Angolan Finance minister presents Privatization Programme in Davos
New US Ambassador Kicks Off Official Duties, Meets with Moroccan FM
Finland Keen to Boost Investment in Ethiopia
Deputy PM Demeke Arrives in Davos, Switzerland for World Economic Forum
Culture City to host 7th Riyeda Fair, February 12-13
Liberia/Cape Verde: FIFA 2022 World Cup Qualifiers - Liberia Paired Against Nigeria, Cape Verde, Central African Republic
Kenya: President Kenyatta, British PM Agree to Scale Up Kenya-UK Ties
Sierra Leone's Steps to End Female Genital Mutilation
Ahramonline – Egypt
The resolutions adopted in Berlin on the Libyan conflict were greeted both inside Libya and abroad with a great deal of caution because the problems on the ground in Libya are so complex that no document produced by an international conference can solve them. The Berlin conference, which concluded its activities Sunday, called for a ceasefire in war-torn Libya, a halt to outside military interventions, and commitment to the UN resolution banning arms flows into Libya. The ceasefire will be monitored by a military committee that will “convene in Libya in the coming days”, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said. The first hurdle to be overcome is the creation of this committee by the parties to the Libyan conflict.
According to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the most important result of the conference was that the leaders of the two main rival factions, Fayez Al-Sarraj, the head of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), and Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, Commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), agreed to undertake a series of further steps, one of which was to form a military committee to monitor the ceasefire consisting of five representatives from each side. On the other hand, there remains a clear division over the cessation of hostilities since the LNA, supported by influential Libyan tribes, is now in a position to achieve a definitive victory over the militias that have allied with the Tripoli-based GNA.
Many questions continue to hover over the prospects of achieving a lasting ceasefire. Will this attempt launched in Berlin succeed where others have failed? Will monitors be able to restrain the warring forces? Will it be possible to persuade combatants to lay down their arms? Moreover, the situation on the ground is now more complicated than ever due to the recent Turkish military intervention on the side of the militias that have controlled the capital, Tripoli, for many years. This intervention epitomises another crucial aspect of the problem, namely the foreign interventions that have exploited the collapse of the Libyan state in order to achieve political and material gains at the expense of the Libyan people.
The participants in Berlin who agreed to usher in a new phase that will lead to an end to the Libyan crisis are looking forward not just to a lasting ceasefire but also to the resumption of the UN-sponsored political process in Geneva on 27 January. In this context, Egypt’s participation in Berlin underscored its unwavering position on the Libyan crisis. As President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi told other conference participants, Egypt supports a comprehensive approach to a resolution of the Libyan crisis covering all political, economic and security-related matters. In this framework, Egypt has made it clear that it does not deal with militias and other paramilitary entities, but rather with legitimate national armies. It is a position shared by the UAE and Russia.
Radicalised militias and paramilitary entities cannot be part of any political or military agreement. They should not be granted legitimacy in this or any other manner. Unfortunately, the Tripoli-based government has worked in precisely the opposite direction through its relationship with such militias and the mercenaries that Turkey brought into Libya from Syria in order to support Al-Sarraj. These militias and mercenaries are consuming petroleum revenues that belong to the Libyan people and they are working to promote a situation in Libya that excludes the national army and the House of Representatives, which is the only popularly elected body in Libya.
The coming days and weeks will tell us whether the Berlin conference was as successful as billed and whether the international community can produce a new reality in a country ravaged by nine years of war and that has become vulnerable to outside powers that have preyed on the conflict to achieve material gains and fulfil their own political ambitions.
Ahramonline – Egypt
By: Doaa El-Bey
Talks in Washington about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), held under the auspices of the US Treasury and the World Bank, fell short of easing Egypt’s worries about how the filling of the dam’s reservoir could reduce its share of Nile water.
Officials from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan said they have reached a preliminary agreement that should help clear the way for a final agreement on the filling and operation of GERD by the end of this month.
Cairo, though, expressed no more than “cautious optimism” about the prospects.
In Washington, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri told the Middle East News Agency that the understanding reached does not constitute an agreement but merely highlights issues to be included in the final agreement.
“The so-called preliminary agreement sets outlines for the final agreement. The important issues of filling and operating the dam are still being discussed,” professor of political science Tarek Fahmi told Al-Ahram Weekly.
