elections which are expected to facilitate the restoration of constitutional order in Guinea Bissau in March, he expressed his appreciation of ECOWAS and other international partners for their sustained efforts to assist Guinea Bissau.

Prime Minister Hailemariam cited the adoption of the Strategic Plan of the Union for the years 2014-2017 and emphasized the need to mobilize all necessary efforts of member States, the Commission and other organs of our Union to ensure the implementation of the eight priorities identified in the strategic plan to make a difference in the lives of people. He indicated the importance of elaborating the Framework for Agenda 2063 through a consultative process involving all sections of African society and called on the leaders at the Assembly to add their input and contribution. This would provide a guide to Africa’s efforts over coming years as the AU strives to achieve the socio-economic transformation of the continent. Emphasizing the need to build on the progress achieved in the past year and calling for more effort to address some of the still emerging challenges of the continent, Prime Minister Hailemariam handed over the Chairmanship of the African Union to the President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. He pledged his full support for future work on these issues and for advancing the objectives of the Union.

In his acceptance speech, President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz expressed his gratitude for being elected the Chairperson of the African Union for 2014. He pledged to work achieve the noble objectives to which Africans aspire, including the strengthening of the role and place of Africa in the world, the preservation of its unity in the context of democracy, freedom, peace, security, stability and good governance. President Aziz said he proposed to hold a major international conference, under the auspices of the African Union, devoted to migration and its impact on African economies and societies as well as the countries of destination, to draw up a shared vision on this phenomenon and minimize its tragic dimension.

UN Deputy Secretary General, Ambassador Jan Eliasson, in his statement to the Assembly said the Summit was being held at a time of advancement and impressive growth for Africa while the rest of the world still struggled to recover from the economic crisis. He reminded the Assembly that this growth should now be translated into transformative economic development, more jobs, greater equality and better living conditions and said “the United Nations is your unwavering partner in this pursuit.” He said that the AU Agenda 2063 could serve to mobilize Africa to fulfill its potential. It was a fitting tribute to the OAU/AU jubilee, and he noted Africa had already made major strides towards the Millennium Development Goals, especially in education, maternal and child health, and in gender equality, but many MDG targets remained unfulfilled. The Deputy Secretary General expressed his admiration for the leadership Africa had shown in formulating the post-2015 agenda and applauded the emerging African Common Position’s focus on structural transformation and inclusive economic growth. There was hardly any higher priority for the United Nations than tangible and sustainable development in Africa, he said, and he pledged UN support to African-owned and African-led efforts to achieve this objective.

Source: http://www.mfa.gov.et/weekHornAfrica/morewha.php?wi=1310#1310

Nelson Mandela In Ethiopia: A Peacemaker’s Beginnings As Guerrilla Fighter

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Flags are flying at half-staff outside the African Union headquarters on Friday in honor of Nelson Mandela, whose death Thursday has the entire continent, and the world, in mourning. The activist, politician, scholar, husband, father and Nobel Peace Prize laureate fought against apartheid, a system of formalized segregation that saw black South Africans treated as third-class citizens, and helped to heal a fractured nation in the aftermath of minority rule.

“Nelson Mandela will be remembered as a symbol for wisdom, for the ability to change and the power of reconciliation,” AU Deputy Chairman Erasmus Mwencha told reporters here in Ethiopia’s capital city on Friday morning. “His life and legacy is the biggest lesson, motivation, inspiration and commitment any African can give to Africa.”

But Madiba, as Mandela was affectionately known, was not always a man of peace. Before he capped his career as South Africa’s first black president in 1994, before he spent 27 years imprisoned for his anti-apartheid activism, Mandela came to believe that violence was sometimes necessary in the fight for freedom. And it was in Ethiopia that the young Mandela received his first formal training in the art of guerrilla warfare.

At that time, Ethiopia was ruled by Emperor Haile Selassie, who had gained a reputation as a defender of African sovereignty. Mandela was a member of the African National Congress, a then-illegal organization that opposed apartheid in South Africa and is now the country’s ruling political party. He had founded the group Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), which would operate as the military wing of the ANC, in 1961. Mandela first traveled to Addis Ababa in 1962 to attend a  pan-African summit as a representative of the ANC.

“Ethiopia has always held a special place in my own imagination, and the prospect of visiting Ethiopia attracted me more strongly than a trip to France, England, and America combined,” Mandela later wrote in his 1994 autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom.” “I felt I would be visiting my own genesis, unearthing the roots of what made me an African. Meeting His Highness, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, would be like shaking hands with history.” On his Ethiopian Airlines flight to Addis Ababa, Mandela was surprised to find a black pilot in the cockpit, the first he had ever seen.