The three countries agreed that the dam should be filled in stages during July and August, the rainy season in Ethiopia, continuing into September subject to certain conditions.
“The filling of GERD will be executed in stages and will be undertaken in an adaptive and cooperative manner that takes into consideration the hydrological conditions of the Blue Nile and the potential impact of the filling on downstream reservoirs,” read the statement issued by the three countries, the US and the World Bank after the meeting read.
Initial filling of the dam, according to the statement, will aim for 595 metres above sea level, allowing early electricity generation in Ethiopia but providing appropriate mitigation measures for Egypt and Sudan during times of drought.
The statement, said a diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity, used imprecise words like adaptive and cooperative, and vague phrases such as takes into consideration, which may cause trouble in reaching a final agreement and then implementing it on the ground.
Defining an effective coordination mechanism and provisions for the settlement of disputes are supposed to be included in the final agreement, he added.
Although it leaves important details undetermined the preliminary agreement is important given Ethiopia will start filling the reservoir in a few months, says Cairo University professor of political science Abbas Sharaki.
Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan agreed to meet again on 28 and 29 January. The US and the World Bank will attend as observers.
Ahead of the meeting which is supposed to result in a final agreement, ministers of the three states are scheduled to hold technical and legal talks.
A statement issued by the Egyptian ministry of irrigation last said the talks would be significant in solving outstanding matters.
“Various legal and technical points, including cooperation on the rules of operation and the mechanism for settling disputes that may arise from re-setting the operation policy owing to changes in flood levels from one year to another are expected to be discussed in the two week before the Washington meeting at the end of January,” read the statement.
The final agreement, says Fahmi “must reassure Egypt that its water quota — on which it depends for over 95 per cent of its water needs – will not be affected, and there has to be a clear explanation of measures to be taken during periods of drought and severe drought.”
US President Donald Trump’s engagement with the Washington meeting last week — he met with the foreign and water resources ministers of the three countries to discuss progress on the dam talks — is being interpreted as a final attempt to pressure Egypt and Ethiopia to resolve their dispute.
During the meeting Trump emphasized US support for a cooperative, sustainable, and mutually beneficial agreement among the parties.
Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan convened in Washington for the third time last week, aiming to reach a deal before the mid-January deadline set during the first meeting in Washington last November.
According to the roadmap drawn then for GERD talks, the three countries agreed to hold four meetings to try to reach an agreement.
The first meeting was held in November in Addis Ababa, the second and third rounds were held in December in Cairo and Khartoum. The fourth and final round took place in Addis Ababa earlier this month.
All meetings ended without agreement.
In the meantime, Ethiopia has called for mediation from South Africa, the incoming chair of the African Union.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced that he had asked South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to mediate to find solutions to the disagreement between the three countries after the final round of negotiations ended in stalemate.
“We are willing to play a role in whatever agreement can be crafted, and we will remain supportive to finding peaceful solutions between countries on our continent,” Ramaphosa said.
Shoukri pointed out in his interview with MENA that the idea of resorting to a mediator other than the US had not raised last week’s Washington negotiations.
The dispute over the filling and operation of the massive dam began in 2011. Cairo has repeatedly expressed its fears that the dam will reduce the amount of Nile water flowing to Egypt. Addis Ababa denies the dam will harm Egypt and insists it is vital to its economic development.
Past River Nile agreements
The treaty between Great Britain and Ethiopia in 1902: In Article 3 of the treaty, emperor Menilik II of Ethiopia agreed “not to construct or allow to be constructed any work across the Blue Nile, Lake Tana, or the Sobat, which would arrest the flow of their waters except in agreement with Britain and the Government of Sudan.”
The 1929 treaty: The accord was between Egypt and Anglo-Egyptian Sudan and gave Egypt and Sudan the right to utilise 48 and four billion cubic metres, respectively, of the Nile flow per year, and gave Egypt the right to undertake River Nile related projects without the consent of upper riparian states, and the right to veto any construction projects that would affect its interests adversely.
The 1959 treaty: Signed by Egypt and Sudan, the treaty stipulates that Egypt’s share of Nile water is 55.5 billion cubic metres and Sudan 18.5 billion cubic metres. The treaty also reaffirmed Egypt’s right to veto any construction projects that could impede the flow of Nile water.
The Cairo Cooperation Framework of July 1993: This framework was concluded between Egypt and Ethiopia. Both countries pledged not to implement water projects harmful to the interests of the other and consult over projects to reduce waste and increase the flow of water.
The Declaration of Principles signed by Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in 2015: It stated that the three countries should cooperate to reach an agreement on the guidelines for different scenarios of the first filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam reservoir in parallel with the construction of the dam, and an agreement on the guidelines and annual operation policies of the Renaissance Dam, which the owners can adjust from time to time.
Ahramonline – Egypt
By: Khadija El-Rabti
The UK-Africa Investment Summit took place in the presence of world leaders, including President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi and the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the event’s host, high-profile representatives of 21 African countries and members of the UK government.
According to Johnson, Africa is the future and the UK is a huge part of that future.
“Look at the monorail trains that will shortly be conveying citizens through the streets of Cairo, that great and growing city, the monorails will be made here in Derby,” said Johnson.
In his speech addressing the summit, President Al-Sisi said: “There are promising and diverse opportunities for Africa’s partners… such opportunities make Africa one of the most important destinations for international business institutions.”
Al-Sisi highlighted four areas where cooperation with partners such as the UK was especially welcome — the implementation of infrastructure projects that contribute to continental integration and fall within the priorities of the infrastructure development programme of the African Union, such as the Cairo-Cape Town axis linking the north and south of the continent, renewable energy generation projects, and all road and railway projects and initiatives to activate the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and enhance intra-Africa trade.
Al-Sisi stressed the important role of the domestic private sector as a driver of economic growth. He said partnerships between foreign and African private sectors were an integral part of African national strategies.
The president also welcomed cooperation in empowering women and youth and providing job opportunities and equipping them with skills, and highlighted the importance of the government in providing guarantees to international companies to reassure investors and encourage them to pump direct investments into Africa.
During the summit, the UK’s Secretary of State for International Development Alok Sharma and Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat agreed to work together on projects that can help deliver Egypt’s 2030 agenda.
Cooperation between the UK and Egypt already encompasses medical training programmes and the Chevening Scholarship Programme which provides 50 fully-funded scholarships a year. The UK is a major investor in Egypt’s telecommunications, oil, gas and pharmaceutical sectors. According to a joint press release by the UK Department of International Development and the Egyptian Ministry of International Cooperation, current UK investments stand at $48 billion.
The press release also said the UK will provide technical assistance and capacity building for the structural reforms required to unlock private sector development and inclusive economic growth, seek to strengthen education and healthcare partnerships, deepen financial links, boost trade and investment and continue to establish a UK-Egypt association agreement.
“The agreement, once signed and following completion of domestic processes in both countries, will provide continuity in our trading relationship when the current agreement between Egypt and the EU ceases to apply to the UK.”
Another highlight of Egypt’s cooperation with the UK this year will be Egypt’s High-Level Conference on Accelerating Learning in the Middle East and Africa, to be held in Cairo in February 2020, which the UK will support.
African growth is accelerating, with GDP set to reach £2.5 trillion by 2025. Advantages mentioned by panel members included Africa’s young population and its rapidly growing economies.
The IMF says Africa is home to eight of the world’s 15 fastest growing economies.
According to World Bank figures, six of the top 10 fastest growing economies in the world are located in Africa.
According to David Schwimmer, the CEO of the London Stock Exchange, Africa is in need of capital. Schwimmer said the London stock market is ready and able to mobilise capital to drive growth across the continent.
On Tuesday, Al-Sisi held closed bilateral talks with Johnson at 10 Downing Street. This was followed by a meeting between the two countries’ delegations during which, according to Presidential Spokesperson Bassam Radi, Johnson stressed his keenness on enhancing bilateral relations with Egypt.
“Britain counts on Egypt’s central and active role as a mainstay of stability in the Middle East and Africa,” Johnson said.
According to Radi, Al-Sisi stressed that Egypt is “looking forward to maximising bilateral cooperation in the coming period and enhancing political and security coordination and the exchange of visions on issues of mutual interest.”
Earlier the same day, Al-Sisi met with Prince William. They discussed economic and trade ties and ways to strengthen mutual cooperation, mainly in the fields of tourism and education.