Mandela went on to visit a host of African countries and meet with leading officials, but at the end of his international tour he returned to Ethiopia for military training. It didn’t last long; the young revolutionary was soon called back to South Africa, and in August 1962 he was arrested and thrown into a Johannesburg prison. He would spend the next 27 years behind bars at several different facilities until his final release in 1990.

Mandela’s visit to Ethiopia was a pivotal moment for many Ethiopians and  was hosted by  Gen. Tadesse Beru, who was at that time the commander of the Ethiopian special forces.Even during the time of the emperor, people were supporting the cause of South Africans. South Africa was a part of the larger African anti-colonialist struggle.

Mandela spent only a couple of months training with Tadesse, but he didn’t leave empty-handed. There is one artifact that still connects South Africa to Ethiopia, a relic of history whose mysterious disappearance has baffled historians for years. During his time in Ethiopia, the young freedom fighter received a gift from the general to symbolize his struggle: a semi-automatic Soviet-made Makarov pistol. He brought it back with him to the headquarters of Umkhonto we Sizwe in South Africa, a place called Liliesleaf Farm outside Johannesburg, and buried it for safekeeping lest authorities raid the premises.

That was right before his arrest, and five decades later, the gun has yet to be found, despite Mandela’s later assertions that it was buried just 20 paces away from where the Liliesleaf kitchen used to be. (The property has been rebuilt and divided up, though the Liliesleaf Trust, as it is now called in it new role as a historical site, remains at its former location.)

Like that elusive weapon, much of Mandela’s military history remains underground; his legacy is built on peace, not war. But in Ethiopia and all across Africa, there are some who still think of Mandela not just as an ambassador of peace, but as a man who knew when something was worth fighting for.



Ethiopia unveils telescope in first phase of space programme



Addis Ababa (AFP) – Ethiopia unveiled Friday the first phase of a space exploration programme, which includes East Africa’s largest observatory designed to promote astronomy research in the region.

“The optical astronomical telescope is mainly intended for astronomy and astrophysics observation research,” said observatory director Solomon Belay.

The observatory, which will formally be opened on Saturday, boasts two telescopes, each one metre (over three feet) wide, to see “extra planets, different types of stars, the Milky Way, and deep galaxies,” Solomon added.

The 3.4 million dollar (2.5 million euro) observatory, run by the Ethiopian Space Science Society (ESSS), is funded by Ethiopian-Saudi business tycoon Mohammed Alamoudi.

The observatory, 3,200 metres (10,500 feet) above sea level in the lush Entoto mountains on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, is an ideal location because of its minimal cloud cover, moderate winds and low humidity, experts said.

When established in 2004, ESSS was labelled as the “Crazy People’s Club”, according to the group, but has gained credibility in the past decade with astronomy courses introduced at universities and winning increased political support.

The Ethiopian government is set to launch a space policy in coming years.

Solomon said the group originally faced sceptics in Ethiopia and abroad, who questioned whether space exploration was a wise use of resources in one of Africa’s poorest economies, plagued in the past by chronic famine and unrest.

But Solomon said promoting science is key to the development in Ethiopia, today one of Africa’s fastest growing economies largely based on agriculture.

“If the economy is strongly linked with science, then we can transform a poor way of agriculture into industrialisation and into modern agriculture,” he said.

The ESSS is now looking to open a second observatory 4,200 metres (13,800 feet) above sea level in the mountainous northern town of Lalibela, also the site of the largest cluster of Ethiopia’s ancient rock-hewn churches.

Photographs from the ESSS show scientists with testing equipment looking for the best site to put the next telescope on the green and remote peaks, as local villagers wrapped in traditional white blankets watch on curiously, sitting outside their thatch hut homes.

Solomon hopes to boost “astronomy tourism” among space fans interested in coming to one of the least likely countries in the world to boast a space programme, an added economic benefit.

The country will also launch its first satellite in the next three years, ESSS said, to study meteorology and boost telecommunications.

Ethiopia is not the first African nation to look to the skies; South Africa has its own National Space Agency, and in 2009 the African Union announced plans to establish The African Space Agency.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, has also called for a continent-wide space programme.

Solomon said while the next several years will be about boosting research and data collection, along with promoting a strong local and regional interest in astronomy, he is not ruling out sending an Ethiopian into space one day.

“Hopefully we will,” he said with a laugh.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/ethiopia-unveils-telescope-first-phase-space-programme-142437008.html